Joseph and Potiphar’s WifeGenesis 39:1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. George Lawson says, “When men are precious in God’s sight, they are honorable, whatever be their station in life. It is good to have those for our friends and for our servants who are beloved by the Lord. His kindness towards His people overflows to all with whom they are connected.” The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.
11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. Who’s to say which location was harder for Joseph? Was it in the cistern where he faced the prospect of death, or was it in the house where he faced temptation? ... Joseph’s story reminds us that when we shun trials, we miss blessings. When all you have is sunshine, all you get is a desert. For most of us, most of the time, it is true that more spiritual progress is made through failure and tears than is made through success and laughter. A poet penned these well-known words, “I walked a mile with pleasure and she chattered all the way, but left me none the wiser for all she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow and ne’er a word said she, but oh the things I learned from her, when sorrow walked with me.” The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances 13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”
19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.
Mark 9Mark 9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
The Transfiguration2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 11 And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” (See video at bottom of page) 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.
Who Is the Greatest?33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
Anyone Not Against Us Is for Us38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
Temptations to Sin42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Job 5Job 5:1
Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 Surely vexation kills the fool,
and jealousy slays the simple.
3 I have seen the fool taking root,
but suddenly I cursed his dwelling.
4 His children are far from safety;
they are crushed in the gate,
and there is no one to deliver them.
5 The hungry eat his harvest,
and he takes it even out of thorns,
and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
6 For affliction does not come from the dust,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
7 but man is born to trouble
as the sparks fly upward.
8 “As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
9 who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:
10 he gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
11 he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
14 They meet with darkness in the daytime
and grope at noonday as in the night.
15 But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth
and from the hand of the mighty.
16 So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts her mouth.
17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.
19 He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no evil shall touch you.
20 In famine he will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
21 You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
22 At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.
23 For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
24 You shall know that your tent is at peace,
and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
25 You shall know also that your offspring shall be many,
and your descendants as the grass of the earth.
26 You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
like a sheaf gathered up in its season.
27 Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for your good.”
God’s Sovereign ChoiceRomans 9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”
Israel’s Unbelief30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
John Owen on the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit: The Treasures (Treasures of John Owen)
John Owen is among the theologians whose thoughts most closely mirror my own and, apart from the Scriptures themselves, this particular book of his could be called the manifesto of the theology that drives Monergism.com. I can only agree with Sinclair Ferguson when he says, "Whenever I return to read Owen I find myself at least in part wondering why I spend time reading lesser things." I would unhesitatingly put this book up there among Christian classics, and, probably, at least in my opinion, is one of the top ten Christian books ever written. This book will magnify your understanding of the Holy Scriptures and its divine author and make you wonder what ever happened to all the churches who preached from this perspective. Here are among my favorite quotes from the books' abridged edition ...
"To say that we are able by our own efforts to think good thoughts or give God spiritual obedience before we are spiritually regenerate is to overthrow the gospel and the faith of the universal church in all ages."
All men can be divided into two groups. They are either regenerate or unregenerate. All men are born unregenerate (John 3:3-8). ...Spiritual darkness is in all men and lies on all men until God, by an almighty work of the Spirit, shines into men"s hearts, or creates light in them (Matt 4:16; John 1:5; Act 26:18; Eph 5:8; Col 1:13; 1 Pet 2:9). ...The nature of this spiritual darkness must be understood. When men have no light to see by, then they are in darkness (Exod. 10:23). Blind men are in darkness, either by birth or by illness or accident (Psa. 69:23; Gen 19:11; Acts 13:11). A spiritually blind man is in spiritual darkness and is ignorant of spiritual things.
There is an outward darkness on men and an inward darkness in men.
Outward darkness is when men do not have that light by which they are enabled to see. So outward spiritual darkness is upon men when there is nothing to enlighten them about God and spiritual things (Matt 4:16; Psa 119:105; Psa. 19:1-4,8; 2 Pet 1:19; Rom 10:15, 18). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to remove this darkness by sending the light of the gospel (Acts 13:2, 4; 16:6-10; Psa. 147:19,20).
Inward darkness, on the other hand, arises from the natural depravity and corruption of the minds of men concerning spiritual things. Man"s mind is depraved and corrupted in things which are natural, civil, political, and moral, as well as in things which are spiritual, heavenly and evangelical. This depravity is often held back from having its full effects by the common grace of the Holy Spirit. So, man"s mind being darkened, he is unable to see, receive, understand or believe to the saving of his soul. Spiritual things, or the mysteries of the gospel, without the Holy Spirit first creating within the soul a new light by which they can see and receive those things, cannot bring salvation.
However brilliant the mind may be, and however brilliant the preaching and presentation of the gospel might be, yet without the Holy Spirit first creating this light in them, they cannot receive, understand and agree with the truths preached, and so will not be led to salvation (Eph 4:17, 18).
Excerpts from The Glory of Christ (Puritan Paperbacks: Treasures of John Owen for Today's Readers) | John Hendryx is the man who runs the site Monergism.com
Potiphar’s Rage and Bad Decision
By Alistair Begg from The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
Potiphar was obviously a masterful delegator and a shrewd judge of character. He could pick out a good slave. He was able to determine that Joseph had something special about him. And it is hardly surprising that Potiphar reacted in anger at the thought that his most trusted slave had tried to steal his wife’s purity.
Any husband worth his salt must react in this way. Even the very idea that his wife’s purity has been threatened is abhorrent to a man, especially if the culprit is someone he has brought into the household. So Potiphar’s reaction is understandable. There is a rightness about that sort of protection.
