1 Peter 1
Greeting1 Peter 1 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Born Again to a Living Hope3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. As we examine together the prayer contained in 1 Peter 1:3-5, let us consider eight things: (1) its connection—that we may perceive who all are included by the words “begotten us again”; (2) its nature—a doxology (“Blessed be”); (3) its Object—“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”; (4) its ascription—“His abundant mercy”; (5) its incitement—“hath begotten us again unto a lively hope”; (6) its acknowledgment—“by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”; (7) its substance—“to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you”; and (8) its guaranty—“who are kept by the power of God through faith.” There is much here of interest and deep importance. Therefore, it would be wrong for us to hurriedly dismiss such a passage with a few generalizations, especially since it contains such a wealth of spiritual, joyful reflection that cannot but edify the mind and stir up the will and affections of every saint who rightly meditates upon it. May we be duly affected by its contents and truly enter into its elevated spirit. A Guide to Fervent Prayer 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Called to Be Holy13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
The kind of God who appeals to most people today would be easygoing in his tolerance of our offences. He would be gentle, kind, accommodating, and would have no violent reactions. Unhappily, even in the church we seem to have lost the vision of the majesty of God. There is much shallowness and levity among us. Prophets and psalmists would probably say of us that ‘there is no fear of God before their eyes’. In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is more characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears. We saunter up to God to claim his patronage and friendship; it does not occur to us that he might send us away. We need to hear again the apostle Peter’s sobering words: ‘Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives...in reverent fear.’ In other words, if we dare to call our Judge our Father, we must beware of presuming on him. It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God which Christ has won for us only after we have first seen God’s inaccessibility to sinners. We can cry ‘Hallelujah’ with authenticity only after we have first cried ‘Woe is me, for I am lost’. In Dale’s words, ‘it is partly because sin does not provoke our own wrath, that we do not believe that sin provokes the wrath of God’. ( The Atonement: The Congregational Union Lecture for 1875 (Classic Reprint) )
We must, therefore, hold fast to the biblical revelation of the living God who hates evil, is disgusted and angered by it, and refuses ever to come to terms with it. In consequence, we may be sure that, when he searched in his mercy for some way to forgive, cleanse and accept evil-doers, it was not along the road of moral compromise. It had to be a way which was expressive equally of his love and of his wrath. As Brunner put it, ‘where the idea of the wrath of God is ignored, there also will there be no understanding of the central conception of the Gospel: the uniqueness of the revelation in the Mediator’. ( The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith (Classic Reprint) ) Similarly, ‘only he who knows the greatness of wrath will be mastered by the greatness of mercy’. ( Gustav Stählin in his article on orgē, p.425. ) ( The Cross of Christ )
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
1 Peter 2
A Living Stone and a Holy People1 Peter 2 1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Submission to Authority13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 3
Wives and Husbands1 Peter 3 1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
1 Peter 4
Stewards of God’s Grace1 Peter 4 1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Suffering as a Christian12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
1 Peter 5
Shepherd the Flock of God1 Peter 5 1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Final Greetings12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
What I'm Reading
The Gift of Christmas Was Predicted With the Gift of Prophecy
By J. Warner Wallace 12/20/2017
As Christmas gift exchanges approach, the gift of Jesus is easily obscured. But gifted prophets predicted the birth of the Messiah, and these prophesies, like other Old Testament prophecies, testify to the Divine nature of the Bible. The New Testament contains two different types of prophetic declarations: the prophecies uttered byJesus and the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. Old Testament prophets declared the coming of a Savior (a Messiah who would save the Jewish people and the entire world from their sin). Here is a brief summary of the prophecies predicting the gift of Jesus:
The Messiah Would Come from the Tribe of Judah | Jacob made this prophetic prediction around 1400 BC.
Genesis 49:10 | The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
Christians believe Jesus will establish an everlasting kingdom in the future. His ancestry is traced back to Jacob’s son, Judah, in Luke 3:23-34 and in Matthew 1:1-16.
The Messiah Will Appear After the Jews Return to Israel | Jeremiah uttered this prophecy between 626 BC and 586 BC. It was first fulfilled in Jesus’ earthly ministry and will be fulfilled again in the end times.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Christianity Today’s 2017 Book Awards
By Tish Harrison 12/14/2016
Make a list of all the blessings the Protestant Reformation has brought, and eventually—long after jotting down iconic phrases like “salvation by grace alone through faith alone”—you’ll get around to the CT Book Awards.
Books, of course, had existed long before Luther posted his 95 Theses. But there’s no denying that reading and the Reformation, with a vital assist from Gutenberg’s printing press, soared together.
“The Reformation could not have occurred as it did without print,” writes historian Andrew Pettegree in his book, Brand Luther. “Print propelled Martin Luther, a man who had published nothing in the first 30 years of his life, to instant celebrity. It was his genius to grasp an opportunity that had scarcely existed before he invented a new way to converse through books. In the process he changed Western religion and European society forever.”
Reading helped fuel the Reformation, and in turn, the Reformation helped fuel the spread of reading.
Pettegree again: “Wittenberg, a town that had no printing at all before 1500, would become a powerhouse of the new industry, trading exclusively on the fame of its celebrity professor. And Wittenberg was not an isolated case. In many medium-sized and small German towns, the Reformation galvanized an industry that had withered after the first flush of over-exuberant experimentation.”
Tish Harrison Warren
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 144My Rock and My Fortress
144 Of David.
144:1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.
3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
4 Man is like a breath;
his days are like a passing shadow.
5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down!
Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
6 Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them!
7 Stretch out your hand from on high;
rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
from the hand of foreigners,
8 whose mouths speak lies
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE REDEEMER, IN CHRIST, AS FIRST MANIFESTED TO THE FATHERS, UNDER THE LAW, AND THEREAFTER TO US UNDER THE GOSPEL.
The First Part of the Apostles' Creed--viz. the knowledge of God the Creator, being disposed of, we now come to the Second Part, which relates to the knowledge of God as a Redeemer in Christ. The subjects treated of accordingly are, first, the Occasion of Redemption--viz. Adam's fall; and, secondly, Redemption itself. The first five chapters are devoted to the former subject, and the remainder to the latter.
Under the Occasion of Redemption, the Fall is considered not only in a general way, but also specially in its effects. Hence the first four chapters treat of original sin, free will, the corruption of human nature, and the operation of God in the heart. The fifth chapter contains a refutation of the arguments usually urged in support of free will.
The subject of redemption may be reduced to five particular heads:
I. The character of him in whom salvation for lost man must be sought, Chap. 6.
II. How he was manifested to the world, namely, in a twofold manner. First, under the Law. Here the Decalogue is expounded, and some other points relating to the law discussed, Chap. 7 and 8. Secondly, under the Gospel. Here the resemblance and difference of the two dispensations are considered, Chap. 9, 10, 11.
III. What kind of person Christ was, and behaved to be, in order to perform the office of Mediator--viz. God and man in one person, Chap. 12, 13, 14.
IV. For what end he was sent into the world by the Father. Here Christ's prophetical, kingly, and priestly offices are considered, Chap. 15.
V. In what way, or by what successive steps, Christ fulfilled the office of our Redeemer, Chap. 16. Here are considered his crucifixion, death, burial, descent to hell, resurrection, ascension to heaven, and seat at the right hand of the Father, together with the practical use of the whole doctrine. Chapter 17 contains an answer to the question, Whether Christ is properly said to have merited the grace of God for us.
THROUGH THE FALL AND REVOLT OF ADAM, THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE MADE ACCURSED AND DEGENERATE. OF ORIGINAL SIN.
I. How necessary the knowledge of ourselves is, its nature, the danger of mistake, its leading parts, sect. 1, 2, 3. II. The causes of Adam's fearful fall, sect. 4. III. The effects of the fall extending to Adam's posterity, and all the creatures, sect. 5, to the end of the Chapter, where the nature, propagation, and effect of original sin are considered.
1. The knowledge of ourselves most necessary. To use it properly we must be divested of pride, and clothed with true humility, which will dispose us to consider our fall, and embrace the mercy of God in Christ.
2. Though there is plausibility in the sentiment which stimulates us to self-admiration, the only sound sentiment is that which inclines us to true humbleness of mind. Pretexts for pride. The miserable vanity of sinful man.
3. Different views taken by carnal wisdom and by conscience, which appeals to divine justice as its standard. The knowledge of ourselves, consisting of two parts, the former of which having already been discussed, the latter is here considered.
4. In considering this latter part, two points to be considered; 1. How it happened that Adam involved himself and the whole human race in this dreadful calamity. This the result not of sensual intemperance, but of infidelity (the source of other heinous sins), which led to revolt from God, from whom all true happiness must be derived. An enumeration of the other sins produced by the infidelity of the first man.
5. The second point to be considered is, the extent to which the contagious influence of the fall extends. It extends, 1. To all the creatures, though unoffending; and, 2. To the whole posterity of Adam. Hence hereditary corruption, or original sin, and the depravation of a nature which was previously pure and good. This depravation communicated to the whole posterity of Adam, but not in the way supposed by the Pelagians and Celestians.
6. Depravation communicated not merely by imitation, but by propagation. This proved, 1. From the contrast drawn between Adam and Christ. Confirmation from passages of Scripture; 2 From the general declaration that we are the children of wrath.
7. Objection, that if Adam's sin is propagated to his posterity, the soul must be derived by transmission. Answer. Another objection--viz. that children cannot derive corruption from pious parents. Answer.
