2 Corinthians 10
Paul Defends His Ministry2 Corinthians 10 1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
7 Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 11
Paul and the False Apostles2 Corinthians 11 1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Paul’s Sufferings as an Apostle16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
2 Corinthians 12
Paul’s Visions and His Thorn
2 Corinthians 12 1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Concern for the Corinthian Church11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
2 Corinthians 13
Final Warnings2 Corinthians 13 1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them— 3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
Final Greetings11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions?
By J. Warner Wallace 12/04/2017
People trying to discover the truth about God would be wise to take a hard look at Jesus before looking anywhere else. While that may sound like a bold assertion in and of itself, it really isn’t when you consider Jesus is the one religious leader who is most frequently mentioned by religious groups, whether or not they happen to be Christian. Every major religious movement considers Jesus to be an important religious figure. Every movement makes some effort to account for His existence and teaching. This ought to give seekers a reason to pause and consider the life of Jesus seriously. 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.
Judaism | While we recognize Judaism pre-existed (and gave birth to) Christianity, Judaism has also had over two-thousand years to consider and respond to the claims of Christ. Much has been written about Jesus from a Jewish perspective, most interestingly by those early Jews who described Jesus in the centuries immediately following His life. Ancient Jewish believers (as recorded by the Talmud and the Toledot Yeshu) described Jesus in the following way:
Jesus Was Mary’s Son | Ancient Jews acknowledged Jesus existed and had a mother named Mary. They denied Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus, but they did recognize Mary was promised to a man named “Yohanan”:
“Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing…On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the Jewish tradition.” (The Toledot Yeshu)
Jesus Was a Teacher | Both ancient and modern Jews typically accept Jesus was a rabbi and popular teacher (although they would deny He is the Messiah).
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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.
Who is the Servant of the Lord? Isa 52:13- 53: 12 Pt 1
By chab123 01/27/14
When it comes to messianic prophecy, Christian apologists have appealed to Isa 52:13-53:12 as a slam dunk for showing that nature of the Messiah’s suffering which is predicted hundreds of years in advance. And of course, almost any Jewish person that has come to faith in Jesus as their Messiah was greatly impacted by this text. Let’s take a look at it here:
Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. –NASB
The word “ Messiah” means “Anointed One” (Heb. messiah),(Gk. Christos) and is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub something” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.” The Tanakh records the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ),kings (1 Sam 10:1;2 Sam 2:4;1 Kings 1:34), and sometimes prophets (1 Kings 19:16b) as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. Also, when God anointed or authorized for leadership, in many cases he provided the empowering of the Holy Spirit to do complete the task (1 Sam. 16:13; Isa. 61:1). However, just because someone was anointed in the Old Testament to perform a specific task doesn’t mean they are “the Messiah.”
As we look at this messianic text, let’s remember the following: Other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.” Some of the names include Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man, Prophet, Elect One, Servant of the Lord, Prince, Branch, Root, Scepter, Star, Chosen One, and Coming One.”
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Who is the Servant of the Lord? Isa 52:13- 53: 12 Pt 2
By chab123 01/28/14
A Look Background of Isa. 52:13- 53:12:
1. Isaiah is written against the backdrop of the Babylonian exile. In Isa. 49-52, Isaiah anticipates the salvation of the Jewish people. Chapters 54-55 invite the people to participate in the salvation. Isaiah 53 links these two sections.
2. Isaiah 52:13-53;12 speaks of something far greater than 45,000 Jewish people returning from Babylon in the sixth century.
3. There are two issues in the return from exile: physical return from Babylon and spiritual deliverance from bondage and slavery to sin. There are two distinct agents of redemption: Cyrus and the Servant. Cyrus was called to the first task which was the physical return to the land of Israel (44:24-48:22); the Servant of the Lord will bring about the second task which is the forgiveness of sins (49:1-53:12).
4. The writing of prophecy can refer to the past, present or future. A Biblical prophet may speak in the past tense, but the pronouncement can apply also to the future. This is important since some critics note the prophecy is written in the past tense. But the reality is the tense switches in the entire Servant Song. We see in Isaiah 52:13 that in the future, “ my Servant will prosper.” But then it switches back to the past tense in the next verse by saying “ the Servant was marred more than any man.” Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that Isaiah switches tenses to differentiate the suffering and exaltation of the Servant. When he is describing the past tense of the Servant, it is about his suffering while the future tense is used to describe the exaltation of the Servant.
Eric Chabot (chab123), Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society. Click here for his bio.
Who is the Servant of the Lord? Isa 52:13- 53: 12 Pt 3
By chab123 01/29/14
Within Hasidic Judaism, there are leaders who are called a “tzaddik” which is Hebrew for “righteous men.” A tzaddik is sometimes viewed as a Rebbe which means master or teacher. By the way, in the book of Acts, it was during Stephen’s famous speech that he refers to Jesus as a tzaddik : “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers.” (Acts 7:52)
Such an example of a present day tzaddik was seen in Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1951-1994), the leader of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidim. Some of the followers of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson think He is the Messiah and that He will come back from the dead (Schneerson died in 1994). Some in the Lubavitcher movement have even asserted that Isaiah 53 can be used as a proof text that the Messiah will rise from the dead. Of course, this has led to great controversy. Some in the Orthodox community have complained that the attempt to portray Schneerson as one who will rise from the dead and return a second time has too much in common with the Christian claim about Jesus. The irony is that in his book called Torat Hamenachem, Schneerson said the following about Isaiah 52:13:
The words “Behold My Servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high,” are referring to King Messiah (Avdi Meshicha)…The scripture mentions have attributes of the Messiah: prosper (yaskil), exalted (yarum), lifted up (nisa), raised up (gava), greatly (me’od) because the Messiah is from above and he is greater than the three fathers (Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov, Moses, and Adam-Kadmon…Moses is the first and the last redeemer,but king Messiah is greater.
Isa 52:14-15: “Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand.”
In Isaiah 53, there are ten references to the Servant’s Suffering-“marred” (52:14), ‘despised” (53:3), “rejected” (53:3); “sorrows” (53:3, 4) “grief” (53:3,10), “stricken” (53:4,8), “afflicted” (53:4), “wounded” (53:5), “bruised” (53:5, 10), “oppressed” (53:7).
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Eric Chabot (chab123), Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society. Click here for his bio.
Who is the Servant of the Lord? Isa 52:13- 53: 12 Pt 4
By chab123 01/29/14
Isa 53:2:“ For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”-
A canonical reading shows how Isaiah connects between the servant of Isaiah 53 and the coming King of Isaiah 11:1-16. In verse one it says, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” This indicates the Servant is a royal figure who is a Davidic King. Also, as Daniel I. Block notes, when the messiah is both characterized as a servant with a specific name, that name is always “David” or a person with a Davidic connection (1)
And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.-Ezek. 34: 23-24
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’-Jer. 23: 5-6
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch -Zech. 3:8.
Eric Chabot (chab123), Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society. Click here for his bio.
Who is the Servant of the Lord? Isa 52:13- 53: 12 Pt 5
By chab123 02/01/14
Over the years many Christians can’t understand why Jewish people can’t see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53. It would be nice if it was that simple. One of the most common questions is whether the New Testament authors were familiar with Isaiah 53 or any other texts in the Tanakh (the Old Testament) that pointed to a suffering messianic figure. After all, they were Jewish and had read the Scriptures all their lives. But there is no doubt that the early followers of Jesus had a hard time accepting the fact that Jesus was going to suffer and die: A couple of passages prove my point:
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you! (Matt 16:21).”
He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise. But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. (Mark 9:31). “
Also, with the exception of 1 Peter 2: 24-25, the New Testament passages that quote Isa. 53 don’t address the atoning significance of the Servant’s suffering. There is no doubt that the authors of the Gospel stress the death of Jesus. Paul’s citation of Isaiah 53:1 (Rom 10:16) with John’s (John 12:38) make the same point: the Jews have rejected the gospel. We do see Jesus is a Passover sacrifice (e.g, Jn. 19:14;1 Cor. 5:7-8); an unblemished sacrifice (1 Pet.1:19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7: 26-28; 9:14; 1 Pet. 2:21-25); a sin offering (Rom 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21) and a covenant sacrifice (e.g., Mk. 14:24; 1 Cor. 11:25).