But shouldn’t Potiphar have stepped back for a moment to consider his wife’s story? We know he should have, but apart from our perspective there are several features of his wife’s account that should have given Potiphar reason to proceed slowly in judging Joseph. After all, as captain of the king’s guard, Potiphar was used to investigating all sorts of allegations.
First, he should have realized that it would have been stupid of Joseph to leave behind such damaging evidence as his cloak if he were truly guilty. Potiphar’s wife was not as strong as Joseph, so why hadn’t Joseph grabbed the incriminating garment from her when he ran? Joseph had to know that as a slave, his life was as good as over if the charge against him were to be proven.
A second inconsistency in her story was the record of Joseph’s faithful service in the household. Years had passed since he had arrived. Joseph was twenty-seven years old by the close of Genesis 39. Joseph’s record should have earned him at least some benefit of the doubt.
But Potiphar would hear none of it. He allowed his anger to do away with his judgment. We read, “He burned with anger” (v. 19). He was enraged, and in that frame of mind he was incapable of hearing either truth or reason. The result was that he made a bad decision, the same as we do the majority of the time when we make decisions in anger.
If you listen to the Word of God with an angry heart, you will hear the pastor talking but you will not hear the Word of God to your spirit. That’s why people can sit under the ministry of the Word, and yet it rolls off them like water off a slate roof.
Anger will always blind the mind. That’s why James writes, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20). Better to take a long walk in the rain and get soaking wet than to let anger rule your spirit.
There’s a second reason Potiphar summarily imprisoned Joseph. He allowed himself to be unduly influenced by his wife.
Now I didn’t say simply that Potiphar allowed himself to be influenced by his wife. I said unduly influenced. That is the key word. Every man is influenced by his wife — and in most cases, mercifully and gratefully so. But we men are not to be unduly influenced by our wives. To the man falls the responsibility of leadership and the headship of the home.
There is no doubt that Potiphar’s wife had a pretty good tongue in her head. She was adept at intimidating her husband. It’s been my observation that many an apparently powerful leader is led around by his nose when he goes home.
Listen to John Calvin. “Husbands are especially taught that they must use prudence, lest they should be carried rashly hither and thither at the will of their wives.” This is not politically correct, but it is biblically accurate.
The commentator George Lawson says, “Potiphar paid too much deference to his wife. He ought not to have believed her words against Joseph without examining the truth of them. A man ought to love his wife as a part of himself, but however dear she may be to him, truth and justice ought to be still dearer.”
And so, under the influence of rage and goaded by his wife’s intimidation, Potiphar assigned his faithful Hebrew slave to “the place where the king’s prisoners were confined” (Genesis 39:20). Without conducting a thorough investigation and without allowing Joseph to mount a defense, Potiphar dealt Joseph a swift and dreadful blow that may have plunged a lesser individual into despair.
Dr. Alistair Begg | (Trent University; London School of Theology; Westminster Seminary) was born in Scotland and spent the first 30 years of life in the United Kingdom. Since September of 1983, he has been the senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on the national radio program Truth For Life which stems from his weekly Bible teaching at Parkside. He and his wife, Susan, have three grown children.
Dr. Alistair Begg Books:
- 1 Name above All Names
- 2 On Being a Pastor: Understanding Our Calling and Work
- 3 Pathway to Freedom: How God's Laws Guide Our Lives
- 4 Preaching for God's Glory (Redesign) (Today's Issues)
- 5 The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances
- 6 Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith
- 7 Evening by Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on ESV Version
- 8 Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure
- 9 What Angels Wish They Knew: The basics of true Christianity
- 10 Pathway to Freedom: How God's Laws Guide Our Lives
- 11 One Year NIV Devotional: New Testament
- 12 Pathway to Freedom: How God's Laws Guide Our Lives by Alistair Begg (2015-03-01)
No, ‘Saul the Persecutor’ Did Not Become ‘Paul the Apostle’
By Greg Lanier 5/3/2017
I keep coming across a “sticky” misconception that God (specifically, Jesus) changed the name of an important figure we now typically refer to as “Saint Paul.”
In a recent sermon, I heard: “Just like Saul the persecutor can become Paul the apostle, God is gracious to us.” On an exam, one of my brightest students wrote: “It is Saul, who is re-named as Paul, who is the primary messenger of the gospel.” A church member asked me, “Wait, you mean Jesus didn’t change Saul’s name to Paul on the Damascus Road?”
The problem is that such a view, however common, isn’t accurate. I hate to ruin the fun.
Popular But Unbiblical | I’m unclear on the origins of this idea—though some industrious person has no doubt studied it—but it seems this Saul-renamed-Paul notion is a clever re-reading of an Old Testament storyline onto that of the great apostle.
As is well known, God prominently changed the names of two Old Testament patriarchs: Abram to Abraham (Gen. 17:5) and Jacob to Israel (Gen. 32:28). The idea seems to be that something similar happened to Paul when he encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road (Acts 9).
There is no scriptural evidence, however, to support a name change for Saul/Paul. Here are six lines of biblical evidence that prove the popular notion wrong:
1. Jesus addresses him as “Saul, Saul” during the christophany (Acts 9:4).
Our Little Girl Has Cancer
By Jared Mellinger 2/4/2018
In the summer of 2016, our two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. From that day until now, we have experienced like never before what it means to be cared for by our church family in the midst of trial.
We can say of our local church what the apostle Paul said of the church in Thessalonica: when it comes to brotherly love, they have no need for further instruction, because they have been taught by God to love others (1 Thessalonians 4:9).
God promises that he will supply grace to us and be with us when the floodwaters of suffering rise (Isaiah 43:2). But we sometimes forget that he often delights to extend his presence, his comfort, and his help through his people.
