Leviticus 5Leviticus 5 1 “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity; 2 or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; 3 or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt; 4 or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these; 5 when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, 6 he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.
7 “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. 8 He shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer first the one for the sin offering. He shall wring its head from its neck but shall not sever it completely, 9 and he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering. 10 Then he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the rule. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.
11 “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. 12 And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take a handful of it as its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, on the LORD’s food offerings; it is a sin offering. 13 Thus the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed in any one of these things, and he shall be forgiven. And the remainder shall be for the priest, as in the grain offering.”
Laws for Guilt Offerings14 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 15 “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the LORD, he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. 16 He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.
17 “If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, though he did not know it, then realizes his guilt, he shall bear his iniquity. 18 He shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him for the mistake that he made unintentionally, and he shall be forgiven. 19 It is a guilt offering; he has indeed incurred guilt before the LORD.”
Leviticus 6Leviticus 6 1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor 3 or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— 4 if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5 or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. 6 And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering. 7 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.”
The Priests and the Offerings8 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 9 “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. 10 And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. 12 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. 13 Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out. 14 “And this is the law of the grain offering. The sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD in front of the altar. 15 And one shall take from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering and its oil and all the frankincense that is on the grain offering and burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 16 And the rest of it Aaron and his sons shall eat. It shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place. In the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my food offerings. It is a thing most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the children of Aaron may eat of it, as decreed forever throughout your generations, from the LORD’s food offerings. Whatever touches them shall become holy.”
19 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 20 “This is the offering that Aaron and his sons shall offer to the LORD on the day when he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening. 21 It shall be made with oil on a griddle. You shall bring it well mixed, in baked pieces like a grain offering, and offer it for a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 22 The priest from among Aaron’s sons, who is anointed to succeed him, shall offer it to the LORD as decreed forever. The whole of it shall be burned. 23 Every grain offering of a priest shall be wholly burned. It shall not be eaten.”
24 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 25 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD; it is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. In a holy place it shall be eaten, in the court of the tent of meeting. 27 Whatever touches its flesh shall be holy, and when any of its blood is splashed on a garment, you shall wash that on which it was splashed in a holy place. 28 And the earthenware vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken. But if it is boiled in a bronze vessel, that shall be scoured and rinsed in water. 29 Every male among the priests may eat of it; it is most holy. 30 But no sin offering shall be eaten from which any blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place; it shall be burned up with fire.
Leviticus 7Leviticus 7 1 “This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy. 2 In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the guilt offering, and its blood shall be thrown against the sides of the altar. 3 And all its fat shall be offered, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, 4 the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 5 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering to the LORD; it is a guilt offering. 6 Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. 7 The guilt offering is just like the sin offering; there is one law for them. The priest who makes atonement with it shall have it. 8 And the priest who offers any man’s burnt offering shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering that he has offered. 9 And every grain offering baked in the oven and all that is prepared on a pan or a griddle shall belong to the priest who offers it. 10 And every grain offering, mixed with oil or dry, shall be shared equally among all the sons of Aaron.
11 “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. 12 If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. 13 With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 14 And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the LORD. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. 15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. 16 But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten. 17 But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned up with fire. 18 If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.
19 “Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, 20 but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. 21 And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether human uncleanness or an unclean beast or any unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. 24 The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. 25 For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the LORD shall be cut off from his people. 26 Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. 27 Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
28 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 29 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever offers the sacrifice of his peace offerings to the LORD shall bring his offering to the LORD from the sacrifice of his peace offerings. 30 His own hands shall bring the LORD’s food offerings. He shall bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be waved as a wave offering before the LORD. 31 The priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast shall be for Aaron and his sons. 32 And the right thigh you shall give to the priest as a contribution from the sacrifice of your peace offerings. 33 Whoever among the sons of Aaron offers the blood of the peace offerings and the fat shall have the right thigh for a portion. 34 For the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed I have taken from the people of Israel, out of the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel. 35 This is the portion of Aaron and of his sons from the LORD’s food offerings, from the day they were presented to serve as priests of the LORD. 36 The LORD commanded this to be given them by the people of Israel, from the day that he anointed them. It is a perpetual due throughout their generations.”
37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the grain offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the ordination offering, and of the peace offering, 38 which the LORD commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that he commanded the people of Israel to bring their offerings to the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai.
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UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?
By J. Warner Wallace 1/29/2018
Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:
Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers: | Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
Book Findings: | The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
Book Findings: | Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”
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.
Abased before we can be exalted
A.W. Pink from The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the CrossWe have to be abased before we can be exalted. We have to be stripped of the filthy rags of our self-righteousness before we are ready for the garments of salvation. We have to come to God as beggars, empty-handed, before we can receive the gift of eternal life. We have to take the place of lost sinners before him if we would be saved. Yes, we have to acknowledge ourselves as thieves before we can have a place in the family of God. "But," you say, "I am no thief! I acknowledge I am not all I ought to be. I am not perfect. In fact,! will go so far as to admit I am a sinner. But I cannot allow that this thief represents my state and condition." Ah, friend, your case is far worse than you suppose. You are a thief, and that of the worst type. You have robbed God! Suppose that a firm in the East appointed an agent to represent them in the West, and that every month they forwarded to him his salary. But suppose also at the end of the year his employers discovered that though the agent had been cashing the cheques they sent him, nevertheless, he had served another firm all that time. Would not that agent be a thief? Yet this is precisely the situation and state of every sinner. He has been sent into this world by God, and God has endowed him with talents and the capacity to use and improve them. God has blessed him with health and strength; he has supplied his every need, and provided innumerable opportunities to serve and glorify him. But with what result? The very things God has given him have been misappropriated. The sinner has served another master, even Satan. He dissipates his strength and wastes his time in the pleasures of sin. He has robbed God. Unsaved reader, in the sight of Heaven your condition is as desperate and your heart is as wicked as that of the thief (on the cross). See in him a picture of yourself.
Here we see that man has (must come) to come to the end of himself before he can be saved.
Above we have contemplated this dying robber as a representative sinner, a sample specimen of what all men are by nature and practice - by nature at enmity against God and his Christ; by practice robbers of God, misusing what he has given us and failing to render what is due him. We are now to see that this crucified robber was also a representative case in his conversion. And at this point we shall dwell simply upon his helplessness.
To see ourselves as lost sinners is not sufficient. To learn that we are corrupt and depraved by nature and sinful transgressors by practice is the first important lesson. The next is to learn that we are utterly undone, and that we can do nothing whatever to help ourselves. To discover that our condition is so desperate that it is entirely beyond human repair, is the second step toward salvation - looking at it from the human side. But if man is slow to learn that he is a lost sinner and unfit for the presence of a holy God, he is slower still to recognize that he can do nothing towards his salvation, and is unable to work any improvement in himself so as to be fit for God. Yet, it is not until we realize that we are "without strength" (Rom. 5:6), that we are "impotent" (John 5:3), that it is not by works of righteousness which we do, but by his mercy God saves us (Titus 3:5), not until then shall we despair of ourselves, and look outside of ourselves to the one who can save us.