Peter uses Old Testament prophecy in Acts 3:18, where he declares: “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.” Where in the prophets are we told that God’s “Christ (or Messiah) should suffer”? Isaiah 53 is probably what Peter is alluding to. Probably the most explicit case for Isaiah 53 being used is in Acts 8: 32-34 in the exchange between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
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A Call To End Violence Against Women
By Mary A. Kassian 11/25/2017
The dark glasses didn’t fully conceal her puffy black eye.
Four of us surrounded our friend, Sandra, when she came to church that morning. One woman gently embraced her, whispering truth in her ear. I knelt at her feet with a box of Kleenex, supplying her with fresh, dry tissues as she knurled the tear-drenched ones into balls. Two other friends flanked her like sentinels standing guard. The abuse was getting worse.
More than once, the police had been called. Church elders had promised Sandra money for lawyers, protection orders, accommodations, and anything else she might need. We had formulated a plan: Who to contact. Code words. Where we’d take her. What to do with the kids. We begged her not to go back that day. We could help her leave.
But Sandra refused. She insisted she wasn’t ready. Dismayed, I silently prayed that the next call would summon us to her aid, and not her funeral.
A few weeks later, the call came.
Mary A. Kassian is an author, speaker, and professor of women’s studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is author of several books, Bible studies, and videos, including Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture, Conversation Peace (Revised Edition): The Power of Transformed Speech, Knowing God by Name: A Personal Encounter (Bible Study Book), True Woman 101: Divine Design: An Eight-Week Study on Biblical Womanhood (True Woman), In My Father's House: Finding Your Heart's True Home and Biblical Womanhood in the Home (Foundations for the Family Series).
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
10. But if this does not satisfy the Jews, I know not what cavils will
enable them to evade the numerous passages in which Jehovah is said to
have appeared in the form of an Angel (Judges 6:7; 13:16-23, &c). This
Angel claims for himself the name of the Eternal God. Should it be
alleged that this is done in respect of the office which he bears, the
difficulty is by no means solved. No servant would rob God of his
honour, by allowing sacrifice to be offered to himself. But the Angel,
by refusing to eat bread, orders the sacrifice due to Jehovah to be
offered to him. Thus the fact itself proves that he was truly Jehovah.
Accordingly, Manoah and his wife infer from the sign, that they had
seen not only an angel, but God. Hence Manoah's exclamation, "We shall
die; for we have seen the Lord." When the woman replies, "If Jehovah
had wished to slay us, he would not have received the sacrifice at our
hand," she acknowledges that he who is previously called an angel was
certainly God. We may add, that the angel's own reply removes all
doubt, "Why do ye ask my name, which is wonderful?" Hence the impiety
of Servetus was the more detestable, when he maintained that God was
never manifested to Abraham and the Patriarchs, but that an angel was
worshipped in his stead. The orthodox doctors of the Church have
correctly and wisely expounded, that the Word of God was the supreme
angel, who then began, as it were by anticipation, to perform the
office of Mediator. For though he were not clothed with flesh, yet he
descended as in an intermediate form, that he might have more familiar
access to the faithful. This closer intercourse procured for him the
name of the Angel; still, however, he retained the character which
justly belonged to him--that of the God of ineffable glory. The same
thing is intimated by Hosea, who, after mentioning the wrestling of
Jacob with the angel, says, "Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is
his memorial," (Hosea 12:5). Servetus again insinuates that God
personated an angel; as if the prophet did not confirm what had been
said by Moses, "Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?"
(Gen. 32:29, 30). And the confession of the holy Patriarch sufficiently
declares that he was not a created angel, but one in whom the fulness
of the Godhead dwelt, when he says, "I have seen God face to face."
Hence also Paul's statement, that Christ led the people in the
wilderness (1 Cor. 10:4. See also Calvin on Acts 7:30, and infra, chap.
14, s. 9). Although the time of humiliation had not yet arrived, the
eternal Word exhibited a type of the office which he was to fulfil.
Again, if the first chapter of Zechariah (ver. 9, &c). and the second
(ver. 3, &c). be candidly considered, it will be seen that the angel
who sends the other angel is immediately after declared to be the Lord
of hosts, and that supreme power is ascribed to him. I omit numberless
passages in which our faith rests secure, though they may not have much
weight with the Jews. For when it is said in Isaiah, "Lo, this is our
God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord: we
have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation,"
(Isa. 25:9), even the blind may see that the God referred to is he who
again rises up for the deliverance of his people. And the emphatic
description, twice repeated, precludes the idea that reference is made
to any other than to Christ. Still clearer and stronger is the passage
of Malachi, in which a promise is made that the messenger who was then
expected would come to his own temple (Mal. 3:1). The temple certainly
was dedicated to Almighty God only, and yet the prophet claims it for
Christ. Hence it follows, that he is the God who was always worshipped
by the Jews.
11. The New Testament teems with innumerable passages, and our object must therefore be, the selection of a few, rather than an accumulation of the whole. But though the Apostles spoke of him after his appearance in the flesh as Mediator, every passage which I adduce will be sufficient to prove his eternal Godhead. And the first thing deserving of special observation is that predictions concerning the eternal God are applied to Christ, as either already fulfilled in him, or to be fulfilled at some future period. Isaiah prophesies, that "the Lord of Hosts" shall be "for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence," (Isa. 8:14). Paul asserts that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ (Rom. 9:33), and, therefore, declares that Christ is that Lord of Hosts. In like manner, he says in another passage, "We shall all stand before the Judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." Since in Isaiah God predicts this of himself (Isa. 45:23), and Christ exhibits the reality fulfilled in himself, it follows that he is the very God, whose glory cannot be given to another. It is clear also, that the passage from the Psalms (Ps. 68:19) which he quotes in the Epistle to the Ephesians, is applicable only to God, "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive," (Eph. 4:8). Understanding that such an ascension was shadowed forth when the Lord exerted his power, and gained a glorious victory over heathen nations, he intimates that what was thus shadowed was more fully manifested in Christ. So John testifies that it was the glory of the Son which was revealed to Isaiah in a vision (John 12:41; Isa. 6:4), though Isaiah himself expressly says that what he saw was the Majesty of God. Again, there can be no doubt that those qualities which, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, are applied to the Son, are the brightest attributes of God, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth," &c., and, "Let all the angels of God worship him," (Heb. 1:10, 6). And yet he does not pervert the passages in thus applying them to Christ, since Christ alone performed the things which these passages celebrate. It was he who arose and pitied Zion--he who claimed for himself dominion over all nations and islands. And why should John have hesitated to ascribe the Majesty of God to Christ, after saying in his preface that the Word was God? (John 1:14). Why should Paul have feared to place Christ on the Judgment-seat of God (2 Cor. 5:10), after he had so openly proclaimed his divinity, when he said that he was God over all, blessed for ever? And to show how consistent he is in this respect, he elsewhere says that "God was manifest in the flesh," (1 Tim. 3:16). If he is God blessed for ever, he therefore it is to whom alone, as Paul affirms in another place, all glory and honour is due. Paul does not disguise this, but openly exclaims, that "being in the form of God (he) thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation," (Phil. 2:6). And lest the wicked should glamour and say that he was a kind of spurious God, John goes farther, and affirms, "This is the true God, and eternal life." Though it ought to be enough for us that he is called God, especially by a witness who distinctly testifies that we have no more gods than one, Paul says, "Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there is but one God," (1 Cor. 8:5, 6). When we hear from the same lips that God was manifest in the flesh, that God purchased the Church with his own blood, why do we dream of any second God, to whom he makes not the least allusion? And there is no room to doubt that all the godly entertained the same view. Thomas, by addressing him as his Lord and God, certainly professes that he was the only God whom he had ever adored (John 20:28).
12. The divinity of Christ, if judged by the works which are ascribed to him in Scripture, becomes still more evident. When he said of himself, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," the Jews, though most dull in regard to his other sayings, perceived that he was laying claim to divine power. And, therefore, as John relates (John 5:17), they sought the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. What, then, will be our stupidity if we do not perceive from the same passage that his divinity is plainly instructed? To govern the world by his power and providence, and regulate all things by an energy inherent in himself (this an Apostle ascribes to him, Heb. 1:3), surely belongs to none but the Creator. Nor does he merely share the government of the world with the Father, but also each of the other offices, which cannot be communicated to creatures. The Lord proclaims by his prophets "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake," (Is. 43:25). When, in accordance with this declaration, the Jews thought that injustice was done to God when Christ forgave sins, he not only asserted, in distinct terms, that this power belonged to him, but also proved it by a miracle (Mt. 9:6). We thus see that he possessed in himself not the ministry of forgiving sins, but the inherent power which the Lord declares he will not give to another. What! Is it not the province of God alone to penetrate and interrogate the secret thoughts of the heart? But Christ also had this power, and therefore we infer that Christ is God.