8. Definition of original sin. Two parts in the definition. Exposition of the latter part. Original sin exposes us to the wrath of God. It also produces in us the works of the flesh. Other definitions considered.
9. Exposition of the former part of the definition--viz. that hereditary depravity extends to all the faculties of the soul.
10. From the exposition of both parts of the definition it follows that God is not the author of sin, the whole human race being corrupted by an inherent viciousness.
11. This, however, is not from nature, but is an adventitious quality.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Read 1 Book 50 Times, Not 50 Books Once
By Brian Jones 12/18/2017
Here are five pieces of advice about books and reading I would love to share with every senior pastor starting their very first pastorate…
Dear friend, | I want to congratulate you on your very first day of becoming a senior pastor. You will find, as I have, that being a senior pastor is the greatest job in the world. Occasionally, though, it can be quite lonely. You’ll find that outside of your family and a few close friends that stick closer than a brother, that books will be your one constant companion. And since you will no doubt hear conflicting advice about how to welcome their influence into your daily rhythm, I felt that it might be helpful to hear a few counter-intuitive lessons from a friend in the trenches. As with anything I write—eat the meat and throw away the bones.
1. Make it your goal to read 1 book 50 times, not 50 books once.
Occasionally you’re going to run into the church leader that brags about how many books they read each year. Do not be impressed by their self-flattery. First off, I rarely believe them. For over time, they surely would have read a book about how braggadocios talk is unbecoming of kingdom leaders. But more importantly, I would much rather have you read one book 50 times than skimming 50 books once.
The great stoic philosopher Epictetus remarked, | “Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.”
Brian Jones | I’m the founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In 13 years the church has grown from a small group in my home to over 2,000 incredible people. Before that I served in churches of 25 to 600 in attendance. I love church planters and pastors of smaller churches, and totally understand the difficult challenges they face as they try to help people find their way back to God.
War Against Fathers
By John Waters 1/2018
Divorce cases in the U.S. now account for 35 to 50 percent of civil litigation, at a cost to the public purse of billions of dollars per year. Out of these cases has grown a vast panoply of ancillary bureaucracies: social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, child protection experts and enforcers, counselors, mediators, divorce planners, forensic accountants, and so forth. Behind a smoke screen of piety concerning the difficult job they have to do in “helping” or “providing services,” their purpose is the human equivalent of the breaker’s yard: They tear asunder the superstructure of the family and then move to the foundations, demolishing relationships between husband and wife, between parents and children, and even sometimes between the children themselves.
In his scrupulously researched book on how the sexual revolution has proven a war against fathers, Stephen Baskerville, professor of government at Patrick Henry College, describes the costs of divorce:
No legislative enactment has spread more turmoil throughout the social order, transferred more power to the state, or done more to debase the legal machinery from a dispenser of justice into a weapon of plunder and aggrandizement of power.
Baskerville challenges a host of dearly held beliefs: that divorce results from philandering men, that women are in grave danger of violence by men at all times, that the most dangerous place for a child is the nuclear family. All this, he shows, is completely, monstrously wrong. Fathers, caricatured as embodiments of the hated patriarchy, have been unseated so that a bureaucratic state might increase its power.
John Waters writes for First Things.
D.L. Moody Died Today On December 22
By The Rev. J. Wilbur Chapman, D.D.
Dwight Lyman Moody (February 5, 1837 – December 22, 1899), also known as D. L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher connected with the Holiness Movement, who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now Northfield Mount Hermon School), Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers. Wikipedia
It would be difficult to imagine a more representative company of Christian workers than that which assembled about the casket holding all that was mortal of him who was said by many to have been the most remarkable man of this generation. The friends had been gathering for two days. The Holiday joys in their own homes and the natural desire that every man has to be with his own family at such a season of the year could not keep them from paying this last tribute to the man who had been a friend, indeed more than a friend to every one of them; for, if ever any one came to know D. L. Moody well, he loved him. Paul once wrote in his Epistle to the Philippians, " I thank my God for every remembrance of you," arid all who came close to this man of God could write the same concerning him.
SO LIKE MR. MOODY HIMSELFThe Hotel Northfield had been opened by the family of Mr. Moody for the accommodation of those who would come to the services, and Mr. Ambert G. Moody, his nephew, who has been so closely associated with Mr. Moody's Northfield work, was there to receive the coming friends and bid them welcome, just as his distinguished uncle would have had it done. It was so like Mr. Moody himself to care for the comfort of these sad-hearted pilgrims. I found myself, as I was planning for the journey and had received notification that the Northfield was opened for us, saying, "Well, that is like him in all his careful thought for others. I suppose that he has ordered that the house be thrown open, and that it be made comfortable for all who would accept the invitation to come," and then it came to me like a shock that D. L. Moody was dead, and could care for us no more except as the influence of his sainted memory would guide and control for many a long day. Many of his co-laborers were in Northfield the evening of Christmas Day, and the life of this dear friend was talked over; always with love, and frequently with tears blinding the eyes of those who would attempt to speak. Those who were qualified to testify told of his last days and the closing hours of his life. One said, "It was just such an experience as we would have supposed he might have. It was glorious."
HIS LAST MOMENTS AND HIS WILLAnother told how just before the last he said, "Can't a man die sitting up as well as lying down," and when the doctor said yes, they took him up and let him rest for a moment or two in his chair, but it was only for a little while, and then they put him back again in his bed. It was the last time he was to rise, and he who told it said with a sob, "I cannot bring myself to realize that he has gone from us." Another told how, when he was aroused from his stupor and saw all his loved ones about him, he said in his old way, so characteristic of himself, "What's going on here," and when they told him that he had been worse for a little time, and that they had come to be with him, he closed his eyes and seemed to fall asleep again.
Still another told of the will he made, unlike any other will that any man had ever made; when he gave the care of Mt. Hermon to his son, William R. Moody; the Northfield Young Ladies' School to the care of Paul, his son, a junior in Yale; the special oversight of the Bible Institute to Mrs. Fitt and her husband, Mr. A. P. Fitt, the latter having for years been Mr. Moody's closest and most confidential helper, particularly in the Bible Institute in Chicago and the Colportage Library work. The Northfield Training School was to be the care of Mr. Ambert G. Moody, his 'nephew. And when something was said about Mrs. Moody, he had said she was the mother of them all, and they must all care for her. An old friend gave the account of his words to his boys when he said, "I have always been an ambitious man, not ambitious to lay up money, but ambitious to leave you all work to be done, which is the greatest heritage one can leave to his children."
A TRIUMPHANT PASSING AWAYStill another gave the picture of his last hours. No more memorable sentences on one's deathbed have ever been spoken. It was just such a triumphant passing away as his dear friends would have wished. Where have you ever read better sayings than these
"Is this dying? Why this is bliss.
"There is no valley.
"I have been within the gates.
"Earth is receding; Heaven is opening; God is calling; I must go.
WANTED TO SEE HIS FACE ONCE MORESpecial trains were run from the surrounding New England towns, and they were filled with people who wanted to see his face once more. Farmers drove from distances of twenty miles away that they might pay respect to the memory of him in whom they all believed. The students were many of them away for their Christmas vacations, but there was a sufficient number present to bear his body from the house, which had become so much a part of himself, to the church in which he was so deeply interested.
At last the day of the funeral came. It was a sad company of friends that met in the Grand Central Station in New York City the morning of the funeral. There was the Hon. John Wanamaker, who had been in close fellowship with him for years; the Rev. A. C. Dixon, D.D., who had been as near to him in Christian work as any man in the country, who showed by every expression of his face that he was in sorrow, yet " not as others who have no hope
Mr. and Mrs. Janeway, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, devoted friends of the great Evangelist for years, and intimately and officially connected with the Northfield work. There were very many others, but notably, there was the veteran evangelist, the Rev. Dr. E. P. Hammond, who had known Mr. Moody as long as any one in the company. It was a sad group of people that journeyed toward the little town where the devoted friend was lying dead. Many of them had not seen Northfield in winter. They had visited it when the trees were in full foliage, when the grass was green on the hill-sides, and when the birds sang their joyous welcome, but at this visit all nature seemed in sympathy with the many who sorrowed' because their friend was not, but rejoiced as well because God had taken him, and because of the abundant entrance given him into His presence.
At last the church was reached. Special seats were reserved for the late coming friends, and the most memorable funeral service in all the experience of the most of those who knew him began.
During the morning Mr. Moody's family had been with the body, which had been lying in the death-chamber since the time of death. But soon after ten o'clock the body was laid in the heavy broadcloth casket and removed to the parlor of the home, where a simple service of prayer was conducted by Mr. Moody's pastor, the Rev. C. I. Scofield, assisted by the Rev. R. A. Torrey, of Chicago.
FUNERAL SERVICES AT THE CHURCHAt the close of this service the casket was placed on a massive bier, and thirty-two Mt. Hermon students bore it to the Congregational Church, where it was to lie in state. During the next three hours fully three thousand persons looked for the last time at the face of the great, good man. The casket was placed directly in front of the altar, and around it were banked many floral tributes.
The gathering at the church for the funeral service at 2:30 was notable. Men from all walks of life - clergymen, business men, tillers of the soil - came side by side to pay a last tribute. The services were as simple and as impressive as if he himself had planned them. The voice of the loved one was still, but his presence was felt.