The great scripture type of sin is leprosy, and for leprosy man can devise no cure. God alone can deal with this dreadful disease. So it is with sin. But, as we have said, man is slow to learn his lesson. He is like the prodigal son, who when he had squandered his substance in the far country in riotous living and began to be "in want", instead of returning to the father straightaway, he "went and joined himself to a citizen of that country" and went to the fields to feed swine; in other words he went to work. Likewise the sinner who has been aroused to his need, instead of going at once to Christ, he tries to work himself into God’s favour. But he will fare no better than the prodigal - the husks of the swine will be his only portion. Or again, like the woman bowed down with her infirmity for many long years. She tried many physicians before she sought the great physician: so the awakened sinner seeks relief and peace in first one thing and then another, until he completes the weary round of religious performances, and ends by being "nothing bettered, but rather grows worse" (Mark 5:26). No, it is not until that woman had "spent all she had" that she sought Christ: and it is not until the sinner comes to the end of his own resources that he will betake himself to the Saviour.
Before any sinner can be saved he must come to the place of realized weakness. This is what the conversion of the dying thief shows us. What could he do? He could not walk in the paths of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over anew leaf and live a better life for he was dying. And, my reader, those hands of yours which are so ready for self-righteous acting, and those feet of yours which are so swift to run in the way of legal obedience, must be nailed to the cross. The sinner has to be cut off from his own workings and be made willing to be saved by Christ. A realization of your sinful condition, of your lost condition, of your helpless condition, is nothing more or less than old-fashioned conviction of sin, and this is the sole prerequisite for coming to Christ for salvation, for Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross
Two Views of Suffering: Atheist Existentialism and Christianity
By Douglas Groothuis 1/25/2018
By nature, we all avoid suffering, and suffering comes in so many varieties. We attend funerals and sob. We visited a loved one in a psychiatric unit and wonder how live ever got this bad. We consider animal cruelty and are appalled and saddened. A military dog dies of sorrow immediately after his soldier is killed in battle. A mother lament over her son’s heroin addiction. A son agonizes over this father’s imprisonment. A seventeen-year-old commits suicide, leaving a hole no one can ever fill.
But what of it all? By nature, we seek to avoid suffering in ourselves and in those we care about. Much suffering is unavoidable (such as many illnesses); but much of it is avoidable, but still afflicts many who become haunted by guilt, as in alcoholism. What can the sighs, groans, headaches, tears, and sleepless nights tell us about the meaning of life? Can philosophy find clues in these myriad maladies on how to live a truer and better life?
Trying to answer these questions is the quest of a lifetime, and, one hopes, and examined lifetime. I offer only prods to this end. Prompted my own and my wife’s suffering, due to her dementia, I have much pondered on the meaning of suffering philosophically and, of course, existentially (many of which can be found in my book Walking Through Twilight: A Wife's Illness--A Philosopher's Lament. I will briefly compare two views of suffering, that of atheistic existentialism and of historic Christianity.
Atheistic Existentialism and Suffering | I thought that atheistic existentialism had passed from the intellectual scene by the mid-1980s, having been eclipsed by New Age thought and postmodernism. But its demise was, like Mark Twain’s death, greatly exaggerated. Gary Cox has labored to rehabilitate existentialism (particularly Jean-Paul Sartre) through a number of short, snappy books such as How to be an Existentialist and Existentialism and Excess, a longer biography of Sartre. We even find The Dummies Guide to Existentialism.
"Atheistic existentialists, such as Sartre and his life-long partner, Simone de Beauvoir, argue that life in itself has no meaning because the universe is uncreated and undersigned." - Jean-Paul Sarte
Atheistic existentialists, such as Sartre and his life-long partner, Simone de Beauvoir, argue that life in itself has no meaning because the universe is uncreated and undersigned. Humans turn up and must define themselves, living without a “heaven of ideas” or the divine Amen. As Sartre famously wrote in Existentialism and Human Emotions, “Existence precedes essence.” Sartre emphasized the necessity of free choice to make an authentic life. De Beauvoir stressed the “ethics of ambiguity,” the right and the meaningful is not spelled out anywhere. We interpret life as we will—with no Hermes at our side. Heidegger claims that we are “thrown” into existence, suffering the anxiety of intrinsic alienation, and must experience “being unto death.”
Per Amazon | Douglas R. Groothuis (PhD, Philosophy, University of Oregon) is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He has also been a visiting professor or adjunct faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary (Colorado Springs extension), Metropolitan State College of Denver, Westminster Theological Seminary (California campus), University of Oregon, New College Berkeley and Seattle Pacific University. His articles have been published in professional journals such asReligious Studies, Sophia, Theory and Research in Education, Philosophia Christi, Themelios, Think: A Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Christian Scholar's Review, Inquiry and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He has written several books, including Truth Decay, In Defense of Natural Theology (coeditor), Unmasking the New Age, Jesus in an Age of Controversy, Deceived by the Light, The Soul in Cyberspace, and, in the Wadsworth Philosophers Series, On Pascal and On Jesus
Douglas Groothuis Books:
- 1 Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith
- 2 Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism
- 3 Philosophy in Seven Sentences: A Small Introduction to a Vast Topic
- 4 Unmasking the New Age
- 5 On Jesus (Wadsworth Philosophers Series)
- 6 Confronting the New Age: How to Resist a Growing Religious Movement
- 7 Deceived by the Light:
- 8 On Jesus (Wadsworth Philosophers) by Douglas Groothuis (June 6, 2002) Paperback 1
- 9 The Soul in Cyberspace
- 10 Jesus in an Age of Controversy
- 11 Revealing the New Age Jesus: Challenges to Orthodox Views of Christ
- 12 On Pascal (Wadsworth Philosophers Series)
The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down
By Albert Mohler 1/23/2018
We long for revolution. Something within us cries out that the world is horribly broken and must be fixed. For centuries, the word revolution was scarcely heard, buried under ages of oppression. The word itself was feared and speaking it was treason. And then, revolutions seemed to appear almost everywhere.
Some historians have gone so far as to identify our modern epoch as “The Age of Revolution.” Is it? Perhaps it is more accurate to refer to our times as “The Age of Failed Revolution.” Looking across the landscape it becomes clear that very few revolutions produce what they promise. Arguably, most revolutions lead to a worse set of conditions than they replaced.
And yet, we still yearn for radical change, for things to be made right. We rightly long to see righteousness and truth and justice prevail. We are actually desperate for what no earthly revolution can produce. We long for the Kingdom of God, and for Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are looking for a kingdom that will never end and a King whose rule is perfect.
This is why Christian’s pray the Lord’s Prayer. This is the very prayer that Jesus taught his own disciples to pray. So Christians pray this prayer as a way of learning how to pray and what to pray – as Jesus teaches us to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer that turns the world upside down. Are you looking for revolution? There is no clearer call to revolution than when we pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But this is a revolution only God can bring … and He will.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 17In the Shadow of Your Wings
17 A Prayer Of David.
13 Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O LORD,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their womb with treasure;
they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
Is Jesus an Egomaniac?
By John Piper 1/4/2010
Erik Reece is writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, teaching environmental journalism, writing, and literature. He published a book entitled, AN American Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God. On May 13, 2009, he did an interview on National Public Radio with Terry Gross on the program Fresh Air about his book.
What he said is in large part why I am giving this message the way I am. It wasn’t the first time someone had said this. But it may have been the most recent and most public and most blatant. And just so you know, I wrote to Mr. Reece a long letter with my concern in the hope that I could give him another perspective.
Reece grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home, like I did. He rejected his. I loved mine and give thanks for it to this day. The background paragraph at the NPR website said that he struggled to find a different form of Christianity with the guidance of Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman, and other American writes.
Jesus Christ, Egomaniac | In the interview, Terry Gross pointed Mr. Reece to page 28 of his new book. On that page, he quotes from Jesus in Matthew 10:37–39:
(Mt 10:37–39) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV
Then after quoting Jesus, Reece says, “Who is the egomaniac speaking these words?” Terry Gross asks him, “Would you elaborate on that reaction?”