13. How clearly and transparently does this appear in his miracles? I admit that similar and equal miracles were performed by the prophets and apostles; but there is this very essential difference, that they dispensed the gifts of God as his ministers, whereas he exerted his own inherent might. Sometimes, indeed, he used prayer, that he might ascribe glory to the Father, but we see that for the most part his own proper power is displayed. And how should not he be the true author of miracles, who, of his own authority, commissions others to perform them? For the Evangelist relates that he gave power to the apostles to cast out devils, cure the lepers, raise the dead, &c. And they, by the mode in which they performed this ministry, showed plainly that their whole power was derived from Christ. "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," says Peter (Acts 3:6), "rise up and walk." It is not surprising, then, that Christ appealed to his miracles in order to subdue the unbelief of the Jews, inasmuch as these were performed by his own energy, and therefore bore the most ample testimony to his divinity.
Again, if out of God there is no salvation, no righteousness, no life, Christ, having all these in himself, is certainly God. Let no one object that life or salvation is transfused into him by God. For it is said not that he received, but that he himself is salvation. And if there is none good but God, how could a mere man be pure, how could he be, I say not good and just, but goodness and justice? Then what shall we say to the testimony of the Evangelist, that from the very beginning of the creation "in him was life, and this life was the light of men?" Trusting to such proofs, we can boldly put our hope and faith in him, though we know it is blasphemous impiety to confide in any creature.  "Ye believe in God,"  says he, "believe also in me," (John 14:1). And so Paul (Rom. 10:11, and 15:12) interprets two passages of Isaiah "Whose believeth in him shall not be confounded," (Isa. 28:16); and, "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek," (Isa. 11:10). But why adduce more passages of Scripture on this head, when we so often meet with the expression, "He that believeth in me has eternal life?"
Again, the prayer of faith is addressed to him--prayer, which specially belongs to the divine majesty, if anything so belongs. For the Prophet Joel says, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord (Jehovah) shall be delivered" (Joel 2:32). And another says, "The name of the Lord (Jehovah) is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe," (Prov. 18:10). But the name of Christ is invoked for salvation, and therefore it follows that he is Jehovah. Moreover, we have an example of invocation in Stephen, when he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;" and thereafter in the whole Church, when Ananias says in the same book, "Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name," (Acts 9:13, 14). And to make it more clearly understood that in Christ dwelt the whole fulness of the Godhead bodily, the Apostle declares that the only doctrine which he professed to the Corinthians, the only doctrine which he taught, was the knowledge of Christ (1 Cor. 2:2). Consider what kind of thing it is, and how great, that the name of the Son alone is preached to us, though God command us to glory only in the knowledge of himself (Jer. 9:24). Who will dare to maintain that he, whom to know forms our only ground of glorying, is a mere creature? To this we may add, that the salutations prefixed to the Epistles of Paul pray for the same blessings from the Son as from the Father. By this we are taught, not only that the blessings which our heavenly Father bestows come to us through his intercession, but that by a partnership in power, the Son himself is their author. This practical knowledge is doubtless surer and more solid than any idle speculation. For the pious soul has the best view of God, and may almost be said to handle him, when it feels that it is quickened, enlightened, saved, justified, and sanctified by him.
14. In asserting the divinity of the Spirit, the proof must be derived from the same sources. And it is by no means an obscure testimony which Moses bears in the history of the creation, when he says that the Spirit of God was expanded over the abyss or shapeless matter; for it shows not only that the beauty which the world displays is maintained by the invigorating power of the Spirit, but that even before this beauty existed the Spirit was at work cherishing the confused mass.  Again, no cavils can explain away the force of what Isaiah says, "And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, has sent me," (Isa. 48:16), thus ascribing a share in the sovereign power of sending the prophets to the Holy Spirit. (Calvin in Acts 20:28). In this his divine majesty is clear.
But, as I observed, the best proof to us is our familiar experience. For nothing can be more alien from a creature, than the office which the Scriptures ascribe to him, and which the pious actually feel him discharging,--his being diffused over all space, sustaining, invigorating, and quickening all things, both in heaven and on the earth. The mere fact of his not being circumscribed by any limits raises him above the rank of creatures, while his transfusing vigour into all things, breathing into them being, life, and motion, is plainly divine. Again, if regeneration to incorruptible life is higher, and much more excellent than any present quickening, what must be thought of him by whose energy it is produced? Now, many passages of Scripture show that he is the author of regeneration, not by a borrowed, but by an intrinsic energy; and not only so, but that he is also the author of future immortality. In short, all the peculiar attributes of the Godhead are ascribed to him in the same way as to the Son. He searches the deep things of Gods and has no counsellor among the creatures; he bestows wisdom and the faculty of speech, though God declares to Moses (Exod. 4:11) that this is his own peculiar province. In like manner, by means of him we become partakers of the divine nature, so as in a manner to feel his quickening energy within us. Our justification is his work; from him is power, sanctification, truth, grace, and every good thought, since it is from the Spirit alone that all good gifts proceed. Particular attention is due to Paul's expression, that though there are diversities of gifts, "all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit," (1 Cor. 12:11), he being not only the beginning or origin, but also the author;  as is even more clearly expressed immediately after in these words "dividing to every man severally as he will." For were he not something subsisting in God, will and arbitrary disposal would never be ascribed to him. Most clearly, therefore does Paul ascribe divine power to the Spirit, and demonstrate that he dwells hypostatically in God.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 136His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
136 Give Thanks To The LORD
136:17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
The Sexual Revolution and the Witness of the Church
By Albert Mohler 7/01/2016
In the face of the sexual revolution, the Christian church in the West now faces a set of moral challenges that exceeds anything it has experienced in the past. This is a revolution of ideas — one that is transforming the entire moral structure of meaning and life. These challenges would be vexing enough for any generation. But the contours of our current challenge have to be understood over against the affecting reality for virtually everything on the American landscape, and furthermore in the West. This revolution, like all revolutions, takes few prisoners. In other words, it demands total acceptance of its revolutionary claims and the affirmation of its aims. This is the problem that now confronts Christians who are committed to faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God and to the gospel as the only message of salvation.
The scale and scope of this challenge are made clear in an argument made by the British theologian Theo Hobson. As Hobson acknowledges, “Churches have always faced difficult moral issues and they have muddled through.” Some will argue that the challenge of the sexual revolution and the normalization of homosexuality are nothing new or unusual. He says, “Until quite recently I would have agreed,” but he also says, “It becomes ever clearer that the issue of homosexuality really is different.”
Why is this challenge to Christianity different? Hobson suggests that the first reason is what he recognizes as the either/or quality of the new morality. I agree with him that there is no middle ground in terms of the church’s engagement with these hard and urgent questions. Churches will either affirm the legitimacy of same-sex relationships and behaviors or they will not. And the churches that do not will take a stand on the basis of a claim that God has revealed a morality to His human creatures in holy Scripture.
The second factor that Hobson suggests is what he calls “the sheer speed of the homosexual cause’s success.” As he describes it: “Something that was assumed for centuries to be unspeakably immoral has emerged as an alternative form of life, an identity that merits legal protection. The demand for gay equality has basically ousted traditionalist sexual morality from the moral high ground.” This is a profoundly important point. Hobson is arguing that this revolution, unlike any other, has actually turned the tables on Christianity in Western civilization.
The Christian church has always enjoyed the moral high ground; it has always been understood to be the guardian of what is right and righteous, at least in Western societies. But what we are seeing now is a fundamental change. Hobson is arguing that this moral revolution, having turned the tables of Christianity, now robs the Christian church of the moral high ground it had previously claimed. The situation is fundamentally reversed. For the first time in the history of Western civilization, Christianity appears to be on the underside of morality, and those who hold to biblical teachings concerning human sexuality are now “ousted” (to use Hobson’s word) from the position of high moral ground.
Hobson also rightly observes that this vast change in attitudes towards same-sex relationships and behaviors is not simply “the waning of the taboo.” As he explains:
It is not just a case of a practice losing its aura of immorality (as with premarital sex or illegitimacy). Instead, the case for homosexual equality takes the form of a moral crusade. Those who want to uphold the old attitude are not just dated moralists (as is the case with those who want to uphold the old attitude to premarital sex or illegitimacy). They are accused of moral defficiency. The old taboo surrounding this practice does not disappear but “bounces back” at those who seek to uphold it. Such a sharp turn-around is, I think, without parallel in moral history.
