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Genesis 11     Matthew 10     Ezra 10     Acts 10

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11 1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Shem’s Descendants

10 These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. 11 And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

12 When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. 13 And Arpachshad lived after he fathered Shelah 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. 15 And Shelah lived after he fathered Eber 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. 17 And Eber lived after he fathered Peleg 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. 19 And Peleg lived after he fathered Reu 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. 21 And Reu lived after he fathered Serug 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. 23 And Serug lived after he fathered Nahor 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. 25 And Nahor lived after he fathered Terah 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

26 When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Terah’s Descendants

27 Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.


Matthew 10

The Twelve Apostles

Matthew 10 1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans,but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Persecution Will Come

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Have No Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Rewards

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”


Ezra 10

The People Confess Their Sin (480–440 BCE)

Ezra 10 1 While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. 2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3 Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. 4 Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” 5 Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

6 Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. 7 And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, 8 and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.

9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

16 Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; 17 and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.

Those Guilty of Intermarriage (480–440 BCE)

18 Now there were found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers. 19 They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. 20 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah. 21 Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. 22 Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23 Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24 Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri. 25 And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah, and Benaiah. 26 Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. 27 Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. 28 Of the sons of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. 29 Of the sons of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. 30 Of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. 31 Of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. 33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. 34 Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu. 38 Of the sons of Binnui: Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. 43 Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. 44 All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.


Acts 10

Peter and Cornelius

Acts 10:1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

Gentiles Hear the Good News

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.



ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

No We Are Not All God’s Children

By Bill Muehlenberg 1/13/2016

     One of the clearest teachings of Scripture running from Genesis to Revelation is that there are two classes of humanity: those who belong to God and those who do not; those who will live with him forever and those who will not.

     This simple yet basic truth is taught everywhere in the Bible, yet far too many people seem totally oblivious to this – and I refer here to so-called believers, not just non-Christians. Not only have I had biblically illiterate believers chew me out for suggesting that there are two humanities, but almost every day we have someone claiming that we are all God’s children.

     There are of course countless examples of this, so no need to pick on any one individual here. But the most recent and most publicised example of this occurred a few days ago, and is worth using as yet another instance of how not to think on this topic. I refer to the remarks of Pope Francis on this in a video he just released. As one Catholic site reports:

     The Pope’s first video message on his monthly prayer intentions was released Tuesday, highlighting the importance of interreligious dialogue and the beliefs different faith traditions hold in common, such as the figure of God and love.

     “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: We are all children of God,” Pope Francis said in his message, released Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany. At the beginning of the video, a minute-and-a-half long, the Pope cites the fact that the majority of the earth’s inhabitants profess some sort of religious belief. This, he said, “should lead to a dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.”

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Per Amazon | Bill Muehlenberg is author of 'In Defence of the Family' and hundreds of articles and book reviews. He is Secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, and part-time lecturer in philosophy, theology, and ethics at several theological colleges.He is a frequent media commentator, with articles and comment in many of Australia s leading newspapers and journals, and has appeared on most major television and radio current affairs shows and news programs. Previously, he was National Vice President of the Australian Family Association, and National Research Coordinator at Focus on the Family. He has a BA with honours in philosophy (Wheaton College, Chicago), an MA with highest honours in theology (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston). He is currently completing a PhD in theology. Originally from America, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia. Bill is married, with three sons.

Bill Muehlenberg Books:

On Catholicism and Islam | Christianity, Islam and Atheism by William Kilpatrick

By Bill Muehlenberg 12/7/2015

     If some folks – including many Catholics – have felt uneasy about some of the things the current Pope has said about Islam, they would be quite right to feel that way. Even allowing for a hostile secular media, when we read his actual words – sometimes from a speech, sometimes from an impromptu media interview given on an airplane, etc – we find much that is of concern.

     It is not my intention here to list every worrying thing he has said and done, nor to get into a fight with my Catholic friends. And of course as a Protestant, I am quite aware of, but not bound by, notions of Popes speaking ex cathedra and so on. What is my intention is to point out a few basic truths.

     One, not all Catholics are so easy going about Islam and the very real threat it poses as some are. And some Catholics are very cluey indeed as to the menace of Islam, its theological incompatibility with Christianity, and the very real problem of Islamic jihad.

     To help make this discussion, I want to rely upon just one very aware and well-read Catholic, William Kilpatrick. He has written plenty on Islam, and I continually find his observations and assessments to be top-notch. Back in 2012 he wrote a superlative volume entitled Christianity, Islam and Atheism. I review it here: billmuehlenberg.com/2013/02/26/a-review-of-christianity-islam-and-atheism-by-william-kilpatrick/

     I encourage everyone to grab a copy of this masterful book and read it carefully. He has also written scores of invaluable articles on this topic as well, and they are all well worth reading. So let me offer some of his remarks on various aspects of this.

