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2/21/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
Exodus 4     Luke 7     Job 21     1 Corinthians 8


Exodus 4

Moses Given Powerful Signs

Exodus 4:1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’ ” 2 The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the LORD said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

10 But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.

21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’ ”

24 At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

The presence of Zipporah’s name indicates that the personal pronouns refer to Moses. She, judging by her action of suddenly and swiftly circumcising her son, understood that the danger to her husband’s life was intimately connected to the family’s not bearing the sign of the covenant given to Abraham for all his descendants (Gen. 17:10–14). Her evaluation, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” suggests her own revulsion with this rite of circumcision, which Moses should have performed. The result, however, was God’s foregoing the threat and letting Moses go (Ex. 4:26a). The reaction of God at this point dramatically underscored the seriousness of the sign he had prescribed.  ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size  
27 The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. 30 Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.


Luke 7

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

Luke 7:1 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.    Read "The Raising Of The Young Man Of Nain—The Meeting Of Life And Death Luke 7:11-17" below to get a real flavor for this event.  

Messengers from John the Baptist

18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”


Job 21

Job Replies: The Wicked Do Prosper

Job 21:1 Then Job answered and said:

2  “Keep listening to my words,
and let this be your comfort.
3  Bear with me, and I will speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.
4  As for me, is my complaint against man?
Why should I not be impatient?
5  Look at me and be appalled,
and lay your hand over your mouth.
6  When I remember, I am dismayed,
and shuddering seizes my flesh.
7  Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
8  Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes.
9  Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.
10  Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and does not miscarry.
11  They send out their little boys like a flock,
and their children dance.
12  They sing to the tambourine and the lyre
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
13  They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.
14  They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.
15  What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
16  Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
The counsel of the wicked is far from me.

17  “How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out?
That their calamity comes upon them?
That God distributes pains in his anger?
18  That they are like straw before the wind,
and like chaff that the storm carries away?
19  You say, ‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.’
Let him pay it out to them, that they may know it.
20  Let their own eyes see their destruction,
and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
21  For what do they care for their houses after them,
when the number of their months is cut off?
22  Will any teach God knowledge,
seeing that he judges those who are on high?
23  One dies in his full vigor,
being wholly at ease and secure,
24  his pails full of milk
and the marrow of his bones moist.
25  Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having tasted of prosperity.
26  They lie down alike in the dust,
and the worms cover them.

27  “Behold, I know your thoughts
and your schemes to wrong me.
28  For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince?
Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?’
29  Have you not asked those who travel the roads,
and do you not accept their testimony
30  that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity,
that he is rescued in the day of wrath?
31  Who declares his way to his face,
and who repays him for what he has done?
32  When he is carried to the grave,
watch is kept over his tomb.
33  The clods of the valley are sweet to him;
all mankind follows after him,
and those who go before him are innumerable.
34  How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”



1 Corinthians 8

Food Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

The Reformation Study Bible


What I'm Reading

‘God Did the Work, Period’

By John Piper 2/21/208

     I recalled this morning (with more emotion than I expected) that one of the fears of my life as a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, was that Billy Graham would die. I know there was a good deal of immature failure in that fear to trust the God who is quite able to run the world without Billy Graham. But it does give you a glimpse of the role he played as a kind of sun holding the planets in place in the solar system of my religious world in the late 1950s.

     Now I am 72 in Minneapolis (remember “Box 123”?!), not a teenager in South Carolina. And Billy died today at the age of 99. This morning I have been singing his songs (“Just as I Am” and “How Great Thou Art”). The flood of emotion they awaken, after a lifetime of profound associations, is a sweet sorrow. Thank you, Lord, that you answered my boyish prayers and preserved his life as long as you did. And not just his life, but his faith and his witness.

     ‘I Surrender All’ | Billy Graham was born on November 7, 1918, in North Carolina. In 1934, under the preaching of evangelist Mordecai Ham, Billy was converted to Christ. He attended Bob Jones University in Cleveland, Tennessee, for one year and spent three and a half years at Florida Bible Institute in Tampa. In March of 1938, he first sensed God’s calling to preach.

One night in March, 1938, Billy Graham returned from his walk and reached the 18th green immediately before the school’s front door. “The trees were loaded with Spanish moss, and in the moonlight it was like a fairyland.” He sat on the edge of the green, looking up at the moon and stars, aware of a warm breeze from the south. The tension snapped. “I remember getting on my knees and saying, ‘God, if you want me to preach, I will do it.’ Tears streamed down my cheeks as I made this great surrender to become an ambassador for Jesus Christ.” (John Pollock, Billy Graham: The authorized biography)
     In the summer vacation of 1937, he had asked Emily Cavanaugh to marry him. In May of 1938, she said no.

     Billy was ordained in 1939. The first time he gave his own “altar call” he was at a little church on the Gulf Coast, with 100 people present. Thirty-two young men and women came forward (Billy Graham: The authorized biography).

     In the fall of 1940, he entered Wheaton College. He met Ruth Bell in the lobby of Williston Hall — the same dormitory where my wife Noël lived as we were dating at Wheaton.

Click here to go to source

     John Piper 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. He is author of more than 50 books.

John Piper Books:

4 Requests to Young Evangelical Writers

By Samuel James 2/17/2017

     

  1. Please don’t believe, or write as if you believe, that your personal experiences are a fully reliable path to understanding. Everyone who has life has experiences, and those experiences do shape us in meaningful ways. But here’s the problem: Different people have different experiences, and different experiences can yield wildly different, even contradictory, notions of reality. You may have been bullied and wounded by a fundamentalist church. That experience is valid and means something, but it doesn’t mean that every fundamentalist is waiting to hurt someone, nor does it mean that everyone who sounds to you like a fundamentalist is someone who would bully you given the chance. We can be honest about our experiences and how they form us, but making experience authoritative–especially when it empowers broad assumptions and animosity toward others–is deeply deceptive.
  2. Please make your theology more than language games. If you describe your faith as “welcoming,” “authentic,” and “open,” explain what those words mean using ideas and examples. Don’t merely use the words to gain leverage over those who disagree with you about Scripture or the church. This verbal violence happens to the word “legalistic” all the time. Legalism has a specific meaning which implicates certain specific attitudes and beliefs. It’s not a catch-all term to describe anyone who has a conscience issue about entertainment.
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Samuel D. James serves in the Office of the President at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can follow him on Twitter @samueld_james.

Helping Students Deepen Their Relationship With God

By Ryan Pauly

     It was the summer of 2013 and I was on a family vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Family is so important to me and since moving away in 2008, I just don’t get to see them as much as I would like. So every chance we have to get together turns into a special time. While at dinner one evening my mom said something she has told me many times throughout my life. She began to tell me about this amazing girl that I would marry one day and how God had someone special in mind. Instead of responding with something like “Yeah mom, I know.,” which I had done many times before; I said something different. I remember looking at my mom and saying something like, “Where is she? You keep telling me about this girl, but I don’t see her anywhere. Can you please tell me where she is at? Does she even exist?” Then I quickly began to feel guilty because my mom only meant the best for me.

     This story recently came back to mind as I tried to find an example for my new talk on the existence of God. I realized that this is often how we talk to students. We keep telling them how amazing God is and how he loves them, cares for them, and wants a relationship with them. While these things are completely true, we have students who respond just like I did. Where is he? Does he even exist? What we sometimes forget to realize is that everyone has to start somewhere, and we aren’t all at the same level. As I thought about this, I thought about four different relationship levels.

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     Ryan Pauly graduated in 2010 with a B.A. of Religion and an emphasis in Youth Leadership from Vanguard University in Southern California. After graduating he became a missionary in the Dominican Republic. During his four years of living in the Dominican Republic; he taught youth 12-18 English, Worldview, Apologetics, and Leadership.

     Ryan moved back to Southern California in 2015 and started teaching Historical Christian Doctrine, Apologetics, and Comparative Worldviews at a Southern California Christian high school. Along with teaching, Ryan is currently working on his M.A. of Christian Apologetics at Biola University and an Advanced Certificate in Science Apologetics from the Reasons Institute.

     When Ryan isn’t teaching or studying, he enjoys speaking at churches, youth groups, schools, and conferences. His writing has been featured at crossexamined.org and thepoachedegg.net, and he is also a contributor for the updated version of the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper which will be released in 2017. Along with his writing, you can tune in to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show hosted by Ryan every Wednesday from 4:30-5 pm on Active Reliance Radio.

