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Genesis 33     Mark 4     Esther 9-10     Romans 4


Genesis 33

Jacob Meets Esau

Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. 2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. 7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8 Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you.” 13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. 14 Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15 So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17 But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. 19 And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. 20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.


Mark 4

The Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables


10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“ ‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’ ”


13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

A Lamp Under a Basket

21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

The Parable of the Seed Growing

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Jesus Calms a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” ( We have a little plaque hanging in the restroom that we received as a gift many years ago. The name at the bottom says Audrey J. Brennan. The plaque says, “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, sometimes He lets the storm rage … and calms His child.” )


Esther 9

The Jews Destroy Their Enemies

Esther 9:1 Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. 3 All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, 7 and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha 9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder.

11 That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.” 14 So the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed 300 men in Susa, but they laid no hands on the plunder.

16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.

The Feast of Purim Inaugurated

20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.

29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.


Esther 10

The Greatness of Mordecai

Esther 10:1 King Ahasuerus imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. 2 And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.


Romans 4

Abraham Justified by Faith

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

7  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8  blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”


9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

The Promise Realized Through Faith

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

The Reformation Study Bible



What I'm Reading

The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Early Church

By Michael J. Kruger 11/1/2016

     There is little doubt that most people are confused by the book of Revelation. Perhaps is not surprising, then, that people are equally confused by its journey into the New Testament canon.

     Revelation is one of those “debated” books in the early church, along with books like 2 Peter, 2-3 John, and Jude.

     If you are looking for more on the canonical history of Revelation, I point you to my recent article entitled, “The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Early Church” which has just come out in the new volume Book of Seven Seals: The Peculiarity of Revelation, its Manuscripts, Attestation, and Transmission (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament) (English and German Edition).

     In essence, I argue that Revelation had a very different canonical history than most other debated NT books. Other debated books tended to have a lukewarm reception at the earliest stages, only to gain more and more acceptance over time. Revelation, on the other hand, had nearly the opposite experience; it had a very early and positive reception in many parts of the church, only to run into serious challenges at a later point.

     For a briefer (and less academic) overview of Revelation’s canonical history, see my prior blog article “The Book of Revelation: How Difficult Was Its Journey into the Canon.”

Click here for entire article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

The Likely Forger Behind the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

By Michael J. Kruger 6/16/2016

     It has been a while since the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife has been in the headlines. It was originally unveiled by Karen King at Harvard (here), but quickly exposed as a likely forgery. I have also written on the fragment (here and here).

     While this document’s status as a forgery is relatively certain, what has been uncertain (until now) is the identity of the forger. Who was the person who created this document and convinced King and others to promote it?

     The forger must have had some Coptic abilities. But, the abilities would have had limits–as demonstrated by the mistakes in the Coptic text.

     What is remarkable is that King herself has not undertaken a rigorous investigation of the document’s origins and provenance. Who discovered this document? Who owned it? And how was it passed along? If the authenticity of a document is in doubt, this is an important avenue to pursue. But no one has wanted to pursue it.

     But, now someone finally has.  A journalist named Ariel Sabar has just published a splendid piece in The Atlantic documenting the history of this forgery and tracing it back to the current owner, and likely forger, a rather shady German business man, and washed-out Coptic student, named Walter Fritz.

Click here for entire article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

My Review of “How the Bible Became Holy

By Michael J. Kruger 12/14/2015

     This past week, my review of Michael Satlow, How the Bible Became Holy appeared in the latest volume of Themelios.

     As the title suggests, this is yet another book (in a long list of predecessors) that insists that the idea of an authoritative Scripture is a late invention of Christians.

     According to Satlow, the Bible was not originally holy. It became holy. And that didn’t even happen until well into the third century or later.

     Although Satlow’s volume covers both OT and NT issues, my review addressed some weaknesses on the NT side of things:

     "As for the development of the New Testament canon, Satlow provides a brief overview of some of the major players in the second century, including Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Irenaeus (pp. 241–56). Although there is substantial evidence that these individuals held a high view of New Testament writings, one gets the impression that Satlow is trying to minimize this evidence at every turn. For example, when it comes to Justin Martyr, he argues that the Gospels “play a relatively minor role for him” and “didn’t play much of a role in the lives of most ordinary Christians” (p. 250). But, then Satlow just glosses over the major text that shows otherwise, namely Justin’s description of how the Gospels are read in early Christian worship services as Scripture on par with the Old Testament writings (1 Apol. 67.3). Surely this suggests that the Gospels not only possessed a high authority, but that they did play an important role in the life of ordinary Christians.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?