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Per Amazon | Bill Muehlenberg is author of 'In Defence of the Family' and hundreds of articles and book reviews. He is Secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, and part-time lecturer in philosophy, theology, and ethics at several theological colleges.He is a frequent media commentator, with articles and comment in many of Australia s leading newspapers and journals, and has appeared on most major television and radio current affairs shows and news programs. Previously, he was National Vice President of the Australian Family Association, and National Research Coordinator at Focus on the Family. He has a BA with honours in philosophy (Wheaton College, Chicago), an MA with highest honours in theology (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston). He is currently completing a PhD in theology. Originally from America, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia. Bill is married, with three sons.

Bill Muehlenberg Books:

William Kilpatrick Books:

Is Anyone More Holy Than Anyone Else? The Missing Category of the ‘Righteous Man’

By Michael J. Kruger 4/17/2012

     “No one is more holy than anyone else.” That was the statement I heard in a recent sermon. At first, I thought I must have misheard it. But, I had not. The point being made to the congregation was clear: abandon your ‘self-righteousness’ and recognize that you are no holier than the person in the pew next to you.

     Now, statements like that sound compelling at first. Humble, even. After all, we are trained to go after those Pharisees among us (usually defined as anyone who appears to be holier than we are!). Moreover, we have the reformed doctrine of total depravity entrenched in our minds, reminding us that our hearts are wicked beyond what we can imagine. And, above all this, surely Christ is most glorified when we acknowledge that no one is more holy than anyone else. Right?

     Well, not really. Although the Bible certainly condemns self-righteousness, and while we are certainly much more sinful than we ever could realize, there is something missing here. What is missing — ironically in many reformed circles — is the clear biblical category of the “righteous man.” Noah is described this way in Gen 6:9: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Joseph of Arimathea was described this way in Luke 23:50: “Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man.” Zechariah and Elizabeth were described this way: “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). And there are countless passages throughout Scripture that contrast the “righteous” with the “wicked” (e.g., Ps 1:5-6; 32:1-2; 37:16-17; 75:10).

(Ps 1:5–6) Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6  for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
ESV

(Ps 32:1–2) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
ESV

(Ps 37:16–17) Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
ESV

(Ps 75:10) All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.
ESV



     So, what exactly is a “righteous” person? Surely we cannot suggest that all these passages are simply referring to the imputed righteousness of Christ (as important as that is). No, it appears the Bible uses this category of the “righteous man” for believers who display a marked consistency and faithfulness in walking with God. Of course, this doesn’t mean these people are perfect, sinless, or able to merit their own salvation. It simply means that the Spirit is at work in such a way that they bear steady fruit in their lives.

     If so, then it is simply untrue to say “no one is more holy than anyone else.” Not everyone is equally sanctified. Some are farther along than others by God’s wonderful grace. Now, I am sure the pastor that I heard would agree with that. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I am sure he was only trying to say that when it comes to our justification no one is able to stand on their own righteousness: all are desperately in need of grace. No doubt, in his zeal to make this very good biblical point, he stepped too far and declared that “no one is more holy than anyone else.”

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

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

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery-1

By Clay Jones 1/9/2017

     Most people get their self-worth from their vocations and this is no less true for those in Christian ministry. Most Christians in ministry—whether apologetics or other Christian ministry—want to become renowned, or at least more well-known, more respected than they are. We see other renowned ministers and we wish we could have the renown they have and we strive to get it because we base our self-worth on our ministry success. Many of us Christians realize that we will never be Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, or [fill in the blank of your favorite minister or apologist] _____________, but we are trying to get as close to famous as we possibly can.

     Obviously this temptation is greater for full-time ministers but this temptation also occurs when people vie to be the most respected Sunday school teacher in their church, or the best worship leader, etc.

     Some of us in ministry may never have consciously realized that this is what we are doing. All we know is that we lust to be more renowned, more respected. The majority of Christians in public ministry struggle with this because it is so easy to base self-worth on ministry success. And this is disastrously destructive to disciples of Jesus.

     The reason this is destructive to discipleship is that basing our self-worth on ministry success fosters selfish ambition, jealousy, and every kind of lust. As we read in James 3:16: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” We should not be surprised, then, that so many famous and not so famous ministers supernova in a sex scandal. Lust is lust.