Why Evolutionary "Just So" Stories Fail

By Sean McDowell 9/28/2016

     During my graduate philosophy work at Talbot, I took an independent study on Darwinism and intelligent design. My guiding professor, Dr. Garry Deweese, had me read books on both sides of the debate, including Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett and The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins.

     It was during this study that I began to understand the concept of a “just-so” story, and it has stuck with me ever since. Essentially, to save the Darwinian paradigm, Darwinists sometimes come up with logically possible, but evidentially unsubstantiated stories to account for some recalcitrant feature in the natural world (yes, Christian apologists can sometimes be accused of doing the same thing to explain apparent contradictions in the Bible. But that is a story for another time).

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Books By Sean McDowell

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter
Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Trade Paper

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 22

Why Have You Forsaken Me?
22 To The Choirmaster. According To The Doe Of The Dawn. A Psalm Of David.

19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

ESV Study Bible

Exodus 4; Luke 7; Job 21; 1 Corinthians 8

By Don Carson 2/21/2018

     In Exodus 4 two elements introduce complex developments that stretch forward to the rest of the Bible.

     The first is the reason God gives as to why Pharaoh will not be impressed by the miracles that Moses performs. God declares, “I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go” (4:21). During the succeeding chapters, the form of expression varies: not only “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (7:3), but also “Pharaoh’s heart became hard” or “was hard” (7:13, 22; 8:19, etc.) and “he hardened his heart” (8:15, 32, etc). No simple pattern is discernible in these references. On the one hand, we cannot say that the pattern works up from “Pharaoh hardened his heart” to “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” to “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (as if God’s hardening were nothing more than the divine judicial confirmation of a pattern the man had chosen for himself); on the other hand, we cannot say that the pattern simply works down from “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” to “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” to “Pharaoh hardened his heart” (as if Pharaoh’s self-imposed hardening was nothing more than the inevitable out-working of the divine decree).

     Three observations may shed some light on these texts. (a) Granted the Bible’s storyline so far, the assumption is that Pharaoh is already a wicked person. In particular, he has enslaved the covenant people of God. God has not hardened a morally neutral man; he has pronounced judgment on a wicked man. Hell itself is a place where repentance is no longer possible. God’s hardening has the effect of imposing that sentence a little earlier than usual. (b) In all human actions, God is never completely passive: this is a theistic universe, such that “God hardens Pharaoh’s heart” and “Pharaoh hardened his own heart,” far from being disjunctive statements, are mutually complementary. (c) This is not the only passage where this sort of thing is said. See, for instance, 1 Kings 22; Ezekiel 14:9; and above all 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12: “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

     The second forward-looking element is the “son” terminology: “Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22-23). This first reference to Israel as the son of God develops into a pulsating typology that embraces the Davidic king as the son par excellence, and results in Jesus, the ultimate Son of God, the true Israel and the messianic King.

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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:

The Raising Of The Young Man Of Nain—The Meeting Of Life And Death Luke 7:11-17

By Alfred Edersheim

     THAT early spring - tide in Galilee was surely the truest realisation of the picture in the Song of Solomon, when earth clad herself in garments of beauty, and the air was melodious with songs of new life. It seemed as if each day marked a widening circle of deepest sympathy and largest power on the part of Jesus; as if each day also brought fresh surprise, new gladness; opened hitherto un-thought-of possibilities, and pointed Israel far beyond the horizon of their narrow expectancy. Yesterday it was the sorrow of the heathen Centurion which woke an echo in the heart of the Supreme Commander of life and death; faith called out, owned, and placed on the high platform of Israel’s worthies. Today it is the same sorrow of a Jewish mother, which touches the heart of the Son of Mary, and appeals to where denial is unthinkable. In that Presence grief and death cannot continue. As the defilement of a heathen house could not attach to Him, Whose contact changed the Gentile stranger into a true Israelite, so could the touch of death not render unclean Him, Whose Presence vanquished and changed it into life. Jesus could not enter Nain, and its people pass Him to carry one dead to the burying.

     For our present purpose it matters little, whether it was the very ‘day after’ the healing of the Centurion’s servant, or ‘shortly afterwards,’ that Jesus left Capernaum for Nain. Probably it was the morrow of that miracle, and the fact that ‘much people,’ or rather ‘a great multitude,’ followed Him, seems confirmatory of it. The way was long — as we reckon, more than twenty-five miles; but, even if it was all taken on foot, there could be no difficulty in reaching Nain ere the evening, when so often funerals took place. Various roads lead to, and from Nain; that which stretches to the Lake of Galilee and up to Capernaum is quite distinctly marked. It is difficult to understand, how most of those who have visited the spot could imagine the place, where Christ met the funeral procession, to have been the rock - hewn tombs to the west of Nain and towards Nazareth. For, from Capernaum the Lord would not have come that way, but approach it from the north - east by Endor. Hence there can be little doubt, that Canon Tristram correctly identifies the now unfenced burying - ground, about ten minutes’ walk to the east of Nain, as that whither, on that spring afternoon, they were carrying the widow’s son. On the path leading to it the Lord of Life for the first time burst open the gates of death.

     It is all desolate now. A few houses of mud and stone with low doorways, scattered among heaps of stones and traces of walls, is all that remains of what even these ruins show to have been once a city, with walls and gates. The rich gardens are no more, the fruit trees cut down, ‘and there is a painful sense of desolation’ about the place, as if the breath of judgment had swept over it. And yet even so we can understand its ancient name of Nain, ‘the pleasant,’ which the Rabbis regarded as fulfilling that part of the promise to Issachar: ‘he saw the land that it was pleasant.’ From the elevation on which the city stood we look northwards, across the wide plain, to wooded Tabor, and in the far distance to snow - capped Hermon. On the left (in the west) rise the hills beyond which Nazareth lies embosomed; to the right is Endor; southwards Shunem, and beyond it the Plain of Jezreel. By this path, from Endor, comes Jesus with His disciples and the great following multitude. Here, near by the city gate, on the road that leads eastwards to the old burying - ground, has this procession of the ‘great multitude,’ which accompanied the Prince of Life met that other ‘great multitude’ that followed the dead to his burying. Which of the two shall give way to the other? We know what ancient Jewish usage would have demanded. For, of all the duties enjoined, none more strictly enforced by every consideration of humanity and piety, even by the example of God Himself, than that of comforting the mourners and showing respect to the dead by accompanying him to the burying. The popular idea, that the spirit of the dead hovered about the unburied remains, must have given intensity to such feelings.

     Putting aside later superstitions, so little has changed in the Jewish rites and observances about the dead, that from Talmudic and even earlier sources, we can form a vivid conception of what had taken place in Nain. The watchful anxiety; the vain use of such means as were known, or within reach of the widow; the deepening care, the passionate longing of the mother to retain her one treasure, her sole earthly hope and stay; then the gradual fading out of the light, the farewell, the terrible burst of sorrow: all these would be common features in any such picture. But here we have, besides, the Jewish thoughts of death and after death; knowledge just sufficient to make afraid, but not to give firm consolation, which would make even the most pious Rabbi uncertain of his future; and then the desolate thoughts connected in the Jewish mind with childlessness. We can realise it all: how Jewish ingenuity and wisdom would resort to remedies real or magical; how the neighbours would come in with reverent step, feeling as if the very Shekhinah were unseen at the head of the pallet in that humble home; how they would whisper swings about submission, which, when realisation of God’s love is wanting, seem only to stir the heart to rebellion against absolute power; and how they would resort to the prayers of those who were deemed pious in Nain.

     But all was in vain. And now the well-known blast of the horn has carried tidings, that once more the Angel of Death has done his dire behest. In passionate grief the mother has rent her upper garment. The last sad offices have been rendered to the dead. The body has been laid on the ground; hair and nails have been cut, and the body washed, anointed, and wrapped in the best the widow could procure; for, the ordinance which directed that the dead should be buried in ‘wrappings’ (Takhrikhin), or, as they significantly called it, the ‘provision for the journey’ (Zevadatha), of the most inexpensive linen, is of later date than our period. It is impossible to say, whether the later practice already prevailed, of covering the body with metal, glass, or salt, and laying it either upon earth or salt.