Hobson’s main point is that homosexuality “has the strange power to turn the moral tables.” And so what was previously understood to be immoral is now celebrated as a moral good. As a result, the Christian church’s historic teachings on homosexuality — shared by the vast majority of the citizens of the West until very recently — is now understood to be a relic of the past and a repressive force that must be eradicated.
This explains why the challenge of the moral revolution threatens to shake the very foundations of Christianity in the United States and far beyond. And yet, even as we understand this revolution to be a new thing, its roots are not recent. As a matter of fact, the church has seen the sexual revolution taking place turn by turn for the better part of the last century. What now becomes clear is that most Christians vastly underestimated the challenge this sexual revolution would present.
The confessing church must now be willing to be a moral minority, if that is what the times demand. The church has no right to follow the secular siren call toward moral revisionism and politically correct positions on the issues of the day.
Whatever the issue, the church must speak as the church — that is, as the community of fallen but redeemed sinners who stand under divine authority. The concern of the church is not to know its own mind, but to know and follow the mind of God. The church’s convictions must not emerge from the ashes of our own fallen wisdom, but from the authoritative Word of God, which reveals the wisdom of God and His commands.
The church must awaken to its status as a moral minority and hold fast to the gospel it has been entrusted to preach. In so doing, the deep springs of permanent truth will reveal the church to be a life-giving oasis amid American’s moral desert.
Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 17)
By John Foxe 1563Nor was the avarice of the Irish sufficient to produce the least restraint on their cruelty. Such was their frenzy, that the cattle they had seized, and by repine had made their own, were, because they bore the name of English, wontonly slaughtered, or, when covered with wounds, turned loose into the woods, there to perish by slow and lingering torments.
The commodious habitations of the planters were laid in ashes, or levelled with the ground. And where the wretched owners had shut themselves up in the houses, and were preparing for defence, they perished in the flames together with their wives and children.
Such is the general description of this unparalleled massacre; but it now remains, from the nature of our work, that we proceed to particulars. The bigoted and merciless papists had no sooner begun to imbrue their hands in blood than they repeated the horrid tragedy day after day, and the Protestants in all parts of the kingdom fell victims to their fury by deaths of the most unheard-of cruelty.
The ignorant Irish were more strongly instigated to execute the infernal business by the Jesuits, priests, and friars, who, when the day for the execution of the plot was agreed on, recommended in their prayers, diligence in the great design, which they said would greatly tend to the prosperity of the kingdom, and to the advancement of the Catholic cause. They everywhere declared to the common people, that the Protestants were heretics, and ought not to be suffered to live any longer among them; adding that it was no more sin to kill an Englishman than to kill a dog; and that the relieving or protecting them was a crime of the most unpardonable nature.
The papists having besieged the town and castle of Longford, and the inhabitants of the latter, who were Protestants, surrendering on condition of being allowed quarter, the besiegers, the instant the townspeople appeared, attacked them in a most unmerciful manner, their priest, as a signal for the rest to fall on, first ripping open the belly of the English Protestant minister; after which his followers murdered all the rest, some of whom they hanged, others were stabbed or shot, and great numbers knocked on the head with axes provided for the purpose.
The garrison at Sligo was treated in like manner by O'Connor Slygah; who, upon the Protestants quitting their holds, promised them quarter, and to convey them safe over the Curlew mountains, to Roscommon. But he first imprisoned them in a most loathsome jail, allowing them only grains for their food. Afterward, when some papists were merry over their cups, who were come to congratulate their wicked brethren for their victory over these unhappy creatures, those Protestants who survived were brought forth by the White-firars, and were either killed, or precipitated over the bridge into a swift river, where they were soon destroyed. It is added, that this wicked company of White-friars went, some time after, in solemn procession, with holy water in their hands, to sprinkle the river; on pretence of cleansing and purifying it from the stains and pollution of the blood and dead bodies of the heretics, as they called the unfortunate Protestants who were inhumanly slaughtered at this very time.
At Kilmore, Dr. Bedell, bishop of that see, had charitably settled and supported a great number of distressed Protestants, who had fled from their habitations to escape the diabolical cruelties committed by the papists. But they did not long enjoy the consolation of living together; the good prelate was forcibly dragged from his episcopal residence, which was immediately occupied by Dr. Swiney, the popish titular bishop of Kilmore, who said Mass in the church the Sunday following, and then seized on all the goods and effects belonging to the persecuted bishop.
Soon after this, the papists forced Dr. Bedell, his two sons, and the rest of his family, with some of the chief of the Protestants whom he had protected, into a ruinous castle, called Lochwater, situated in a lake near the sea. Here he remained with his companions some weeks, all of them daily expecting to be put to death. The greatest part of them were stripped naked, by which means, as the season was cold, (it being in the month of December) and the building in which they were confined open at the top, they suffered the most severe hardships. They continued in this situation until the seventh of January, when they were all released. The bishop was courteously received into the house of Dennis O'Sheridan, one of his clergy, whom he had made a convert to the Church of England; but he did not long survive this kindness. During his residence here, he spent the whole of his time in religious exercises, the better to fit and prepare himself and his sorrowful companions for their great change, as nothing but certain death was perpetually before their eyes. He was at this time in the seventy-first year of his age, and being afflicted with a violent ague caught in his late cold and desolate habitation on the lake, it soon threw him into a fever of the most dangerous nature. Finding his dissolution at hand, he received it with joy, like one of the primitive martyrs just hastening to his crown of glory. After having addressed his little flock, and exhorted them to patience, in the most pathetic manner, as they saw their own last day approaching, after having solemnly blessed his people, his family, and his children, he finished the course of his ministry and life together, on the seventh day of February 1642.
His friends and relations applied to the intruding bishop for leave to bury him, which was with difficulty obtained; he, at first telling them that the churchyard was holy ground, and should be no longer defiled with heretics: however, leave was at last granted, and though the church funeral service was not used at the solemnity, (for fear of the Irish papists) yet some of the better sort, who had the highest veneration for him while living, attended his remains to the grave. At this interment they discharged a volley of shot, crying out, Requiescat in pace ultimus Anglorum, that is, "May the last of the English rest in peace." Adding, that as he was one of the best so he should be the last English bishop found among them. His learning was very extensive; and he would have given the world a greater proof of it, had he printed all he wrote. Scarce any of his writings were saved; the papists having destroyed most of his papers and his library. He had gathered a vast heap of critical expositions of Scripture, all which with a great trunk full of his manuscripts, fell into the hands of the Irish. Happily his great Hebrew manuscript was preserved, and is now in the library of Emanuel College, Oxford.
In the barony of Terawley, the papists, at the instigation of the friars, compelled above forty English Protestants, some of whom were women and children, to the hard fate of either falling by the sword, or of drowning in the sea. These choosing the latter, were accordingly forced, by the naked weapons of their inexorable persecutors, into the deep, where, with their children in their arms, they first waded up to their chins, and afterwards sunk down and perished together.
In the castle of Lisgool upwards of one hundred and fifty men, women, and children, were all burnt together; and at the castle of Moneah not less than one hundred were all pput to the sword. Great numbers were also murdered at the castle of Tullah, which was delivered up to M'Guire on condition of having fair quarter; but no sooner had that base villain got possession of the place than he ordered his followers to murder the people, which was immeidately done with the greatest cruelty.
Many others were put to deaths of the most horrid nature, and such as could have been invented only by demons instead of men. Some of them were laid with the center of their backs on the axle-tree of a carriage, with their legs resting on the ground on one side, and their arms and head on the other. In this position, one of the savages scourged the wretched object on the thighs, legs, etc., while another set on furious dogs, who tore to pieces the arms and upper parts of the body; and in this dreadful manner were they deprived of their existence. Great numbers were fastened to horses' tails, and the beasts being set on full gallop by their riders, the wretched victims were dragged along until they expired. Others were hung on lofty gibbets, and a fire being kindled under them, they finished their lives, partly by hanging, and partly by suffocation.
Nor did the more tender sex escape the least particle of cruelty that could be projected by their merciless and furious persecutors. Many women, of all ages, were put to deaths of the most cruel nature. Some, in particular, were fastened with their backs to strong posts, and being stripped to their waists, the inhuman monsters cut off their right breasts with shears, which, of course, put them to the most excruciating torments; and in this position they were left, until, from the loss of blood, they expired.