Not Alone | Our daughter’s name is Agatha. We call her Aggie. As she battles cancer, we sometimes call her Aggie the Brave. We drove her to the hospital that summer because her breathing was labored, and she had several swollen lymph nodes on her neck and one on the side of her chest.
When the head of the oncology department sat across from us and told us that our daughter had cancer, the darkness seemed unbearable. Within 48 hours doctors were able to give us the diagnosis of a type of cancer called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We spent the next three weeks in the hospital with Aggie, as doctors and nurses worked to save her life and we learned more about her cancer.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 18The LORD Is My Rock and My Fortress
18 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, The Servant Of The LORD, Who Addressed The Words Of This Song To The LORD On The Day When The LORD Delivered Him From The Hand Of All Is Enemies, And From The Hand Of Saul. He Said:
20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
Moody’s Challenges and Scripture’s Inerrancy: Why the Chicago Statement Matters More Than Ever
By Owen Strachan 2/2/2018
In recent days, a furor has broken out over a surprising place: Moody Bible Institute. Moody is a hallmark of American evangelicalism, particularly the mainstream Chicago rendition, and has famously sent out thousands of graduates to the mission fields. Moody’s reputation is justifiably strong; it is a school that most evangelicals would instinctually trust.
But Moody has been shaken to its core in the last few weeks and months. First came reports of massive faculty cuts at two locations; then came the reporting of Julie Roys and allegations of both theological and ethical drift; then the school’s top leaders resigned. At present, the school seems destabilized. Many of us who support MBI and are grateful for its historic witness are praying for faithful resolution to these issues.
I cannot comment on anything happening on the ground in Chicago. I don’t know anything about the internal affairs of Moody, nor do I have firsthand reports of classroom instruction, and I have no personal stake in this matter. For my very limited part, I have only read Roys’s latest reporting (see here), and thus can only offer quick comment on one aspect: the institutional importance of inerrancy. Inerrancy is the historic claim that the original autographs of Scripture are without error in all they affirm, and thus the biblical text is entirely trustworthy. Inerrancy is based upon verbal plenary inspiration–the Spirit inspiring or “breathing out” the Word–and entails the absolute authority of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). According to Roys, this biblical doctrine is at the center of the controversy at Moody, which includes inerrancy as part of its core doctrine. If this is the case, and it certainly seems to be, then Moody is merely the latest institution to face this doctrinal gauntlet, and confront this definitive question: will the school reaffirm that its vital center is the sacred Scripture, or will it choose a different path?
The doctrinal battles of the twentieth-century waxed hottest around inerrancy. George Marsden’s Reforming Fundamentalism, for example, shows just how fierce the battle was at the leading school of postwar evangelicalism, Fuller Theological Seminary. (Here’s my book on this period, which touches on these matters.) Harold Lindsell’s Battle for the Bible staked out the conservative position, as did Baptists and the Bible by L. Russ Bush and Tom Nettles and Scripture and Truth by D. A. Carson and John Woodbridge. The most significant short document about this doctrine was the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (see below). The Chicago Statement was produced in 1978 by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, a group led by statesmen like James Montgomery Boice, Kenneth Kantzer, J. I. Packer.
Forty years after it debuted, the Chicago Statement offers a potent summation of the historic Christian doctrine of inerrancy. Here is article XII, for example: “WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.” With clarifying affirmations like these, the document leaves no room for a “postmodern” understanding of Scripture by which we would view the Scripture as telling us the truth in a spiritual sense but without concrete grounding in actual history. In other words, while the Chicago Statement leaves room for (and even necessitates) the interpretation of biblical passages according to genre and literary style, the Statement precludes a reading of the Bible that would render some historical accounts fictional. The creation of the world from nothing, the axe head floating on water, the sun standing still, the saints raised from the grave following Christ’s resurrection, the resurrection of Christ itself–all these miraculous biblical events actually happened (Gen. 1; 2 Kings 6; Joshua 10; Matthew 27). These events and many others like them did not “spiritually” occur in a mythological sense; they actually occurred.
Owen Strachan is the author of Awakening the Evangelical Mind and The Pastor as Public Theologian (with Kevin Vanhoozer). A systematic theology professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he is the director of the Center for Public Theology and hosts the City of God podcast. He is writing a Jonathan Edwards devotional (Tyndale House) and a theological anthropology (B&H Academic). You can follow him on Twitter.
The Dumbing Down of Christianity
By Ethan Renoe 12/6/2017
The other day I was (surprise, surprise) in a coffee shop in the mountains, seated near the counter. A guy in his early 20’s walked in wearing a TOOL shirt and a long ponytail. I could overhear his conversation as he approached the barista and they began chatting. Somehow it came up that she attends a Christian university and he clearly didn’t approve.
“Do they incorporate religion into all the classes there?” he asked. “Even the science classes? How does that work?”
She valiantly began explaining how they pray before every class and teach from a Christian worldview, but it soon became evident that she was being crushed in this conversation. He was well schooled in the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Nye and began doling out the punishment.
I use the word punishment because this poor barista has herself been punished by a church system which, for the past 200 years, has begun discarding intelligence within the church in favor of emotion, conversion experiences, and passion. Ask most American Christians today any question deeper than “Does God love everyone?” and you’re bound to get some sort of response suggesting that that sort of discourse should be reserved for theological universities.
The other day a friend of mine said that he sees no merit in understanding Calvinism or Arminianism because he just wants to Love God and love people. And it seems that the ball stops there for most Christians today. No need to know any more than that.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
4. Another distinction between the Old and New Testaments is in the
types, the former exhibiting only the image of truth, while the reality
was absent, the shadow instead of the substance, the latter exhibiting
both the full truth and the entire body. Mention is usually made of
this, whenever the New Testament is contrasted with the Old,  but
it is nowhere so fully treated as in the Epistle to the Hebrews (chap.