     And now the mother was left Oneneth (moaning, lamenting)—a term which distinguished the mourning before from that after burial. She would sit on the floor, neither eat meat, nor drink wine. What scanty meal she would take, must be without prayer, in the house of a neighbour, or in another room, or at least with her back to the dead. Pious friends would render neighbourly offices, or busy themselves about the near funeral. If it was deemed duty for the poorest Jew, on the death of his wife, to provide at least two flutes and one mourning woman, we may feel sure that the widowed mother had not neglected what, however incongruous or difficult to procure, might be regarded as the last tokens of affection. In all likelihood the custom obtained even then, though in modified form, to have funeral orations at the grave. For, even if charity provided for an unknown wayfarer the simplest funeral, mourning - women would be hired to chaunt in weird strains the lament: ‘Alas, the lion! alas, the hero!’ or similar words, while great Rabbis were wont to bespeak for themselves ‘a warm funeral oration’ (Hesped, or Hespeda). For, from the funeral oration a man’s fate in the other world might be inferred;e and, indeed, ‘the honour of a sage was in his funeral oration.’ And in this sense the Talmud answers the question, whether a funeral oration is intended to honour the survivors or the dead.

     But in all this painful pageantry there was nothing for the heart of the widow, bereft of her only child. We can follow in spirit the mournful procession, as it started from the desolate home. As it issued, chairs and couches were reversed, and laid low. Outside, the funeral orator, if such was employed; preceded the bier, proclaiming the good deeds of the dead. Immediately before the dead came the women, this being peculiar to Galilee, the Midrash giving this reason of it, that woman had introduced death into the world. The body was not, as afterwards in preference, carried in an ordinary coffin of wood (Aron), if possible, cedarwood — on one occasion, at least, made with holes beneath; but laid on a bier, or in an open coffin (Mittah). In former times a distinction had been made in these biers between rich and poor. The former were carried on the so - called Dargash — as it were, in state — while the poor were conveyed in a receptacle made of wickerwork (Kelibha or Kelikhah), having sometimes at the foot what was termed ‘a horn,’ to which the body was made fast. But this distinction between rich and poor was abolished by Rabbinic ordinance, and both alike, if carried on a bier, were laid in that made of wickerwork. Commonly, though not in later practice, the face of the dead body was uncovered. The body lay with its face turned up, and its hands folded on the breast. We may add, that when a person had died unmarried or childless, it was customary to put into the coffin something distinctive of them, such as pen and ink, or a key. Over the coffins of bride or bridegroom a baldachino was carried. Sometimes the coffin was garlanded with myrtle. In exceptional cases we read of the use of incense, and even of a kind of libation.fbr>
     We cannot, then, be mistaken in supposing that the body of the widow’s son was laid on the ‘bed’ (Mittah), or in the ‘willow basket,’ already described (Kelibha, from Kelubh). Nor can we doubt that the ends or handles were borne by friends and neighbours, different parties of bearers, all of them unshod, at frequent intervals relieving each other, so that as many as possible might share in the good work. During these pauses there was loud lamentation; but this custom was not observed in the burial of women. Behind the bier walked the relatives, friends, and then the sympathising ‘multitude.’ For it was deemed like mocking one’s Creator not to follow the dead to his last resting - place, and to all such want of reverence Prov. 17:5 was applied. If one were absolutely prevented from joining the procession, although for its sake all work, even study, should be interrupted, reverence should at least be shown by rising up before the dead. And so they would go on to what the Hebrews beautifully designated as the ‘house of assembly’ or ‘meeting,’ the ‘hostelry,’ the ‘place of rest,’ or ‘of freedom,’ the ‘field of weepers,’ the ‘house of eternity,’ or ‘of life.’

     We can now transport ourselves into that scene. Up from the city close by came this ‘great multitude’ that followed the dead, with lamentations, wild chaunts of mourning women, accompanied by flutes and the melancholy tinkle of cymbals, perhaps by trumpets, amidst expressions of general sympathy. Along the road from Endor streamed the great multitude which followed the ‘Prince of Life.’ Here they met: Life and Death. The connecting link between them was the deep sorrow of the widowed mother. He recognised her as she went before the bier, leading him to the grave whom she had brought into life. He recognised her, but she recognised Him not, had not even seen Him. She was still weeping; even after He had hastened a step or two in advance of His followers, quite close to her, she did not heed Him, and was still weeping. But, ‘beholding her,’ the Lord ‘had compassion on her.’ Those bitter, silent tears which blinded her eyes were strongest language of despair and utmost need, which never in vain appeals to His heart, Who has borne our sorrows. We remember, by way of contrast, the common formula used at funerals in Palestine, ‘Weep with him, all ye who are bitter of heart!’ It was not so that Jesus spoke to those around, nor to her, but characteristically: ‘Be not weeping.’ And what He said, that He wrought. He touched the bier — perhaps the very wicker basket in which the dead youth lay. He dreaded not the greatest of all defilements, —that of contact with the dead, which Rabbinism, in its elaboration of the letter of the Law, had surrounded with endless terrors. His was other separation than of the Pharisees: not that of submission to ordinances, but of conquest of what made them necessary.

     And as He touched the bier, they who bore it stood still. They could not have anticipated what would follow. But the awe of the coming wonder — as it were, the shadow of the opening gates of life, had fallen on them. One word of sovereign command, ‘and he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.’ Not of that world of which he had had brief glimpse. For, as one who suddenly passes from dream - vision to waking, in the abruptness of the transition, loses what he had seen, so he, who from that dazzling brightness was hurried back to the dim light to which his vision had been accustomed. It must have seemed to him, as if he woke from long sleep. Where was he now? who those around him? what this strange assemblage? and Who He, Whose Light and Life seemed to fall upon him?

     And still was Jesus the link between the mother and the son, who had again found each other. And so, in the truest sense, ‘He gave him to his mother.’ Can any one doubt that mother and son henceforth owned, loved, and trusted Him as the true Messiah? If there was no moral motive for this miracle, outside Christ’s sympathy with intense suffering and the bereavement of death, was there no moral result as the outcome of it? If mother and son had not called upon Him before the miracle, would they not henceforth and for ever call upon Him? And if there was, so to speak, inward necessity, that Life Incarnate should conquer death — symbolic and typic necessity of it also — was not everything here congruous to the central fact in this history? The simplicity and absence of all extravagant details; the Divine calmness and majesty on the part of the Christ, so different from the manner in which legend would have coloured the scene, even from the intense agitation which characterised the conduct of an Elijah, an Elisha, or a Peter, in somewhat similar circumstances; and, lastly, the beauteous harmony where all is in accord, from the first touch of compassion till when, forgetful of the by - standers, heedless of ‘effect,’ He gives the son back to his mother — are not all these worthy of the event. and evidential of the truth of the narrative?

     But, after all, may we regard this history as real — and, if so, what are its lessons? On one point, at least, all serious critics are now agreed. It is impossible to ascribe it to exaggeration, or to explain it on natural grounds. The only alternative is to regard it either as true, or as designedly false. Be it, moreover, remembered, that not only one Gospel, but all, relate some story of raising the dead — whether that of this youth, of Jairus’ daughter, or of Lazarus. They also all relate the Resurrection of the Christ, which really underlies those other miracles. But if this history of the raising of the young man is false, what motive can be suggested for its invention, for motive there must have been for it? Assuredly, it was no part of Jewish expectancy concerning the Messiah, that He would perform such a miracle. And negative criticism has admitted, that the differences between this history and the raising of the dead by Elijah or Elisha are so numerous and great, that these narratives cannot be regarded as suggesting that of the raising of the young man of Nain. We ask again: Whence, then, this history, if it was not true? It is an ingenious historical suggestion — rather an admission by negative criticism — that so insignificant, and otherwise unknown, a place as Nain would not have been fixed upon as the site of this miracle, if some great event had not occurred there which made lasting impression on the mind of the Church. What was that event, and does not the reading of this record carry conviction of its truth? Legends have not been so written. Once more, the miracle is described as having taken place, not in the seclusion of a chamber, nor before a few interested witnesses, but in sight of the great multitude which had followed Jesus, and of that other great multitude which came from Cana. In this twofold great multitude was there none, from whom the enemies of Christianity could have wrung contradiction, if the narrative was false? Still further, the history is told with such circumstantiality of details, as to be inconsistent with the theory of a later invention. Lastly, no one will question, that belief in the reality of such ‘raising from the dead’ was a primal article in the faith of the primitive Church, for which — as a fact, not a possibility — all were ready to offer up their lives. Nor should we forget that, in one of the earliest apologies addressed to the Roman Emperor, Quadratus appealed to the fact, that, of those who had been healed or raised from the dead by Christ, some were still alive, and all were well known. On the other hand, the only real ground for rejecting this narrative is disbelief in the Miraculous, including, of course, rejection of the Christ as the Miracle of Miracles. But is it not vicious reasoning in a circle, as well as begging the question, to reject the Miraculous because we discredit the Miraculous? and does not such rejection involve much more of the incredible than faith itself?