Such was the savage ferocity of these barbarians, that even unborn infants were dragged from the womb to become victims to their rage. Many unhappy mothers were hung naked in the branches of trees, and their bodies being cut open, the innocent offsprings were taken from them, and thrown to dogs and swine. And to increase the horrid scene, they would oblige the husband to be a spectator before suffering himself.
At the town of Issenskeath they hanged above a hundred Scottish Protestants, showing them no more mercy than they did to the English. M'Guire, going to the castle of that town, desired to speak with the governor, when being admitted, he immediately burnt the records of the county, which were kept there. He then demanded 1000 pounds of the governor, which, having received, he immediately compelled him to hear Mass. and to swear that he would continue to do so. And to complete his horrid barbarities, he ordered the wife and children of the governor to be hanged before his face; besides massacring at least one hundred of the inhabitants. Upwards of one thousand men, women, and children, were driven, in different companies, to Portadown bridge, which was broken in the middle, and there compelled to throw themselves into the water, and such as attempted to reach the shore were knocked on the head.
In the same part of the country, at least four thousand persons were drowned in different places. The inhuman papists, after first stripping them, drove them like beasts to the spot fixed on for their destruction; and if any, through fatigue, or natural infirmities, were slack in their pace, they pricked them with their swords and pikes; and to strike terror on the multitude, they murdered some by the way. Many of these poor wretches, when thrown into the water, endeavored to save themselves by swimming to the shore but their merciless persecutors prevented their endeavors taking effect, by shooting them in the water.
In one place one hundred and forty English, after being driven for many miles stark naked, and in the most severe weather, were all murdered on the same spot, some being hanged, others burnt, some shot, and many of them buried alive; and so cruel were their tormentors that they would not suffer them to pray before they robbed them of their miserable existence.
Other companies they took under pretence of safe conduct, who, from that consideration, proceeded cheerfully on their journey; but when the treacherous papists had got them to a convenient spot, they butchered them all in the most cruel manner.
One hundred and fifteen men, women, and children, were conducted, by order of Sir Phelim O'Neal, to Portadown bridge, where they were all forced into the river, and drowned. One woman, named Campbell, finding no probability of escaping, suddenly clasped one of the chief of the papists in her arms, and held him so fast that they were both drowned together.
In Killyman they massacred forty-eight families, among whom twenty-two were burnt together in one house. The rest were either hanged, shot, or drowned.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
‘Lord, what should I do?’ (4)
12/06/2017 Bob Gass
‘Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.’
(Is 42:16) 16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. ESV
Another way God will lead you is: Through confronting your fear and taking a step of faith. Are you feeling uncertain or afraid as to God’s will in the situation? His promise to you is: ‘I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them’ (v. 16 NIV 2011 Edition). Pay particular attention to the words: ‘unfamiliar paths’…‘darkness’…‘rough places’. When you’ve sought God’s guidance through the Scriptures, when you’ve tried to listen to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, and when you’ve reached for the wisdom of trustworthy people, then you must step out in faith and do what you believe God is calling you to do. It’s one thing to ask, ‘Lord, what should I do?’ It’s entirely another thing to ask, ‘Am I willing to do it once You make it clear?’ Try to answer these two questions: a) What makes risk so difficult for you? Be honest. For most of us risk and change are uncomfortable, challenging, and even threatening. That’s why the Bible says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5 KJV). If you’ve been in the habit of leaning on your own understanding, it’s a hard habit to break. Now, God doesn’t say, ‘Don’t use your understanding’; He says, ‘Don’t lean on it – lean on Me.’ b) Are you willing to make a major change in your life – assuming that it’s the Lord’s will? You must answer these two questions. And not until they are answered correctly are you ready to move ahead.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
His name was Nicholas and he was born to a wealthy, elderly couple in what is now Turkey in the third century AD. Just a teenager when his parents died, he entered the monastery and eventually was ordained Bishop of the coastal city of Myra. Known for his generosity to the poor and for many miraculous answers to prayer, he confronted the pagan worship of “Diana” and was cruelly imprisoned during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. When Constantine ended the persecution of Christians, he attended the Council of Nicaea and helped write the Nicene Creed. A true Saint, Nicholas died this day, December 6, 343AD.
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
I won’t admit without a struggle that when I speak of God "uttering" or "inventing" the creatures I am "watering down the concept of creation." I am trying to give it, by remote analogies, some sort of content. I know that to create is defined as "to make out of nothing," ex nihilo. But I take that to mean “not out of any pre-existing material." It can't mean that God makes what God has not thought of, or that He gives His creatures any powers or beauties which He Himself does not possess. Why, we think that even human work comes nearest to creation when the maker has "got it all out of his own head."
Nor am I suggesting a theory of "emanations.'' The differentia of an "emanation"-literally an overflowing, a trickling out-would be that it suggests something involuntary. But my words-"uttering" and "inventing"-are meant to suggest an act.
This act, as it is for God, must always remain totally inconceivable to man. For we-even our poets and musicians and inventors-never, in the ultimate sense, make. We only build. We always have materials to build from. All we can know about the act of creation must be derived from what we can gather about the relation of the creatures to their Creator.
Now the very Pagans knew that any beggar at your door might be a god in disguise: and the parable of the sheep and the goats is Our Lord's comment. What you do, or don't do, to the beggar, you do, or don't do, to Him. Taken at the Pantheist extreme, this could mean that men are only appearances of God-dramatic representations, as it were. Taken at the Legalist extreme, it could mean that God, by a sort of Legal fiction, will "deem" your kindness to the beggar a kindness done to Himself. Or again, as Our Lord's own words suggest, that since the least of men are His "brethren," the whole action is, so to speak, "within the family." And in what sense brethren? Biologically, because Jesus is Man? Ontologically, because the light lightens them all? Or simply "loved like brethren." (It cannot refer only to the regenerate•.) I would ask first whether any one of these formulations is "right" in a sense which makes the others simply wrong? It seems to me improbable. If I ever see more clearly I will speak more surely.
Meanwhile, I stick to Owen's view. All creatures, from the angel to the atom, are other than God; with an otherness to which there is no parallel: incommensurable. The very words "to be" cannot be applied to Him and to them in exactly the same sense. But also, no creature is other than He in the same way in which it is other than all the rest. He is in it as they can never be in one another. In each of them as the ground and root and continual supply of its reality. And also in good rational creatures as light; in bad ones as fire, as at first the smouldering unease, and later the flaming anguish, of an unwelcome and vainly resisted presence.
Therefore of each creature we can say, "This also is Thou: neither is this Thou."
Simple faith leaps to this with astonishing ease. I once talked to a continental pastor who had seen Hitler, and had, by all human standards, good cause to hate him. "What did he look like?" I asked. "Like all men," he replied. "That is, like Christ."
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Religion is not a department of life;
it is something that enters into the whole of it.
--- Alan Watts and
O Lord, help us to hear the serpents rattle
before we feel its fangs.
--- T. DeWitt Talmage
One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it.
--- Vincent van Gogh
I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.
--- attributed to Albert Einstein
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
2 I am more boorish than anyone,
I lack human discernment;
3 I have not learned enough wisdom
to know the Holy One.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Prophets Still Speak
Ministry of Mercy as Savior and a Ministry of Judgment as the Coming King
Since Christ, at His first advent, came to suffer for the sins of the people, we now know (although the Jews of Jesus’day found it hard to realize) that His role as Judge and King will be fulfilled at His second advent. Concerning this subject, W. G. Moorehead wrote: Isaiah, who describes with eloquence worthy of a prophet the glories of the Messiah’s coming kingdom, also characterizes with the accuracy of the historian the humiliation, the trials, the agony which were to precede the triumph of the Redeemer of the world, presenting on the one hand a glorious King, Himself deity, “God with us,” who has all power; yet, on the other hand, One whose visage was more marred than any man, His bones out of joint and dying of thirst (Ps. 22). How can He be both the great Davidic Monarch, restoring again the glory of Solomon’s house, and also be a sacrifice bearing the sins of the people? Clearly, destinies so strongly contrasted could not be accomplished simultaneously. There is only one possible answer; … in the divine purpose the mighty drama is to be in two acts (His first advent and His second advent).