7-10). The Apostle is there arguing against those who thought that the
observances of the Mosaic Law could not be abolished without producing
the total ruin of religion. In order to refute this error, he adverts
to what the Psalmist had foretold concerning the priesthood of Christ
(Ps. 110:4). seeing that an eternal priesthood is assigned to him, it
is clear that the priesthood in which there was a daily succession of
priests is abolished. And he proves that the institution of this new
Priest must prevail, because confirmed by an oath. He afterwards adds,
that a change of the priest necessarily led to a change of the
covenant. And the necessity of this he confirms by the reason, that the
weakness of the law was such, that it could make nothing perfect. He
then goes on to show in what this weakness consists, namely, that it
had external carnal observances which could not render the worshipers
perfect in respect of conscience, because its sacrifices of beasts
could neither take away sins nor procure true holiness. He therefore
concludes that it was a shadow of good things to come, and not the very
image of the things, and accordingly had no other office than to be an
introduction to the better hope which is exhibited in the Gospel.
Here we may see in what respect the legal is compared with the evangelical covenant, the ministry of Christ with that of Moses. If the comparison referred to the substance of the promises, there would be a great repugnance between the two covenants; but since the nature of the case leads to a different view, we must follow it in order to discover the truth. Let us, therefore bring forward the covenant which God once ratified as eternal and unending. Its completion, whereby it is fixed and ratified, is Christ. Till such completion takes place, the Lord, by Moses, prescribes ceremonies which are, as it were formal symbols of confirmation. The point brought under discussion was, Whether or not the ceremonies ordained in the Law behaved to give way to Christ. Although these were merely accidents of the covenant, or at least additions and appendages, and, as they are commonly called, accessories, yet because they were the means of administering it, the name of covenant is applied to them, just as is done in the case of other sacraments.  Hence, in general, the Old Testament is the name given to the solemn method of confirming the covenant comprehended under ceremonies and sacrifices. Since there is nothing substantial in it, until we look beyond it, the Apostle contends that it behaved to be annulled and become antiquated (Heb. 7:22), to make room for Christ, the surety and mediator of a better covenant, by whom the eternal sanctification of the elect was once purchased, and the transgressions which remained under the Law wiped away. But if you prefer it, take it thus: the covenant of the Lord was old, because veiled by the shadowy and ineffectual observance of ceremonies; and it was therefore temporary, being, as it were in suspense until it received a firm and substantial confirmation. Then only did it become new and eternal when it was consecrated and established in the blood of Christ. Hence the Saviour, in giving the cup to his disciples in the last supper, calls it the cup of the new testament in his blood; intimating, that the covenant of God was truly realised, made new, and eternal, when it was sealed with his blood.
5. It is now clear in what sense the Apostle said (Gal. 3:24; 4:1), that by the tutelage of the Law the Jews were conducted to Christ, before he was exhibited in the flesh. He confesses that they were sons and heirs of God, though, on account of nonage, they were placed under the guardianship of a tutor. It was fit, the Sun of Righteousness not yet having risen, that there should neither be so much light of revelation nor such clear understanding. The Lord dispensed the light of his word, so that they could behold it at a distance, and obscurely. Accordingly, this slender measure of intelligence is designated by Paul by the term childhood, which the Lord was pleased to train by the elements of this world, and external observances, until Christ should appear. Through him the knowledge of believers was to be matured. This distinction was noted by our Saviour himself when he said that the Law and the Prophets were until John, that from that time the gospel of the kingdom was preached (Mt. 11:13). What did the Law and the Prophets deliver to the men of their time? They gave a foretaste of that wisdom which was one day to be clearly manifested, and showed it afar off. But where Christ can be pointed to with the finger, there the kingdom of God is manifested. In him are contained all the treasures of wisdom and understanding, and by these we penetrate almost to the very shrine of heaven.
6. There is nothing contrary to this in the fact, that in the Christian Church scarcely one is to be found who, in excellence of faith, can be compared to Abraham, and that the Prophets were so distinguished by the power of the Spirit, that even in the present day they give light to the whole world. For the question here is, not what grace the Lord conferred upon a few, but what was the ordinary method which he followed in teaching the people, and which even was employed in the case of those very prophets who were endued with special knowledge above others. For their preaching was both obscure as relating to distant objects, and was included in types. Moreover, however wonderful the knowledge displayed in them, as they were under the necessity of submitting to the tutelage common to all the people, they must also be ranked among children. Lastly, none of them ever had such a degree of discernment as not to savour somewhat of the obscurity of the age. Whence the words of our Saviour, "Many kings and prophets have desired to see the things which you see, and have not seen them, and to hear the things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear," (Mt. 13:17). And it was right that the presence of Christ should have this distinguishing feature, that by means of it the revelation of heavenly mysteries should be made more transparent. To the same effect is the passage which we formerly quoted from the First Epistle of Peter, that to them it was revealed that their labour should be useful not so much to themselves as to our age.
7. I proceed to the third distinction, which is thus expressed by Jeremiah: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord); but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them," (Jer. 31:31-34). From these words, the Apostle took occasion to institute a comparison between the Law and the Gospel, calling the one a doctrine of the letter, the other a doctrine of the spirit; describing the one as formed on tables of stone, the other on tables of the heart; the one the preaching of death, the other of life; the one of condemnation, the other of justification; the one made void, the other permanent (2 Cor. 3:5, 6). The object of the Apostle being to explain the meaning of the Prophet, the worlds of the one furnish us with the means of ascertaining what was understood by both. And yet there is some difference between them. For the Apostle speaks of the Law more disparagingly than the Prophet. This he does not simply in respect of the Law itself, but because there were some false zealots of the Law who, by a perverse zeal for ceremonies, obscured the clearness of the Gospel, he treats of the nature of the Law with reference to their error and foolish affection. It will, therefore, be proper to attend to this peculiarity in Paul. Both, however, as they are contrasting the Old and New Testament, consider nothing in the Law but what is peculiar to it. For example, the Law everywhere  contains promises of mercy; but as these are adventitious to it, they do not enter into the account of the Law as considered only in its own nature. All which is attributed to it is, that it commands what is right, prohibits crimes, holds forth rewards to the cultivators of righteousness, and threatens transgressors with punishment, while at the same time it neither changes nor amends that depravity of heart which is naturally inherent in all.