     And so, with all Christendom, we gladly take it, in simplicity of faith, as a true record by true men — all the more, that they who told it knew it to be so incredible, as not only to provoke scorn, but to expose them to the charge of cunningly devising fables. But they who believe, see in this history, how the Divine Conqueror, in His accidental meeting with Death, with mighty arm rolled back the tide, and how through the portals of heaven which lie opened stole in upon our world the first beam of the new day: Yet another — in some sense lower, in another, practically higher — lesson do we learn. For, this meeting of the two processions outside the gate of Nain was accidental, yet not in the conventional sense. Neither the arrival of Jesus at that place and time, nor that of the funeral procession from Nain, nor their meeting, was either designed or else miraculous. Both happened in the natural course of natural events, but their concurrence (συγκυρία) was designed, and directly God - caused. In this God - caused, designed concurrence of events, in themselves ordinary and natural, lies the mystery of special Providences, which, to whomsoever they happen, he may and should regard them as miracles and answer to prayer. And this principle extends much farther: to the prayer for, and provision of, daily bread, nay, to mostly all things, so that, to those who have ears to hear, all things around speak in parables of the Kingdom of Heaven.

     But on those who saw this miracle at Nain fell the fear of the felt Divine Presence, and over their souls swept the hymn of Divine praise: fear, because a great Prophet was risen up among them; praise, because God had visited His people. And further and wider spread the wave — over Judæa, and beyond it, until it washed, and broke in faint murmur against the prison - walls, within which the Baptist awaited his martyrdom. Was He then the ‘Coming One?’ and, if so, why did, or how could, those walls keep His messenger within grasp of the tyrant?

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 17.

CHRIST RIGHTLY AND PROPERLY SAID TO HAVE MERITED GRACE AND SALVATION FOR US.

The three leading divisions of this chapter are,--I. A proof from reason and from Scripture that the grace of God and the merit of Christ (the prince and author of our salvation) are perfectly compatible, sec. 1 and 2. II. Christ, by his obedience, even to the death of the cross (which was the price of our redemption), merited divine favour for us, sec. 3-5. III. The presumptuous rashness of the Schoolmen in treating this branch of doctrine.

Sections.

1. Christ not only the minister, but also the author and prince of salvation. Divine grace not obscured by this mode of expression. The merit of Christ not opposed to the mercy of God, but depends upon it.

2. The compatibility of the two proved by various passages of Scripture.

3. Christ by his obedience truly merited divine grace for us.

4. This grace obtained by the shedding of Christ's blood, and his obedience even unto death.

5. In this way he paid our ransom.

6. The presumptuous manner in which the Schoolmen handle this subject.

1. A question must here be considered by way of supplement. Some men too much given to subtilty, while they admit that we obtain salvation through Christ, will not hear of the name of merit, by which they imagine that the grace of God is obscured; and therefore insist that Christ was only the instrument or minister, not the author or leader, or prince of life, as he is designated by Peter (Acts 3:15). I admit that were Christ opposed simply, and by himself, to the justice of God, there could be no room for merit, because there cannot be found in man a worth which could make God a debtor; nay, as Augustine says most truly, [269] "The Saviour, the man Christ Jesus, is himself the brightest illustration of predestination and grace: his character as such was not procured by any antecedent merit of works or faith in his human nature. Tell me, I pray, how that man, when assumed into unity of person by the Word, co-eternal with the Father, as the only begotten Son at God, could merit this."--"Let the very fountain of grace, therefore, appear in our head, whence, according to the measure of each, it is diffused through all his members. Every man, from the commencement of his faith, becomes a Christian, by the same grace by which that man from his formation became Christ." Again, in another passage, "There is not a more striking example of predestination than the mediator himself. He who made him (without any antecedent merit in his will) of the seed of David a righteous man never to be unrighteous, also converts those who are members of his head from unrighteous into righteous" and so forth. Therefore when we treat of the merit of Christ, we do not place the beginning in him, but we ascend to the ordination of God as the primary cause, because of his mere good pleasure he appointed a Mediator to purchase salvation for us. Hence the merit of Christ is inconsiderately opposed to the mercy of God. It is a well known rule, that principal and accessory are not incompatible, and therefore there is nothing to prevent the justification of man from being the gratuitous result of the mere mercy of God, and, at the same time, to prevent the merit of Christ from intervening in subordination to this mercy. The free favour of God is as fitly opposed to our works as is the obedience of Christ, both in their order: for Christ could not merit anything save by the good pleasure of God, but only inasmuch as he was destined to appease the wrath of God by his sacrifice, and wipe away our transgressions by his obedience: in one word, since the merit of Christ depends entirely on the grace of God (which provided this mode of salvation for us), the latter is no less appropriately opposed to all righteousness of men than is the former.

2. This distinction is found in numerous passages of Scripture: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish," (John 3:16). We see that the first place is assigned to the love of God as the chief cause or origin, and that faith in Christ follows as the second and more proximate cause. Should any one object that Christ is only the formal cause, [270] he lessens his energy more than the words justify. For if we obtain justification by a faith which leans on him, the groundwork of our salvation must be sought in him. This is clearly proved by several passages: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," (1 John 4:10). These words clearly demonstrate that God, in order to remove any obstacle to his love towards us, appointed the method of reconciliation in Christ. There is great force in this word "propitiation"; for in a manner which cannot be expressed, God, at the very time when he loved us, was hostile to us until reconciled in Christ. To this effect are all the following passages: "He is the propitiation for our sins;" "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, and having made peace by the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;" "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" "He has made us accepted in the Beloved," "That he might reconcile both into one body by the cross." [271] The nature of this mystery is to be learned from the first chapter to the Ephesians, where Paul, teaching that we were chosen in Christ, at the same time adds, that we obtained grace in him. How did God begin to embrace with his favour those whom he had loved before the foundation of the world, unless in displaying his love when he was reconciled by the blood of Christ? As God is the fountain of all righteousness, he must necessarily be the enemy and judge of man so long as he is a sinner. Wherefore, the commencement of love is the bestowing of righteousness, as described by Paul: "He has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5:21). He intimates, that by the sacrifice of Christ we obtain free justification, and become pleasing to God, though we are by nature the children of wrath, and by sin estranged from him. This distinction is also noted whenever the grace of Christ is connected with the love of God (2 Cor. 13:13); whence it follows, that he bestows upon us of his own which he acquired by purchase. For otherwise there would be no ground for the praise ascribed to him by the Father, that grace is his, and proceeds from him.

3. That Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied for our sins, if he paid the penalty due by us, if he appeased God by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent to meriting. Now, Paul's testimony is, that we were reconciled, and received reconciliation through his death (Rom. 5:11). But there is no room for reconciliation unless where offence [272] has preceded. The meaning, therefore, is, that God, to whom we were hateful through sin, was appeased by the death of his Son, and made propitious to us. And the antithesis which immediately follows is carefully to be observed, "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous," (Rom. 5:19). For the meaning is--As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favour as if we were righteous. The future tense of the verb does not exclude present righteousness, as is apparent from the context. For he had previously said, "the free gift is of many offences unto justification."

4. When we say, that grace was obtained for us by the merit of Christ, our meaning is, that we were cleansed by his blood, that his death was an expiation for sin, "His blood cleanses us from all sin." "This is my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins," (1 John 1:7; Luke 22:20). If the effect of his shed blood is, that our sins are not imputed to us, it follows, that by that price the justice of God was satisfied. To the same effect are the Baptist's words, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," (John 1:29). For he contrasts Christ with all the sacrifices of the Law, showing that in him alone was fulfilled what these figures typified. But we know the common expression in Moses--Iniquity shall be expiated, sin shall be wiped away and forgiven. In short, we are admirably taught by the ancient figures what power and efficacy there is in Christ's death. And the Apostle, skilfully proceeding from this principle, explains the whole matter in the Epistle to the Hebrews, showing that without shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb. 9:22). From this he infers, that Christ appeared once for all to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Again, that he was offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9:12). He had previously said, that not by the blood of goats or of heifers, but by his own blood, he had once entered into the holy of holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Now, when he reasons thus, "If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:13, 14), it is obvious that too little effect is given to the grace of Christ, unless we concede to his sacrifice the power of expiating, appeasing, and satisfying: as he shortly after adds, "For this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of his death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance," (Heb. 9:15). But it is especially necessary to attend to the analogy which is drawn by Paul as to his having been made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). It had been superfluous and therefore absurd, that Christ should have been burdened with a curse, had it not been in order that, by paying what others owed, he might acquire righteousness for them. There is no ambiguity in Isaiah's testimony, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him; and with his stripes we are healed," (Is. 53:5). For had not Christ satisfied for our sins, he could not be said to have appeased God by taking upon himself the penalty which we had incurred. To this corresponds what follows in the same place, "for the transgression of my people was he stricken," (Is. 53:8). We may add the interpretation of Peter, who unequivocally declares, that he "bare our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Pet. 2:24), that the whole burden of condemnation, of which we were relieved, was laid upon him.