The Prophets Still Speak : Messiah In Both Testaments
1 Thessalonians 1:10
Believers are here described as waiting for the Son of God from heaven. Certainty of the fact of the advent; Christ shall come from heaven. Uncertainty of the time of the advent; “Of that day knoweth no man, not even the angels who are in heaven.” It would appear that the early Christians believed that Christ might come at any time, even in their days; the first advent, being so recent, excited within them the expectation of the immediateness of the second. Hence the doctrine of the second advent occupied a much more prominent place in the thoughts of the primitive Christians than it does in ours. It was to them a living power; believers then lived in constant expectation of the coming of the Lord; whereas the teaching of the present day has in a measure passed from it; its uncertainty, instead of exciting us to holiness and watchfulness, is too often abused as an encouragement to sloth and security.
The Pulpit Commentary (Set of 23 Volumes)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The bow in the cloud
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth. --- Genesis 9:13.
It is the will of God that human beings should get into moral relationship with Him, and His covenants are for this purpose. ‘Why does not God save me?’ He has saved me, but I have not entered into relationship with Him. “Why does not God do this and that?’ He has done it, the point is—Will I step into covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.
Waiting for God is incarnate unbelief, it means that I have no faith in Him; I wait for Him to do something in me that I may trust in that. God will not do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man has to go out of himself in his covenant with God as God goes out of Himself in His covenant with man. It is a question of faith in God—the rarest thing; we have faith only in our feelings. I do not believe God unless He will give me something in my hand whereby I may know I have it, then I say—‘Now I believe.’ There is no faith there. “Look unto Me, and be ye saved.”
When I have really transacted business with God on His covenant and have let go entirely, there is no sense of merit, no human ingredient in it at all, but a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and the whole thing is transfigured with peace and joy.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Veneziano: The Annunciation
The messenger is winger
and the girl
haloed a distance
and between them and us
down the long path the door
through which he has not
on his lips what all women
desire to hear
in his hand the flowers that
he has taken from her.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The other Prophets and excellent men are beneath this degree; but it holds good for all of them that the apprehension of their intellects becomes stronger at the separation, just as it is said: “And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be at your back.” After having reached this condition of enduring permanence, that intellect remains in one and the same state, the impediment that sometimes screened him off having been removed. And he will remain permanently in that state of intense pleasure, which does not belong to the genus of bodily pleasures, as we have explained in our compilations and as others have explained before us.
Our analysis of the concluding chapters of the Guide clearly indicates how Maimonides attempted to integrate the philosophic and halakhic sensibilities. The halakhic imperative “And you shall love the Lord your God” merged into love based on the philosophic knowledge of God.
There were individuals who were outraged at Maimonides’ claim that competent talmudic authorities who lacked philosophic knowledge of God were outside the chamber of the king:
Those who have come up to the habitation and walk around it are the jurists who believe true opinions on the basis of traditional authority and study the Law concerning the practices of Divine service, but do not engage in speculation concerning the fundamental principles of religion and make no inquiry whatever regarding the rectification of belief.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Diligently study the Scriptures. --- John 5:39.
Perhaps you have no taste for this despised book. The Sermons of George Whitefield (Two-Volume Set) Perhaps plays, romances, and books of polite entertainment suit your taste better. If this is your case, give me leave to tell you your taste is impaired, and, unless corrected by the Spirit and Word of God, you will never enter his heavenly kingdom, for unless you delight in God here, how will you be made fit to dwell with him hereafter? Is it a sin then, you will say, to read useless, impertinent books? I answer, Yes, and for the same reason that it is a sin to indulge in useless conversation, because both tend to grieve and quench that Spirit by whom alone we can be sealed to the day of redemption. You may reply, How will we know this? Why, put in practice the precept in the text; study the Scripture in the manner that has been recommended, and then you will be convinced of the danger, sinfulness, and unsatisfactoriness of reading any others than the book of God, or such as are written in the same spirit. Then you will say, when I was a child and ignorant of the excellence of the Word of God, I read what the world calls harmless books, but now that I have tasted the good word of life and have come to a more mature knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, I put away these childish, trifling things and am determined to read no other books but what lead me to a knowledge of myself and of Christ Jesus.
Study diligently, therefore, the Scriptures, my dear brothers and sisters. Taste and see how good the Word of God is, and then you will never leave that heavenly manna, that angel’s food, to feed on dry husks, that light bread, those trifling, sinful compositions in which people of false taste delight themselves. No, you will then disdain such poor entertainment and blush that you yourselves once were fond of it. The Word of God will then be sweeter to you than honey and the honeycomb and dearer than gold and silver; your souls by reading it will be filled “as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:5) and your hearts gradually molded into the spirit of its blessed Author. In short, you will be guided by God’s wisdom here and conducted by the light of his divine word into glory hereafter.
--- George Whitefield
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Dumb Ox
Potential is hard to spot. Who would have thought, for example, that a quiet, overweight, lumbering boy nicknamed “the Dumb Ox” would become the greatest theologian of the Middle Ages and establish the theology of Catholicism for centuries to come?
Thomas Aquinas, born a noble about 1225, enrolled in the University of Naples at age 14. His family encouraged him to pursue church office, but they were horrified when he renounced the prestige of ecclesiastical rank for a Dominican vow of poverty. His siblings kidnapped him, and he was imprisoned 15 months by his family. His brothers tempted him with money and even hired a prostitute to corrupt him. Thomas escaped through a window and fled to Paris where he sat under the great teacher Albertus Magnus.
Two intellectual forces were colliding in the classrooms of the day. The first was traditional theology; the other, Aristotle and other non-Christian writers like Averroes and Avicenna, the Muslims. The philosophers’ emphasis on reason seemed to undercut the theologians’ emphasis on faith. Thomas determined to bridge the two. All truth is coherent, he believed. The author of creation is the author of Scripture, thus true fact and true faith never conflict. Yet reason alone is insufficient. Revelation, theology, and the doctrines of faith show us the Triune God in greater detail.
Thomas’s towering intellect was accompanied by pulpit prowess. He would sometimes have to pause in mid-sermon, giving congregations time to recover from their weeping. Even more intense was his prayer life. “Every time he wanted to study, discuss, teach, write, or dictate,” said a friend, “he first had recourse to the privacy of prayer, weeping before God to discover the divine secrets.”
On December 6, 1273, while conducting Mass in the Chapel of St. Nicholas, a tremendous mystical experience broke over him. Thomas never again wrote theology. “I can do no more,” he told his servant. “Such things have been revealed to me that all that I have written seems to me as so much straw. Now I await the end of my life.”
But God has given us his Spirit. That’s why we don’t think the same way that the people of this world think. That’s also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us.
--- 1 Corinthians 2:12.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (Day 3)
The Wonder Of All Wonders
God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self determined beyond all proof.
Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety-that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it. Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly.... God is not ashamed of the lowliness of'human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.
That ... is the unrecognized mystery of this world: Jesus Christ. That this Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, was himself the Lord of glory: that was the mystery of God. It was a mystery because God became poor, low, lowly, and weak out of love for humankind, because God became a human being like us, so that we would become divine, and because he came to us so that we would come to him. God as the one who becomes low for our sakes, God in Jesus of Nazareth-that is the secret, hidden wisdom ... that "no eye has seen nor ear heard nor the human heart conceived" (1 Cor. 2:9).... That is the depth of the Deity, whom we warship as mystery and comprehend as mystery.
Go to 1 Corinthians 2:8-10 Click Here
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 6
“As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” --- 1 Corinthians 15:48.
The head and members are of one nature, and not like that monstrous image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The head was of fine gold, but the belly and thighs were of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet, part of iron and part of clay. Christ’s mystical body is no absurd combination of opposites; the members were mortal, and therefore Jesus died; the glorified head is immortal, and therefore the body is immortal too, for thus the record stands, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” As is our loving Head, such is the body, and every member in particular. A chosen Head and chosen members; an accepted Head, and accepted members; a living Head, and living members. If the head be pure gold, all the parts of the body are of pure gold also. Thus is there a double union of nature as a basis for the closest communion. Pause here, devout reader, and see if thou canst without ecstatic amazement, contemplate the infinite condescension of the Son of God in thus exalting thy wretchedness into blessed union with his glory. Thou art so mean that in remembrance of thy mortality, thou mayest say to corruption, “Thou art my father,” and to the worm, “Thou art my sister”; and yet in Christ thou art so honoured that thou canst say to the Almighty, “Abba, Father,” and to the Incarnate God, “Thou art my brother and my husband.” Surely if relationships to ancient and noble families make men think highly of themselves, we have whereof to glory over the heads of them all. Let the poorest and most despised believer lay hold upon this privilege; let not a senseless indolence make him negligent to trace his pedigree, and let him suffer no foolish attachment to present vanities to occupy his thoughts to the exclusion of this glorious, this heavenly honour of union with Christ.