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
Weakness and Failure Will Build Your Faith
By Vaneetha Rendall Risner 1/28/2018
There are so many things I wish someone could have told me at thirty, because at thirty I thought I had life figured out.
Life turned upside down quickly. I wish someone had said to me,
You are holding onto meaningless things, and you are believing in yourself for the wrong reasons. Stop judging your life by your achievements or “blessings,” whether material or relational or reputational, because none of them will last. What you now consider blessings will be taken away, and when they are, you will discover that being blessed is deeper and more lasting than you can imagine.
There is no way I could have prepared my thirty-year-old self for what lay ahead. How does one prepare for the unknown? I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming, but I wish I had known that while God was taking away my earthly treasures, he was giving me something that could never be taken away — he was giving me himself.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Desiring God. She blogs at danceintherain.com, although she doesn’t like rain and has no sense of rhythm. Vaneetha is married to Joel and has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. She and Joel live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Vaneetha is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
6. To take off the force of this passage of Paul, an objection is
founded on the words of our Saviour, "Your fathers did eat manna in the
wilderness, and are dead." "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live
for ever," (John 6:49, 51). There is no difficulty in reconciling the
two passages. The Lord, as he was addressing hearers who only desired
to be filled with earthly food, while they cared not for the true food
of the soul, in some degree adapts his speech to their capacity, and,
in particular, to meet their carnal view, draws a comparison between
manna and his own body. They called upon him to prove his authority by
performing some miracle, such as Moses performed in the wilderness when
he obtained manna from heaven. In this manna they saw nothing but a
relief of the bodily hunger from which the people were then suffering;
they did not penetrate to the sublimer mystery to which Paul refers.
Christ, therefore, to demonstrate that the blessing which they ought to
expect from him was more excellent than the lauded one which Moses had
bestowed upon their fathers, draws this comparison: If, in your
opinion, it was a great and memorable miracle when the Lord, by Moses,
supplied his people with heavenly food that they might be supported for
a season, and not perish in the wilderness from famine; from this infer
how much more excellent is the food which bestows immortality. We see
why our Lord omitted to mention what was of principal virtue in the
manna, and mentioned only its meanest use. Since the Jews had, as it
were by way of upbraiding, cast up Moses to him as one who had relieved
the necessity of the people by means of manna, he answers, that he was
the minister of a much larger grace, one compared with which the bodily
nourishment of the people, on which they set so high a value, ought to
be held worthless. Paul, again, knowing that the Lords when he rained
manna from heaven, had not merely supplied their bodies with food, but
had also dispensed it as containing a spiritual mystery to typify the
spiritual quickening which is obtained in Christ, does not overlook
that quality which was most deserving of consideration. Wherefore it is
surely and clearly proved, that the same promises of celestial and
eternal life, which the Lord now gives to us, were not only
communicated to the Jews, but also sealed by truly spiritual
sacraments. This subject is copiously discussed by Augustine in his
work against Faustus the Manichee.
7. But if my readers would rather have passages quoted from the Law and the Prophets, from which they may see, as we have already done from Christ and the Apostles, that the spiritual covenant was common also to the Fathers, I will yield to the wish, and the more willingly, because opponents will thus be more surely convinced, that henceforth there will be no room for evasion. And I will begin with a proof which, though I know it will seem futile and almost ridiculous to supercilious Anabaptists, will have very great weight with the docile and sober-minded. I take it for granted that the word of God has such an inherent efficacy, that it quickens the souls of all whom he is pleased to favour with the communication of it. Peter's statement has ever been true, that it is an incorruptible seed, "which liveth and abideth for ever," (1 Peter 1:23), as he infers from the words of Isaiah (Is. 40:6). Now when God, in ancient times, bound the Jews to him by this sacred bond, there cannot be a doubt that he separated them unto the hope of eternal life. When I say that they embraced the word which brought them nearer to God, I refer not to that general method of communication which is diffused through heaven and earth, and all the creatures of the world, and which, though it quickens all things, each according to its nature, rescues none from the bondage of corruption. I refer to that special mode of communication by which the minds of the pious are both enlightened in the knowledge of God, and, in a manner, linked to him. Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, and the other patriarchs, having been united to God by this illumination of the word, I say there cannot be the least doubt that entrance was given them into the immortal kingdom of God. They had that solid participation in God which cannot exist without the blessing of everlasting life.
8. If the point still seems somewhat involved, let us pass to the form of the covenant, which will not only satisfy calm thinkers, but sufficiently establish the ignorance of gainsayers. The covenant which God always made with his servants was this, "I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people," (Lev. 26:12). These words, even as the prophets are wont to expound them, comprehend life and salvation, and the whole sum of blessedness. For David repeatedly declares, and with good reason, "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord." "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance," (Psalm 144:15; 33:12); and this not merely in respect of earthly happiness, but because he rescues from death, constantly preserves, and, with eternal mercy, visits those whom he has adopted for his people. As is said in other prophets, "Art not thou from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die." "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us" "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?" (Hab. 1:12; Isaiah 33:22; Deut. 33:29). But not to labour superfluously, the prophets are constantly reminding us that no good thing and, consequently, no assurance of salvation, is wanting, provided the Lord is our God. And justly. For if his face, the moment it hath shone upon us, is a perfect pledge of salvation, how can he manifest himself to any one as his God, without opening to him the treasures of salvation? The terms on which God makes himself ours is to dwell in the midst of us, as he declared by Moses (Lev. 26:11). But such presence cannot be enjoyed without life being, at the same time, possessed along with it. And though nothing more had been expressed, they had a sufficiently clear promise of spiritual life in these words, "I am your God," (Exod. 6:7). For he declared that he would be a God not to their bodies only, but specially to their souls. Souls, however, if not united to God by righteousness, remain estranged from him in death. On the other hand, that union, wherever it exists, will bring perpetual salvation with it.
9. To this we may add, that he not only declared he was, but also promised that he would be, their God. By this their hope was extended beyond present good, and stretched forward into eternity. Moreover, that this observance of the future had the effect, appears from the many passages in which the faithful console themselves not only in their present evils, but also for the future, by calling to mind that God was never to desert them. Moreover, in regard to the second part of the promise--viz. the blessing of God, its extending beyond the limits of the present life was still more clearly confirmed by the words, I will be the God of your seed after you (Gen. 17:7). If he was to manifest his favour to the dead by doing good to their posterity, much less would he deny his favour to themselves. God is not like men, who transfer their love to the children of their friends, because the opportunity of bestowing kind offices as they wished upon themselves is interrupted by death. But God, whose kindness is not impeded by death, does not deprive the dead of the benefit of his mercy, which, on their account, he continues to a thousand generations. God, therefore, was pleased to give a striking proof of the abundance and greatness of his goodness which they were to enjoy after death, when he described it as overflowing to all their posterity (Exod. 20:6). The truth of this promise was sealed, and in a manner completed, when, long after the death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he called himself their God (Exod. 20:6). And why? Was not the name absurd if they had perished? It would have been just the same as if he had said, I am the God of men who exist not. Accordingly, the Evangelists relate that, by this very argument, our Saviour refuted the Sadducees (Mt. 22:23; Luke 20:32), who were, therefore, unable to deny that the resurrection of the dead was attested by Moses, inasmuch as he had taught them that all the saints are in his hand (Deut. 33:3). Whence it is easy to infer that death is not the extinction of those who are taken under the tutelage, guardianship, and protection of him who is the disposer of life and death.