5. The Apostles also plainly declare that he paid a price to ransom us from death: "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood," (Rom. 3:24, 25). Paul commends the grace of God, in that he gave the price of redemption in the death of Christ; and he exhorts us to flee to his blood, that having obtained righteousness, we may appear boldly before the judgment-seat of God. To the same effect are the words of Peter: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold," "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). The antithesis would be incongruous if he had not by this price made satisfaction for sins. For which reason, Paul says, "Ye are bought with a price." Nor could it be elsewhere said, there is "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all," (1 Tim. 2:5, 6), had not the punishment which we deserved been laid upon him. Accordingly, the same Apostle declares, that "we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins," (Col. 1:14); as if he had said, that we are justified or acquitted before God, because that blood serves the purpose of satisfaction. With this another passage agrees--viz. that he blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us," (Col. 2:14). These words denote the payment or compensation which acquits us from guilt. There is great weight also in these words of Paul: "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," (Gal. 2:21). For we hence infer, that it is from Christ we must seek what the Law would confer on any one who fulfilled it; or, which is the same thing, that by the grace of Christ we obtain what God promised in the Law to our works: "If a man do, he shall live in them," (Lev. 18:5). This is no less clearly taught in the discourse at Antioch, when Paul declares, "That through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13:38, 39). For if the observance of the Law is righteousness, who can deny that Christ, by taking this burden upon himself, and reconciling us to God, as if we were the observers of the Law, merited favour for us? Of the same nature is what he afterwards says to the Galatians: "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law," (Gal. 4:4, 5). For to what end that subjection, unless that he obtained justification for us by undertaking to perform what we were unable to pay? Hence that imputation of righteousness without works, of which Paul treats (Rom. 4:5), the righteousness found in Christ alone being accepted as if it were ours. And certainly the only reason why Christ is called our "meat," (John 6:55), is because we find in him the substance of life. And the source of this efficacy is just that the Son of God was crucified as the price of our justification; as Paul says, Christ "has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour," (Eph. 5:2); and elsewhere, he "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification," (Rom. 4:25). Hence it is proved not only that salvation was given us by Christ, but that on account of him the Father is now propitious to us. For it cannot be doubted that in him is completely fulfilled what God declares by Isaiah under a figure, "I will defend this city to save it for mine own sakes and for my servant David's sake," (Isaiah 37:35). Of this the Apostle is the best witness when he says "Your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake," (1 John 2:12). For although the name of Christ is not expressed, John, in his usual manner, designates him by the pronoun "He," (aujtov"). In the same sense also our Lord declares, "As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me," (John 6:57). To this corresponds the passage of Paul, "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake," (Phil. 1:29).

6. To inquire, as Lombard and the Schoolmen do (Sent. Lib. 3 Dist. 18), whether he merited for himself, is foolish curiosity. Equally rash is their decision when they answer in the affirmative. How could it be necessary for the only Son of God to come down in order to acquire some new quality for himself? The exposition which God gives of his own purpose removes all doubt. The Father is not said to have consulted the advantage of his Son in his services, but to have given him up to death, and not spared him, because he loved the world (Rom. 8). The prophetical expressions should be observed: "To us a Son is born;" "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee," (Isaiah 9:6; Zech. 9:9). It would otherwise be a cold commendation of love which Paul describes, when he says, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Rom. 5:8). Hence, again, we infer that Christ had no regard to himself; and this he distinctly affirms, when he says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself," (John 17:19). He who transfers the benefit of his holiness to others, testifies that he acquires nothing for himself. And surely it is most worthy of remark, that Christ, in devoting himself entirely to our salvation, in a manner forgot himself. It is absurd to wrest the testimony of Paul to a different effect: "Wherefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," (Phil. 2:9). [273] By what services could a man merit to become the judge of the world, the head of angels, to obtain the supreme government of God, and become the residence of that majesty of which all the virtues of men and angels cannot attain one thousandth part? The solution is easy and complete. Paul is not speaking of the cause of Christ's exaltation, but only pointing out a consequence of it by way of example to us. The meaning is not much different from that of another passage: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26).

END OF THE SECOND BOOK.

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[269] August. de Prædest. Sanct. Lib. 1 c. 15; De Bono Perseverantia, cap. ult. See supra, chapter 14 sec. 7.

[270] The French adds, "C'est a dire, qui n'emporte en soy vrai effect;"--that is to say, which in itself produces no true effect.

[271] 1 John 2:2; Col. 1:19, 20; 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 1:6; 2:16.

[272] French, "Offense, haine, divorce;"--offence, hatred, divorce.

[273] The sentence stands thus in the French:--"Les Sorbonnistes pervertissent le passage de S. Paul, l'appliquans a ce propos c'est que pource que Jesus Christ s'est humilié, le Pere l'a exalté et lui donné un nom souverain:"--The Sorbonnists pervert the passage of St Paul, and apply it in this way--that because Christ humbled himself, the Father exalted him, and gave him a sovereign name.

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

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



  • Women Witness Lk 24:1-12
  • Living Expositor Lk 24:13-32
  • Expos 2


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Where are you living today?
     2/21/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…be glory…forever.’

(Eph 3:20–21) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ESV

     Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land illustrates three different places you can choose to live: 1) The place of ‘not enough’. As slaves in Egypt they were forced to depend on Pharaoh for everything. And when you have to keep relying on anyone but God, you’re not truly free. Until you understand that God is your provider, you’ll live with a ‘not enough’ mentality. Elijah was living by a stream in the middle of a famine, and ravens brought him meat each day. Then one day the ravens didn’t show up, and the brook dried up. Why? God dried up a temporary source to drive Elijah back to his true source. Understand this: regardless of what or whom He uses – God is your source. He is called ‘Jehovah Jireh’, which means ‘the Lord will provide’. 2) The place of ‘just enough’. In the wilderness Israel had just enough manna for each day. It’s no fun struggling to just get by. But we appreciate what we have to struggle for, and we learn to trust God more. Plus, living through such seasons builds into us a tenacity to keep moving towards better things. 3) The place of ‘more than enough’. God’s plan for Israel was ‘a land in which you…will lack nothing’ (Deuteronomy 8:9 NKJV). And His goal for you is abundance in every area of life (see 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV). Is that so you can hoard it? No, it’s so you can bless others and fulfil your assignment in life. So, stand on this Scripture: ‘To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…be glory…forever.’

(Dt 8:9) a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. ESV

(2 Co 9:8) And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work ESV

Leviticus 15-16
Matthew 27:1-26

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday were celebrated in the month of February throughout the United States, but in 1971, in order to honor all Presidents, Richard Nixon declared the third Monday in February as “Presidents Day.” Of note is that every President swore into office with their hand upon a Bible, ended their oath with the phrase “So help me God,” and acknowledged a Supreme Being in their address upon assuming the Presidency. Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush are among those who included a prayer in their Inaugural Addresses.

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     When we are drowned in the overwhelming seas of the love of God, we find ourselves in a new and particular relation to a few of our fellows. The relation is so surprising and so rich that we despair of finding a word glorious enough and weighty enough to name it. The word Fellowship is discovered, but the word is pale and thin in comparison with the rich volume and luminous bulk and warmth of the experience which it would designate. For a new kind of life sharing and of love has arisen of which we had had only dim hints before. Are these the bonds of love which knit together the early Christians, the very warp and woof of the Kingdom of God? In glad amazement and wonder we enter upon a relationship which we had not known the world contained for the sons of men. Why should such bounty be given to unworthy men like ourselves?

     By no means is every one of our friends seen in this new and special light. A wholly new alignment of our personal relations appears. Some men and women whom we have never known before, or whom we have noticed only as a dim background for our more special friendships, suddenly loom large, step forward in our attention as men and women whom we now know to the depths. Our earlier conversations with these persons may have been few and brief, but now we know them, as it were, from within. For we discern that their lives are already down within that Center which has found us. And we hunger for their fellowship, with a profound, insistent craving which will not be denied.