Evening - December 6
“Girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” --- Revelation 1:13.
“One like unto the Son of Man” appeared to John in Patmos, and the beloved disciple marked that he wore a girdle of gold. A girdle, for Jesus never was ungirt while upon earth, but stood always ready for service, and now before the eternal throne he stays not His holy ministry, but as a priest is girt about with “the curious girdle of the ephod.” Well it is for us that he has not ceased to fulfil his offices of love for us, since this is one of our choicest safeguards that he ever liveth to make intercession for us. Jesus is never an idler; his garments are never loose as though his offices were ended; he diligently carries on the cause of his people. A golden girdle, to manifest the superiority of his service, the royalty of his person, the dignity of his state, the glory of his reward. No longer does he cry out of the dust, but he pleads with authority, a King as well as a Priest. Safe enough is our cause in the hands of our enthroned Melchizedek.
Our Lord presents all his people with an example. We must never unbind our girdles. This is not the time for lying down at ease, it is the season of service and warfare. We need to bind the girdle of truth more and more tightly around our loins. It is a golden girdle, and so will be our richest ornament, and we greatly need it, for a heart that is not well braced up with the truth as it is in Jesus, and with the fidelity which is wrought of the Spirit, will be easily entangled with the things of this life, and tripped up by the snares of temptation. It is in vain that we possess the Scriptures unless we bind them around us like a girdle, surrounding our entire nature, keeping each part of our character in order, and giving compactness to our whole man. If in heaven Jesus unbinds not the girdle, much less may we upon earth. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.
Morning and Evening
HIS NAME IS WONDERFUL
Words and Music by Audrey Mieir, 1916–
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV
More than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Isaiah told of One who would be the hope of mankind, the long awaited Messiah who would establish an eternal kingdom based on justice and righteousness. Isaiah’s important pronouncement told that this one would be a God-man: a child born—His humanity; a son given—His deity. The quintuplet of names ascribed to this One gives further insight into His character and ministry:
• Wonderful— He would be wonderful in what He would accomplish for the fallen human race.
• Counselor— He would be our guide through life, and our advocate before the heavenly Father.
• The Mighty God— He would be the God before whom every knee shall one day bow.
• The Everlasting Father— He would be the God of eternity.
• The Prince of Peace— He would be the one who would ultimately bring a true tranquillity among all nations.
Audrey Mieir has been widely known for several decades as the composer and author of many fine Gospel songs and choruses. “His Name Is Wonderful,” written in 1959, is one of her finest. She tells in her biography how the inspiration for this song occurred while she watched the annual Christmas program given at her Bethel Union Church in Duarte, California. After the usual procession of angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, the singing of “sleep in heavenly peace,” the pastor of the church suddenly exclaimed—“His Name Is Wonderful.” Audrey Mieir tells that she quickly grabbed her Bible, searched the concordance for names given to Jesus in the Scriptures, and soon composed this song, which has since been sung around the world:
His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonderful, Jesus, my Lord; He is the mighty King, Master of ev’rything; His name is Wonderful, Jesus, my Lord; He’s the great Shepherd, the Rock of all ages, Almighty God is He; bow down before Him, love and adore Him; His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord.
For Today: Psalm 72:19; Proverbs 18:10; 22:1; John 1:12; Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9,10
The more intimately we know the “child-Son,” the deeper grows our love and devotion for Him. Worship Him even now and throughout the day with the singing of this song ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
(1.) The heaven of angels, and other excellent creatures, belong to his authority. He is principally called “The Lord of Hosts,” in relation to his entire command over the angelical legions: therefore, ver. 21, following the text, they are called his “hosts,” and “ministers that do his pleasure.” Jacob called him so before (Gen. 32:1, 2). When he met the angels of God, he calls them “the host of God;” and the Evangelist, long after, calls them so (Luke 2:13): “A multitude of the heavenly host, praising God;” and all this host he commands (Isa. 45:12): “My hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” He employs them all in his service; and when he issues out his orders to them to do this or that, he finds no resistance of his will. And the inanimate creatures in heaven are at his beck; they are his armies in heaven, disposed in an excellent order in their several ranks (Psalm 147:4): “He calls the stars by name;” they render a due obedience to him as servants to their master, when he singles them out, “and calls them by name,” to do some special service; he calls them out to their several offices, as the general of an army appoints the station of every regiment in a battalia. Or “he calls them by name,” i. e. he imposeth names upon them, a sign of dominion: the giving names to the inferior creatures being the first act of Adam’s derivative dominion over them. These are under the sovereignty of God. The stars, by their influences, fight against Sisera (Judges 5:20). And the sun holds in its reins, and stands stone still, to light Joshua to a complete victory (Josh. 10:12). They are all marshalled in their ranks to receive his word of command, and fight in close order, as being desirous to have a share in the ruin of the enemies of their Sovereign. And those creatures which mount up from the earth, and take their place in the lower heavens, vapors, whereof hail and snow are formed, are part of the army, and do not only receive, but fulfil, his word of command (Psalm 148:8). These are his stores and magazines of judgment against a time of trouble, and “a day of battle and war” (Job 38:22, 23). The sovereignty of God is visible in all their motions, in their going and returning. If he says, Go, they go; if he say, Come, they come; if he say, do this, they gird up their loins, and stand stiff to their duty.
(2.) The hell of devils belong to his authority. They have cast themselves out of the arms of his grace into the furnace of his justice; they have, by their revolt, forfeited the treasure of his goodness, but cannot exempt themselves from the sceptre of his dominion; when they would not own him as a Lord Father, they are under him as a Lord Judge; they are cast out of his affection, but not freed from his yoke. He rules over the good angels as his subjects, over the evil ones as his rebels. In whatsoever relation he stands, either as a friend or enemy, he never loses that of a Lord. A prince is the lord of his criminals as well as of his loyalest subjects. By this right of his sovereignty, he uses them to punish some, and be the occasion of benefit to others: on the wicked he employs them as instruments of vengeance; towards the godly, as in the case of Job, as an instrument of kindness for the manifestation of his sincerity against the intention of that malicious executioner. Though the devils are the executioners of his justice, it is not by their own authority, but God’s; as those that are employed either to rack or execute a malefactor, are subjects to the prince not only in the quality of men, but in the execution of their function. The devil, by drawing men to sin, acquires no right to himself over the sinner: for man by sin offends not the devil, but God, and becomes guilty of punishment under God. When, therefore, the devil is used by God for the punishment of any, it is an act of his sovereignty for the manifestation of the order of his justice. And as most nations use the vilest persons in offices of execution, so doth God those vile spirits. He doth not ordinarily use the good angels in those offices of vengeance, but in the preservation of his people. When he would solely punish, he employs “evil angels” (Psalm 78:49), a troop of devils. His sovereignty is extended over the “deceiver and the deceived” (Job 12:16); over both the malefactor and the executioner, the devil and his prisoner. He useth the natural malice of the devils for his own just ends, and by his sovereign authority orders them to be the executioners of his judgments upon their own vassals, as well as sometimes inflicters of punishments upon his own servants.
(3.) The earth of men and other creatures belongs to his authority (Psalm 47:7). God is King of “all the earth,” and rules to the “ends” of it (Psalm 59:13). Ancient atheists confined God’s dominion to the heavenly orbs, and bounded it within the circuit of the celestial sphere (Job 22:14): “He walks in the circuit of heaven,” i. e. he exerciseth his dominion only there. Pedum positio was the sign of the possession of a piece of land, and the dominion of the possessor of it; and land was resigned by such a ceremony, as now, by the delivery of a twig or turf But his dominion extends,
1st. Over the least creatures. All the creatures of the earth are listed in Christ’s muster-roll, and make up the number of his regiments. He hath an host on earth as well as in heaven (Gen. 2:1): “The heavens and earth were finished, and all the host of them.” And they are “all his servants” (Psalm 135:9), and move at his pleasure. And he vouchsafes the title of his army to the locust, caterpillar, and palmer worm (Joel 2:25); and describes their motions by military words, “climbing the walls, marching, not breaking their ranks” (ver. 7). He hath the command, as a great general, over the highest angel and the meanest worm; all the kinds of the smallest insects he presseth for his service. By this sovereignty he muzzled the devouring nature of the fire to preserve the three children, and let it loose to consume their adversaries; and if he speaks the word, the stormy waves are hushed, as if they had no principle of rage within them (Psalm 89:9). Since the meanest creature attains its end, and no arrow that God hath by his power shot into the world but hits the mark he aimed at, we must conclude, that there is a sovereign hand that governs all: not a spot of earth, or air, or water in the world, but is his possession; not a creature in any element but is his subject.