The hymn, "A Little While and He Shall Come," was followed by the Rev. C. I. Scofield's prayer. The Rev. A. T. Pierson read the Scripture lesson from II Corinthians, iv. ii. This was followed by a prayer by Rev. George C. Needham, after which the congregation sang "Emmanuel's Land," the music being directed by Mr. A.. B. Phillips, Professor of Music in the Northfield Institute.
The Rev. Dr. Scofield then pronounced the eulogy, saying:
"We know,' 'We are always confident,' That is the Christian attitude toward the mystery of death. 'We know,' so far as the present body is concerned, that it is a tent in which we dwell. It is a convenience for this present life. Death threatens it, so far as we can see, with utter destruction. Soul and spirit instinctively cling to this present body. At that point revelation steps in with one of the great foundational certainties and teaches us to say We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'
There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. But that is not all. Whither after all shall we go when this earthly tent dwelling is gone? To what scenes does death introduce us? What, in a word, lies for the Christian just across that little trench which we call a grave? Here is a new and most serious cause of solicitude. And I here again revelation brings to faith the needed word: 'We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.'
"Note, now, how that assurance gives confidence. First, in that the transition is instantaneous. To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. And secondly, every question of the soul which might bring back an answer of fear is satisfied with that one little word 'home.'
"And this is the Christian doctrine of death. 'We know.' 'We are always confident.' In this triumphant assurance Dwight L. Moody lived, and at high noon last Friday he died. We are not met, dear friends, to mourn a defeat, but to celebrate a triumph. He 'walked with God and he was not, for God took him.' There in the West, in the presence of great audiences of 12,000 of his fellow-men, God spoke to him to lay it all down and come home. He would have planned it so.
"This is not the place, nor am I the man to present a study of the life and character of Dwight L. Moody. No one will ever question that we are laying to-day in the kindly bosom of earth the mortal body of a great man. Whether we measure greatness by quality of character or by qualities of intellect, Dwight L. Moody must be accounted great.
"The basis of Mr. Moody's character was sincerity, genuineness. He had an inveterate aversion to all forms of sham, unreality and pretence. Most of all did he detest religious pretence or cant. Along with this fundamental quality, Mr. Moody cherished a great love of righteousness. His first question concerning any proposed action was: 'Is it right?' But these two qualities, necessarily at the bottom of all noble characters, were in him suffused and transfigured by divine grace. Besides all this, Mr. Moody was in a wonderful degree brave, magnanimous and unselfish.
"Doubtless this unlettered New England country boy became what he was by the grace of God. The secrets of Dwight L. Moody's power were: First, in a definite experience of Christ's saving grace. He had passed out of death into life, and he knew it. Secondly, Mr. Moody believed in the divine authority of the Scriptures. The Bible was, to him, the voice of God, and he made it resound as such in the consciences of men. Thirdly, he was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and he knew it. It was to him as definite an experience as his conversion. Fourthly, he was a man of prayer; he believed in a divine and unfettered God. Fifthly, Mr. Moody believed in work, in ceaseless effort, in wise provision, in the power of organization, of publicity.
"I like to think of D. L. Moody in Heaven. I like to think of him with his Lord and with Elijah, Daniel, Paul, Augustine, Luther, Wesley and Finney.
"Farewell for a little time, great heart, may a double portion of the spirit be vouchsafed to us who remain."
The next address was by the Rev. H. B. Weston, of Crozier Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa., who said:
REV. H. B. WESTON'S ADDRESS"I counted it among one of the greatest pleasures of my life that I had the acquaintance of Mr. Moody; that I was placed under his influence, and that I was permitted to study God's words and work through him.
He was the greatest religious character of this century. When we see men who are eminent among their fellows, we always attribute it to some special natural gift with which they are endowed, some special education they have received, or some magnetic personality with which they are blessed. Mr. Moody had none of these, and yet, no man had such power of drawing the multitude. No man could surpass him in teaching and influencing individuals - individuals of brain, of executive power. I am speaking to some of such this afternoon. Mr. Moody had the power of grouping them to himself with hooks of steel, and many of them were good workers with him many years; and they will carry on his work now that he has passed away.
"Mr. Moody had none of the gifts and qualifications that I have mentioned: no promise, and apparently no possibility, in his early life; no early promise, if he had any promise, of the life he had to lead. What had he? There was nothing else as interesting in Northfield as Mr. Moody to me. I listened to him with profound and great interest and profit, as the one who could draw the multitude as no one else in the world. He entered fully into the words, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' So he fed upon that word; his life was instantly a growth, because he fed on the Word of God, so that he might have it ready for every emergency.
All this was not for himself, but for others. He did not study the Bible for himself alone, but that he might add to his stock of knowledge. He did not study his Bible in order to criticize, but to make men partakers of that light which had enlarged his own soul, and that, I appeal to you, was the first desire of his heart, that other men might live.
"With this one conception in his heart he dots his plain all over with buildings which will stand until the millennium. His soul was full of joy, and that definite joy finds its expression like the Hebrew prophet. I don't think he himself sang, but he wanted the Gospel sung, and I used to listen to song after song and remember all the time this was simply the expression of that joy that welled up in his heart, the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"You remember last summer how hopeful he was, constantly, as he compared himself to 'that old man of eighty years, and I am only sixty-two, and I have so much before me to live for.' Because D. L. Moody had mastered, or the power of Christ had so mastered, every fibre of his being; because of that completeness of consecration - I hardly dare say it - were Jesus Christ given the same body, the same mental caliber and surroundings, He would fill up his life much as Moody did, and that is the reason to-day that I would rather be Dwight L. Moody in his coffin than any living man on earth."
The next speaker was the Rev. R. A. Torrey, who said:
"It is often the first duty of a pastor to speak words of comfort to those whose hearts are aching with sorrow and breaking underneath the burden of death, but this is utterly unnecessary to-day. The God of all comfort has already abundantly comforted them, and they will be able to comfort others. I have spent hours in the past few days with those who were nearest to our departed friend, and the words I have heard from them have been words of 'Rest in God and triumph.'
REV. R. A. TORREY'S ESTIMATE OF MR. MOODY"As one of them has said: 'God must be answering the prayers that are going up for us all over the world. We are being so wonderfully sustained.' Another has said: 'His last four glorious hours of life have taken all the sting out of death,' and still another, 'Be sure that every word to-day is a word of triumph.'
"Two thoughts has God laid upon my heart this hour. The first is that wonderful letter of Paul in I Corinthians, xv. 10: 'By the grace of God I am what I am.' God wonderfully magnified His grace in the life of D. L. Moody. God was magnified in his birth. The babe that was born sixty-two years ago - the wonderful soul was God's gift to the world. How much that meant to the world; how much the world has been blessed and benefited by it we shall never know this side the coming of Christ. God's grace was magnified in his conversion. He was born in sin, as we are, but God, by the power of His word, the regenerating power of His Holy Spirit, made him a mighty man of God. How much the conversion of that boy in Boston forty-three years ago meant to the world no man can tell, but it was God's grace that did it.
"God's grace and love were magnified again in the development of that character. He had the strength of body that was possessed by few sons of men.
"It was all from God. To God alone was it due that he differed from other men. That character was God's gift to a world that sorely needed men like him. God's grace and love were magnified again in his service. The great secret of his success was supernatural power, given in answer to prayer.
"Time and again has the question been asked, What was the secret of his wonderful power? The question is easily answered. There were doubtless secondary things that contributed to it, but the great central secret of his power was the anointing of the Holy Ghost. It was simply another fulfilment by God of the promise that has been realized throughout the centuries of the Church's history: 'Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost shall come upon you.
"God was magnified again in his marvelous triumph over death, but what we call death had absolutely no terrors for him. He calmly looked death in the face and said, 'Earth is receding. Heaven is opening. God is calling me. Is this death? It isn't bad at all. It is sweet. No pain. No valley. I have been within the gates! It is beautiful. It is glorious. Do not call me back. God is calling me.
"This was God's grace in Christ that was thus magnified in our brother's triumph over that last enemy, Death. From beginning to end, from the hour of his birth until he is laid at rest on yonder hilltop, Mr. Moody's life has been a promulgation of God's everlasting grace and love.
"The other thought, that God has laid upon my heart in these last few hours are those words of Joshua i. 2: 'Moses my servant is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them'.
"The death of Mr. Moody is a call to his children, his associates, ministers of the Word everywhere, and to the whole Church: 'Go forward. Our leader has fallen.' 'Let us give up the work,' some would say. Not for a moment. Listen to what God says: 'Our leader has fallen. Move forward. Moses my servant is dead, therefore arise, go in and possess the land. As I was with D. L. Moody, so I will be with you. I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.'
"It is remarkable how unanimous all those who have been associated with Mr. Moody are upon this point. The great institutions that he has established at Northfield, Mt. Hermon, and Chicago, and the work they represent, must be pushed to the front as never before. Many men are looking for a great revival.
"Mr. Moody himself said when he felt the call of death at Kansas City: 'I know how much better it would be for me to go, but we are on the verge of a great revival, like that of 1857, and I want to have a hand in it.' He will have a mighty hand in it. His death, with the triumphal scenes that surround it, are part of God's way of answering the prayers that have been going on for so long in our land for a revival.
"From this bier there goes up to-day a call to the ministry to the Church: 'Forward!' Seek, claim, receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost, and then go forthwith, to every corner, preach in public and in private to every man, woman, and child the infallible Word of God."
THE WORDS OF BISHOP MALLALIEUThe Rev. W. F. Mallalieu, bishop of the Methodist church, said:
'' 'Servant of God, well done,
Thy glorious warfare's past,
The battle's fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last.'