8. Let us now explain the Apostle's contrast step by step. The Old Testament is literal, because promulgated without the efficacy of the Spirit: the New spiritual, because the Lord has engraven it on the heart. The second antithesis is a kind of exposition of the first. The Old is deadly, because it can do nothing but involve the whole human race in a curse; the New is the instrument of life, because those who are freed from the curse it restores to favour with God. The former is the ministry of condemnation, because it charges the whole sons of Adam with transgression; the latter the ministry of righteousness, because it unfolds the mercy of God, by which we are justified. The last antithesis must be referred to the Ceremonial Law. Being a shadow of things to come, it behaved in time to perish and vanish away; whereas the Gospel, inasmuch as it exhibits the very body, is firmly established for ever. Jeremiah indeed calls the Moral Law also a weak and fragile covenant; but for another reason--namely, because it was immediately broken by the sudden defection of an ungrateful people; but as the blame of such violation is in the people themselves, it is not properly alleged against the covenant. The ceremonies, again, inasmuch as through their very weakness they were dissolved by the advent of Christ, had the cause of weakness from within. Moreover, the difference between the spirit and the letter must not be understood as if the Lord had delivered his Law to the Jews without any good result; i.e. as if none had been converted to him. It is used comparatively to commend the riches of the grace with which the same Lawgivers assuming, as it were a new characters honoured the preaching of the Gospel. When we consider the multitude of those whom, by the preaching of the Gospel, he has regenerated by his, Spirit, and gathered out of all nations into the communion of his Church, we may say that those of ancient Israel who, with sincere and heartfelt affections embraced the covenant of the Lord, were few or none, though the number is great when they are considered in themselves without comparison.
9. Out of the third distinction a fourth arises. In Scripture, the term bondage is applied to the Old Testaments because it begets fear, and the term freedom to the New, because productive of confidence and security. Thus Paul says to the Romans, "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father," (Rom. 8:15). To the same effect is the passage in the Hebrews, "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake); but ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem," &c. (Heb. 12:18-22). What Paul briefly touches on in the passage which we have quoted from the Romans, he explains more fully in the Epistles to the Galatians, where he makes an allegory of the two sons of Abraham in this way: "Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all," (Gal. 4:25, 26). As the offspring of Agar was born in slavery, and could never attain to the inheritances while that of Sara was free and entitled to the inheritance, so by the Law we are subjected to slavery, and by the Gospel alone regenerated into liberty. The sum of the matter comes to this: The Old Testament filled the conscience with fear and trembling--The New inspires it with gladness. By the former the conscience is held in bondage, by the latter it is manumitted and made free. If it be objected, that the holy fathers among the Israelites, as they were endued with the same spirit of faith, must also have been partakers of the same liberty and joy, we answer, that neither was derived from the Law; but feeling that by the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted conscience, they fled for refuge to the gospel; and, accordingly, the peculiar advantage of the Gospel was, that, contrary to the common rule of the Old Testament, it exempted those who were under it from those evils. Then, again, we deny that they did possess the spirit of liberty and security in such a degree as not to experience some measure of fear and bondage. For however they might enjoy the privilege which they had obtained through the grace of the Gospel, they were under the same bonds and burdens of observances as the rest of their nation. Therefore, seeing they were obliged to the anxious observance of ceremonies (which were the symbols of a tutelage bordering on slavery, and handwritings by which they acknowledged their guilt, but did not escape from it), they are justly said to have been, comparatively, under a covenant of fear and bondage, in respect of that common dispensation under which the Jewish people were then placed.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
A promise to praying parents
2/6/2018 Bob Gass
‘They shall come back from the land of the enemy.’
(Je 31:16-17) Thus says the LORD:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the LORD,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future,
declares the LORD,
and your children shall come back to their own country. ESV
Are you living under a cloud of guilt, feeling like a failure because your child has gone astray? Don’t do it! The Bible teaches that sometimes children simply won’t listen to the counsel of their parents. Solomon was probably giving a word of personal testimony when he wrote, ‘A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke’ (Proverbs 13:1 NKJV). Jesus didn’t hold the father accountable for the fact that his prodigal son went astray (see Luke 15:11). And if you did your best, God doesn’t hold you accountable either. The truth is that bad parents sometimes turn out good children, and good parents sometimes have children who go bad. God’s first two children were placed in a perfect paradise, yet they rebelled. Ultimately, we’re all given the power to choose. There comes a time when every child is no longer a child, and has to take responsibility for his or her actions. So, if you’ve done your best as a parent, don’t let the devil put a guilt trip on you. And if you’ve failed as a parent, it’s not the unpardonable sin. Not only will God forgive you, but you can also claim this wonderful promise: ‘Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future…that your children shall come back to their own border’ (Jeremiah 31:16-17 NKJV). Don’t give up on your children, because God hasn’t. Keep praying and believing, and allow Him to work on them.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He started his professional career as radio host in Iowa, served in the Army Air Corp during World War II, and became an actor, appearing in over 50 films. He was President of the Screen Actors Guild, switched from Democrat to Republican, and became Governor of California. At the age of seventy, he was the oldest person elected President of the United States. In 1981 he survived an assassination attempt. Who was he? Ronald Reagan, born this day, February 6, 1911. President Ronald Reagan stated: “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”
Thomas R. Kelly
Out in front of us is the drama of men and of nations, seething, struggling, laboring, dying. Upon this tragic drama in these days our eyes are all set in anxious watchfulness and in prayer. But within the silences of the souls of men an eternal drama is ever being enacted, in these days as well as in others. And on the outcome of this inner drama rests, ultimately, the outer pageant of history. It is the drama of the Hound of Heaven baying relentlessly upon the track of man. It is the drama of the lost sheep wandering in the wilderness, restless and lonely, feebly searching, while over the hills comes the wiser Shepherd. For His is a shepherd's heart, and He is restless until He holds His sheep in His arms. It is the drama of the Eternal Father drawing the prodigal home unto Himself, where there is bread enough and to spare. It is the drama of the Double Search, as Rufus Jones calls it. And always its chief actor is-the Eternal God of Love.