10. Let us now see (and on this the controversy principally turns) whether or not believers themselves were so instructed by the Lord, as to feel that they had elsewhere a better life, and to aspire to it while disregarding the present. First, the mode of life which heaven had imposed upon them made it a constant exercise, by which they were reminded, that if in this world only they had hope, they were of all men the most miserable. Adam, most unhappy even in the mere remembrance of his lost felicity, with difficulty supplies his wants by anxious labours; and that the divine curse might not be restricted to bodily labour, his only remaining solace becomes a source of the deepest grief: Of two sons, the one is torn from him by the parricidal hand of his brother; while the other, who survives, causes detestation and horror by his very look. Abel, cruelly murdered in the very flower of his days, is an example of the calamity which had come upon man. While the whole world are securely living in luxury, Noah, with much fatigue, spends a great part of his life in building an ark. He escapes death, but by greater troubles than a hundred deaths could have given. Besides his ten months' residence in the ark, as in a kind of sepulchre, nothing could have been more unpleasant than to have remained so long pent up among the filth of beasts. After escaping these difficulties he falls into a new cause of sorrow. He sees himself mocked by his own son, and is forced, with his own mouth, to curse one whom, by the great kindness of God, he had received safe from the deluge.
11. Abraham alone ought to be to us equal to tens of thousands if we consider his faith, which is set before us as the best model of believing, to whose race also we must be held to belong in order that we may be the children of God.  What could be more absurd than that Abraham should be the father of all the faithful, and not even occupy the meanest corner among them? He cannot be denied a place in the list; nay, he cannot be denied one of the most honourable places in it, without the destruction of the whole Church. Now, as regards his experience in life, the moment he is called by the command of God, he is torn away from friends, parents, and country, objects in which the chief happiness of life is deemed to consist, as if it had been the fixed purpose of the Lord to deprive him of all the sources of enjoyment. No sooner does he enter the land in which he was ordered to dwell, than he is driven from it by famine. In the country to which he retires to obtain relief, he is obliged, for his personal safety, to expose his wife to prostitution. This must have been more bitter than many deaths. After returning to the land of his habitation, he is again expelled by famine. What is the happiness of inhabiting a land where you must so often suffer from hunger, nay, perish from famine, unless you flee from it? Then, again, with Abimelech, he is reduced to the same necessity of saving his head by the loss of his wife (Gen. 12:12). While he wanders up and down uncertain for many years, he is compelled, by the constant quarrelling of servants to part with his nephew, who was to him as a son. This departure must doubtless have cost him a pang something like the cutting off of a limb. Shortly after, he learns that his nephew is carried off captive by the enemy. Wherever he goes, he meets with savage-hearted neighbours, who will not even allow him to drink of the wells which he has dug with great labour. For he would not have purchased the use from the king of Gerar if he had not been previously prohibited. After he had reached the verge of life, he sees himself childless (the bitterest and most unpleasant feeling to old age), until, beyond expectation, Ishmael is born; and yet he pays dearly for his birth in the reproaches of Sarah, as if he was the cause of domestic disturbance by encouraging the contumacy of a female slave. At length Isaac is born, but in return, the first-born Ishmael is displaced, and almost hostilely driven forth and abandoned. Isaac remains alone, and the good man, now worn out with age, has his heart upon him, when shortly after he is ordered to offer him up in sacrifice. What can the human mind conceive more dreadful than for the father to be the murderer of his son? Had he been carried off by disease, who would not have thought the old man much to be pitied in having a son given to him in mockery, and in having his grief for being childless doubled to him? Had he been slain by some stranger, this would, indeed, have been much worse than natural death. But all these calamities are little compared with the murder of him by his father's hand. Thus, in fine, during the whole course of his life, he was harassed and tossed in such a way, that any one desirous to give a picture of a calamitous life could not find one more appropriate. Let it not be said that he was not so very distressed, because he at length escaped from all these tempests. He is not said to lead a happy life who, after infinite difficulties during a long period, at last laboriously works out his escape, but he who calmly enjoys present blessings without any alloy of suffering.
12. Isaac is less afflicted, but he enjoys very few of the sweets of life. He also meets with those vexations which do not permit a man to be happy on the earth. Famine drives him from the land of Canaan; his wife is torn from his bosom; his neighbours are ever and anon annoying and vexing him in all kinds of ways, so that he is even obliged to fight for water. At home, he suffers great annoyance from his daughters-in-law; he is stung by the dissension of his sons, and has no other cure for this great evil than to send the son whom he had blessed into exile (Gen. 26:27); Jacob, again, is nothing but a striking example of the greatest wretchedness. His boyhood is passed most uncomfortably at home amidst the threats and alarms of his elder brother, and to these he is at length forced to give way (Gen. 27:28); A fugitive from his parents and his native soil, in addition to the hardships of exile, the treatment he receives from his uncle Laban is in no respect milder and more humane (Gen. 29). As if it had been little to spend seven years of hard and rigorous servitude, he is cheated in the matter of a wife. For the sake of another wife, he must undergo a new servitude, during which, as he himself complains, the heat of the sun scorches him by day, while in frost and cold he spends the sleepless night (Gen. 31:40, 41). For twenty years he spends this bitter life, and daily suffers new injuries from his father-in-law. Nor is he quiet at home, which he sees disturbed and almost broken up by the hatreds, quarrels, and jealousies of his wives. When he is ordered to return to his native land, he is obliged to take his departure in a manner resembling an ignominious flight. Even then he is unable to escape the injustice of his father-in-law, but in the midst of his journey is assailed by him with contumely and reproach (Gen. 31:20.  ) By and bye a much greater difficulty befalls him (Gen. 32, 33). For as he approaches his brother, he has as many forms of death in prospect as a cruel foe could invent. Hence, while waiting for his arrival, he is distracted and excruciated by direful terrors; and when he comes into his sight, he falls at his feet like one half dead, until he perceives him to be more placable than he had ventured to hope. Moreover, when he first enters the land, he is bereaved of Rachel his only beloved wife. Afterwards he hears that the son whom she had borne him, and whom he loved more than all his other children, is devoured by a wild beast (Gen. 37:33). How deep the sorrow caused by his death he himself evinces, when, after long tears, he obstinately refuses to be comforted, declaring that he will go down to the grave to his son mourning. In the meantime, what vexation, anxiety, and grief, must he have received from the carrying off and dishonour of his daughter, and the cruel revenge of his sons, which not only brought him into bad odour with all the inhabitants of the country, but exposed him to the greatest danger of extermination? (Gen. 34) Then follows the horrid wickedness of Reuben his first-born, wickedness than which none could be committed more grievous (Gen. 36:22). The dishonour of a wife being one of the greatest of calamities, what must be said when the atrocity is perpetrated by a son? Some time after, the family is again polluted with incest (Gen. 38:18). All these disgraces might have crushed a mind otherwise the most firm and unbroken by misfortune. Towards the end of his life, when he seeks relief for himself and his family from famine, he is struck by the announcement of a new misfortune, that one of his sons is detained in prison, and that to recover him he must entrust to others his dearly beloved Benjamin (Gen. 42, 43). Who can think that in such a series of misfortunes, one moment was given him in which he could breathe secure? Accordingly, his own best witness, he declares to Pharaoh, "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been," (Gen. 47:9). In declaring that he had spent his life in constant wretchedness, he denies that he had experienced the prosperity which had been promised him by the Lord. Jacob, therefore, either formed a malignant and ungrateful estimate of the Lord's favour, or he truly declared that he had lived miserable on the earth. If so, it follows that his hope could not have been fixed on earthly objects.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE FIFTH STAGENow, as Christian went on his way, he came to a little ascent, which was cast up on purpose that pilgrims might see before them: up there, therefore, Christian went; and looking forward, he saw Faithful before him upon his journey: Then said Christian aloud, Ho, ho; so-ho; stay, and I will be your companion. At that Faithful looked behind him; to whom Christian cried again, Stay, stay, till I come up to you. But Faithful answered, No, I am upon my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me.