'One, who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph.'
"In bone and brawn and brain he was a typical New Englander; he was descended from the choicest New England stock; he was born of a New England mother, and from his earliest life he breathed the free air of his native hills and was carefully nurtured in the knowledge of God and the holy traditions and histories of the glorious past. It was to be expected of him that he would become a Christian of pronounced characteristics, for he consecrated himself thoroughly and completely and irrevocably to the service of God and humanity. The heart of no disciple of the Master ever beat with more genuine, sympathetic and utterly unselfish loyalty than did the great, generous, loving heart of our translated friend. Because he held fast to the absolute truth of the Bible, and unequivocally and intensely believed it to be the inerrent Word of God; because he preached the Gospel rather than talked about the Gospel; because he used his mother tongue, the terse, clear, ringing, straightforward Saxon; because he had the profoundest sense of brotherhood with all poor, unfortunate and even outcast people; because he was unaffectedly tender and patient with the weak and sinful; because he hated evil as thoroughly as he loved goodness; because he knew right how to lead penitent souls to the Savior; because he had the happy art of arousing Christian people to a vivid sense of their obligations and inciting them to the performance of their duties; because he bad in his own soul a conscious, joyous experience of personal salvation - the people flocked to his services, they heard him gladly, they were led to Christ, and he came to be prized and honored by all denominations, so that to-day all Protestantism recognizes the fact that he was God's servant, an ambassador of Christ, and indeed a chosen vessel to bear the name of Jesus to the nations.
"We shall not again behold his manly form animated with life, hear his thrilling voice or be moved by his consecrated personality but if we are true and faithful to our Lord, we shall see him in glory, for already he walks the streets of the heavenly city, he mingles in the song of the innumerable company of white-robed saints, sees the King in his beauty, and waits our coming. May God grant that in due time we may meet him over yonder."
DR. CHAPMAN'S ADDRESS.The Rev. J. Wilbur Chapman of New York, the next speaker, said:
"I cannot bring myself to feel this afternoon that this service is a reality. It seems to me that we must awake from some dream and see again the face of this dear man of God, which we have so many times seen. It is a new picture to me this afternoon. I never before saw Mr. Moody with his eyes closed. They were always open, and it seemed to me open not only to see where he could help others, but where he could help me. His hands were always outstretched to help others. I never came near him without his helping me."
At this point the sun came through a crack in a blind, and the rays fell directly on Mr. Moody's face, and nowhere else in the darkened church did a single beam of sunshine fall.
"The only thing that seems natural is the sunlight now on his face. There was always a halo around him. I can only give a slight tribute of the help he has done me, I can only especially dedicate myself to God, that I, with others, may preach the Gospel he taught.
"When I was a student, Mr. Moody found me. I had no object in Christ. He pointed me to the hope in God; he saw my heart, and I saw his Saviour. I have had a definite life since then. When perplexities have arisen, from those lips came the words, 'Who are you doubting? If you believe in God's Word, who are you doubting?' I was a pastor, a preacher, without much result. One day Mr. Moody came to me, and, with one hand on my shoulder and the other on the open Word of God, he said: 'Young man, you had better get more of this into your life,' and when I became an evangelist myself, in perplexity I would still sit at his feet, and every perplexity would vanish just as mist before the rising sun. And, indeed, I never came without the desire to be a better man, and be more like him, as he was like Jesus Christ. If my own father were lying in the coffin I could not feel more the sense of loss."
REV. A. T. PIERSON'S ADDRESS.The Rev. A. T. Pierson spoke next, saying:
"When a great tree falls, you know, not only by its branches, but by its roots, how much soil it drew up as it fell. I know of no other man who has fallen in this country having as wide a tract of uprooting as this man who has just left us.
"I have been thinking of the four departures during the last quarter of a century, of Charles Spurgeon of London, A. J. Gordon of Boston, Catherine Booth, mother of the Salvation Army, and George Muller of Bristol, England, and not one made the worldwide commotion in their departures that Dwight L. Moody has caused.
"Now, I think we ought to be very careful of what is said. There is a temptation to say more than ought to be said, and we should be careful to speak as in the presence of God. This is a time to glorify God.
"Dwight L. Moody was a great man. That man when he entered the church in 1856 in Boston, after ten months of probation, was told by his pastor that he was not a sound believer. That pastor, taking him aside, told him he had better keep still in prayer meeting. The man the church held out at arm's length has become the preacher of preachers, the teacher of teachers, the evangelist of evangelists. It is a most humiliating lesson for the Church of God.
"When, in 1858, he decided to give all his time, he gave the key to his future. I say everything D. L. Moody has touched has been a success. Do you know that with careful reckoning he has reached 100,000,000 of people since he first became a Christian?
You may take all the years of public services in this land and Great Britain, take into consideration all the addresses he delivered, and the audiences of his churches, and it will reach 100,000,000. Take into consideration all the people his books have reached and the languages into which they have been translated; look beyond his evangelistic work to the work of education, the schools, the Chicago Bible Institute, and the Bible Institute here. Thousands of people in the world owe their hope to Dwight L. Moody who was the means of their consecration.
"I want to say a word of Mr. Moody's entrance into Heaven. When he entered into Heaven there must have been an unusual commotion. I want to ask you to-day whether you can think of any other man of the last half-century whose coming so many souls would have welcomed at the gates of Heaven. It was a triumphal entrance into glory.
"No man 'who has been associated with him in Christian work has not seen that there is but one way to live, and that way to live wholly for God. The thing that D. L. Moody stood and will stand for centuries to come was his living only for God. He made mistakes, no doubt, and if any of us is without sin in this respect, we might cast a stone at him, but I am satisfied that the mistakes of D. L. Moody were the mistakes of a stream that overflowed its banks. It is a great deal better to be full and overflowing than to be empty and have nothing to overflow.
"I feel myself called to-day by the presence of God to give eye that what is left shall be consecrated more wholly to him. Mr. Moody, John Wanamaker, James Spurgeon (brother of Charles), and myself were born in the same year. Only two of us are still alive. John Wanamaker, let us still live wholly for God."
REV. H. M. WHARTON'S WORDSThe Rev. H. M. Wharton, of Philadelphia, spoke in behalf of the southern States. He 'said:
"I am sure, dear friends, that if the people of the South could express their feeling to-day, they would ask me to say we all loved Mr. Moody; we did love him with all our hearts. It seems to me that when he went inside the gates of Heaven he left the gates open a little, and a little of the light fell upon us all.
"As I go from this place to-day, I am more convinced that I desire to live and be a more faithful minister and more earnest Christian, and more consecrated in my life. We will not say 'Good night, dear Mr. Moody,' for in the morning we will meet again."
As Mr. Wharton ceased, Mr. William Moody rose in the pew, and said he would like to speak of his father as a parent. He said:
MR. W. R. MOODY'S TRIBUTE TO HIS FATHER"As a son, I want to say a few words of him as a father. We have heard from his pastor, his associates and friends, and he was just as true a father. I don't think he showed up in any way better than when, on one or two occasions, in dealing with us as children, with his impulsive nature, he spoke rather sharply. We have known him to come to us and say: 'My children, my son, my daughter, I spoke quickly; I did wrong; I want you to forgive me.' That was D. L. Moody as a father.
"He was not yearning to go; he loved his work. Life was very attractive; it seems as though on that early morning as he had one foot upon the threshold it was given him for our sake to give us a word of comfort. He said: 'This is bliss; it is like a trance. If this is death it is beautiful.' And his face lighted up as he mentioned those whom he saw.
"We could not call him back; we tried to, for a moment, but we could not. We thank God for his home life, for his true life, and we thank God that he was our father, and that he led each one of his children to know Jesus Christ."
MR. JOHN WANAMAKER' S REMARKSDr. Scofield then called upon the Hon. John Wanamaker, of Philadelphia, who said:
"If I had any words to say, it would be that the best commentary on the Scriptures, the best pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ, were in our knowledge of the beautiful man who is sleeping in our presence to-day. For the first time I can understand well the kind of a man Paul was, and Nehemiah, and Oliver Cromwell. I think of Mr. Moody as a Stonewall Jackson of the Church of God of this century. But the sweetest of all thoughts of him are his prayers and his kindnesses. It was as if we were all taken into his family and he had a familiarity with every one and we were his closest friends.
"There is not any place in this country where you can go without seeing the work of this man of God. It seems to make every man seem small, because he lived so far above us, as we crept close to his feet. It is true of every one who sought to be like him.
"I can run back into the beginning of his manhood, and there have the privilege of being close to him. I can call up personal friends that were at the head of railroads, that were distinguished in finance and business, and I declare to you, great as their successes were, I don't believe that there is one of them who would not gladly have changed place with D. L. Moody.
"The Christian laborer, I believe, to-day looms up more luminous than any man who lived in the century. It seems as if it were a vision when the one who has passed away stood in Philadelphia last month, when, on his way to Kansas City, and, with tears in his eyes, he said to me with a sigh: 'If I could only hold one great city in. the East before I die, I think it might help other cities to do the same.' Still trusting God, he turned his back on his home and family, and went 1,000 miles carrying that burden, and it was too much for him. A great many of the people of the sixties are quitting work, and if anything is to be done for God, it is time we consecrate ourselves to Him."