     In the last couple of years I’ve had some candid conversations with famous apologists about self-worth and ministry and they’ve confessed that they struggle not to base their self-worth on their ministry success.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 6

O LORD, Deliver My Life
6 To The Choirmaster: With Stringed Iinstruments; Accoring To The Sheminith. A Psalm Of David.

6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.

8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

ESV Reformation Study

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—2

By Clay Jones 1/10/2017

     I ended yesterday’s post telling about my ministerial jealousy and how I became very tired.

     In fact, I got so tired that I would wake up, have breakfast, and take a nap. Then I’d wake up, have lunch, and take a nap. Then I’d wake up, have dinner, and take a nap. And so on. I decided to self-diagnose “extreme tiredness” and the first thing I stumbled upon was leukemia and now I had another thing to worry about.

     Finally I went to the doctor and he ran some tests and told me that I was hypoglycemic. He told me to eat only protein and to start exercising hard on a daily basis. This did help but only so much. Even so, I really did want to please the Lord and I was reading my Bible daily. I even apologized to a youth guy for being jealous of him!

     But I was still a bitter, tired, frustrated mess, and I did so poorly in school that semester that I got put on academic probation even though I dropped everything but one class!

     Then one evening I was in a pool playing Marco Polo with some high school students and, while underwater, I suddenly felt a sharp twang in my left shoulder. Two thoughts occurred almost simultaneously: “I’ve just dislocated my shoulder” and “Do not be a mule without understanding!” (Psalm 32:9). That later thought struck me harder than the former.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—3

By Clay Jones 1/11/2017

     In my prior post I talked about how the Lord humbled me and I quit my ministry position. Well, when I was just finishing up my M.Div. (this was 1980), I was hired as an associate pastor by a church which soon had an average attendance of about 5,000. But I didn’t say “Check!” this time. I had learned that I must not climb the ministerial fame latter, that I needed to please the Lord.

     I began to dread communion services at that church because it seemed like every time we had communion some guy would come up and confess the sin of hating me for my getting the position he wanted! I’m not kidding. A senior pastor later half-kidded that when he brought me on staff “half the guys in the church just about lost their salvation.”

     Thankfully, during my time there, the Lord began to reveal to me the glory that awaits us in heaven for ever. What we all need is to learn to lust after God and His Kingdom. After all, I know something about you (and by that I mean everyone in the world including those reading these words): we are all going to lust after something and we’re either going to lust after God and His Kingdom or we’re going to lust after people, possessions, positions, or pleasures. But no matter what, we are going to lust. I’ve posted on this.

     My position in the church of 5,000 only lasted about three-and-one-half years (we were going in different theological directions), and I was again out of ministry and a job.

     I decided I was going to start a church but that didn’t materialize and I spent years working in the insurance industry and teaching a Bible study to only about ten people (the Lord loves His servants enduring long periods of obscurity but that’s a topic for another time). Now I wish I could tell you that from then on I built my identity only on who I was in Christ. I was doing much, much better but it’s still a struggle. Thankfully, I’ve learned some major truths that have helped immensely (the Lord also beat the crud out of me through many trials like bone cancer but that’s also a topic for another time).

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 5.

THE ARGUMENTS USUALLY ALLEGED IN SUPPORT OF FREE WILL REFUTED.

Objections reduced to three principal heads:--I. Four absurdities advanced by the opponents of the orthodox doctrine concerning the slavery of the will, stated and refuted, sec. 1-5. II. The passages of Scripture which they pervert in favour of their error, reduced to five heads, and explained, sec. 6-15. III. Five other passages quoted in defence of free will expounded, sec. 16-19.

Sections.

1. Absurd fictions of opponents first refuted, and then certain passages of Scripture explained. Answer by a negative. Confirmation of the answer.

2. Another absurdity of Aristotle and Pelagius. Answer by a distinction. Answer fortified by passages from Augustine, and supported by the authority of an Apostle.

3. Third absurdity borrowed from the words of Chrysostom. Answer by a negative.

4. Fourth absurdity urged of old by the Pelagians. Answer from the works of Augustine. Illustrated by the testimony of our Saviour. Another answer, which explains the use of exhortations.

5. A third answer, which contains a fuller explanation of the second. Objection to the previous answers. Objection refuted. Summary of the previous answers.

6. First class of arguments which the Neo-Pelagians draw from Scripture in defence of free will. 1. The Law demands perfect obedience and therefore God either mocks us, or requires things which are not in our power. Answer by distinguishing precepts into three sorts. The first of these considered in this and the following section.