At this Christian was somewhat moved, and putting to all his strength, he quickly got up with Faithful, and did also overrun him; so the last was first. Then did Christian vaingloriously smile, because he had gotten the start of his brother; but not taking good heed to his feet, he suddenly stumbled and fell, and could not rise again until Faithful came up to help him.
Then I saw in my dream, they went very lovingly on together, and had sweet discourse of all things that had happened to them in their pilgrimage; and thus Christian began.
CHR. My honored and well-beloved brother Faithful, I am glad that I have overtaken you, and that God has so tempered our spirits that we can walk as companions in this so pleasant a path.
FAITH. I had thought, my dear friend, to have had your company quite from our town, but you did get the start of me; wherefore I was forced to come thus much of the way alone.
CHR. How long did you stay in the city of Destruction before you set out after me on your pilgrimage?
FAITH. Till I could stay no longer; for there was a great talk presently after you were gone out, that our city would, in a short time, with fire from heaven, be burnt down to the ground.
CHR. What, did your neighbors talk so?
FAITH. Yes, it was for a while in every body’s mouth.
CHR. What, and did no more of them but you come out to escape the danger?
FAITH. Though there was, as I said, a great talk thereabout, yet I do not think they did firmly believe it; for, in the heat of the discourse, I heard some of them deridingly speak of you and of your desperate journey, for so they called this your pilgrimage. But I did believe, and do still, that the end of our city will be with fire and brimstone from above; and therefore I have made my escape.
CHR. Did you hear no talk of neighbor Pliable?
FAITH. Yes, Christian, I heard that he followed you till he came to the Slough of Despond, where, as some said, he fell in; but he would not be known to have so done: but I am sure he was soundly bedabbled with that kind of dirt.
CHR. And what said the neighbors to him?
FAITH. He hath, since his going back, been had greatly in derision, and that among all sorts of people: some do mock and despise him, and scarce will any set him on work. He is now seven times worse than if he had never gone out of the city.
CHR. But why should they be so set against him, since they also despise the way that he forsook?
FAITH. O, they say, Hang him; he is a turncoat; he was not true to his profession! I think God has stirred up even His enemies to hiss at him, and make him a proverb, because he hath forsaken the way.
Jer. 29:18-19 18 I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the LORD, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the LORD.’ ESV
CHR. Had you no talk with him before you came out?
FAITH. I met him once in the streets, but he leered away on the other side, as one ashamed of what he had done; So I spake not to him.
CHR. Well, at my first setting out I had hopes of that man; but now I fear he will perish in the overthrow of the city. For it has happened to him according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
2 Pet. 2:22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” ESV
FAITH. These are my fears of him too; but who can hinder that which will be?
CHR. Well, neighbor Faithful, said Christian, let us leave him, and talk of things that more immediately concern ourselves. Tell me now what you have met with in the way as you came; for I know you have met with some things, or else it may be writ for a wonder.
FAITH. I escaped the slough that I perceive you fell into, and got up to the gate without that danger; only I met with one whose name was Wanton, that had like to have done me mischief.
CHR. It was well you escaped her net: Joseph was hard put to it by her, and he escaped her as you did; but it had like to have cost him his life.
Gen. 39:11–13 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. 13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, ESV
But what did she do to you?
FAITH. You cannot think (but that you know something) what a flattering tongue she had; she lay at me hard to turn aside with her, promising me all manner of content.
CHR. Nay, she did not promise you the content of a good conscience.
FAITH. You know what I mean; all carnal and fleshly content.
CHR. Thank God that you escaped her: the abhorred of the Lord shall fall into her pit.
Prov. 22:14 The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it. ESV
CHR. Why, I trow you did not consent to her desires?
FAITH. No, not to defile myself; for I remembered an old writing that I had seen, which said, “Her steps take hold on Hell.”
Prov. 5:5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol; ESV
Job 31:“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin? ESV
CHR. Did you meet with no other assault as you came?
FAITH. When I came to the foot of the hill called Difficulty, I met with a very aged man, who asked me what I was, and whither bound. I told him that I was a pilgrim, going to the Celestial City. Then said the old man, Thou lookest like an honest fellow; wilt thou be content to dwell with me for the wages that I shall give thee? Then I asked his name, and where he dwelt? He said his name was Adam the First, and that he dwelt in the town of Deceit.
Eph. 4:22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, ESV
I asked him then what was his work, and what the wages that he would give. He told me that his work was many delights; and his wages, that I should be his heir at last. I further asked him, what house he kept, and what other servants he had. So he told me that his house was maintained with all the dainties of the world, and that his servants were those of his own begetting. Then I asked how many children he had. He said that he had but three daughters, the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life,
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. ESV
and that I should marry them if I would. Then I asked, how long time he would have me live with him; And he told me, as long as he lived himself.
CHR. Well, and what conclusion came the old man and you to at last?
FAITH. Why, at first I found myself somewhat inclinable to go with the man, for I thought he spake very fair; but looking in his forehead, as I talked with him, I saw there written, “Put off the old man with his deeds.”
CHR. And how then?
FAITH. Then it came burning hot into my mind, that, whatever he said, and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house he would sell me for a slave. So I bid him forbear to talk, for I would not come near the door of his house. Then he reviled me, and told me that he would send such a one after me that should make my way bitter to my soul. So I turned to go away from him; but just as I turned myself to go thence, I felt him take hold of my flesh, and give me such a deadly twitch back, that I thought he had pulled part of me after himself: this made me cry, “O wretched man.”
Rom. 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ESV
So I went on my way up the hill.
Now, when I had got above half-way up, I looked behind me, and saw one coming after me, swift as the wind; so he overtook me just about the place where the settle stands.
CHR. Just there, said Christian, did I sit down to rest me; but being overcome with sleep, I there lost this roll out of my bosom.
FAITH. But, good brother, hear me out. So soon as the man overtook me, it was but a word and a blow; for down he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again I asked him wherefore he served me so. He said because of my secret inclining to Adam the First. And with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward; so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again I cried him mercy: but he said, I know not how to show mercy; and with that he knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but that one came by and bid him forbear.
CHR. Who was that that bid him forbear?
FAITH. I did not know him at first: but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side: Then I concluded that he was our Lord. So I went up the hill.
CHR. That man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none; neither knoweth he how to shew mercy to those that transgress the law.
FAITH. I know it very well; it was not the first time that he has met with me. ’Twas he that came to me when I dwelt securely at home, and that told me he would burn my house over my head if I stayed there.
CHR. But did you not see the house that stood there on the top of the hill, on the side of which Moses met you?
FAITH. Yes, and the lions too, before I came at it. But, for the lions, I think they were asleep, for it was about noon; and because I had so much of the day before me, I passed by the Porter, and came down the hill.
CHR. He told me, indeed, that he saw you go by; but I wish you had called at the house, for they would have showed you so many rarities that you would scarce have forgot them to the day of your death. But pray tell me, Did you meet nobody in the Valley of Humility?
FAITH. Yes, I met with one Discontent, who would willingly have persuaded me to go back again with him: his reason was, for that the valley was altogether without honor. He told me, moreover, that to go there was the way to disoblige all my friends, as Pride, Arrogancy, Self-Conceit, Worldly Glory, with others, who he knew, as he said, would be very much offended if I made such a fool of myself as to wade through this valley.