By Michael J. Kruger 10/19/2015

     In the study of the New Testament canon, scholars like to highlight the first time we see a complete list of 27 books. Inevitably, the list contained in Athanasius’ famous Festal Letter (c.367) is mentioned as the first time this happened.

     As a result, it is often claimed that the New Testament was a late phenomenon. We didn’t have a New Testament, according to Athanasius, until the end of the fourth century.

     But, this sort of reasoning is problematic on a number of levels. First, we don’t measure the existence of the New Testament just by the existence of lists. When we examine the way certain books were used by the early church fathers, it is evident that there was a functioning canon long before the fourth century. Indeed, by the second century, there is already a “core” collection of New Testament books functioning as Scripture.

     Second, there are reasons to think that Athanasius’ list is not the earliest complete list we possess. In the recent festschrift for Larry Hurtado, Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado (The Library of New Testament Studies), I wrote an article entitled, “Origen’s List of New Testament Books in Homiliae on Josuam 7.1: A Fresh Look.”

     In that article, I argue that around 250 A.D., Origen likely produced a complete list of all 27 New Testament books–more than a hundred years before Athanasius. In his typical allegorical fashion, Origen used the story of Joshua to describe the New Testament canon:

Click here for entire article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 17

In the Shadow of Your Wings
17 A Prayer Of David.

6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.

10 They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11 They have now surrounded our steps;
they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
12 He is like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush.
13 Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,

ESV Reformation Study Bible

Do We Have the Original Text? Some Optimism in Textual Criticism

By Michael J. Kruger 12/3/2014

     Over the last few decades, the world of textual criticism has had a less than an optimistic feel about it. While the central purpose of textual criticism has traditionally been the recovery of the “original” text (regardless of whether one is dealing with the New Testament or any ancient text), some are now suggesting that it should not necessarily be the goal of the discipline.

     Bart Ehrman, commenting on the attempts to recover the original text, declares, “It is by no means self-evident that this ought to be the goal of the discipline…there may indeed be scant reason to privilege the ‘original’ text over forms of the text that developed subsequently” (“Text as Window,” 361, n.1).

     In addition, others have express substantial skepticism about whether the “original” text can even be recovered at all. Helmut Koester has argued that the text has changed dramatically in the earliest time period of its transmission–a period prior to our earliest copies–and thus scholars are “naive” if they think it can be recovered (“Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century,” 19).

     Now, it is important to recognize that these scholars are correct in many ways. Prior generations of scholars have perhaps given too little attention to the complexities and challenges in recovering the original text of the New Testament. And it is correct that we cannot have absolutely 100% certainty regarding every single textual variation.

     That said, I thought it might be helpful to also revisit the more optimistic voices within in the practice of textual criticism. One key question is whether the original text has been lost entirely (and thus appears in none of our manuscripts), or whether our manuscripts (at least somewhere) contain the original text. Here are just a few quotes from scholars who think that the original text is still in our possession:

Click here for entire article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Is the Original Text of the New Testament Lost? Rethinking Our Access to the Autographs

By Michael J. Kruger 5/13/2015

     One of the standard challenges for New Testament textual criticism is whether we can work our way back to the original text. Some scholars are notoriously skeptical in this regard. Since we only have later copies, it is argued, we cannot be sure that the text was not substantially changed in the time period that pre-dates those copies.

     Helmut Koester and Bart Ehrman are examples of this skeptical approach. Koester has argued that the text of the New Testament in the earliest stages was notoriously unstable. Most major changes, he argues, would have taken place in the first couple centuries.

     Ehrman makes a similar case. Since we don’t have the originals, and only copies of copies of copies, then who knows what the text was really like before our extant copies were made.

     But is it really true that we only possess copies of copies of copies? Is there really an enormous gap, as Koester and Ehrman maintain, between the autographs and our earliest copies?

     A recent article by Craig Evans of Acadia University suggests otherwise.  In the most recent issue of the Bulletin for Biblical Research, Evans explores the question of how long manuscripts would have lasted in the ancient world, and whether that might provide some guidance of how long the autographs might have lasted–and therefore how long they would have been copied.