     Other acquaintances recede in significance; we know now that our relationships with them have always been nearer the surface of life. Many years of happy comradeship and common adventures we may have had together, but now we know that, at bottom, we have never been together in the deep silences of the Center, and that we never can be together, there where the light of Eternity shines still and bright. For until they, too, have become wholly God-en­thralled, Light-centered, they can be only good acquaintances with whom we pass the time of day. A yearning over them may set in, because of their dimness of vision, but the eye-to-eye relationship of love which binds together those who live in the Center is reserved for a smaller number. Drastically and re-creatively, Fellowship searches friendships, burning, dissolving, ennobling, transfiguring them in Heaven's glowing fire.

     Not only do our daily friendships become realigned; our religious friends are also seen anew. Many impressions of worth are confirmed, others are reversed. Some of the most active church leaders, well-known for their executive efficiency, people we have always admired, are shown, in the X-ray light of Eternity, to be agitated, half-committed, wistful, self-placating seekers, to whom the poise and serenity of the Everlasting have never come. The inexhaustible self-giving of others of our religious acquaintances we now understand, for the Eternal Love kindles an ardent and persistent readiness to do all things for, as well as through, Christ who strengthens us. In some we regret a well-intentioned, but feverish over-busyness, not completely grounded in the depths of peace, and we wish they would not blur the beauty of their souls by fast motion. Others, who may not have been effective speakers or weighty financiers or charming conversationalists or members of prominent families are found to be men and women on whom the dews of heaven have fallen indeed, who live continuously in the Center and who, in mature appreciation, understand our leaping heart and unbounded enthusiasm for God. And although they are not commissioned to any earthly office, yet they welcome us authoritatively into the Fellowship of Love.


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Love always involves responsibility,
and love always involves sacrifice.
And we do not really love Christ
unless we are prepared to face His task
and to take up His Cross.
--- William Barclay

In all my perplexities and distresses,
the Bible has never failed
to give me light and strength.
--- Robert E. Lee

Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;
let fortune's bubbles rise and fall;
who sows a field, or trains a flower,
or plants a tree, is more than all.
--- John Greenleaf Whittier

The Holy Bible is not only great but is highly explosive literature. It works in strange ways and no living man can tell or know how the book in its journeying through the world has started an individual soul 10,000 different places into a new life, a new belief, a new conception, and a new faith.
--- Katherine Lee Bates (She wrote America The Beautiful)

... from here, there and everywhere


Journal of John Woolman 2/21
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     In the winter this year I was engaged with friends in visiting families, and through the goodness of the Lord we often-times experienced his heart-tendering presence amongst us.

     A Copy of a Letter written to a Friend

     "In this, thy late affliction, I have found a deep fellow-feeling with thee, and have had a secret hope throughout that it might please the Father of Mercies to raise thee up and sanctify thy troubles to thee; that thou being more fully acquainted with that way which the world esteems foolish, mayst feel the clothing of Divine fortitude, and be strengthened to resist that spirit which leads from the simplicity of the everlasting truth.

     "We may see ourselves crippled and halting, and from a strong bias to things pleasant and easy find an impossibility to advance forward; but things impossible with men are possible with God; and our wills being made subject to his, all temptations are surmountable.

     "This work of subjecting the will is compared to the mineral in the furnace, which, through fervent heat, is reduced from its first principle: 'He refines them as silver is refined; he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.' By these comparisons we are instructed in the necessity of the melting operation of the hand of God upon us, to prepare our hearts truly to adore him, and manifest that adoration by inwardly turning away from that spirit, in all its workings, which is not of him. To forward this work the all-wise God is sometimes pleased, through outward distress, to bring us near the gates of death; that life being painful and afflicting, and the prospect of eternity opened before us, all earthly bonds may be loosened, and the mind prepared for that deep and sacred instruction which otherwise would not be received. If kind parents love their children and delight in their happiness, then he who is perfect goodness in sending abroad mortal contagions doth assuredly direct their use. Are the righteous removed by it? Their change is happy. Are the wicked taken away in their wickedness? The Almighty is clear. Do we pass through with anguish and great bitterness, and yet recover? He intends that we should be purged from dross, and our ear opened to discipline.

     "And now, as thou art again restored, after thy sore affliction and doubts of recovery, forget not Him who hath helped thee, but in humble gratitude hold fast his instructions, and thereby shun those by-paths which lead from the firm foundation. I am sensible of that variety of company to which one in thy business must be exposed; I have painfully felt the force of conversation proceeding from men deeply rooted in an earthly mind, and can sympathize with others in such conflicts, because much weakness still attends me.

     "I find that to be a fool as to worldly wisdom, and to commit my cause to God, not fearing to offend men, who take offence at the simplicity of truth, is the only way to remain unmoved at the sentiments of others.

     "The fear of man brings a snare. By halting in our duty, and giving back in the time of trial, our hands grow weaker, our spirits get mingled with the people, our ears grow dull as to hearing the language of the true Shepherd, so that when we look at the way of the righteous, it seems as though it was not for us to follow them.

     "A love clothes my mind while I write, which is superior to all expression; and I find my heart open to encourage to a holy emulation, to advance forward in Christian firmness. Deep humility is a strong bulwark, and as we enter into it we find safety and true exaltation. The foolishness of God is wiser than man, and the weakness of God is stronger than man. Being unclothed of our own wisdom, and knowing the abasement of the creature, we find that power to arise which gives health and vigor to us."

     1. This pamphlet was published by Benjamin Franklin,1754.

     2. He seems to have regarded agriculture as the business most conducive to moral and physical health. He thought "if the leadings of the Spirit were more attended to, more people would be engaged in the sweet employment of husbandry, where labor is agreeable and healthful." He does not condemn the honest acquisition of wealth in other business free from oppression; even "merchandising," he thought, might be carried on innocently and in pure reason. Christ does not forbid the laying up of a needful support for family and friends; the command is, "Lay not up for YOURSELVES treasures on earth." From his little farm on the Rancocas he looked out with a mingled feeling of wonder and sorrow upon the hurry and unrest of the world; and especially was he pained to see luxury and extravagance overgrowing the early plainness and simplicity of his own religious society. He regarded the merely rich man with unfeigned pity. With nothing of his scorn he had all of Thoreau's commiseration, for people who went about bowed down with the weight of broad acres and great houses on their backs. -- Note in edition published byMessrs. Houghton Mifflin & Co.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 10:27-30
     by D.H. Stern

27     The fear of ADONAI adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28     What the righteous hope for will end in joy;
what the wicked expect will come to nothing.
29     The way of ADONAI is a stronghold to the upright
but ruin to those who do evil.
30     The righteous will never be moved,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
§ 4. PROBABLE DATE AND AUTHOR
     The Pulpit Commentary

     THE INDICATIONS OF DATE DERIVED FROM THE MATTER OF THE BOOK, FROM ITS TONE, AND FROM ITS GENERAL STYLE, STRONGLY FAVOUR THE THEORY OF ITS HIGH ANTIQUITY. THE LANGUAGE IS ARCHAIC, MORE AKIN TO THE ARABIC THAN THAT OF ANY OTHER PORTION OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES, AND FULL OF ARAMAISMS WHICH ARE NOT OF THE LATER TYPE, BUT SUCH AS CHARACTERIZE THE ANTIQUE AND HIGHLY POETIC STYLE, AND OCCUR IN PARTS OF THE PENTATEUCH, IN THE SONG OF DEBORAH, AND IN THE EARLIEST PSALMS. THE STYLE HAS A “GRAND ARCHAIC CHARACTER,” WHICH HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED BY ALMOST ALL CRITICS. “FIRM, COMPACT, SONOROUS AS THE RING OF A PURE METAL, SEVERE AND AT TIMES RUGGED, YET ALWAYS DIGNIFIED AND MAJESTIC, THE LANGUAGE BELONGS ALTOGETHER TO A PERIOD WHEN THOUGHT WAS SLOW BUT PROFOUND AND INTENSELY CONCENTRATED, WHEN THE WEIGHTY AND ORACULAR SAYINGS OF THE WISE WERE WONT TO BE ENGRAVED ON ROCKS WITH A PEN OF IRON, AND IN CHARACTERS OF MOLTEN LEAD. IT IS A TRULY LAPIDARY STYLE, SUCH AS WAS NATURAL ONLY IN AN AGE WHEN WRITING, THOUGH KNOWN, WAS RARELY USED, BEFORE LANGUAGE HAD ACQUIRED CLEARNESS, FLUENCY, AND FLEXIBILITY, BUT LOST MUCH OF ITS FRESHNESS AND NATIVE FORCE.”