CHR. Well, and how did you answer him?
FAITH. I told him, that although all these that he named, might claim a kindred of me, and that rightly, (for indeed they were my relations according to the flesh,) yet since I became a pilgrim they have disowned me, and I also have rejected them; and therefore they were to me now no more than if they had never been of my lineage. I told him, moreover, that as to this valley, he had quite misrepresented the thing; for before honor is humility, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Therefore, said I, I had rather go through this valley to the honor that was so accounted by the wisest, than choose that which he esteemed most worthy of our affections.
CHR. Met you with nothing else in that valley?
Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.
By Don Carson 4/3/2018
At the beginning of Leviticus 6, the Lord lays down through Moses what must take place when someone in the covenant community has lied to a neighbor about something entrusted to him, has cheated him, has lied about recovered property so that he can keep it, or has committed perjury or a range of other sins. Two observations will clarify what these verses (6:1-7) contribute to the unfolding legal and moral structure.
(1) Readers of Leviticus, not least of the NIV, have by now become familiar with the distinction between unintentional sins (e.g., much of Lev. 4) and intentional sins. Some interpreters have argued that there are no sacrificial offerings to pay for intentional sins. Those who sin intentionally are to be excluded from the community.
Part of the problem is with our rendering of intentional and unintentional. Intentional commonly reflects a Hebrew expression meaning “with a high hand”; unintentional renders “not with a high hand.” That background is important as we think through Leviticus 6:1-7. The sins described here are all intentional in the modern sense: one cannot lie, cheat, or commit perjury without intending to do so. There are God-given steps to be followed: restitution where possible (following the principles laid out in Ex. 22), and prescribed confession and sacrifices.
Of course, some unintentional guilt is gained when one is unaware of committing an offense (as in 5:3); there is still guilt, for the action is prohibited, even though the offender may not have been personally aware of committing an offense. Other unintentional guilt does not refer to guilt accumulated unknowingly, but to guilt consciously accumulated even though the offense was not committed “with a high hand.” Many is the sin committed because one is attracted on the instant to it, or because one has been nurturing resentments, or because it seems less risky to lie than to tell the truth. This is still not the yet more appalling sin “with a high hand,” where the sinner looks at the sin directly, self-consciously reflects that this defies God, and openly and brazenly opts for the sin in order to defy God. As far as I can see, the old covenant does not prescribe atonement for such defiance, but judgment.
(2) Even the sins mentioned in this passage — all sins against some other human party — are treated first of all in relation to God: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor” (6:2). The guilt offering is brought to the priest; the offender must not only provide restitution to the offended human, but must seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Defiance of God is what makes wrongdoing sin, what makes sin odious.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
The marriage covenant (2)
2/2/2018 Bob Gass
‘Husbands…love your wives.’
(Eph 5:25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, ESV
We throw the word ‘love’ around loosely, leaving it to be defined in many different ways. People say things like, ‘I love chocolate cake,’ or ‘I love football,’ or ‘I love that television show.’ What they really mean is they ‘like’ and ‘enjoy’ these things. The Bible definition of love goes much deeper than what entertains and excites us, and what makes us feel emotionally attached to one another. To love someone is to pursue their well-being and make it a priority. Love’s first concern is always: ‘How does this action contribute to my partner’s well-being?’ If it doesn’t – or if it does the opposite – then it isn’t love. The Bible says, ‘Husbands…love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her…In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but…cares for it’ (vv. 25-29 NLT). As a husband, you can learn two things from these Scriptures: 1) We are all innately selfish. So, your greatest challenge will always be to put your wife’s interests ahead of your own, and be willing to sacrifice your own agenda to do it. 2) We must practise being sensitive. Think how sensitive you are to the aches and needs of your own body, and apply that same principle to caring for your wife. You say, ‘That’s a tall order!’ Yes, and the God who commands you to do it will give you the grace to do it day by day. So, draw on His grace!
UCB The Word For Today
At the time of Jesus
The second difference between the first exodus and the Passover at the time of Jesus has to do with the way the Passover lamb was sacrificed in the Temple. Fascinatingly, we have evidence that, in the first century A.D., the Passover lambs in the Temple were not only sacrificed; they were, so to speak, crucified. As the Israeli scholar Joseph Tabory has shown, according to the Mishnah, at the time when the Temple still stood, after the sacrifice of the lamb, the Jews would drive “thin smooth staves” of wood through the shoulders of the lamb in order to hang it and skin it (Pesahim 5:9). In addition to this first rod, they would also “thrust” a “skewer of pomegranate wood” through the Passover lamb “from its mouth to its buttocks” (Pesahim 7:1). As Tabory concludes, “An examination of the rabbinic evidence … seems to show that in Jerusalem the Jewish paschal lamb was offered in a manner which resembled a crucifixion.” This conclusion is supported by the writings of Saint Justin Martyr, a Christian living in the mid–second century A.D. In his dialogue with a Jewish rabbi named Trypho, Justin states:
For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of a cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb. (JUSTIN MARTYR, DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO THE JEW, 40)
If these descriptions of the Passover lambs in the Mishnah and Justin Martyr are accurate—and there is no good reason to doubt them—then on numerous occasions, Jesus himself would have witnessed the “crucifixions” of thousands of Passover lambs in the Jerusalem Temple. This is an aspect of the Passover in his day that is neither mentioned in the Bible nor part of the modern-day Jewish Seder, but which has the power to shed light on Jesus’ conception of his own fate.
Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
by Bill Federer
February 2, 1848, the United States Congress ratified the peace treaty which ended the Mexican War and, in exchange for 15 million dollars, brought the territories of California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, into the Union. The treaty began: “In the Name of Almighty God: The United States and the United Mexican States animated by a sincere desire to put an end to the calamities of the war…. have, under the protection of Almighty God, the Author of Peace, arranged, agreed upon, and signed the following: Treaty of Peace.”
(Cont) from center
For us to argue ‘we forgive each other unconditionally, let God do the same to us’ betrays not sophistication but shallowness, since it overlooks the elementary fact that we are not God. We are private individuals, and other people’s misdemeanours are personal injuries. God is not a private individual, however, nor is sin just a personal injury. On the contrary, God is himself the maker of the laws we break, and sin is rebellion against him.
The crucial question we should ask, therefore, is a different one. It is not why God finds it difficult to forgive, but how he finds it possible to do so at all. As Emil Brunner put it, ‘Forgiveness is the very opposite of anything which can be taken for granted. Nothing is less obvious than forgiveness.’ (Emil Brunner, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith (Classic Reprint) ) Or, in the words of Carnegie Simpson, ‘forgiveness is to man the plainest of duties; to God it is the profoundest of problems’. (P. Carnegie Simpson, The fact of Christ: a series of lectures or The Fact Of Christ: A Series Of Lectures)
The problem of forgiveness is constituted by the inevitable collision between divine perfection and human rebellion, between God as he is and us as we are. The obstacle to forgiveness is neither our sin alone, nor our guilt alone, but also the divine reaction in love and wrath towards guilty sinners. For, although indeed ‘God is love’, yet we have to remember that his love is ‘holy love’, (1) love which yearns over sinners while at the same time refusing to condone their sin. How, then, could God express his holy love? – his love in forgiving sinners without compromising his holiness, and his holiness in judging sinners without frustrating his love? Confronted by human evil, how could God be true to himself as holy love? In Isaiah’s words, how could he be simultaneously ‘a righteous God and a Saviour’ (Isaiah 45:21)? For, despite the truth that God demonstrated his righteousness by taking action to save his people, the words ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ cannot be regarded as simple synonyms. Rather his saving initiative was compatible with, and expressive of, his righteousness. At the cross in holy love God through Christ paid the full penalty of our disobedience himself. He bore the judgment we deserve in order to bring us the forgiveness we do not deserve. On the cross divine mercy and justice were equally expressed and eternally reconciled. God’s holy love was ‘satisfied’.