Click here for entire article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     1. From what has been said above, it must now be clear, that all whom, from the beginning of the world, God adopted as his peculiar people, were taken into covenant with him on the same conditions, and under the same bond of doctrine, as ourselves; but as it is of no small importance to establish this point, I will here add it by way of appendix, and show, since the Fathers were partakers with us in the same inheritance, and hoped for a common salvation through the grace of the same Mediator, how far their condition in this respect was different from our own. For although the passages which we have collected from the Law and the Prophets for the purpose of proof, make it plain that there never was any other rule of piety and religion among the people of God; yet as many things are written on the subject of the difference between the Old and New Testaments in a manner which may perplex ordinary readers, it will be proper here to devote a special place to the better and more exact discussion of this subject. This discussion, which would have been most useful at any rate, has been rendered necessary by that monstrous miscreant, Servetus, and some madmen of the sect of the Anabaptists, who think of the people of Israel just as they would do of some herd of swine, absurdly imagining that the Lord gorged them with temporal blessings here, and gave them no hope of a blessed immortality. [226] Let us guard pious minds against this pestilential error, while we at the same time remove all the difficulties which are wont to start up when mention is made of the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. By the way also, let us consider what resemblance and what difference there is between the covenant which the Lord made with the Israelites before the advent of Christ, and that which he has made with us now that Christ is manifested.

2. It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs. But because this brief summary is insufficient to give any one a full understanding of the subject, our explanation to be useful must extend to greater length. It were superfluous, however, in showing the similarity, or rather identity, of the two dispensations, again to treat of the particulars which have already been discussed, as it were unseasonable to introduce those which are still to be considered elsewhere. What we propose to insist upon here may be reduced to three heads:--First, That temporal opulence and felicity was not the goal to which the Jews were invited to aspire, but that they were admitted to the hope of immortality, and that assurance of this adoption was given by immediate communications, by the Law and by the Prophets. Secondly, That the covenant by which they were reconciled to the Lord was founded on no merits of their own, but solely on the mercy of God, who called them; and, thirdly, That they both had and knew Christ the Mediator, by whom they were united to God, and made capable of receiving his promises. The second of these, as it is not yet perhaps sufficiently understood, will be fully considered in its own place (Book 3 chap. 15-18). For we will prove by many clear passages in the Prophets, that all which the Lord has ever given or promised to his people is of mere goodness and indulgence. The third also has, in various places, been not obscurely demonstrated. Even the first has not been left unnoticed.

3. As the first is most pertinent to the present subject, and is most controverted, we shall enter more fully into the consideration of it, taking care, at the same time, where any of the others requires explanations to supply it by the way, or afterwards add it in its proper place. The Apostle, indeed, removes all doubt when he says that the Gospel which God gave concerning his Son, Jesus Christ, "he had promised aforetime by his prophets in the holy Scriptures," (Rom. 1:2). And again, that "the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets," (Rom. 3:21). For the Gospel does not confine the hearts of men to the enjoyment of the present life, but raises them to the hope of immortality; does not fix them down to earthly delights, but announcing that there is a treasure laid up in heaven, carries the heart thither also. For in another place he thus explains, "After that ye believed [the Gospel,] ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession," (Eph. 1:13, 14). Again, "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel," (Col. 1:4). Again, "Whereunto he called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," (2 Thess. 2:14). Whence also it is called the word of salvation and the power of God, with salvation to every one that believes, and the kingdom of heaven. [227] But if the doctrine of the Gospel is spiritual, and gives access to the possession of incorruptible life, let us not suppose that those to whom it was promised and declared altogether neglected the care of the soul, and lived stupidly like cattle in the enjoyment of bodily pleasures. Let no one here quibble and say, that the promises concerning the Gospel, which are contained in the Law and the Prophets, were designed for a new people. [228] For Paul, shortly after making that statement concerning the Gospel promised in the Law, adds, that "whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law." I admit, indeed, he is there treating of a different subject, but when he said that every thing contained in the Law was directed to the Jews, he was not so oblivious as not to remember what he had said a few verses before of the Gospel promised in the Law. Most clearly, therefore, does the Apostle demonstrate that the Old Testament had special reference to the future life, when he says that the promises of the Gospel were comprehended under it.