     The manners, customs, institutions, and general mode of life described in the book are such as belong especially to the times which are commonly called “patriarchal.” The pastoral descriptions have the genuine air of the wild, free, vigorous life of the desert. The city life (ch. 29.) is exactly that of the earliest settled communities, with councils of grey-bearded elders, judges in the gate (ch. 29:7), the chieftain at once judge and warrior (ch. 29:25), yet with written indictments (ch. 31:35) and settled forms of legal procedure (ch. 9:33; 17:3; 31:28). The civilization, if such it may be called, is of the primitive type, with rock-inscriptions (ch. 9:24), mining such as was practised by the Egyptians in the Sinaitic peninsula from B.C. 2000, great buildings, ruined sepulchres, tombs watched over by sculptured figures of the dead (ch. 21:32). The historical allusions touch nothing of a recent date, but only such ancient things as the Pyramids (ch. 3:14), the apostasy of Nimrod (ch. 9:9), the Flood (ch. 22:16), the destruction of the “cities of the plain” (ch. 18:15), and the like; they include no mention—not the faintest hint—of any of the great events of Israelite history, not even of the Exodus, the passage of the Red Sea, or the giving of the Law on Sinai, much less of the conquest of Canaan, or of the stirring times of the judges and the first great kings of Israel. It is inconceivable, as has been often said, that a writer of a late date, say of the time of Captivity, or of Josiah, or even of Solomon, should, in a long work like the Book of Job, intentionally and successfully avoid all reference to historical occurrences, and to changes in religious forms or doctrines of a date posterior to that of the events which form the subject of his narrative.

     It is a legitimate conclusion from these facts, that the Book of Job is probably more ancient than any other composition in the Bible, excepting, perhaps, the Pentateuch, or portions of it. It must almost certainly have been written before the promulgation of the Law. How long before is doubtful. Job’s term of life (two hundred to two hundred and fifty years) would seem to place him in the period between Eber and Abraham, or at any rate in that between Eber and Jacob, who lived only a hundred and forty-seven years, and after whom the term of human life seems to have rapidly shortened (Deut. 31:2; Ps. 90:10). The book, however, was not written until after Job’s death (ch. 42:17), and may have been written some considerable time after. On the whole, therefore, it seems most reasonable to place the composition towards the close of the patriarchal period, not very long before the Exodus.

     The only tradition which has come down to us with respect to the authorship of the Book of Job ascribes it to Moses. Aben Ezra (about A.D. 1150) declares this to be the general opinion of “the sages of blessed memory.” In the Talmud it is laid down as undoubted, “Moses wrote his own book” (i.e. the Pentateuch), “the section about Balaam, and Job.” The testimony may not possess much critical value, but it is the only tradition that we have. Apart from this, we float upon a sea of conjecture. The most ingenious of the conjectures put forward is that of Dr. Mill and Professor Lee, who think that Job himself put the discourses into a written form, and that Moses, having become acquainted with this work while he was in Midian, determined to communicate it to his countrymen, as analogous to the trial of their faith in Egypt; and, in order to render it intelligible to them, added the opening and concluding sections, which, it is remarked, are altogether in the style of the Pentateuch. A far less probable theory assigns the authorship of the bulk of the book to Elihu. Those who reject these views, yet allow the antiquity of the composition, can only suggest some unknown Palestinian author, some ἀνὴρ πολύτροπος, who, like the old hero of Ithaca,

          Πολλῶν ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
          Πολλὰ δ᾽ ὄγ᾽ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατα θυμὸν,
          Ἀρνύμενος ψυχήν …

and who, “having broken free from the narrow littleness of the peculiar people, divorced himself from them outwardly as well as inwardly,” and having “travelled away into the world, lived long, perhaps all his life, in exile.” Such vague fancies are of little value; and the theory of Dr. Mill and Professor Lee, though unproved, is probably the nearest approach to the truth that can be made at the present day.

The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Have you ever been carried away for Him?

     She hath wrought a good work on Me. --- Mark 14:6.

     If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.

     Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I mooning round the magnitude of His Redemption whilst there are any number of things I might be doing? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvellous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?

     There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God. We have to get rid of this notion—‘Am I of any use?’ and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Taliesin 1952
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Taliesin 1952

I have been all men known to history,
Wondering at the world and at time passing;
I have seen evil, and the light blessing
Innocent love under a spring sky.

I have been Merlin wandering in the woods
Of a far country, where the winds waken
Unnatural voices, my mind broken
By a sudden acquaintance with man's rage.

I have been Glyn Dwr set in the vast night,
Scanning the stars for the propitious omen,
A leader of men, yet cursed by the crazed women
Mourning their dead under the same stars.

I have been Goronwy, forced from my own land
To taste the bitterness of the salt ocean;
I have known exile and a wild passion
Of longing changing to a cold ache.

King, beggar and fool, I have been all by turns,
Knowing the body's sweetness,
     the mind's treason;
Taliesin still, I show you a new world, risen,
Stubborn with beauty, out of the heart's need.

Selected poems, 1946-1968

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Lessons for Everyday Living

     In the centuries following the completion of the Talmud, rabbis all over the world continued to build upon it. In various eras, they were known by different names: Savoraim, “reasoners,” who are actually part of the Talmud and who helped to put the final touches on the text in the sixth and seventh centuries; Geonim, “excellent ones,” who were the heads of the Babylonian academies from the end of the seventh century through the middle of the eleventh century; Rishonim, “early” authorities, until the sixteenth century; and Aḥaronim, “latter” authorities, after the sixteenth century (and the publication of the seminal work of Jewish law, the Shulḥan Arukh) who helped to shape the halakhic, or legal, decisions on issues raised in the Talmud.

     As each generation studied the Talmud, they put their own imprint on it. One can see this very graphically by looking at a page of the Talmud in the traditional Vilna printing and seeing the various commentaries that surround the text of the Mishnah and the Gemara, and help to elucidate them:

     Fifteen hundred years after it was “finished,” the Talmud continues to grow through new commentaries, translations and studies that are published each year. It is indeed appropriate to speak of “the sea of Talmud” because it is so immense, so deep, and so full of life.


Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
     Voices Of The Night : A Psalm Of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.



The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul

     The Twenty-First Chapter / Sorrow Of Heart

     IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of the Lord, do not look for too much freedom, discipline your senses, and shun inane silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing which dissoluteness usually destroys.

     It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on his exiled state and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be perfectly happy in this life. Lighthearted and heedless of our defects, we do not feel the real sorrows of our souls, but often indulge in empty laughter when we have good reason to weep. No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the fear of the Lord and a good conscience.

     Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care and recollect himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience.

     Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave men alone, they will leave you alone to do what you have to do. Do not busy yourself about the affairs of others and do not become entangled in the business of your superiors. Keep an eye primarily on yourself and admonish yourself instead of your friends.

     If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden you; but consider it a serious matter if you do not conduct yourself as well or as carefully as is becoming for a servant of God and a devout religious.

     It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations in this life, especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not have divine consolation or experience it rarely, it is our own fault because we seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain outward satisfaction.

     Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving rather of much tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite, the whole world is bitter and wearisome to him.

     A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep; whether he thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no one lives here without suffering, and the closer he examines himself the more he grieves.

     The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can rarely apply ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are matters for just sorrow and inner remorse.

     I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly if you would think more of an early death than of a long life. And if you pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of purgatory, I believe you would willingly endure labor and trouble and would fear no hardship. But since these thoughts never pierce the heart and since we are enamored of flattering pleasure, we remain very cold and indifferent. Our wretched body complains so easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.

     Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the spirit of contrition and say with the Prophet: “Feed me, Lord, with the bread of mourning and give me to drink of tears in full measure.” (Psalm 79:6)


The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     February 21

     “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying?” --- John 20:15.

     Let us turn to the depth of Mary’s love. ( Wings of the Morning, The (The Morrison Classic Sermon Series) ) And how intensely she loved may be most surely gathered from her refusal to believe that he was lost. There was nothing more to be done; the grave was empty. Mary could not tear herself away but stood outside at the sepulcher weeping. There is a kind of love that faces facts, and it is a noble and courageous love. But there is an agony of love that hopes against hope and beats against all evidence. No one will ever doubt John’s love to Jesus. No one will ever doubt the love of Simon. But the fact remains that on that Easter morning Peter and John went to their homes again, and only a woman lingered by the grave. She must linger and watch in the teeth of all the facts. Measured by a test like that, there is not a disciple who can match the love of Mary.