...The reason why many people give the wrong answers to questions about the cross, and even ask the wrong questions, is that they have carefully considered neither the seriousness of sin nor the majesty of God. It is necessary to review four basic biblical concepts, namely the gravity of sin, human moral responsibility, true and false guilt, and the wrath of God.
(1) For the emphasis on ‘holy love’ see P. T. Forsyth in both The Cruciality Of The Cross and The Work of Christ and Christus Veritas: An Essay and The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith (Classic Reprint) The Cross of Christ
Thomas R. Kelly
Such men are not found merely among the canonized Saints of the Church. They are the John Woolmans of today. They are housewives and hand workers, plumbers and teachers, learned and unlettered, black and white, poor and perchance even rich. They exist, and happy is the church that contains them. They may not be known widely, nor serve on boards of trustees, or preach in pulpits. Where pride in one's learning is found, there they are not. For they do not confuse acquaintance with theology and church history with commitment and the life lived in the secret sanctuary. Cleaving simply through forms and externals, they dwell in immediacy with Him who is the abiding Light behind all changing forms, really nullifying much of the external trappings of religion. They have found the secret of the Nazarene, and, not content to assent to it intellectually, they have committed themselves to it in action, and walk in newness of life in the vast fellowship of unceasing prayer.
There is no new technique for entrance upon this stage where the soul in its deeper levels is continuously at Home in Him. The processes of inward prayer do not grow more complex, but more simple. In the early weeks we begin with simple, whispered words. Formulate them spontaneously, "Thine only. Thine only." Or seize upon a fragment of the Psalms: "so panteth my soul after Thee, 0 God." Repeat them inwardly, over and over again. For the conscious cooperation of the surface level is needed at first, before prayer sinks into the second level as habitual divine orientation. Change the phrases, as you feel led, from hour to hour or from forenoon to afternoon. If you wander, return and begin again. But the time will come when verbalization is not so imperative, and yields place to the attitudes of soul which you meant the words to express, attitudes of humble bowing before Him, attitudes of lifting high your whole being before Him that the Light may shine into the last crevice and drive away all darkness, attitudes of approach and nestling in the covert of His wings, attitudes of amazement and marvel at His transcendent glory, attitudes of self-abandonment, attitudes of feeding in an inward Holy Supper upon the Bread of Life. If you find, after a time, that these attitudes become diffused and vague, no longer firm-textured, then return to verbalizations and thus restore their solidity.
But longer discipline in this inward prayer will establish more enduring upreachings of praise and submission and relaxed listening in the depths, unworded but habitual orientation of all one's self about Him who is the Focus. The process is much simpler now. Little glances, quiet breathings of submission and invitation suffice. Voluntary or stated times of prayer merely join into and enhance the steady undercurrent of quiet worship that underlies the hours. Behind the foreground of the words continues the background of heavenly orientation, as all the currents of our being set toward Him. Through the shimmering light at divine Presence we look out upon the world, and in its turmoil and its fitfulness, we may be given to respond, in some increased measure, in ways dimly suggestive of the Son of Man.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
To be associated with the Savior by faith,
in the fellowship of spiritual communion,
is to dwell at the springs of eternal life.
--- John Henry Jowett
It is a quickening of the conscience by the holiness of God; a feeding of the mind with the truth of God; an opening of the heart to the love of God; and a devoting of the will to the purpose of God.
The only way to seek God is to seek God first. Deny the nayward, affirm the yeaward, be true to those stirrings and motions which He starts in us, refuse priority to all else, and be faithful to the sacred.
--- Jean Toomer, 1894-1967
For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities for the supply of others' necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as His own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness, and truth then formerly we have been acquainted with.
--- John Winthrop
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
glancing out through the lattice,
7 when I saw among the young men there,
among those who don’t think for themselves,
a young fellow devoid of all sense.
8 He crosses the street near her corner
and continues on toward her house.
9 Dusk turns into evening,
and finally night, dark and black.
10 Then a woman approaches him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
11 She’s the coarse, impulsive type,
whose feet don’t stay at home;
12 rather, she stalks the streets and squares,
lurking at every streetcorner.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The constraint of the call
Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! --- 1 Cor. 9:16.
Beware of stopping your ears to the call of God. Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact; but that is not the call to preach, it is merely an illustration in preaching. Paul is referring to the pangs produced in him by the constraint to preach the Gospel. Never apply what Paul says in this connection to souls coming in contact with God for salvation. There is nothing easier than getting saved because it is God’s sovereign work—‘Come unto Me and I will save you.’ Our Lord never lays down the conditions of discipleship as the conditions of salvation. We are condemned to salvation through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Discipleship has an option with it—“IF any man …”
Paul’s words have to do with being made a servant of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go. God makes us broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be “separated unto the gospel” means to hear the call of God; and when a man begins to overhear that call, then begins agony that is worthy of the name. Every ambition is nipped in the bud, every desire of life quenched, every outlook completely extinguished and blotted out, saving one thing only—“separated unto the gospel.” Woe be to the soul who tries to put his foot in any other direction when once that call has come to him. This College exists to see whether God has any man or woman here who cares about proclaiming His Gospel; to see whether God grips you. And beware of competitors when God does grip you.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Of all things to remember
this is special: the Buddha
seated cross-legged, disproving
Donne, himself an island
surrounded by the expanses
of space and time. From his navel
the tree grows whose canopy
is knowledge. He counts the leaves
as they fall, that are words
out of the mouth of the unseen
God, washing his thoughts clean
in them. Over the waters
he sees the argosies of the world
approaching, that will never
arrive, that will go down, each
one sunk by the weight of its own cargo.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Second Chapter / Having A Humble Opinion Of Self
EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.
If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise.
Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.
The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?
If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself.
The Imitation Of Christ
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?
--- Jeremiah 12:5.
Suppose that to you, as to Christ, it became evident that life was not to give what you expected, that your dreams were not to be granted, that yours was to be a steep and lonely road, that some tremendous sacrifice was to be asked of you, could you adjust to face it with a shadow of the Master’s courage and the Master’s calm? ( When Life Tumbles In Then What? ) There is no supposing in the matter. To you too, in your turn, someday, these things must come.
And when it does, nobody has the right to snivel or whimper as if something unique and inexplicable had befallen him or her. “Never morning wore to evening but some heart did break”—hearts just as sensitive as yours and mine. But when yours breaks, what then? It is a bit late in the day to be talking about insurance when your house is ablaze, somewhat tardy to be searching for something to bring you through when the test is on.
So many people’s religion is a fair-weather affair. A little rain and it runs and crumbles; a touch of strain and it snaps. So long as God’s will runs parallel to ours, we follow blithely. But the moment that they clash, that life grows difficult, that we do not understand—how apt faith is to fail us just when we have most need of it!
Well, what of you and me? If the small ills of life have frayed our faith and temper, what will we do in the roar and swirl of Jordan?
The essence of faith [is] a certain intrepidity of loyalty that can believe undauntedly [when] in the dark and that still trusts God, unshaken even when the evidence looks fairly damning. Do you think Christ always understood or found it easy? There was a day when he took God’s will for him into his hand, turned it round, and looked at it: “Is this what you ask of me?” he said. Yes, and another day when, puzzled and uncertain, he cried out, “But is this really what you mean that I should give you, this here, this now?” Yes, and another still, when the waters roared through his soul, yet he would not turn back, fought his way to the farther bank and died, still believing in the God who seemed to have deserted him. That is why he is given a name that is above every name.