Toward a Christian View of Economics
By Albert Mohler 2/01/2017
Regrettably, many American Christians know little about economics. Furthermore, many Christians assume that the Bible has nothing at all to say about economics. But a biblical worldview actually has a great deal to teach us on economic matters. The meaning of work, the value of labor, and other economic issues are all part of the biblical worldview. Christians must allow the economic principles found in Scripture to shape our thinking. Here, then, are twelve theses for what a Christian understanding of economics must do.
1. It must have God’s glory as its greatest aim.
For Christians, all economic theory begins with an aim to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). We have a transcendent economic authority.
2. It must respect human dignity.
No matter the belief system, those who work show God’s glory whether they know it or not. People may believe they are working for their own reasons, but they are actually working out of an impulse that was put into their hearts by the Creator for His glory.
3. It must respect private property and ownership.
Some economic systems treat the idea of private property as a problem. But Scripture never considers private property as a problem to be solved. Scripture’s view of private property implies that owning private property is the reward of someone’s labor and dominion. The eighth and tenth commandments teach us that we have no right to violate the financial rewards of the diligent.
4. It must take into full account the power of sin.
Taking the Bible’s teaching on the pervasive effects of sin into full account means that we expect bad things to happen in every economic system. A Christian economic understanding tries to ameliorate the effects of sin.
5. It must uphold and reward righteousness.
Every economic and government system comes with embedded incentives. An example of this is the American tax code, which incentivizes desired economic behaviors. Whether they work is an issue of endless political recalibration. However, in the Christian worldview, that recalibration must continue to uphold and reward righteousness.
6. It must reward initiative, industry, and investment.
Initiative, industry, and investment are three crucial words for the Christian’s economic and theological vocabulary. Initiative goes beyond action. It is the kind of action that makes a difference. Industry is human work done corporately. Investment is part of the respect for private property found in Scripture. Investment, as it turns out, is as old as the garden of Eden. That which accrues value is honorable, and the impulse to accrue that value is honorable. Thus, a Christian economic theory indicts any able-bodied person who won’t work and anyone who won’t respect private property or reward investment.
7. It must seek to reward and incentivize thrift.
In a fallen world, money and investments can quickly be distorted to idolatrous ends. For that reason, thrift is a very important issue in the Christian worldview. In a fallen world, abundance one day can turn into scarcity the next. Thrift may be what provides survival in times of poverty.
8. It must uphold the family as the most basic economic unit.
When thinking about economic theory embedded in the beginning of the Bible, the dominion mandate is central, but so is the divine institution of marriage. The pattern of leaving and cleaving described in Genesis 2 is fundamental to our economic understanding. Adam and Eve were the first economic unit. The result is that the family, biblically defined, is the most basic and essential unit of the economy.
9. It must respect community.
Most secular thinkers and economists begin with the community and then move to the family. However, thinking from larger to smaller economic units not only does not work in theory, it also fails in practice. Beginning with the family unit and then working out toward the community is a much smarter option. The doctrine of subsidiarity—which emerged out of natural law theory—teaches that meaning, truth, and authority reside in the smallest meaningful unit possible. If the family unit is deficient, no government can meet the need of its citizens. When the family is strong, government can be small.
When the family is weak, however, the government must compensate for the loss. By focusing on the family, we respect and better the community.
10. It must reward generosity and proper stewardship.
Christians who are committed to the economics of the kingdom and to the good of the next generation must live with a future-oriented financial perspective. We each have the responsibility, whether we own a lot or a little, to see that our generosity endures far beyond our lifespan. Spirited generosity, which is so clear in Scripture, is essential to a Christian economic worldview.
11. It must respect the priority of the church and its mission.
Christians must embrace economic priorities that the rest of the world simply will not understand. Christians must invest in churches, seminaries, and international missions. These are distinctive Christian nancial commitments. Our ultimate financial commitment is not to ourselves or to our own investments but to the kingdom of Christ. Thus, Christians should always be ready to experience upheaval in economic priorities and arrangements because urgent kingdom issues can intervene at any moment.
12. It must focus on eschatological judgment and eschatological promise.
This life and its resources cannot deliver ultimate joy. The Christian worldview reminds us that we must live with the recognition that we will give an account to the Lord for our stewardship of our resources. At the same time, Christians must look to the eschatological promise of the new heavens and earth as our ultimate economic hope. We must lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth.
Living under Authority
By R.C. Sproul 3/01/2017
As I read the scriptures, particularly the New Testament, there is a theme that recurs again and again regarding the Christian’s willingness to be in submission to various types of authority. Given the rebellious spirit of our age, that frightens me. It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in an attitude that will bring us into open defiance of the authority of God.
Let’s turn our attention to 1 Peter 2:11–16:
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Peter is speaking to people who were subjected to brutal, fierce, and violent persecution — the kind of activity that can incite within us the worst possible responses, including anger, resentment, and hatred. But Peter pleads with those people who were the victims of the hatred of their culture to behave in an honorable manner before the watching world. Paul gives a similar plea time and time again that we’re to try to live at peace with all men as much as possible.
The “therefore” of verse 13 introduces a key manifestation of living honorably before the watching world. We’re to submit ourselves to the ordinances of man. Why? I find the answer startling and fascinating. The Apostle’s admonition is that we’re to submit for the Lord’s sake. But how is obedience to human ordinances done for the Lord’s sake? How does my obedience to my professors, my boss, or the government in any way benefit Christ?
To understand this, we have to understand the deeper problem that all of Scripture is dealing with—the problem of sin. At the most fundamental level, sin is an act of rebellion and disobedience to a higher law and Lawgiver. The biggest problem with the world is lawlessness. The reason people are violated, killed, and maimed in battle, the reason there are murders, robberies, and so forth is that we’re lawless. We disobey, first of all, the law of God. The root problem in all of creation is disobedience to law, defiance of authority. And the ultimate authority of the universe is God Himself.
But God delegates authority as He reigns and rules over His creation. God raises up human governments. It is God who instituted government in the first place (Rom. 13). That’s why Christians are called to honor and pray for the king, pay their taxes, and submit as much as possible to the authorities in all things—because the authorities are instituted by God. Moreover, He shares supreme authority with Christ, who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given [by the Father] to me” (Matt. 28:18). So, no ruler in this world has any authority except that which has been delegated to him by God and by His Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, disobedience to the lawful commands of earthly authorities is ultimately disobedience to God and to Christ because they ordained the governing authorities.
The world has gone crazy in lawlessness, but we’re to be different. Wherever we find ourselves under authority—and we all find ourselves submitting to various authorities — we’re to submit to that authority. Nobody in this world is autonomous. Every one of us has not just one boss, but several bosses. Everyone I know, including me, is accountable not to just one person but to all kinds of authority structures. Throw a brick through a store window, and you’ll find out quickly that you’re accountable, that you’re under authority, that there are laws to be obeyed and law enforcement officers to make sure the laws are obeyed.
Christians are free in Christ, but we aren’t to use our liberty as a license for sin, because even though on the one hand we’re free, on the other hand we remain indentured servants.
We’re bondservants to God. We’re slaves of Jesus Christ. So, even if the rest of the world is running on the track of anti-authority and anti-submissiveness, we aren’t allowed to join in. We’re called to be scrupulous to maintain order. There is such a thing as law and order that God Himself has ordained in the universe. And we’re called to bear witness to that, even by suffering through uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes painful submission to the lawful rules of even those authorities who do not recognize God, for even the godless authorities have been established by God.
I think we all have experiences where we bristle and chafe under authority and under mandates with which we vehemently disagree. Let me just suggest as a matter of practical consideration that if we look to these human institutions or these human persons who are tyrannical, unfair, unjust, and all that, and we seek to submit to them individually or even institutionally, considered in and of themselves, we will find it extremely difficult to submit with any kind of good attitude. But if somehow we can look through them, look past them, look over them, and see the One whom the Father has invested with ultimate cosmic authority, namely, Christ Himself, we’ll have an easier time submitting. We’ll find help with our struggle to submit when we recognize we’re submitting ultimately to Christ, because we know He’ll never tyrannize or abuse us.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
Secularism in the Church
By George Grant 3/01/2017
Secularism has always been hard to define. Though often pronounced with algebraic lucidity, its topsy-turvy logic is often as unintelligible as the dog-Latin of monkish hexameters. In practice, it is an odd attempt to forge a cultural consensus on the fact that there really can be no cultural consensus. It is the unspoken assumption that a happy and harmonious society can be maintained only so long as the only common belief is that there are no substantial common beliefs. It is the reluctant affirmation that the only moral absolute is that there must not be any moral absolutes. It is the brash affirmation that meaning and purpose in life may best be found in meaninglessness and purposelessness.
Philosophers and historians might argue that secularism is the inevitable fruit of Enlightenment materialism, skepticism, pragmatism, and utilitarianism. But social theorists point to the smothering influence of partisan ideology, which is now everywhere evident. Wresting control of every academic discipline, of every cultural trend, of every intellectual impulse, even of every religious revival in our time, ideology has become the organizing construct of the secular society. From Nazism and Stalin-ism to Pluralism and Multiculturalism, from Liberalism and Conservatism to Monopolism and Socialism, ours has been an epoch of movements beguiled by the temporal seductions of ideological politics. Virtually all social historians agree that this is indeed one of the most distinctive aspects of our age: the subsuming of all other concerns to the rise of political mass movements based upon comprehensive, secular, closed-universe, and millenarian intellectual systems. We live in what many have called an “Age of Ideology,” where ideological politics drives everything.