7. This general argument from the Law of no avail to the patrons of free will. Promises conjoined with precepts, prove that our sal vation is to be found in the grace of God. Objection, that the Law was given to the persons living at the time. Answer, confirmed by passages from Augustine.

8. A special consideration of the three classes of precepts of no avail to the defenders of free will. 1. Precepts enjoining us to turn to God. 2. Precepts which simply speak of the observance of the Law. 3. Precepts which enjoin us to persevere in the grace of God.

9. Objection. Answer. Confirmation of the answer from Jeremiah. Another objection refuted.

10. A second class of arguments in defence of free will drawn from the promises of God--viz. that the promises which God makes to those who seek him are vain if it is not in our power to do, or not do, the thing required. Answer, which explains the use of promises, and removes the supposed inconsistency.

11. Third class of arguments drawn from the divine upbraidings,--that it is in vain to upbraid us for evils which it is not in our power to avoid. Answer. Sinners are condemned by their own consciences, and, therefore, the divine upbraidings are just. Moreover, there is a twofold use in these upbraidings. Various passages of Scripture explained by means of the foregoing answers.

12. Objection founded on the words of Moses. Refutation by the words of an Apostle. Confirmation by argument.

13. Fourth class of arguments by the defenders of free will. God waits to see whether or not sinners will repent; therefore they can repent. Answer by a dilemma. Passage in Hosea explained.

14. Fifth class of arguments in defence of free will. God and bad works described as our own, and therefore we are capable of both. Answer by an exposition, which shows that this argument is unavailing. Objection drawn from analogy. Answer. The nature and mode of divine agency in the elect.

15. Conclusion of the answer to the last class of arguments.

16. Third and last division of the chapter discussing certain passages of Scripture. 1. A passage from Genesis. Its true meaning explained.

17. 2. Passage from the Epistle to the Romans. Explanation. Refutation of an objection. Another refutation. A third refutation from Augustine. 3. A passage from First Corinthians. Answer to it.

18. 4. A passage from Ecclesiastes. Explanation. Another explanation.

19. 5. A passage from Luke. Explanation. Allegorical arguments weak. Another explanation. A third explanation. A fourth from Augustine. Conclusion and summary of the whole discussion concerning free will.

1. Enough would seem to have been said on the subject of man's will, were there not some who endeavour to urge him to his ruin by a false opinion of liberty, and at the same time, in order to support their own opinion, assail ours. First, they gather together some absurd inferences, by which they endeavour to bring odium upon our doctrine, as if it were abhorrent to common sense, and then they oppose it with certain passages of Scripture (infra, sec. 6). Both devices we shall dispose of in their order. If sin, say they, is necessary, it ceases to be sin; if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Such, too, were the weapons with which Pelagius assailed Augustine. But we are unwilling to crush them by the weight of his name, until we have satisfactorily disposed of the objections themselves. I deny, therefore, that sin ought to be the less imputed because it is necessary; and, on the other hand, I deny the inference, that sin may be avoided because it is voluntary. If any one will dispute with God, and endeavour to evade his judgment, by pretending that he could not have done otherwise, the answer already given is sufficient, that it is owing not to creation, but the corruption of nature, that man has become the slave of sin, and can will nothing but evil. For whence that impotence of which the wicked so readily avail themselves as an excuse, but just because Adam voluntarily subjected himself to the tyranny of the devil? Hence the corruption by which we are held bound as with chains, originated in the first man's revolt from his Maker. If all men are justly held guilty of this revolt, let them not think themselves excused by a necessity in which they see the clearest cause of their condemnation. But this I have fully explained above; and in the case of the devil himself, have given an example of one who sins not less voluntarily that he sins necessarily. I have also shown, in the case of the elect angels, that though their will cannot decline from good, it does not therefore cease to be will. This Bernard shrewdly explains when he says (Serm. 81, in Cantica), that we are the more miserable in this, that the necessity is voluntary; and yet this necessity so binds us who are subject to it, that we are the slaves of sin, as we have already observed. The second step in the reasoning is vicious, because it leaps from voluntary to free; whereas we have proved above, that a thing may be done voluntarily, though not subject to free choice.