     The unceasing wonder of it all is this, that to her first he should have showed himself, neither to John nor to Peter had there been a whisper—no moving of pierced feet across the garden—all that was kept for a woman who had been a sinner and out of whom there had been cast seven devils. It is very notable that the first word of Christ after he had risen from the dead was Woman. “Woman, why are you crying?”

     That he should pass by Pilate and the people and his mother and John and James and Simon Peter, that he should show himself first and foremost to a woman who had nothing to her credit but her love, I tell you that even the genius of a Shakespeare could never have conceived a scene like that.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   February 21
     Jeanne d’Arc

     A sorceress or a saint? Spiritual forces were active in her life, but from what source? The French called her a godsend; the English burned her as a witch.

     Joan was raised in a poor farming family in Champagne during the Hundred Years’ War when England was battling for possession of France. When Joan was 13, she had the first of many transcendental experiences, hearing voices accompanied by searing light. The saints, she determined, were commissioning her to save France. She set out to see the Dauphin (Prince). He attempted to disguise himself, but Joan wasn’t fooled. “The King of Heaven sends word by me,” she told him, “that you shall be anointed and crowned in the city of Reims. You are the heir to France, true son of the king.”

     The young man listened, for he doubted his legitimacy. His father was insane and his mother slept with many men. The Dauphin gave Joan an army just as France was losing the war. She rallied her forces and led them to a remarkable victory, liberating the city of Orleans. Soon she accompanied the Dauphin to Reims where he was enthroned King Charles VII.

     Joan’s voices warned her she hadn’t long to live, and she returned to battle only to be captured by the English. She stood trial for witchcraft on February 21, 1431, before a handpicked English church court. Her visions were pronounced “false and diabolical” and she was declared “heretical and schismatic.” On May 30, 1431 she was led to the Place du Vieux-Marche and burned at the stake. Her body was consumed by the flames; all but her heart, which terrified English guards seized from the ashes and threw into the river Seine. But her death inspired the French to recapture Paris and to drive the English from their country.

     Prodded by Charles, Pope Callixtus III declared Joan innocent of witchcraft in 1456. She became a patron saint of France.

     Saul took one look at the Philistine army and started shaking with fear. Then Saul told his officers, “Find me a woman who can talk to the spirits of the dead. … ” His servants told him, “There’s a woman at Endor who can talk to spirits of the dead.” That night, Saul put on different clothing so nobody would recognize him. Then he and two of his men went to the woman. --- 1 Samuel 28:5,7,8.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - February 21

     “He hath said.” --- Hebrews 13:5.

     If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God’s covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of “He hath said”? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, “He hath said” must be our daily resort. And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He hath said.” Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since “He hath said” is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as “A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.


          Evening - February 21

     “Understandest thou what thou readest?” --- Acts 8:30.

     We should be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Ghost, the Author of the Scriptures is he who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask his teaching, and his guidance into all truth. When the prophet Daniel would interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, what did he do? He set himself to earnest prayer that God would open up the vision. The apostle John, in his vision at Patmos, saw a book sealed with seven seals which none was found worthy to open, or so much as to look upon. The book was afterwards opened by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to open it; but it is written first—“I wept much.” The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were, so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the folded book was opened. Therefore, if, for your own and others’ profiting, you desire to be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” remember that prayer is your best means of study: like Daniel, you shall understand the dream, and the interpretation thereof, when you have sought unto God; and like John you shall see the seven seals of precious truth unloosed, after you have wept much. Stones are not broken, except by an earnest use of the hammer; and the stone-breaker must go down on his knees. Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised, and there is not a stony doctrine in revelation which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith. You may force your way through anything with the leverage of prayer. Thoughts and reasonings are like the steel wedges which give a hold upon truth; but prayer is the lever, the prise which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within.

Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     February 21

          WHEN LOVE SHINES IN

     Carrie E. Breck, 1855–1934

     Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)


     Our emotional soundness and even our physical health depend on the quality of our love for God. And as a result, we gain an attitude of love and concern for our fellowmen. Negative feelings of hate, anger, and selfishness can destroy the well-being of any individual. How important it is to allow God’s love to shine into our lives, not only for the good it brings to others but also for the health it brings to our own lives.

     True Christian love always seeks to lighten the burden of others and to bring happiness into their lives. We love others not only for what they are but also for what they can become once they too experience the warmth of divine love. Our lives can never remain the same once we learn to share God’s love in word and deed each day. The closer we get to Christ, the closer we get to one another.

     But believers are not known simply because they do good deeds. They do good works because they have experienced the supernatural love of Christ. The praise for this transformed life is then directed to the heavenly Father—never to themselves.

     Carrie Breck, the author of “When Love Shines In,” was known as a deeply devoted Christian and life-long Presbyterian. She wrote more than 2,000 poems while a mother of five children.

     Jesus comes with pow’r to gladden, when love shines in; ev’ry life that woe can sadden, when love shines in. Love will teach us how to pray; love will drive the gloom away, turn our darkness into day—when love shines in.
     How the world will grow with beauty, when love shines in, and the heart rejoice in duty, when love shines in. Trials may be sanctified, and the soul in peace abide; life will all be glorified—when love shines in.
     Darkest sorrow will grow brighter, when love shines in, and the heaviest burden lighter, when love shines in. ’Tis the glory that will throw light to show us where to go; O the heart shall blessing know—when love shines in.
     We may have unfading splendor, when love shines in, and a friendship true and tender, when love shines in. When earth’s vict’ries shall be won, and our life in heav’n begun, there will be no need of sun—when love shines in.      Chorus: When love shines in, how the heart is tuned to singing, when love shines in; in joy and peace to others bringing—when love shines in!


     For Today: Song of Solomon 8:7; Proverbs 4:18; Colossians 1:12.

     Seek by the Holy Spirit’s enablement to radiate Christ’s love in word and deed. Carry this musical truth with you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | Lent

Wednesday Of The First Week In Lent
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 119:49–72
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 49 (53)
Old Testament     Genesis 37:25–36
New Testament     1 Corinthians 2:1–13
Gospel     Mark 1:29–45

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 119:49–72

49 Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
51 The insolent utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O LORD.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
who forsake your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my sojourning.
55 I remember your name in the night, O LORD,
and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me,
that I have kept your precepts.

57 The LORD is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

65 You have dealt well with your servant,
O LORD, according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
69 The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70 their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 49 (53)
49 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah.

1 Hear this, all peoples!
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor together!
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7 Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8 for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
9 that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.

10 For he sees that even the wise die;
the fool and the stupid alike must perish
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they called lands by their own names.
12 Man in his pomp will not remain;
he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah

16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

[     53 To The Choirmaster: According To Mahalath. A Maskil Of David.

1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
there is none who does good.

2 God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

3 They have all fallen away;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4 Have those who work evil no knowledge,
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?

5 There they are, in great terror,
where there is no terror!
For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you;
you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.

6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.     ]

Old Testament
Genesis 37:25–36

25 Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 2:1–13

2 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

     “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
     nor the heart of man imagined,
     what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Gospel
Mark 1:29–45

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

The Book of Common Prayer


Exodus 4:1-5:2
m2-034 7-23-2014 | Brett Meador





The Final Passover, the First Communion
Luke 22:14-20 | John MacArthur






Four Features of Triumphant Prayer
Luke 22:39-46 | John MacArthur





A Traitorous Kiss for the Triumphant Savior
Luke 22:47-53 | John MacArthur






The Danger of Spiritual Over-Confidence
Luke 22:54-62 | John MacArthur





The Sinless Savior Before the Sinister Sanhedrin 1
Luke 22:63-71 | John MacArthur






The Sinless Savior Before the Sinister Sanhedrin 2
Luke 22:63-71 | John MacArthur





Jesus Accused before Pilate 1
Luke 23:1-3 | John MacArthur






Jesus Accused before Pilate 2
Luke 23:2-7 | John MacArthur





Jesus’ Silence Before Herod
Luke 23:7-12 | John MacArthur






The Final Verdict from the Fickle Judge 1
Luke 23:13-25 | John MacArthur





The Final Verdict from the Fickle Judge 2
Luke 23:13-25 | John MacArthur






The King Crucified: The Comedy at Calvary
Luke 23:33-39 | John MacArthur





The King Crucified: The Contrast at Calvary
Luke 23:32-39 | John MacArthur






The King Crucified: Conversion at Calvary
Luke 23:39-43 | John MacArthur





The King Crucified: Responses at Calvary
Luke 23:47-49 | John MacArthur