4. In the same way we infer that the Old Testament was both established by the free mercy of God and confirmed by the intercession of Christ. For the preaching of the Gospel declares nothing more than that sinners, without any merit of their own, are justified by the paternal indulgence of God. It is wholly summed up in Christ. Who, then, will presume to represent the Jews as destitute of Christ, when we know that they were parties to the Gospel covenant, which has its only foundation in Christ? Who will presume to make them aliens to the benefit of gratuitous salvation, when we know that they were instructed in the doctrine of justification by faith? And not to dwell on a point which is clear, we have the remarkable saying of our Lord, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad," (John 8:56). What Christ here declares of Abraham, an apostle shows to be applicable to all believers, when he says that Jesus Christ is the "same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," (Heb. 13:8). For he is not there speaking merely of the eternal divinity of Christ, but of his power, of which believers had always full proof. Hence both the blessed Virgin [229] and Zachariah, in their hymns, say that the salvation revealed in Christ was a fulfilment of the mercy promised "to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever," (Luke 1:55, 72). If, by manifesting Christ, the Lord fulfilled his ancient oath, it cannot be denied that the subject of that oath [230] must ever have been Christ and eternal life.

5. Nay, the Apostle makes the Israelites our equals, not only in the grace of the covenant, but also in the signification of the Sacraments. For employing the example of those punishments, which the Scripture states to have been of old inflicted on the Jews, in order to deter the Corinthians from falling into similar wickedness, he begins with premising that they have no ground to claim for themselves any privilege which can exempt them from the divine vengeance which overtook the Jews, since the Lord not only visited them with the same mercies, but also distinguished his grace among them by the same symbols: as if he had said, If you think you are out of danger, because the Baptism which you received, and the Supper of which you daily partake, have excellent promises, and if, in the meantime, despising the goodness of God, you indulge in licentiousness, know that the Jews, on whom the Lord inflicted his severest judgments, possessed similar symbols. They were baptised in passing through the sea, and in the cloud which protected them from the burning heat of the sun. It is said, that this passage was a carnal baptism, corresponding in some degree to our spiritual baptism. But if so, there would be a want of conclusiveness in the argument of the Apostle, whose object is to prevent Christians from imagining that they excelled the Jews in the matter of baptism. Besides, the cavil cannot apply to what immediately follows--viz. that they did "all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ," (1 Cor. 10:3, 4).

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion



  • Make Me Understand It!
  • It Is I Myself
  • Gifts of the Ascended Lord


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The marriage covenant (1)
     2/1/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘For those who are married, I have a command that comes…from the Lord.’

(1 Co 7:10) To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband ESV

     Having God’s blessing on your marriage is contingent upon your operating according to His rules. To enjoy His protection, peace, and prosperity you must follow His instructions. For example, you can spend hours arguing and still not resolve the issue, when if you’d just followed God’s rules, the argument could have been over in a matter of minutes. And both parties would have been satisfied at the end of the process. When your car breaks down, you take it back to the dealership. Why? Because they sold it to you and they know how to fix it! God performed the first marriage. So, when your relationship gets into trouble, if you’re wise you’ll talk to Him about it before talking to each other. Furthermore, when you get married with the attitude, ‘If this doesn’t work out I can always get a divorce,’ you’re running in the opposite direction from the truth of God’s Word. Paul writes: ‘For those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife’ (vv. 10-11 NLT). Yes, there are some acceptable reasons for divorce, but they are the exception and not the rule! Recently a Hollywood celebrity spent millions of dollars on her wedding and then divorced her husband two months later on the grounds of ‘incompatibility’. When you say, ‘Till death us do part,’ you say it before God and you’re supposed to mean it.

Exodus 19-20
Matthew 18:21-35

UCB The Word For Today

Unlocking the Secrets
     Of the Last Supper

     Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, received the Jewish sign of circumcision, and grew up in a Jewish town in Galilee. As a young man, he studied the Jewish Torah, celebrated Jewish feasts and holy days, and went on pilgrimages to the Jewish Temple. And, when he was thirty years old, he began to preach in the Jewish synagogues about the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures, proclaiming the kingdom of God to the Jewish people. At the very end of his life, he celebrated the Jewish Passover, was tried by the Jewish council of priests and elders known as the Sanhedrin, and was crucified outside the great Jewish city of Jerusalem. Above his head hung a placard that read in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19).

     As this list demonstrates, the Jewishness of Jesus is a historical fact. But is it important? If Jesus was a real person who really lived in history, then the answer must be “Yes.” To be sure, over the centuries, Christian theologians have written books about Jesus that don’t spend much time studying his Jewish context. Much of the effort has gone into exploring the question of his divine identity. However, for anyone interested in exploring the humanity of Jesus—especially the original meaning of his words and actions—a focus on his Jewish identity is absolutely necessary. Jesus was a historical figure, living in a particular time and place. Therefore, any attempt to understand his words and deeds must reckon with the fact that Jesus lived in an ancient Jewish context. Although on a few occasions Jesus welcomed non-Jews (Gentiles) who accepted him as Messiah, he himself declared that he had been sent first and foremost “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5). This means that virtually all of his teachings were directed to a Jewish audience in a Jewish setting.


Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Five dollars was all she was paid by the Atlantic Monthly Magazine for her poem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was published this day, February 1, 1862. The Union’s theme song during the Civil War Julia Ward Howe wrote it while visiting Washington, D.C., and seeing it teem with military, galloping horses and innumerable campfires. Sleeping unsoundly one night, Julia Ward Howe penned: “In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea; With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me: As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     But periods of dawning simultaneity and steadfast prayer may come and go, lapsing into alternation for long periods and returning in glorious power. And we learn to submit to the inner discipline of withdrawing of His gifts. For if the least taint of spiritual pride in our prayer-growth has come, it is well that He humble us until we are worthy of greater trust. For though we begin the practice of secret prayer with a strong sense that we are the initiators and that by our wills we are establishing our habits, maturing experience brings awareness of being met, and tutored, purged and disciplined, simplified and made pliant in His holy will by a power waiting within us. For God Himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for His wonder. We cease trying to make ourselves the dictators and God the listener, and become the joyful listeners to Him, the Master who does all things well.

     There is then no need for fret when faithfully turning to Him, if He leads us but slowly into His secret chambers. If He gives us increasing steadiness in the deeper sense of His Presence, we can only quietly thank Him. If He holds us in the stage of alternation we can thank Him for His loving wisdom, and wait upon His guidance through the stages for which we are prepared. For we cannot take Him by storm. The strong man must become the little child, not understanding but trusting the Father.

     But to some at least He gives an amazing stayedness in Him, a well-nigh unbroken life of humble quiet adoration in His Presence, in the depths of our being. Day and night, winter and summer, sunshine and shadow, He is here, the great Champion. And we are with Him, held in His Tenderness, quickened into quietness and peace, children in Paradise before the Fall; walking with Him in the garden in the heat as well as the cool of the day. Here is not ecstasy but serenity, unshakableness, firmness of life-orientation. We are become what Fox calls "established men."


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Our ideals, laws and customs should be based on the proposition that each generation, in turn, becomes the custodian rather than the absolute owner of our resources and each generation has the obligation to pass this inheritance on to the future.
--- Alden Whitman

Seeing you make this tremendous effort to come, showing your sympathy, solidarity, and belief in the future of Israel, this to us is tremendous. We bless you and consider you a part of the accomplishment of the prophetic vision spoken of by Zechariah in chapter 14.
--- Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren
[To Christians standing in support of Israel - September 1980]

I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition … we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.
--- Sir John C. Eccles (1903-1997)

So he had them into the slaughter house, where was a butcher killing a sheep. And behold, the sheep was quiet and took her death patiently. Then said the Interpreter, "You must learn of this sheep to suffer, and put up wrongs without murmurings and complaints. Behold how quietly she takes her death! And without objecting she suffereth her skin to be pulled over her ears. Your King doth call you his sheep.
--- John Bunyan

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 7:1-5
     by D.H. Stern

1     My son, keep my words,
store up my commands with you.
2     Obey my commands, and live;
guard my teaching like the pupil of your eye.
3     Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4     Say to wisdom, “You are my sister”;
call understanding your kinswoman;
5     so that they can keep you from unknown women,
from loose women with their seductive talk.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                The call of God

     For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. ---
1 Cor. 1:17.

     Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel; but remember what Paul means by “the gospel” viz., the reality of Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are apt to make sanctification the end-all of our preaching. Paul alludes to personal experience by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (
John 12:32). It is a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. The fact that Redemption can be experienced by us is an illustration of the power of the reality of Redemption, but that is not the end of Redemption. If God were human, how sick to the heart and weary He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation, for our sanctification. We tax His energies from morning till night for things for ourselves—something for me to be delivered from! When we touch the bedrock of the reality of the Gospel of God, we shall never bother God any further with little personal plaints.

     
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoplee to myself.”

     The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heart-breaks, disillusionments, tribulation, for one reason only, because these things kept him in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.


My Utmost for His Highest

Inside
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Inside

I am my own
  geology, strata on strata
  of the imagination, tufa
  dreams, the limestone mind
  honeycombed by the running away
  of too much thought. Examine
  me, tap with your words'
  hammer, awaken memories
  of fire. It is so long
  since I cooled. Inside me,
  stalactite and stalagmite,
  ideas have formed and become
  rigid. To the crowd
  I am all outside.
  To the pot-holing few there is a way
  in along passages that become
  narrower and narrower,
  that lead to the chamber
  too low to stand up in,
  where the breath condenses
  to the cold and locationless
  cloud we call truth. It
  is where I think.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The First Chapter / Imitating Christ and Despairing all Vanities on Earth

     HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord. (John 8:12) By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.