2. They add, that unless virtue and vice proceed from free choice, it is absurd either to punish man or reward him. Although this argument is taken from Aristotle, I admit that it is also used by Chrysostom and Jerome. Jerome, however, does not disguise that it was familiar to the Pelagians. He even quotes their words, "If grace acts in us, grace, and not we who do the work, will be crowned," (Hieron. in Ep. ad Ctesiphont. et Dialog. 1) With regard to punishment, I answer, that it is properly inflicted on those by whom the guilt is contracted. What matters it whether you sin with a free or an enslaved judgment, so long as you sin voluntarily, especially when man is proved to be a sinner because he is under the bondage of sin? In regard to the rewards of righteousness, is there any great absurdity in acknowledging that they depend on the kindness of God rather than our own merits? How often do we meet in Augustine with this expression,--"God crowns not our merits but his own gifts; and the name of reward is given not to what is due to our merits, but to the recompense of grace previously bestowed?" Some seem to think there is acuteness in the remark, that there is no place at all for the mind, if good works do not spring from free will as their proper source; but in thinking this so very unreasonable they are widely mistaken. Augustine does not hesitate uniformly to describe as necessary the very thing which they count it impious to acknowledge. Thus he asks, "What is human merit? He who came to bestow not due recompense but free grace, though himself free from sin, and the giver of freedom, found all men sinners," (Augustin. in Psal. 31). Again, "If you are to receive your due, you must be punished. What then is done? God has not rendered you due punishment, but bestows upon you unmerited grace. If you wish to be an alien from grace, boast your merits," (in Psal. 70). Again, "You are nothing in yourself, sin is yours, merit God's. Punishment is your due; and when the reward shall come, God shall crown his own gifts, not your merits," (Ep. 52). To the same effect he elsewhere says (De Verb. Apostol. Serm. 15), that grace is not of merit, but merit of grace. And shortly after he concludes, that God by his gifts anticipates all our merit, that he may thereby manifest his own merit, and give what is absolutely free, because he sees nothing in us that can be a ground of salvation. But why extend the list of quotations, when similar sentiments are ever and anon recurring in his works? The abettors of this error would see a still better refutation of it, if they would attend to the source from which the apostle derives the glory of the saints,--"Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified," (Rom. 8:30). On what ground, then, the apostle being judge (2 Tim. 4:8), are believers crowned? Because by the mercy of God, not their own exertions, they are predestinated, called, and justified. Away, then, with the vain fear, that unless free will stand, there will no longer be any merit! It is most foolish to take alarm, and recoil from that which Scripture inculcates. "If thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). You see how every thing is denied to free will, for the very purpose of leaving no room for merit. And yet, as the beneficence and liberality of God are manifold and inexhaustible, the grace which he bestows upon us, inasmuch as he makes it our own, he recompenses as if the virtuous acts were our own.

3. But it is added, in terms which seem to be borrowed from Chrysostom (Homil. 22, in Genes.), that if our will possesses not the power of choosing good or evil, all who are partakers of the same nature must be alike good or alike bad. A sentiment akin to this occurs in the work De Vocatione Gentium (lib. 4 c. 4), usually attributed to Ambrose, in which it is argued, that no one would ever decline from faith, did not the grace of God leave us in a mutable state. It is strange that such men should have so blundered. How did it fail to occur to Chrysostom, that it is divine election which distinguishes among men? We have not the least hesitation to admit what Paul strenuously maintains, that all, without exception, are depraved and given over to wickedness; but at the same time we add, that through the mercy of God all do not continue in wickedness. Therefore, while we all labour naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgment, he passes over, pine and rot away till they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases. If it is asked how the difference arises--why some steadily persevere, and others prove deficient in steadfastness, we can give no other reason than that the Lord, by his mighty power, strengthens and sustains the former, so that they perish not, while he does not furnish the same assistance to the latter, but leaves them to be monuments of instability.

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

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—4

By Clay Jones 1/16/2017

     In my last post I said there were three reasons we can’t know who will be greatest in God’s Kingdom. The first is because God judges the heart and we’re no good at that. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5:

(1 Co 4:1–5) This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. ESV

     Notice our motives for what we did will be exposed. Also, notice we are not to judge other people’s motives (many Christians commit this sin). Paul even says that he doesn’t even judge himself. You see, God judges the heart and in the Lord’s considered opinion your motive for doing what you do can be more important than what you do. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:

(1 Co 13:1–3) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. ESV

     Doesn’t this passage tell us that we can deliver the best sermons, teach the best apologetics lectures, or write the most respected books but if we don’t do it from love, then from God’s perspective, we “gain nothing”? That is what it says, right?

     There are, after all, a lot of outward rewards for doing well in public ministry. There can be fame, respect, travel, and honorariums. That’s a lot of worldly stuff and we are naturally attracted to that stuff. This can motivate Christians to seek public ministry and then to work very hard to make their ministries ever bigger. It can also lead to a lot of worldly pride: “I have more respected degrees from better schools, teach bigger crowds, write more books, have more Twitter followers than he/she does.”