--- Arthur John Gossip
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The son of Pepin the Short rose to power in the eighth century, and there was nothing short about him. Standing seven feet tall, Charlemagne was active, dignified, strong, and intelligent. His continual warfare enlarged his kingdom till it covered most of central Europe, and on Christmas Day, 800, he was crowned king of the Franks by Pope Leo III.
Charlemagne craved education, not only for himself but for his people. He believed that religion and education were the only sure foundations for a healthy state. But he needed a teacher.
Alcuin, having evidently lost his parents in childhood, had been raised by schoolmasters in York, England. In the vast library of York’s Cathedral School the boy fell in love with Ambrose, Augustine, Bede, Pliny, and the writers of antiquity. He rose from student to teacher, and on February 2, 767, Alcuin was made a deacon and the school’s headmaster.
Years passed, and the now-famous schoolman, traveling in Italy, met Charlemagne. The two hit it off, one a physical giant, the other an intellectual one. Charlemagne asked Alcuin to educate his court, train his clergy, and establish parish schools. So Alcuin resigned at York and began teaching the royal family, the imperial advisors, and the clergy of the palace chapel. He based his curriculum on the seven liberal arts, saying the house of knowledge can only be perfectly built on these seven columns. He collected manuscripts for a royal library. And he began efforts to educate clergy everywhere, then the people. The first thing to learn, Alcuin said, was the Lord’s Prayer. Then, the Ten Commandments. He was ever zealous for studying the Scriptures and preaching the gospel. People cannot be “christianized” by force, he warned Charlemagne, but brought to Christ by the Word of God.
Ten years later an exhausted Alcuin returned to England where he spent the rest of his life defending orthodoxy, reorganizing schools, developing curriculum, copying manuscripts, and teaching Scripture. He died unexpectedly on Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 804, but his efforts brought light into the darkness and paved the way for the universities that were soon to rise.
Wisdom has built her house with its seven columns.
She has prepared the meat and set out the wine.
Her feast is ready.
“Everyone who is ignorant or foolish is invited!
If you want to live,
give up your foolishness
And let understanding guide your steps.”
--- Proverbs 9:1,2,4,6.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 2
“Without the shedding of blood is no remission.” --- Hebrews 9:22.
This is the voice of unalterable truth. In none of the Jewish ceremonies were sins, even typically, removed without blood-shedding. In no case, by no means can sin be pardoned without atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for me out of Christ; for there is no other blood-shedding which is worth a thought as an atonement for sin. Am I, then, believing in him? Is the blood of his atonement truly applied to my soul? All men are on a level as to their need of him. If we be never so moral, generous, amiable, or patriotic, the rule will not be altered to make an exception for us. Sin will yield to nothing less potent than the blood of him whom God hath set forth as a propitiation. What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should we seek another?
Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ’s sake. Their works, and prayers, and ceremonies, give them very poor comfort; and well may they be uneasy, for they are neglecting the one great salvation, and endeavouring to get remission without blood. My soul, sit down, and behold the justice of God as bound to punish sin; see that punishment all executed upon thy Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy, and kiss the dear feet of him whose blood has made atonement for thee. It is in vain when conscience is aroused to fly to feelings and evidences for comfort: this is a habit which we learned in the Egypt of our legal bondage. The only restorative for a guilty conscience is a sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. “The blood is the life thereof,” says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.
“Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
Of my Saviour’s precious blood;
With divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God.”
Evening - February 2
“And these are ancient things.” --- 1 Chronicles 4:22.
Yet not so ancient as those precious things which are the delight of our souls. Let us for a moment recount them, telling them over as misers count their gold. The sovereign choice of the Father, by which he elected us unto eternal life, or ever the earth was, is a matter of vast antiquity, since no date can be conceived for it by the mind of man. We were chosen from before the foundations of the world. Everlasting love went with the choice, for it was not a bare act of divine will by which we were set apart, but the divine affections were concerned. The Father loved us in and from the beginning. Here is a theme for daily contemplation. The eternal purpose to redeem us from our foreseen ruin, to cleanse and sanctify us, and at last to glorify us, was of infinite antiquity, and runs side by side with immutable love and absolute sovereignty. The covenant is always described as being everlasting, and Jesus, the second party in it, had his goings forth of old; he struck hands in sacred suretyship long ere the first of the stars began to shine, and it was in him that the elect were ordained unto eternal life. Thus in the divine purpose a most blessed covenant union was established between the Son of God and his elect people, which will remain as the foundation of their safety when time shall be no more. Is it not well to be conversant with these ancient things? Is it not shameful that they should be so much neglected and even rejected by the bulk of professors? If they knew more of their own sin, would they not be more ready to adore distinguishing grace? Let us both admire and adore tonight, as we sing ---
“A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood;
The streams of love I trace
Up to the Fountain, God;
And in his sacred bosom see
Eternal thoughts of Love to me.”
Morning and Evening
JESUS, THOU JOY OF LOVING HEARTS
Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091–1153
Translated by Ray Palmer, 1808–1887
I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
This song is another of the fine hymn texts that originated during the Middle Ages. It is thought to have been written by a monk—one of the most prominent religious leaders of his day. An important part of the medieval church was the role of the monks and their monasteries. Since these churchmen were among the few who could read and write, their institutions became powerful influences in shaping the religious and cultural development of Western civilization.
As a young man, Bernard became abbot of the monastery of Clairvaux, France. His influence was soon felt throughout Europe. It is said that he commanded kings, emperors, and prelates—and they obeyed him. In 1146 he was commissioned by the pope to lead a second preaching crusade against the Moslems. Because of his eloquence and strong preaching, great crowds followed him. One of the conditions for those joining the Crusade was a personal conversion experience. It is recorded that multitudes of vicious men were dramatically changed through Bernard’s preaching. They carried a cross unashamedly as a symbol of their commitment to Christ and this crusade.
Bernard wrote a number of books, chiefly on such subjects as church government, monasticism and other church-related topics. It is generally agreed that he wrote a long 192-line poem titled “Dulcis Jesus Memorial” (“Joyful Rhythm on the Name of Jesus”). In 1858 Ray Palmer, an American Congregational preacher, translated from the Latin a portion of this medieval poem attributed to Bernard for the hymn “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.” This hymn text aptly describes the preciousness of Christ in each believer’s life.
Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts, Thou fount of life, Thou light of men, from the best bliss that earth imparts, we turn unfilled to Thee again.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood; Thou savest those that on Thee call; to them that seek Thee, Thou art good; to them that find Thee, all in all.
Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, where’er our changeful lot is cast; glad when Thy gracious smile we see, blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay; make all our moments calm and bright; chase the dark night of sin away; shed o’er the world Thy holy light.Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts, Thou fount of life, Thou light of men, from the best bliss that earth imparts, we turn unfilled to Thee again.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood; Thou savest those that on Thee call; to them that seek Thee, Thou art good; to them that find Thee, all in all.
Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, where’er our changeful lot is cast; glad when Thy gracious smile we see, blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay; make all our moments calm and bright; chase the dark night of sin away; shed o’er the world Thy holy light.
For Today: John 6:35; Ephesians 2:14–18; Colossians 1:13, 14; 1 Peter 1:8.
Live with the awareness that even with the “best bliss that earth imparts,” without an intimate awareness of Christ, life will be empty. Make His presence the goal of your activities. ---
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