2d. His dominion extends over men. It extends over the highest potentate, as well as the meanest peasant; the proudest monarch is no more exempt than the most languishing beggar. He lays not aside his authority to please the prince, nor strains it up to terrify the indigent. “He accepts not the persons of princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of his hand” (Job 34:19). Both the powers and weaknesses, the gallantry and peasantry of the earth, stand and fall at his pleasure. Man, in innocence, was under his authority as his creature; and man, in his revolt, is further under his authority as a criminal: as a person is under the authority of a prince, as a governor, while he obeys his laws; and further under the authority of the prince, as a judge, when he violates his laws. Man is under God’s dominion in everything, in his settlement, in his calling, in the ordering his very habitation (Acts 17:26): “He determines the bounds of their habitations.” He never yet permitted any to be universal monarch in the world, nor over the fourth part of it, though several, in the pride of their heart, have designed and attempted it: the pope, who hath bid the fairest for it in spirituals, never attained it; and when his power was most flourishing, there were multitudes that would never acknowledge his authority.
3d. But especially this dominion, in the peculiarity of its extent, is seen in the exercise of it over the spirits and hearts of men. Earthly governors have, by his indulgence, a share with him in a dominion over men’s bodies, upon which account he graceth princes and judges with the title of “gods” (Psalm 82:6); but the highest prince is but a prince “according to the flesh,” as the apostle calls masters in relation to their servants (Col. 3:22).
God is the sovereign; man rules over the beast in man, the body; and God rules over the man in man, the soul. It sticks not in the outward surface, but pierceth to the inward marrow. It is impossible God should be without this; if our wills were independent of him, we were in some sort equal with himself, in part gods, as well as creatures. It is impossible a creature, either in whole or in part, can be exempted from it; since he is the fashioner of hearts as well as of bodies. He is the Father of spirits, and therefore hath the right of a paternal dominion over them. When he established man lord of the other creatures, he did not strip himself of the propriety; and when he made man a free agent, and lord of the acts of his will, he did not divest himself of the sovereignty. His sovereignty is seen,
[1.] In gifting the spirits of men. Earthly magistrates have hands too short to inspire the hearts of their subjects with worthy sentiments: when they confer an employment, they are not able to convey an ability with it fit for the station: they may as soon frame a statue of liquid water, and gild, or paint it over with the costliest colors, as impart to any, a state-head for a state-ministry. But when God chooseth a Saul from so mean an employment as seeking of asses, he can treasure up in him a spirit fit for government; and fire David, in age a stripling, and by education a shepherd, with courage to encounter, and skill to defeat, a massy Goliath. And when he designs a person for glory, to stand before his throne, he can put a new and a royal spirit into him (Ezek. 36:26). God only can infuse habits into the soul, to capacitate it to act nobly and generously.
[2.] His sovereignty is seen in regard of the inclinations of men’s wills. No creature can immediately work upon the will, to guide it to what point he pleaseth, though mediately it may, by proposing reasons which may master the understanding, and thereby determine the will. But God bows the hearts of men, by the efficacy of his dominion, to what centre he pleaseth. When the more overweaning sort of men, that thought their own heads as fit for a erown as Saul’s, scornfully despised him; yet God touched the hearts of a band of men to follow and adhere to him (1 Sam. 10:26, 27). When the anti-christian whore shall be ripe for destruction, God shall “put it into the heart” of the ten horns or kings, “to hate the whore, burn her with fire, and fulfil his will” (Rev. 17:16, 17). He “fashions the hearts” alike, and tunes one string to answer another, and both to answer his own design (Psalm 33:15). And while men seem to gratify their own ambition and malice, they execute the will of God, by his secret touch upon their spirits, guiding their inclinations to serve the glorious manifestation of truth. While the Jews would, in a reproachful disgrace to Christ, crucify two thieves with him, to render him more incapable to have any followers, they accomplished a prophecy, and brought to light a mark of the Messiah, whereby he had been charactered in one of their prophets, that he should be “numbered among transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). He can make a man of not willing, willing; the wills of all men are in his hand; i. e. under the power of his sceptre, to retain or let go upon this or that errand, to bend this or that way; as water is carried by pipes to what house or place the owner of it is pleased to order. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters; he turns it whithersoever he will” (Prov. 21:1) without any limitation. He speaks of the heart of princes; because, in regard of their height, they seem to be more absolute, and impetuous as waters; yet God holds them in his hand, under his dominion; turns them to acts of clemency or severity, like waters, either to overflow and damage, or to refresh and fructify. He can convey a spirit to them, or “cut it off” from them (Psalm 76:12). It is with reference to his efficacious power, in graciously turning the heart of Paul, that the apostle breaks off his discourse of the story of his conversion, and breaks out into a magnifying and glorifying of God’s dominion. “Now unto the King eternal,” &c. “be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17). Our hearts are more subject to the Divine sovereignty than our members in their motions are subject to our own wills. As we can move our hand east or west to any quarter of the world, so can God bend our wills to what mark he pleases. The second cause in every motion depends upon the first; and that will, being a second cause, may be furthered or hindered in its inclinations or executions by God; he can bend or unbend it, and change it from one actual inclination to another. It is as much under his authority and power to move, or hinder, as the vast engine of the heavens is in its motion or standing still, which he can affect by a word. The work depends upon the workman; the clock upon the artificer for the motions of it.
[3.] His dominion is seen in regard of terror or comfort. The heart or conscience is God’s special throne on earth, which he hath reserved to himself, and never indulged human authority to sit upon it. He solely orders this in ways of conviction or comfort. He can flash terror into men’s spirits in the midst of their earthly jollities, and put death into the pot of conscience, when they are boiling up themselves in a high pitch of worldly delights, and can raise men’s spirits above the sense of torment under racks and flames. He can draw a hand-writing not only in the outward chamber, but the inward closet; bring the rack into the inwards of a man. None can infuse comfort when he writes bitter things, nor can any fill the heart with gall, when he drops in honey. Men may order outward duties, but they cannot unlock the conscience, and constrain men to think them duties which they are forced, by human laws, outwardly to act: and as the laws of earthly princes are bounded by the outward man, so do their executions and punishments reach no further than the case of the body: but God can run upon the inward man, as a giant, and inflict wounds and gashes there.
5. It is an eternal dominion. In regard of the exercise of it, it was not from eternity, because there was not from eternity any creature under the government of it; but in regard of the foundation of it, his essence, his excellency, it is eternal; as God was from eternity almighty, but there was no exercise or manifestation of it till he began to create. Men are kings only for a time; their lives expire like a lamp, and their dominion is extinguished with their lives; they hand their empire by succession to others, but many times it is snapped off before they are cold in their graves. How are the famous empires of the Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, and Greeks, mouldered away, and their place knows them no more! and how are the wings of the Roman eagle cut, and that empire which overspread a great part of the world, hath lost most of its feathers, and is confined to a narrower compass! The dominion of God flourisheth from one generation to another: “He sits King forever” (Psalm 29:10). His “session” signifies the establishment, and “forever” the duration; and he “sits now,” his sovereignty is as absolute, as powerful as ever. How many lords and princes hath this or that kingdom had! in how many families hath the sceptre lodged! when as God hath had an uninterrupted dominion; as he hath been always the same in his essence, he hath been always glorious in his sovereignty: among men, he that is lord to-day, may be stripped of it to-morrow; the dominions in the world vary; he that is a prince may see his royalty upon the wings, and feel himself laden with fetters; and a prisoner may be “lifted from his dungeon” to a throne. But there can be no diminution of God’s government; “His throne is from generation to generation” (Lam. 5:19); it cannot be shaken: his sceptre, like Aaron’s rod, is always green; it cannot be wrested out of his hands; none raised him to it, none therefore can depose him from it; it bears the same splendor in all human affairs; he is an eternal, an “immortal King” (1 Tim. 1:17); as he is eternally mighty, so he is eternally sovereign; and, being an eternal King, he is a King that gives not a momentary and perishing, but a durable and everlasting life, to them that obey him: a durable and eternal punishment to them that resist him.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Walt Russell | Biola University
7, 2 and 12 Steps of Exegesis
Interpretation Romans 8:1-11
Theological Systems Influence on Interpretation
Genre In Interpretation