It is to one strand in this inner drama, one scene, where the Shepherd has found His sheep, that I would direct you. It is the life of absolute and complete and holy obedience to the voice of the Shepherd. But ever throughout the account the accent will be laid upon God, God the initiator, God the aggressor, God the seeker, God the stirrer into life, God the ground of our obedience, God the giver of the power to become children of God.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
I used to think I should close my Bible and pray for faith,
but I came to see
that it was in studying the Word
that I was to get faith.
--- D.L. Moody
even though the whole world deny him.
even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
--- Mohandas Gandhi
Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another "until death," are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, "die" into their union with one another as a soul "dies" into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing...
--- Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community
As people of faith, we should view every drop of oil, every diamond, every lump of coal, and every source of water with a theological eye. We should try seeing our world through the eyes of the One who created it. All the earth is sacred. It seems quite foolish that only after we have gone too far will we realize that no amount of capital gains, no particular economic system or no modern convenience will be worth the price that we will be forced to pay … I sometimes wonder if modern humanity will drive itself to extinction over greed.
--- Randy Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Faith : An Indigenous Vision
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
Understanding is raising her voice!
2 On the heights along the road,
where the paths meet, she is standing;
3 by the gates leading into the city,
at the entrances, she cries aloud:
4 “People, I am calling you,
raising my voice to all mankind.
5 You who don’t direct your lives,
as for you, you fools,
get some common sense!
6 “Listen! I will say worthwhile things;
when I speak, my words are right.
7 My mouth says what is true,
because my lips detest evil.
8 All the words from my mouth are righteous;
nothing false or crooked is in them.
9 They are all clear to those who understand
and straightforward to those who gain knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, rather than silver;
knowledge, rather than the finest gold.
11 For wisdom is better than pearls;
nothing you want can compare with her.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Are you ready to be offered?
I am already being poured out as a drink offering.
--- 2 Tim. 4:6. (R.V. marg.).
“I am now ready to be offered.” It is a transaction of will, not of sentiment. Tell God you are ready to be offered; then let the consequences be what they may, there is no strand of complaint now, no matter what God chooses. God puts you through the crisis in private, no one person can help another. Externally the life may be the same; the difference is in will. Go through the crisis in will, then when it comes externally there will be no thought of the cost. If you do not transact in will with God along this line, you will end in awakening sympathy for yourself.
“Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” The altar means fire — burning and purification and insulation for one purpose only, the destruction of every affinity that God has not started and of every attachment that is not an attachment in God. You do not destroy it, God does; you bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar; and see that you do not give way to self-pity when the fire begins. After this way of fire, there is nothing that oppresses or depresses. When the crisis arises, you realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do. What is your way of fire?
Tell God you are ready to be offered, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Is the night dark? His interiors
are darker, more perilous
to enter. Are there whispers
abroad? They are the communing
with himself our destiny
is to be outside of, listeners
at our breath's window. Is there
an ingredient in him of unlove?
It is the moment in the mind's
garden he resigns himself
to his own will to conceive the tree
of manhood we have reared against him.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Sixth Chapter / Unbridled Affections
WHEN a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An unmortified man is quickly tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual things; he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. Hence it makes him sad to forego them; he is quick to anger if reproved. Yet if he satisfies his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the peace he sought.
True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual man.
The Imitation Of Christ
A “kingdom” is a realm in which the will and power of a king are expressed. We live in the kingdom Jesus rules when we do His will. Then He will act in our lives and circumstances.
Jesus’ listeners were hungry for the kingdom. His message was a jolting one, yet many followed and listened eagerly. They sensed that this Man, who taught with authority, had to know the way to the experience for which they yearned.
That hunger, that longing, is something you and I can understand. We’ve yearned for a fuller experience of God. We too have been looking for the kingdom where Jesus reigns and acts. All too often we’ve missed it. All too often we’ve concluded, wrongly, that the kingdom is wholly future, only to be known when Jesus comes again.
Part of the reason why we tend to look at the kingdom as future only is that we’ve missed the kingdom when we’ve looked back into history. Our view of history is distorted, a caricature that has little resemblance to reality. Often the caricature is drawn something like this: “Everything was great as long as the apostles lived. Then it got bad, with the church hardening into a dead and restricting institution paganized by Rome. Then Luther and Calvin brought the Protestant Reformation, and it was alive again for a while. But soon that drifted into deadness as well. Today we’re just holding on (sometimes with a feeble grip), waiting till Jesus comes.”