Nearly every question, every issue, every social dilemma has been and continues to be translated into legal, economic, or political terms and supplied with bureaucratic, mathematical, or systemic solutions. If there is something wrong with the business climate, family values, health care, or education, government must rectify the situation. Whatever the problem, it seems that politics is the solution. That is why every election is portrayed in the starkest of apocalyptic terms — both with-in the church and without.
The name of the secularist’s ideological game is power. With cool detachment every other consideration is relegated to a piratical humbug. G.K. Chesterton observed,
There is, as a ruling element in modern life, a blind and asinine appetite for mere power. There is a spirit abroad among the nations of the earth which drives men incessantly on to destroy what they cannot understand, and to capture what they cannot enjoy.
This is the worldview of secularism—and it gives shape to nearly everything we think and do. As Herb Schlossberg has argued in ISBN-13: 978-0840758323, it is merely an updated, Americanized form of idolatry. It is a worldview as thorough and as dominating in our time as was the faith during the epoch of Christendom.
And, lest we think Christians are somehow exempt from the smothering dominance of such secularism, just think back to the fierce ideological rhetoric that swirled about on our blogs, Facebook posts, memes, and tweets during America’s most recent presidential election. It became very apparent where many of our brothers and sisters have placed their immediate hope in life, if not in death.
As a pastor, I know firsthand the allure of secularism’s siren song — to hermetically seal off theological concerns from the “everyday operations side” of managing ministry. In the church, this often takes the form of shaping ministry according to “what works.” The temptation of pursuing plans, programs, and policies on the basis of pragmatism; the assumption that success can best be measured in numbers, in dollars, in worldly patterns of influence—these are all snares that all too easily entangle. We quickly become mere pragmatists, not people of principle, finding power in the quantifiable and not in God’s means of grace. We shape our ministry by the latest sociological data, business innovations, and marketing methods, not the whole counsel of God.
If we are like fish swimming in a secular sea, how do we order our worship, our discipleship, our ministry to the world with out resorting to a secular default mode? Merle d’Aubigne gives us the answer:
The Word of God is the only power that can subdue the rebellion of our heart. There is a power in our fallen nature which revolts against divine truth, and which nothing human can overcome. No teaching of man will do it, not even that of your father or mother. The teaching of the church and of the most beloved pastors will not do it, nor time-worn tradition, which is the teaching of the ages. All this is as powerless as the slenderest thread to lift the weight which presses us down. To make the Kingdom of God enter our hearts we need a battering-ram that can overthrow the strongest walls, and that ram is the Word of God.
In these smotheringly secular days in which we live, our best recourse for combating secularism in the church is to sing, pray, read, and teach the Word of God. As Thomas Chalmers has written, “The Bible is the Magna Carta of our liberty; when it is neglected, it is not merely its morality that is jeopardized; it is not merely its virtue that is undermined; indeed, all the good it has wrought is thereby despised.” Therefore, as he exhorted, “Let us be quick to be in the way of grace.”
George Grant Books | Go to Books Page
What Is Shaping You?
By Nancy Guthrie 3/01/2017
There’s a section in department stores these days called “shapewear.” It’s in both women’s and men’s clothing. These stores are banking on our concern with the shape of our bodies and our willingness to invest in garments that promise to give us the shape we’re looking for.
But when we read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, we discover it’s not what is shaping our bodies that he is most concerned about. He’s concerned about what is shaping our perspective, our priorities, our pursuits, and our opinions. He writes:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)
His words force us to ask ourselves: What external forces are shaping my internal dialogue about what matters? What pressures me to make the choices I am making about how I spend my money, my time, and my energies? Am I self-aware enough to know?
Ever since we were born into this world, it has been working to press us into its mold.
Of course, we don’t like to think of ourselves as this impressionable. We like to think we are independent in our thinking. But the truth is, we are such products of the environment we live in that we often don’t recognize what is pressing in on us. Or perhaps we don’t feel the pressure because we simply give in to it. It makes no sense to Paul, however, for the lives of those who have been called and foreknown and predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son instead to be conformed to this world.
Instead of being conformed, Paul instructs us to be transformed. There’s a contrast here between something pressing in on us from the outside that causes us to be conformed and something taking place on the inside that causes us to be transformed. Where inside is this taking place? In our minds. And what is happening in our minds? They are being renewed. There’s a renovation project going on.
Have you ever renovated anything? The word used by Paul for the “renewal” of our minds literally means “to renovate”—to rip out the old and put in the new. The one doing the renovation work is the Holy Spirit. But there is something here for us to do. The tool the Holy Spirit uses is the Word. This means we must bring ourselves under the influence of the Word.
In his book Growing Your Faith, the late Jerry Bridges explains this process as similar to what we tell our son when he comes in from playing on the dirt pile: “Go take a shower.” It is the soap and water that will wash away the sweat and the dirt. But Tommy must bring himself under their cleansing action to become clean. So we say to him, “Go take a shower.”
Likewise, when Paul says to us: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he’s instructing us to bring ourselves under the transforming influence of the Word of God. As the Word of God pours over us, the Spirit will use it to accomplish its cleansing, renewing, renovating work in our minds. Our minds will begin to work correctly. Our thoughts will align more closely to God’s thoughts. Our way of valuing things will align more closely to the way God values things. In this way, we will grow in our ability to know what God wants.
We won’t need to wait for some extrabiblical, supernatural word from God to be spoken into our subconscious thoughts to know what to do. We’ll be able to discern the wise course of action. God doesn’t decide for us and then transmit His decisions to us. Like a good father, He is teaching us to discern what is good and acceptable and perfect. How? He is renewing our minds as we come under His Word. He is giving us the mind of Christ.
The world around us is trying to press us into its highly individualistic mold. But the Word is transforming us into people whose identity flows out of being a bondservant to Jesus Christ and no longer a slave to our own independence or self-fulfillment.
The world around us is trying to press us into its consumer mold. Its advertising seeks to convince us that we cannot be content without whatever it’s selling. But the Word is transforming us into people who can say, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The world around us is trying to press us into its mold of thinking the goal of this life is comfort and security. But the Word of God is renewing our minds so that we have very different aspirations from simply a comfortable life with a comfortable retirement. We want to expend ourselves for the gospel until the day we die. We so deeply believe that our heavenly Father is taking care of us and has secured a future for us in which we will gain everything, we just aren’t so concerned about losing out here. We are pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The world around us seeks to press us into its mold. And we can simply relent. We can be shaped by the world around us. But we don’t have to be. We can resist. We can be shaped by the Word of God. As we take it in, think it through, and live it out, it is going to change us in profound and pleasant ways. We’re going to increasingly know how to live in the world around us.
Nancy Guthrie Books:
- Even Better than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible's Story Changes Everything about Your Story
- The One Year Praying through the Bible for Your Kids
- The Promised One (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in Genesis
- Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God
- What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)
- Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow
- Hoping for Something Better: Refusing to Settle for Life as Usual
- The One Year Book of Hope (One Year Books)
- The Word of the Lord (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in the Prophets
- What Every Child Should Know About Prayer
- The Son of David (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in the Historical Books
- The Wisdom of God (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books
- One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters: 365 Opportunities to Grow Closer to God as a Family
- The Lamb of God (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
- The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament
- Abundant Life in Jesus: Devotions for Every Day of the Year
- O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God
- When Your Family's Lost a Loved One: Finding Hope Together (Focus on the Family Books)
- Seeing Jesus: Seeking and Finding Him in the Scriptures
- Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- Be Still, My Soul (25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain): Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- Even Better than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible's Story Changes Everything about Your Story
- The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament
- The One Year Praying through the Bible for Your Kids
- Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter
- The Promised One (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in Genesis
- What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)
- The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books
- Word-Filled Women's Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church (The Gospel Coalition)
- Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God
- Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent
- Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering: 1 Peter (The Gospel Coalition)
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
12/22/2017 Bob Gass
‘Each of us should please his neighbour…build him up.’
(Ro 15:2) 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. ESV
Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One was allowed to sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking hand-in-hand, the skyline in the distance. His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’ Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour…to build him up.’ There’s great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal. One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars. On the other hand, a doctor who point-blank tells a patient that he’s “terminal” can speed up the death process.’ Words are powerful; use yours to build people up.
UCB The Word For Today
12/22/2017 Bob Gass
‘Phebe…hath been a succourer of many.’
(Ro 16:1–2) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. ESV
Your church needs members committed to supporting and encouraging each other. People like Phebe, whom Paul calls ‘a succourer of many’. Succour: In Greek, it applied to Olympic coaches who supported athletes and made sure they were trained and equipped to win. Bible scholar H.F. Moule describes Phebe as ‘a champion…who stood up for others…a devoted, brave friend of converts in trouble, who fought battles of protest where she found oppression…and pleaded the cause of the poor’. That’s a heavy-duty assignment! And in today’s ‘Me Generation’ not many are willing to take it on. But the truth is, there’s no greater investment than people. When you invest in another person you give yourself a gift, because you can’t light their path without brightening your own. And the divine rewards outweigh any earthly compensation: ‘Whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:8 NKJV). As one pastor observed: ‘You have something nobody else can give. Think about how you can make somebody else’s life better. Who can you support and strengthen? Somebody needs your encouragement today…needs to know you believe in him, that you’re for him, that you think he has what it takes to succeed. Looking back, chances are someone played a pivotal role in helping you get where you are today. A parent or teacher who had confidence in you…a boss who placed you in a higher position when you didn’t feel qualified…somebody who saw more in you than you saw in yourself.’ Now it’s your turn!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
The Battle of the Bulge. The Nazi’s amassed three of their armies for an enormous attack against the Allies in the Ardennes Forest. The Germans soon surrounded the 101st Airborne Division in southern Belgium and demanded their surrender. General Anthony McAuliffe answered the Nazi in one word: “Nuts.” Three days later relief came and the Allies began a counterattack. In his order given this day, December 22, 1944, General Eisenhower stated: “I call upon every man… to rise now to new heights of courage… with unshakable faith in the cause for which we fight, we will, with God’s help, go forward to our greatest victory.”