     When we build our self-worth on our ministry success slights are hard. When I was at Simon Greenleaf University a 30 something prof came into my office and ranted on about how Talbot should have hired him for a theology post. He said he was eminently more qualified than the person they hired. When he left my office I thought he just might be academically more qualified but the Lord tends to resist those who vaunt themselves.

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.

Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—5

By Clay Jones 1/17/2017

     In yesterday’s post I gave the first reason we can’t know who will be greatest in God’s Kingdom. The second reason we can’t know who will be greatest in God’s Kingdom is because we all have different gifting. Here’s one of the biggest ministry follies: we think that the one that speaks to the most people or sells the most books must be the greatest. That’s not God’s system! That’s the fool’s gold standard of what’s spiritually valuable.

     Boasting about the number of books published or accolades received is inherently worldly (the joke at pastor’s conferences is that the first question asked is “how many people attend your church?”). Basing our self-worth on numbers is no more spiritual than thinking someone is great because they are the CEO of a Fortune 500. Of course, by that logic, the CEO of the biggest Fortune 500 is greater than the CEO of the second largest, and so on. Similarly, the guy who teaches 30 people in his Sunday school class is by that standard more valuable than the guy who teaches 25.

     The Lord doesn’t judge our performance as if we were all on a single ladder with Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, or ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ on the highest rungs, then other leaders on rungs lower than them but higher than us, based on their audience size (or whatever we value), then there’s us, then there are all the people that, in our minds, have accomplished less than us down the ladder. If we base our self-worth on that then we will never feel good about ourselves because there’s always someone who is doing better, or at least perceived to be doing better. If we think our self-worth is based on how we compare to ­­­­­­­­­____________ then we’ll get very lustful and go a little crazy. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that.

     Also, even if you do make it to the very top, that won’t last long and others will certainly try to knock you off. Although some ministry criticism is warranted, sadly, a lot of criticism of this or that ministry springs from jealously—“Yeah, he’s got a big following but I’m not compromising the Gospel like he is!”

     In fact, basing your self-worth on your audience size is no more spiritual than basing your self-worth on the size of your bank account or, for that matter, the size of your bicepts or breasts. Now, I’m not suggesting that Christians can’t publish their bios. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what others have spent their lives working on or specializing in. The folly is thinking that we can judge the Lord’s impression of His servants by those accomplishments. We can’t. As Paul said in Galatians 6:3-5,

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     Clay Jones is assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil.


  • Dare to be a Daniel
  • Deep Seated Corruption
  • One Thing


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     God wants to set you free
     1/10/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.'

(Jn 8:36) 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ESV

     When you become a prisoner of war, the enemy controls all your movements and decides what each day of your life will be like. Has the enemy captured you? Perhaps you’ve tried over and over again to be free from your addiction but you are still imprisoned by it. There’s good news: ‘If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’ Whether you are addicted to drugs, lust, alcohol, gambling, food, or anything else, your answer is not natural – but supernatural. Your addiction is a ‘symptom’ of a deeper spiritual condition that Jesus the Great Physician wants to heal. At the core of every twelve-step programme is this truth: it’s only by turning to a power greater than ourselves and developing a relationship with Him, that we can get free and stay free. And we know who that ‘power’ is – Jesus! When you feel ‘restless, irritable, and discontent’, His presence is what brings peace and serenity. When you’re tempted to turn to your addiction to find relief, His presence fills the emptiness within you and enables you to say no. When you experience ‘euphoric recall’ and begin to think about the best times of your addiction rather than the worst ones, His Word renews your mind and reframes your attitude, showing you the right path to take at that moment: ‘By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path’ (Psalm 119:105 MSG). Peter said, ‘The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations’ (2 Peter 2:9 NKJV). Today, God wants to set you free.

(Ps 119:105) 105  Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
ESV

(2 Pe 2:9) then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, ESV

Gen 23-24
Matt 7

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 10, 2016

     Sunday, a good day to return Earl and Peggy’s two forty pound bags of salt that we put in our trunk last week to come down Parrett Mountain. Nice, very hospitable people. People always make such a big difference for good or harm. Thirty plus years ago I heard Charles Stanley say we should strive to be an extension of God’s life, an expression of God’s love and an extension of God’s power. Too bad I didn’t begin to understand what that meant till Seminary.

     Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. --- Unknown author (Anglican Prayer)

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     His daughter was Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the abolitionist novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” His son, Henry Ward Beecher, supported a woman’s right to vote and was famous for denouncing government corruption and slavery. His name Lyman Beecher and he died this day, January 10, 1863. A renowned New England clergyman, Lyman Beecher wrote: “If this nation is, in the providence of God, destined to lead the way in the moral and political emancipation of the world, it is time she understood her… calling… For mighty causes… are rushing with accumulating power to their consummation of good or evil.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     During these post-war years, the Quakers had been doing an extensive work in feeding German children and had established centers in a number of German cities. By 1924 the feeding work was being closed up and turned over to the local German social agencies, but it seemed wise to maintain the Quaker centers in Berlin and Vienna and to transform them into international centers where the Quaker spirit and way of life could be shared and from which Friends could perform any service that might open for them in the years ahead. The transition was a delicate one and required Quaker personnel of considerable spiritual maturity and wisdom. Thomas and Lael Kelly were chosen for this service in 1924 and spent fifteen months in Berlin giving themselves without reservation to the German Quakers and to the cultivation of this new type of center. Wilbur K. Thomas, the executive secretary of the American Friends Service Committee in those years, writes of this period of service in Germany, "The Center was in need of a strong, spiritual leader. Thomas R. Kelly was the man. His deep interest in spiritual problems, his sympathy with all who were troubled in spirit, his ability to interpret the religious message as emphasized by Friends, coupled with his executive ability, represented a contribution that cannot be emphasized too strongly."

     In September 1925, Thomas and Lael Kelly returned from Germany to Richmond, Indiana, where Thomas Kelly had been called to teach philosophy at Earlham College. At the age of thirty-two he entered upon his teaching with a sense of his mission to place philosophy and the encouragement of rigorous reflective thinking in the high respect which it deserves in the education offered by a liberal arts college. His earlier passion for science had reappeared in his devotion to the philosophical method. There was to be no cutting of corners for any accepted views. Truth was to be discovered and acknowledged as such.

     His most intimate friend at Earlham College, the poet, E. Merrill Root, writes of this period, "When I first knew him at Earlham, he was in rebellion against what seemed to him the churchliness or institutionalism of the self-consciously religious; he was a bit brash and brusque, I felt, and a bit too confident of the logical and scientific approach to truth … He always desired, and more ambitiously in his earlier years, to be a great scholar and to be associated with some college or university that lived by the austere and inexorable standards of excellence in truth which he set for himself. He wished, also and always, to be a living witness of truth; and whenever individuals, or meetings, or colleges, failed to incarnate his passionate desire for truth become flesh, he suffered. He was deeply sensitive and human and wrestled with his disappointments and despairs. He was not wholly happy in his last years at Earlham, because he desired a larger college or university where he could find students of more intense preparation and abilities."


A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


The Humble, Meek, Merciful, Just, Pious and Devout Souls, are everywhere of one Religion; and when Death has taken off the Mask, they will know one another, tho’ the divers Liveries they wear here make them Strangers.
--- William Penn, 1644-1718

He who crowned the heavens with stars
was himself crowned with thorns.
--- Thomas Watson     Discourses On Important And Interesting Subjects: Being The Select Works Of Thomas Watson, Volume 1

The Gospel to me is simply irresistible. Being the man I am, being full of lust and pride and envy and malice and hatred and false good, and all accumulated exaggerated misery—to me the Gospel of the grace of God, and the Redemption of Christ, and the regeneration and sanctification of the Holy Ghost, that Gospel is to me simply irresistible, and I cannot understand why it is not equally irresistible to every mortal man born of woman.
--- Pascal     Pensées and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics)

There is no theodicy for the world’, he wrote, ‘except in a theology of the Cross. The only final theodicy is that self-justification of God which was fundamental to his justification of men. No reason of man can justify God in a world like this. He must justify himself, and he did so in the cross of his Son.
--- P. T. Forsyth     The justification of God; lectures for war-time on a Christian theodicy


... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 3:5-6
     by D.H. Stern

5     Trust in ADONAI with all your heart;
do not rely on your own understanding.
6     In all your ways acknowledge him;
then he will level your paths.


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


                The opened sight

     To open their eyes, … that they may receive …
--- Acts 26:18.

     This verse is the grandest condensation of the propaganda of a disciple of Jesus Christ in the whole of the New Testament.

     The first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words—“that they may receive remission of sins.” When a man fails in personal Christian experience, it is nearly always because he has never received anything. The only sign that a man is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our part as workers for God is to open men’s eyes that they may turn themselves from darkness to light; but that is not salvation, that is conversion—the effort of a roused human being. I do not think it is too sweeping to say that the majority of nominal Christians are of this order; their eyes are opened, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is one of the neglected factors in our preaching today. When a man is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People register their vows, and sign their pledges, and determine to go through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.