     The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

     What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

     This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.

     Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.” (Eccles. 1:8) Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.


The Imitation Of Christ

Teacher's Commentary
     The Story of Joseph

     The story of Joseph has fascinated laymen and scholars for centuries. As a man Joseph is one of the Bible’s most commendable characters. And his experiences remind us in many ways of Jesus. As a historical record, the portrait given in Genesis of life in Egypt has been demonstrated to be amazingly accurate—amazing at least to those who used to argue that Joseph’s story was written a millennium or so after the supposed events. Leon Wood ( Survey of Israel's History, A ) summarizes some of the details in the Genesis account that ring so true.

     "Corroboration of details in this overall story with contemporary Egyptian practices and customs illustrates the accuracy of the biblical record. The titles, “chief of the butlers,” and “chief of the bakers,” occur both in Genesis 40:2 and extant Egyptian texts. Famines were known in Egypt and the idea of persons being assigned to dispense food during these famines is borne out in tomb inscriptions. One inscription even speaks of a seven-year famine at the time of the Third Dynasty (2700 B.C.). Indication is made on the Rosetta Stone that the Pharaoh had a custom of releasing prisoners on his birthday, as he did the butler (40:20). Joseph shaved before seeing Pharaoh (41:14), and shaving was a distinctive practice of Egypt. Pharaoh gave Joseph a signet ring, linen clothing, and a gold chain (41:42), all three of which are mentioned in Egyptian texts for similar use. Some scholars have objected to the idea of Joseph, a Semite, being elevated to such a high position in Egypt; but a letter dating from the Amarna period has been found written to a person in similar position having the Semitic name Dudu (David). It fits too that the Twelfth Dynasty, ruling at this time, had now moved the capital back from Thebes to the northern site of Memphis. Joseph was thus more accessible to his brothers coming down from Canaan, as the continuing story indicates, and also to them living later in Goshen after Jacob’s arrival."

The Teacher's Commentary

Take Heart
     February 1

     In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up.
--- Luke 16:23.

     At death we are going to lose something, each of us. ( Classic Sermons on Heaven and Hell (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) ) We are going to lose the physical. We are going to lose our possessions. Whatever may be our material wealth in this world, we may depend on it that the hands of the dead are not clutching hands. Our shrouds will have no pockets. Death will rob us of all that is material.

     But there is one something that death cannot take away from us. It cannot rob us of ourselves. Yesterday I was myself. I will be myself still tomorrow. I will continue to be myself as long as heaven is heaven, as long as God is God.

     In spite of this fact, however, there is a tremendously great tendency to believe that death will work a moral change, that you can lie down one moment self-centered, sin-conquered, godless—and by the mere act of dying, wake up the next moment holy, sinless, and Christlike. It is absolutely false. If Christ does not save you in the here and now, do not expect death to accomplish what he was unable to accomplish. If the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse you from all sin, do not be so mad as to expect that cleansing at the hands of the undertaker, the shroud, and the coffin. Believe me that as death finds you, so you will be the instant after when you open your eyes in the world unseen.

     The truth of the matter is that God has no way of getting anyone into heaven who has hell in his or her own heart. You cannot mix the living and the dead even in this life.

     So the conclusion of the whole matter is this: Forever you are going to live. Forever you are going to be yourself. You are going to have to keep house with yourself for all eternity. Forever you are going to remember. Forever you are going to enjoy or suffer the destiny that you make for yourself while in this life. If it sounds foolish, remember it is the foolishness of him who spoke the way no one ever spoke. If it seems heartless, remember that it is the heartlessness of infinite love. Remember, too, that though some people are lost, no one needs to be lost. Everyone can be saved who will. This minute you can be saved if you will only be wise enough and brave enough to make a right choice. “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Will you come? Will you come now?
--- Clovis Gillham Chappell


Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   February 1
     Stubbornly Generous

     In the fifth century, according to Irish church tradition, a king impregnated a slave, and the baby, Brigid, was raised a servant who grew up grinding corn, washing feet, tending livestock, and giving the king’s bacon to hungry dogs and his butter to working boys.