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Chapter 20 December 22
I really must digress to tell you a bit of good news. Last week, while at prayer, I suddenly discovered-or felt as if I did- that I had really forgiven someone I have been trying to forgive for over thirty years. Trying, and praying that I might. When the thing actually happened-sudden as the longed-for cessation of one's neighbour's radio--my feeling was "But it's so easy. Why didn't you do it ages ago?" So • many things are done easily the moment you can do them at all. But till then, sheerly impossible, like learning to swim. There are months during which no efforts will keep you up; then comes the day and hour and minute after which, and ever after, it becomes almost impossible to sink. It also seemed to me that forgiving (that man’s cruelty) and being forgiven (my resentment) were the very same thing. "Forgive and you shall be forgiven" sounds like a bargain. But perhaps it is something much more. By heavenly standards, that is, for pure intelligence, it is perhaps a tautology-forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved, and it is certainly the great Resolver who has done it. Finally, and perhaps best of all, I believed anew what is taught us in the parable of the Unjust Judge. No evil habit is so ingrained nor so long prayed against (as it seemed) in vain, that it cannot, even in dry old age, be whisked away.
I wonder do the long dead know it when we at last, after countless failures, succeed in forgiving them? It would be a pity if they don't. A pardon given but not received would be frustrated. Which brings me to your question.
Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?
On the traditional Protestant view, all the dead are damned or saved. If they are damned, prayer for them is use less. If they are saved, it is equally useless. God has already done all for them. What more should we ask?
But don't we believe that God has already done and is already doing all that He can for the living? What more should we ask? Yet we are told to ask.
"Yes," it will be answered, "but the living are still on the road. Further trials, developments, possibilities of error, await them. But the saved have been made perfect. They have finished the course. To pray for them presupposes that progress and difficulty are still possible. In fact, you are bringing in something like Purgatory."
Well, I suppose I am. Though even in Heaven some perpetual increase of beatitude, reached by a continually more ecstatic self-surrender, without the possibility of failure but not perhaps without its own ardours and exertions-for delight also has its severities and steep ascents, as lovers know-might be supposed. But I won't press, or guess, that side for the moment. I believe in Purgatory.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
--- Rudyard Kipling Recessional
It was always about mere questions that the Pharisees were so busy.
--- Johann Albrecht Bengel
O Lord, grant that I may desire Thee, and desiring Thee,
seek Thee, and seeking Thee, find Thee,
and finding Thee, be satisfied with Thee forever.
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist By John Piper
It is the path of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked.
--- BJ Palmer
Dusk's Whisper: The First Lanthanide By Nivloc
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
for the rights of all who need an advocate.
9 Speak up, judge righteously,
defend the cause of the poor and the needy.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The Drawing of the Father
No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him. --- John 6:44.
When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once—will I react on the revelation which God gives; will I come to Him? Discussion on spiritual matters is an impertinence. Never discuss with anyone when God speaks. Belief is not an intellectual act; belief is a moral act whereby I deliberately commit myself. Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says? If I will, I shall find I am based on Reality that is as sure as God’s throne.
In preaching the Gospel, always push an issue of will. Belief must be the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to persuasive power; a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God. The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding. As far as feelings go, I must stake all blindly: I must will to believe, and this can never be done without a violent effort on my part to dissociate myself from my old ways of looking at things, and by putting myself right over on to Him.
Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God Who draws me, and my relationship with Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The flowers of childhood
are fadeless and have
a sweet smell. Our hearts are
vases, standing in the window
that looks out on to Eden's
garden. But our minds
are of glass also and
refrigerate us with a different view.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
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.
Where is the God who brings the spiritual salvation? 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. Is he near to each person, ready to help, always trying to help all people to be deeply and spiritually good? Many people find it harder to believe this than that the God of wisdom or comfort is near his children.
As soon as people get below the surface and come to real study of their own spiritual lives, they find nothing so meets the story of their lives, nothing so explains themselves to themselves, as this: the hypothesis of God present with and working on our souls, to make them pure, strong, true, brave. Unseen by us, but always close to us, and always working, always hindered by our ignorance, our obstinacy, our wickedness, but never discouraged, never turning away, doing all that omnipotent love can do upon unwilling souls to make them live to him.
If that were true, what would our lives be? Think how you would live, how you would feel, ever touched and pressed on by a God you did not see, trying to persuade you to holiness, trying to convict you of sin. Run back over your life ever since you can remember. Restless, self-accusing, dreaming of goodness that you never reached; trying tasks that your experience told you were impossible; haunted by wishes that you dared to laugh at but did not dare to chase away; with two sets of standards about right and wrong, one that you kept for the world, the other that you hid deep in your heart and were more than half ashamed of—what does all that correspond to but the life surrounded and pressed on by an unseen God? God-haunted our lives are, until they give themselves to God, as the brains of sleepers are haunted by the daylight until they open their eyes and give themselves to the Morning.
Or a beast lies tangled in a net. Some kind hands try to unsnarl the cords and let it go. The creature feels them tugging at the strings and writhes and struggles all the more and twists itself into a yet more inextricable snarl. But by and by it catches in its dull soul the meaning of the tugs and pulls that it feels, and it enters into sympathy with its deliverers. It lies still while they unbind it or moves only so as to help their efforts, and so at last is free. That is the way in which God sets a soul free from its sins. And in this the soul freed from its sins sees the explanation of all its struggles that have gone before.
--- Phillips Brooks
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Lord, Save Fiji!
As a child John Hunt often sat by the fire, engrossed in his father’s tales of military adventure. At 16 he nearly died of “brain fever.” Recovering, he found the Lord in a Methodist chapel. He later married Hanna Summers, and on December 22, 1838 they arrived on the Fiji islands as missionaries.
They shuddered at the sight. Two-thirds of all children were boiled and eaten. Every village had its human butcher. Aged parents were butchered and eaten by their children. A man would often cook his best wife or most tender child as a feast for his closest friends.
Some time after their arrival the chief’s youngest son was lost at sea. Seventeen women were killed and roasted as a result, and Hanna was forced to watch. The islanders then insisted the missionaries leave. But the Hunts refused. They found increasing numbers willing to listen. The queen of Viwa came under such conviction that she fainted twice, then, coming to, pleaded for mercy. A revival swept her village, then others.
Hunt translated the New Testament into Fijian and kept preaching fearlessly. Converts increased and chapels were built. At length, Hunt’s health broke, and when the islanders realized their missionary was ill, they flocked to the chapels to pray for him. “O Lord,” cried one of them, Elijah Verani, “We know we are very bad; but spare thy servant. If one must die, take me! Take ten of us! But spare thy servant to preach Christ.”
But Hunt realized he was dying. He committed his wife to the Lord and began crying, “Lord, bless Fiji! Save Fiji!” Later, turning to Hanna, he said, “If this be dying, praise the Lord!” “I want strength to praise him abundantly. … Hallelujah!”
With that he breathed his last. The island was moved by his death, and even the wicked King Thakombau confessed Christ openly. Much of Fiji was transformed, causing one missionary historian to call Fiji a “jewel in the missionary diadem.”
God’s people must learn to endure. … Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Put this in writing. From now on, the Lord will bless everyone who has faith in him when they die.” The Spirit answered, “Yes, they will rest from their hard work, and they will be rewarded for what they have done.”
--- Revelation 14:12,13.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (Day 5)
God Became a Child
Mighty God" (Isa. 9:6) is the name of this child. The child in the manger is none other than God himself. Nothing greater can be said: God became a child. In the Jesus child of Mary lives the almighty God. Wait a minute! Don't speak; stop thinking! Stand still before this statement! God became a child! Here he is, poor like us, miserable and helpless like us, a person of flesh and blood like us, our brother. And yet he is God; he is might. Where is the divinity, where is the might of the child? In the divine love in which he became like us. His poverty in the manger is his might. In the might of love he overcomes the chasm between God and humankind, he overcomes sin and death, he forgives sin and awakens from the dead. Kneel down before this miserable manger, before this child of poor people, and repeat in faith the stammering words of the prophet: "Mighty God!" And he will be your God and your might.
But now it is true that in three days. Christmas will come once again. The great transformation will once again hap¬pen. God would have it so. Out of the waiting, hoping, longing world, a world will come in which the promise is given. All crying will be stilled. No tears shall flow. No lonely sorrow shall afflict us anymore, or threaten.
Sermon to a German - speaking church in Havana, Cuba, December 21, 1930
(Jn 1:14) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 22
“I will strengthen thee." Isaiah 41:10.
God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth’s huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer.
O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.
“Now let the feeble all be strong,
And make Jehovah’s arm their song.”
Evening - December 22
“The spot of his children.” --- Deuteronomy 32:5.