This portrait of church history is faulty. It comes in part from the tendency of historians to focus on the institutions, the popes, the cathedrals, and the books written by establishment men to sum up the wisdom of their age. But neither Thomas Aquinas’ Summa nor John Calvin’s Institutes expresses the kingdom! The kingdom is expressed in the living witness to Jesus which the Holy Spirit has burned into the lives of those whose hearts turn to the Lord.
For instance, in the twelfth century, the Waldensians, the Poor Men of Lyons, appeared. They gave the Bible to the people in the common language, stressed repentance and conversion, and also emphasized living a Christian life guided by all Scripture—and especially by the Sermon on the Mount.
Long before Luther, John Huss led a great revival in Prague; a revival later forced underground by the persecution which led to Huss’ death. For 300 years an underground church existed in Bohemia, with the Gospel passed quietly from father to son, from grandparent to grandchild. Finally these people found refuge in Germany on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Now called Moravians, this group provided impetus for a great missionary movement leading to revivals in Germany, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, France, Switzerland, and America, as well as England. It was Moravian missionaries who met John Wesley while on a ship going to America and introduced him to the possibility of personal faith in Jesus Christ. So, many years before Luther, small prayer and Bible-study groups dotted Germany; when God called Luther to the Reformation leadership, followers had already been prepared.
Today the United States sends out thousands of missionaries across the world. But as late as 1800, there was no missionary movement to reach abroad. Then in 1806, students at Williams College in Massachusetts began to discuss their part in sharing the Gospel with the non-Christian world. A sudden rainstorm sent them dashing into a haystack. Praying there together, God called the first American missionaries. Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, and Samuel Mills were to lead a host of young men and women, who crossed the oceans to take the Gospel to the world.
nbsp; These illustrations, which can be multiplied to touch every century and every nation where the Gospel has taken root, bear a striking similarity. A movement of God began in a quiet, hidden way. As far as what has become known as “church history” is concerned, the movements often lie outside the worldly events historians choose to record. Yet the haystack, not the cathedral, is most likely to be characteristic of the kingdom!
True, these movements have often forced their way into the history books. A city set on a hill cannot be hid; a light placed on a candlestick cannot be ignored. But all too often, whether the movement has been Catholic or Protestant, the historical record is one of persecution and antagonism and fear. As in Jesus’ day, institutions tend to teach the traditions of men rather than those of God. And such institutions feel threatened by the kingdom.
The kingdom comes into conflict with the world, even as Jesus ultimately was forced into open conflict with the religious men of His day, who demanded, with insistent shouts, “Crucify Him!”).
The Teacher's Commentary
“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.…” When Jesus heard this,… he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
--- Luke 7:6–7, 9.
Observe the centurion’s humble expressions. ( Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men, Book 2 (C.H. Spurgeon Sermon Series , No 2) ) Was it because he had had an insight into his own heart and was most unworthy in his own view?
When Christians make abject confessions, it is not that they are worse than others but that they see themselves in a clearer light. This centurion’s unworthiness was not because he had been more vicious than others but because he saw what others did not see and felt what others had not felt.
Deep as was this man’s contrition, overwhelming as was his sense of utter worthlessness, he did not doubt either the power or the willingness of Christ. He takes it for granted that such a one as Jesus must be willing to do all the good that is asked of him.
Nor is he at all dubious about our Lord’s power. The palsy that afflicted the servant was a grievous one, but it did not stagger the centurion. He felt not only that Jesus could heal it completely and at once, but that he could heal it without moving a step.
My dear friends, especially you who are under concern of soul, you feel unworthy—that is not a mistaken feeling, you are so. You are much distressed by reason of this unworthiness, but if you knew more of it you might be more distressed still.
Beloved, it has come to this: you are so unworthy that you are shut out of every hope but Christ. If there is anything to be done for salvation, you cannot do it. If there is any fitness wanted, you have it not. Christ comes to you and tells you that there is not fitness wanted for coming to him but that if you will trust him he will save you. I think I hear you say, “My Lord, on your atonement I cast my guilty soul, persuaded that you are able to save even such a one as I am. I am so thoroughly persuaded of the goodness of your heart that I know you will not cast away this poor trembler who takes you to be my only ground of trust.”
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Christian parents often worry about sending their sons and daughters to colleges and universities. Sometimes with good reason. Young people can “lose their faith” there. But some lose it only to regain it later with added strength.
Adoniram Judson grew up in parsonages around Boston in the 1700s. He entered Brown University at age 16 and graduated valedictorian of his class. While there he became best friends with Jacob Eames. Jacob was a deist and, in practical terms, an atheist. Ridiculing Judson’s faith, he challenged him with the writings of Voltaire and the French philosophers. When Adoniram returned home, he told his parents that he, too, had become an atheist. His mother broke into gentle sobs. His father roared and threatened and pounded the furniture.
Adoniram, 21, migrated to New York City to establish himself as a playwright. But then, hearing tales from the American frontier, he saddled his horse and headed west. One evening, weary from traveling, he stopped at an inn. The proprietor said, “Forgive me, sir, but the only room left — well, it’ll be a bit noisy. There’s a young fellow next door awfully sick.” Adoniram, too tired to care, took the key.
The night became a nightmare. The tramping of feet coming and going. Muffled voices. Painful groans. Chairs scraping against the floor. Adoniram was troubled by it all, and he wondered what his friend Jacob Eames would say about fear, illness, and death.
The next morning while checking out, he asked about the young man in the next room. The proprietor said, “I thought maybe you’d heard. He died, sir, toward morning. Very young. Not more than your age. Went to that Brown University out East.” Adoniram stiffened. The man continued, “His name was Jacob Eames.”
The West suddenly lost its lure, and Adoniram turned his horse toward home. Soon he gave his life to Christ, and, shortly afterward, devoted himself to missions. On February 6, 1812, Adoniram Judson was commissioned as America’s first foreign missionary. He, his wife, and companions sailed for Burma on February 18.
The Scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from death. They also say that all people of every nation must be told in my name to turn to God, in order to be forgiven. So beginning in Jerusalem, you must tell everything that has happened.
--- Luke 24:46-48.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 6
“Praying always.” --- Ephesians 6:18.
What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock—Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication”? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Evening - February 6
“Pray one for another.” --- James 5:16.
As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears, for the prayer of Christ is of this character. In all the incense which our Great High Priest now puts into the golden censer, there is not a single grain for himself. His intercession must be the most acceptable of all supplications—and the more like our prayer is to Christ’s, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God, the very fat of our sacrifice. Remember, again, that intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvellous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren. When thou hast the King’s ear, speak to him for the suffering members of his body. When thou art favoured to draw very near to his throne, and the King saith to thee, “Ask, and I will give thee what thou wilt,” let thy petitions be, not for thyself alone, but for the many who need his aid. If thou hast grace at all, and art not an intercessor, that grace must be small as a grain of mustard seed. Thou hast just enough grace to float thy soul clear from the quicksand, but thou hast no deep floods of grace, or else thou wouldst carry in thy joyous bark a weighty cargo of the wants of others, and thou wouldst bring back from thy Lord, for them, rich blessings which but for thee they might not have obtained: ---
“Oh, let my hands forget their skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy-seat!”
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
THE LOVE OF GOD
Words and Music by Frederick M. Lehman, 1868–1953
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Never has God’s eternal love been described more vividly than in the words of this greatly loved hymn: “measureless,” “strong,” “evermore endure …”
The unusual third stanza of the hymn was a small part of an ancient lengthy poem composed in 1096 by a Jewish songwriter, Rabbi Mayer, in Worms, Germany. The poem, entitled “Hadamut,” was written in the Arabic language. The lines were found one day in revised form on the walls of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after the patient’s death. The opinion has since been that the unknown patient, during times of sanity, adapted from the Jewish poem what is now the third verse of “The Love of God.”
The words of this third stanza were quoted one day at a Nazarene campmeeting. In the meeting was Frederick M. Lehman, a Nazarene pastor, who described his reaction:
The profound depths of the lines moved us to preserve the words for future generations. Not until we had come to California did this urge find fulfillment, and that at a time when circumstances forced us to hard manual labor. One day, during short intervals of inattention to our work, we picked up a scrap of paper and added the first two stanzas and chorus to the existing third verse lines.
Pastor Lehman completed the hymn in 1917. His daughter Claudia (Mrs. W. W. Mays) assisted him with the music.
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell,
It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell,
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win:
His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin.
When years of time shall pass away and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray, on rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure shall still endure, all measureless and strong:
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—the saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made,
Were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill and ev’ry man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole tho stretched from sky to sky.
Chorus: O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.
For Today: John 15:9; Ephesians 3:1, 19; 1 John 3:1; Revelation 1:5, 6.
Consciously try to personalize and experience the truth of this hymn in every situation that comes your way. Carry this musical message with you realizing that ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 | Epiphany
Tuesday Of The Fifth Week After Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 78:1–39
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 78:40–72
Old Testament Genesis 26:1–6, 12–33
New Testament Hebrews 13:17–25
Gospel John 7:53–8:11
Index of Readings
1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
9 The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
11 They forgot his works
and the wonders that he had shown them.
12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all the night with a fiery light.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of the rock
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
17 Yet they sinned still more against him,
rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
20 He struck the rock so that water gushed out
and streams overflowed.
Can he also give bread
or provide meat for his people?”
21 Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath;
a fire was kindled against Jacob;
his anger rose against Israel,
22 because they did not believe in God
and did not trust his saving power.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven,
24 and he rained down on them manna to eat
and gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Man ate of the bread of the angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
27 he rained meat on them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28 he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
all around their dwellings.
29 And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
30 But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
31 the anger of God rose against them,
and he killed the strongest of them
and laid low the young men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
33 So he made their days vanish like a breath,
and their years in terror.
34 When he killed them, they sought him;
they repented and sought God earnestly.
35 They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God their redeemer.
36 But they flattered him with their mouths;
they lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.
40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert!
41 They tested God again and again
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power
or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
43 when he performed his signs in Egypt
and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
44 He turned their rivers to blood,
so that they could not drink of their streams.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
and frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave their crops to the destroying locust
and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamores with frost.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail
and their flocks to thunderbolts.
49 He let loose on them his burning anger,
wrath, indignation, and distress,
a company of destroying angels.
50 He made a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death,
but gave their lives over to the plague.
51 He struck down every firstborn in Egypt,
the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.
52 Then he led out his people like sheep
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,
but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to his holy land,
to the mountain which his right hand had won.
55 He drove out nations before them;
he apportioned them for a possession
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
56 Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God
and did not keep his testimonies,
57 but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;
they twisted like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places;
they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard, he was full of wrath,
and he utterly rejected Israel.
60 He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,
the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
61 and delivered his power to captivity,
his glory to the hand of the foe.
62 He gave his people over to the sword
and vented his wrath on his heritage.
63 Fire devoured their young men,
and their young women had no marriage song.
64 Their priests fell by the sword,
and their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
like a strong man shouting because of wine.
66 And he put his adversaries to rout;
he put them to everlasting shame.
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph;
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves.
69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
72 With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand.
Genesis 26:1–6, 12–33
26 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.
12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. 15 (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” 17 So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. 22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
26 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” 28 They said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.” 30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. 32 That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you.
8 53 [ [ They went each to his own house, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ] ]
The Book of Common Prayer