     Losing patience, he took her nearby intending to sell her. He entered the castle to settle the arrangements. A leper passed by, and Brigid gave him her father’s battle sword from the chariot. The king was enraged, and the prospective husband backed out, saying that he could not afford such a wife.

     Brigid was beautiful and full of spunk, and since she loved music and conversation, her father arranged her marriage to a poet. But resolving to belong only to Christ, Brigid found the man another wife, then deserted the castle.

     Her father thought it good riddance.

     Brigid sought other women wanting to belong only to Christ, and with seven of them she organized a community of nuns like the communities of monks established by Patrick. The monastic settlement at Kildare became a buzzing compound within a great stone wall and peppered with thatched-roof buildings. Artists’ studios, workshops, guest chambers, a library, and a church evolved. This and similar settlements became beehives of industry, producing some of the most beautiful craftsmanship in Europe. The slaves and the poor bettered their lot by becoming artisans.

     Brigid herself traveled by chariot as an evangelist through the countryside, helping the poor, preaching the gospel, and organizing nunneries. By her death on February 1, c. 453, 13,000 women had escaped from slavery and poverty to Christian service and industry. Throughout ensuing centuries, Christians across Ireland have placed St. Brigid’s crosses of woven straw over their doors on February 1, and housekeepers have repeated a rhyme bidding them give a portion of their butter to working boys.

     If you forget to bring in a stack of harvested grain, don’t go back in the field to get it. Leave it for the poor, including foreigners, orphans, and widows, and the LORD will make you successful in everything you do.
--- Deuteronomy 24:19.


On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 1

     “They shall sing in the ways of the Lord.” --- Psalm 138:5.

     The time when Christians begin to sing in the ways of the Lord is when they first lose their burden at the foot of the Cross. Not even the songs of the angels seem so sweet as the first song of rapture which gushes from the inmost soul of the forgiven child of God. You know how John Bunyan describes it. He says when poor Pilgrim lost his burden at the Cross, he gave three great leaps, and went on his way singing ---

     “Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
     The Man that there was put to shame for me!”


     Believer, do you recollect the day when your fetters fell off? Do you remember the place when Jesus met you, and said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; I have blotted out as a cloud thy transgressions, and as a thick cloud thy sins; they shall not be mentioned against thee any more for ever.” Oh! what a sweet season is that when Jesus takes away the pain of sin. When the Lord first pardoned my sin, I was so joyous that I could scarce refrain from dancing. I thought on my road home from the house where I had been set at liberty, that I must tell the stones in the street the story of my deliverance. So full was my soul of joy, that I wanted to tell every snow-flake that was falling from heaven of the wondrous love of Jesus, who had blotted out the sins of one of the chief of rebels. But it is not only at the commencement of the Christian life that believers have reason for song; as long as they live they discover cause to sing in the ways of the Lord, and their experience of his constant lovingkindness leads them to say, “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” See to it, brother, that thou magnifiest the Lord this day.

     “Long as we tread this desert land,
     New mercies shall new songs demand.”


          Evening - February 1

     “Thy love to me was wonderful.” --- 2 Samuel 1:26.

     Come, dear readers, let each one of us speak for himself of the wonderful love, not of Jonathan, but of Jesus. We will not relate what we have been told, but the things which we have tasted and handled-of the love of Christ. Thy love to me, O Jesus, was wonderful when I was a stranger wandering far from thee, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Thy love restrained me from committing the sin which is unto death, and withheld me from self-destruction. Thy love held back the axe when Justice said, “Cut it down! why cumbereth it the ground?” Thy love drew me into the wilderness, stripped me there, and made me feel the guilt of my sin, and the burden of mine iniquity. Thy love spake thus comfortably to me when, I was sore dismayed—“Come unto me, and I will give thee rest.” Oh, how matchless thy love when, in a moment, thou didst wash my sins away, and make my polluted soul, which was crimson with the blood of my nativity, and black with the grime of my transgressions, to be white as the driven snow, and pure as the finest wool. How thou didst commend thy love when thou didst whisper in my ears, “I am thine and thou art mine.” Kind were those accents when thou saidst, “The Father himself loveth you.” And sweet the moments, passing sweet, when thou declaredst to me “the love of the Spirit.” Never shall my soul forget those chambers of fellowship where thou has unveiled thyself to me. Had Moses his cleft in the rock, where he saw the train, the back parts of his God? We, too, have had our clefts in the rock, where we have seen the full splendours of the Godhead in the person of Christ. Did David remember the tracks of the wild goat, the land of Jordan and the Hermonites? We, too, can remember spots to memory dear, equal to these in blessedness. Precious Lord Jesus, give us a fresh draught of thy wondrous love to begin the month with. Amen.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     February 1

          WALK IN THE LIGHT

     Bernard Barton, 1784–1849

     But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin. (1 John 1:7)

     How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior
     Led in paths of light.
     --- E. Hewitt


     Walking in the light means walking as Christ walked while here on earth—seeking to imitate His life style in all that we do. When we walk in the light, our paths become illuminated and purposeful, and there is a glow of warmth and love in our lives that makes us want to care for the needs of others. This life of love is not merely a soft sentimental feeling—but rather a life of action.