What is the secret spot which infallibly betokens the child of God? It were vain presumption to decide this upon our own judgment; but God’s word reveals it to us, and we may tread surely where we have revelation to be our guide. Now, we are told concerning our Lord, “to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his name.” Then, if I have received Christ Jesus into my heart, I am a child of God. That reception is described in the same verse as believing on the name of Jesus Christ. If, then, I believe on Jesus Christ’s name—that is, simply from my heart trust myself with the crucified, but now exalted, Redeemer, I am a member of the family of the Most High. Whatever else I may not have, if I have this, I have the privilege to become a child of God. Our Lord Jesus puts it in another shape. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Here is the matter in a nutshell. Christ appears as a shepherd to his own sheep, not to others. As soon as he appears, his own sheep perceive him—they trust him, they are prepared to follow him; he knows them, and they know him—there is a mutual knowledge—there is a constant connection between them. Thus the one mark, the sure mark, the infallible mark of regeneration and adoption is a hearty faith in the appointed Redeemer. Reader, are you in doubt, are you uncertain whether you bear the secret mark of God’s children? Then let not an hour pass over your head till you have said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Trifle not here, I adjure you! If you must trifle anywhere, let it be about some secondary matter: your health, if you will, or the title deeds of your estate; but about your soul, your never-dying soul and its eternal destinies, I beseech you to be in earnest. Make sure work for eternity.
Morning and Evening
GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE
Latin carol, 14th century
Translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)
As this sprightly carol reminds us, Christmas should be the most joyous season of the year for all true Christians. Our lives should be filled with gratitude to God for the immeasurable love shown to us in the gift of His Son. Out of joyous hearts we should be exuberant in “heart and soul and voice!” This ancient hymn uses frequent repetition to impress upon us that the birth of Christ won for us “endless bliss” by opening the way to heaven and conquering our fear of death through His assurance of eternal life.
The festive spirit of Christmas, however, should not fade away as the holiday passes. The joy and peace that Christ brings to our lives should enable us to be continually rejoicing Christians, regardless of the circumstances. The blessings that came to us on Christmas morn have illuminated our lives forever!
“Good Christian Men, Rejoice” is an unusual combination of 14th century Latin phrases and vernacular German expressions. The original Latin text was titled “In Dulci Jubilo,” meaning “in sweet shouting.” Over the years German people added their own wording, making this a “macaronic carol”—one that combines two or more languages. The carol was later given a free rendering English translation by John M. Neale, the noted 19th century scholar and translator of ancient hymns. It first appeared in Neale’s Carols for Christmastide in 1853.
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; give ye heed to what we say: News! news! Jesus Christ is born today! Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now: Christ is born today! Christ is born today!
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! joy! Jesus Christ was born for this! He has opened heaven’s door, and man is blessed evermore: Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! peace! Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall: Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!
For Today: Isaiah 40:1–11; Luke 1:77–79; Luke 2:10–20; Ephesians 1:3–12
Determine by God’s help to maintain the joy of Christmas in your life. Seek to minister an encouraging word to some lonely person. Share this musical message ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
7. Exhortation. Patience is a duty flowing from this doctrine. In all strokes upon ourselves, or thick showers upon the church, “the Lord reigns,” is a consideration to prevent muttering against him, and make us quietly wait to see what the issue of his Divine pleasure will be. It is too great an insolence against the Divine Majesty to censure what he acts, or quarrel with him for what he inflicts. Proud clay doth very unbecomingly swell against an infinite superior. If God be our Sovereign, we ought to subscribe to his afflicting will without debates, as well as to his liberal will with affectionate applauses. We should be as full of patience under his sharper, as of praise under his more grateful, dispensations, and be without reluctancy against his penal, as well as his preceptive, pleasure. It is God’s part to inflict, and the creature’s part to submit.
This doctrine affords us motives, and shows us the nature of patience. 1. Motives to it.
(1.) God, being Sovereign, hath an absolute right to dispose of all things. His title to our persons and possessions is, upon this account, stronger than our own can be; we have as much reason to be angry with ourselves, when we assert our worldly right against others, as to be angry with God for asserting the right of his dominion over us. Why should we enter a charge against him, because he hath not tempered us so strong in our bodies, drawn us with as fair colors, embellished our spirits with as rich gifts as others? Is he not the Sovereign of his own goods, to impart what, and in what measure, he pleaseth? Would you be content your servants should cheek your pleasure in dispensing your own favors? It is an unreasonable thing not to leave God to the exercise of his own dominion. Though Job were a pattern of patience, yet he had deep tinctures of impatience; he often complains of God’s usage of him as too hard, and stands much upon his own integrity; but when God comes, in the latter chapters of that book, to justify his carriage towards him, he chargeth him not as a criminal, but considers him only as his vassal. He might have found flaws enough in Job’s carriage, and corruption enough in Job’s nature, to clear the equity of his proceeding as a judge; but he useth no other medium to convince him, but the greatness of his Majesty, the unlimitedness of his sovereignty, which so appals the good man, that he puts his finger on his mouth and stands mute with a self-abhorrency before him, as a Sovereign, rather than as a Judge. When he doth pinch us, and deprive us of what we most affect, his right to do it should silence our lips and calm our hearts from any boisterous uproars against him.
(2.) The property of all still remains in God, since he is sovereign. He did not divest himself of the property when he granted us the use; the earth is his, not ours; the fulness any of us have, as well as the fulness others have. After he had given the Israelites corn, wine, and oil, he calls them all his, and emphatically adds my, to every one of them (Hos. 2:9). His right is universal over every mite we have, and perpetual too; he may, therefore, take from us what he please. He did but deposit in our hands for awhile the benefits we enjoy, either children, friends, estate, or lives; he did not make a total conveyance of them, and alienate his own property, when he put them into our hands; we can show no patent for them, wherein the full right is passed over to us, to hold them against his will and pleasure, and implead him if he offer to re-assume them: he reserved a power to dispossess us upon a forfeiture, as he is the Lord and Governor. Did any of us yet answer the condition of his grant? it was his indulgence to allow them so long; there is reason to submit to him, when he re-assumes what he lent us, and rather to thank him that he lent it so long, and did not seize upon it sooner.
(3.) Other things have more reason to complain of our sovereignty over them, than we of God’s exercise of his sovereignty over us. Do we not exercise an authority over our beasts, as to strike them when we please, and merely for our pleasure; and think we merit no reproof for it, because they are our own, and of a nature inferior to ours? And shall not God, who is absolute, do as much with us, who are more below him than the meanest creatures are below us? They are creatures as well as we, and we no more creatures than they; they were framed by Omnipotence as well as we; there is no more difference between them and us in the notion of creatures. As there is no difference between the greatest monarch on earth, and the meanest beggar on the dunghill, in the notion of a man; the beggar is a man, as well as the monarch, and as much a man; the difference consists in the special endowments we have above them by the bounty of their and our common Creator. We are less, if compared with God, than the worst, meanest, and most sordid creature can be, if compared with us. Hath not a bird or a hare (if they had a capacity) more reason to complain of men’s persecuting them by their hawks and their dogs? but would their complaints appear reasonable, since both were made for the use of man, and man doth but use the nature of the one to attain a benefit by the other? Have we any reason to complain of God if he lets loose other creatures, the devouring hounds of the world, to bite and afflict us? We must not open our lips against him, nor let our heart swell against his scourge, since both they and we were made for his use, as well as other creatures for our; this is a reason to stifle all complaints against God, but not to make us careless of preventing afflictions, or emerging out of them by all just ways. The hare hath a nature to shift for itself by its winding and turning, and the bird by its flight; and neither of them could be blamed, if they were able, should the one scratch out the eyes of the hounds, and the other sacrifice the hawk to its own fury.
(4.) It is a folly not to submit to him. Why should we strive against him, since he is an unaccountable Sovereign, and “gives no account of any of his matters?” (Job 33:13.) Who can disannul the judgment God gives? There is no appeal from the supreme court; a higher court can repeal or null the sentence of an inferior court, but the sentence of the highest stands irreversible, but by itself and its own authority. It is better to lower our sails, than to grapple with one that can shoot us under water; to submit to that Sovereign whom we cannot subdue.
2. It shows us the true nature of patience in regard of God: it is a submission to God’s sovereignty. As the formal object of obedience is the authority of God enacting the law, so the formal object of patience is the authority of God inflicting the punishment: as his right of commanding is to be eyed in the one, so his right of punishing is to be considered in the other. This was Eli’s condition, when he had received a message that might put flesh and blood into a mutiny, the rending the priesthood from his family, and the ruin of his house: yet this consideration, “It is the Lord,” calms him into submission, and a willing compliance with the Divine pleasure (1 Sam. 3:18): “It is the Lord, let him do what seems good in his sight.” Job was of the same strain (Job 1:21): “The Lord gives, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord;” he considers God as a sovereign, who was not to be reproached, or have anything uncomely uttered of him, for what he had done. To be patient because we cannot avoid it, or resist it, is a violent, not a loyal patience; but to submit because it is the will of God to inflict; to be silent, because the sovereignty of God doth order it, is a patience of a true complexion. The other kind of patience is no other than that of an enemy that will free himself as soon as he can, and by any way, though never so violent, that offers itself. This sort of patience is that of a subject acknowledging the supreme authority over him, and that he ought to be ordered by the will, and to the glory of God, more than by his own will, and for his own ease; “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth” (Psalm 39:10); not because I could not help it, but “because thou didst it,” thou who art my sovereign Lord. The greatness of God claims an awful and inviolable respect from his creatures in what way soever he doth dispose of them; this is due to him; since his kingdom ruleth over all, his kingdom should be acknowledged by all, and his royal authority submitted to in all that he doth.
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