     Sometimes we as Christians seem to minimize this basic quality in our lives. We spend our time seeking the unusual and “deep” truths of the Scriptures or arguing with those with whom we may differ. A life devoid of Christ’s tender love for others, both fellow-believers and non-believers, can negate much of our Christian witness. The Bible teaches that a life without love, counts for nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).

     Walking in the light is in the present tense. It is a new experience with God each day. It is always helpful to recall God’s faithfulness and leading in the past. But our past blessings must always be blended into the present wonder of walking this day with the Lord.

     The author of “Walk in the Light,” Bernard Barton, was known as England’s “Quaker Poet.” Although he never rose above the position of a bank clerk, his reputation as a man of letters was recognized by many literary leaders of his day. In all, Barton had 10 books of verse published, from which about 20 hymns came into usage.

     “Walk in the Light” first appeared in Barton’s Devotional Verses, published in 1926. Make walking in the light your experience today.

     Walk in the light! So shalt thou know that fellowship of love His Spirit only can bestow, who reigns in light above.
     Walk in the light! And thou shalt find thy heart made truly His, who dwells in cloudless light enshrined, in Whom no darkness is.
     Walk in the light! And thou shalt own thy darkness passed away, because that light hath on thee shone in which is perfect day.
     Walk in the light! And thine shall be a path, though thorny, bright: For God, by grace, shall dwell in thee, and God Himself is light.


     For Today: Psalm 36:9; John 8:12; Romans 12:10; 2 Corinthians 4:6.

     Consciously leave time in your schedule to be responsive to the needs of another.
Share Christ and His love with them. ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, February 1, 2018 | Epiphany


Thursday Of The Fourth Week After Epiphany
Year 2

On the same date: Eve of the Presentation, Evening Prayer

Psalms (Morning)     (Psalm 70) 71
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 74
Old Testament     Genesis 23:1–20
New Testament     Hebrews 11:32–12:2
Gospel     John 6:60–71

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
(Psalm 70) 71

[     70 To The Choirmaster. Of David, For The Memorial Offering.

1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
2 Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
3 Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”

4 May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
5 But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!     ]

71 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

7 I have been as a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all the day.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.
10 For my enemies speak concerning me;
those who watch for my life consult together
11 and say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.”

12 O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.

17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.

22 I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
who sought to do me hurt.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 74

74 A Maskil Of Asaph.

1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!

4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
5 They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
6 And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
7 They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

9 We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!

12 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.

18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.

20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Old Testament
Genesis 23:1–20

23 Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, 4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5 The Hittites answered Abraham, 6 “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” 7 Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. 8 And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”

10 Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” 12 Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. 13 And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.

17 So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over 18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.

New Testament
Hebrews 11:32–12:2

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Gospel
John 6:60–71

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

On The Same Date | Vigil | Holy Day
Eve Of The Presentation
Evening Prayer
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: Thursday of the Fourth Week after Epiphany

Psalms     Psalm 113, 122
Old Testament     1 Samuel 1:20–28a
New Testament     Romans 8:14–21

Index of Readings

Psalms
Psalm 113, 122

113 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!

2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!

4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!

122 A Song Of Ascents. Of David.

1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.

Old Testament
1 Samuel 1:20–28a

20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”

21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.”

And he worshiped the LORD there.

New Testament
Romans 8:14–21

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Book of Common Prayer


Humility and Unity
Alistair Begg






One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, Part One
Alistair Begg





One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, Part Two
Alistair Begg






One Lord
Alistair Begg





One Faith
Alistair Begg






My Help Comes From the Lord
Alistair Begg





The Beginning of Wisdom
Josh Moody






One Baptism | Alistair Begg





True Freedom    Alistair Begg






One God and Father of All
Alistair Begg





Over, Through and In All
Alistair Begg






To Each One of Us
Alistair Begg





I Will Build My Church
Alistair Begg