     Then there follows the second mighty work of grace—“and inheritance among them which are sanctified.” In sanctification the regenerated soul deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s interest in other men.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Adagio
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Adagio

Conversations between glass.
     Time weep for us.
I weep for time never
soon enough to anticipate
a reflection.
     The poet stands
beneath leafless trees
     listening to the wind
bowing on their wires. What
it affirms is: The way on
     is over your shoulder;
you must lean forward
to look back. No rhymes
     needed for such verse.
They have moved a little nearer
the light to accentuate
     their shadows, white-collared
     men at their dark trades.
Their laboratories shine
     with a cold radiance,
leprosy to me who have watched them run
     through the corridors of our culture
shaking the carillon
     of their instruments at us
          and crying: Unclean!

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Redemption / Oswald Chambers
     Redemption is outside us

     Redemption is the great outside fact of the Christian faith; it has to do not only with a man’s experience of salvation, but with the basis of his thinking. The revelation of Redemption means that Jesus Christ came here in order that by means of His Death on the Cross He might put the whole human race on a redemptive basis, so making it possible for every man to get back into perfect communion with God. “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” (John 17:4) What was finished? The redemption of the world. Men are not going to be redeemed; they are redeemed. “It is finished.” (John 19:30) It was not the salvation of individual men and women like you and me that was finished: the whole human race was put on the basis of Redemption. Do I believe it? Let me think of the worst man I know, the man for whom I have no affinity, the man who is a continual thorn in my flesh, who is as mean as can be; can I imagine that man being presented “perfect in Christ Jesus”? If I can, I have got the beginning of Christian thinking. It ought to be an easy thing for the Christian who thinks to conceive of any and every kind of man being presented “perfect in Christ Jesus,” (Colossians 1:28) but how seldom we do think! If I am an earnest evangelical preacher I may say to a man, “Oh yes, I believe God can save you,” while in my heart of hearts I don’t believe there is much hope for him. Our unbelief stands as the supreme barrier to Jesus Christ’s work in men’s souls. “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). But once let me get over my own slowness of heart (Luke 24:25) to believe in Jesus Christ’s power to save, and I become a real generator of His power to men. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) —the solitary, incommunicable place of Jesus in our salvation! Are we banking in unshaken faith on the Redemption, or do we allow men’s sins and wrongs to so obliterate Jesus Christ’s power to save that we hinder His reaching them? “He that believeth on Me,” i.e., active belief based on the Redemption—out of him “shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) We have to be so faithful to God that through us may come the awakening of those who have not yet realised that they are redeemed.

Conformed to His Image / Servant as His Lord: Lessons on Living Like Jesus (OSWALD CHAMBERS LIBRARY)

Take Heart
     January 10



     Give thanks in all circumstances. --- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

     It is common Christian philosophy that our sufferings may, through the grace of God, be the means of improving our characters. ( Sermons and Addresses ) Such is by no means a matter of course. Sufferings may be borne with gloom and brooding so as greatly to damage character. But devout souls may regard affliction as but a loving Father’s discipline, meant for their highest good. There has never been a devout life that did not share this experience. To be exempt would, as the Bible declares, give proof that we are not children of God. Many of us could testify that the sorrows of life have, by God’s blessing, done us good.

     If we believe this to be true, and it is a belief clearly founded on Scripture, then can’t we contrive, even amid the severest sufferings, to be thankful for the benefits of affliction?

     Remember, too, our seasons of affliction make real to us divine compassion and sympathy. When you look with parental anguish on your own suffering child, then you know the meaning of those words, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Ps. 103:13). When you find the trials of life hard to bear, then it becomes sweet to remember that our High Priest can sympathize with our weaknesses, who was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Thus affliction brings to mind views of the divine character, which otherwise we would never fully gain.

     Besides all this, remember that the sufferings of this present life will but enhance the life to come. A thousand times have I remembered the text of my first funeral sermon, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” These are the present things now — all around us and within us, but the time is coming when they will be the old order, quite passed away.

     Skillful composers make use of discords in music. The jarring discord is solved and makes more sweet the harmony into which it passes. And oh! the time is coming when all the pains and pangs of this present life will seem to have been only a brief, discordant prelude to an everlasting harmony.
--- John A. Broadus.


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

On This Day   January 10
     Closed Doors

     When God closes a door, someone said, he always opens a window. In Whitefield’s case, many doors closed but God opened up the world.

     George Whitefield became a Christian while attending Oxford in 1735. He soon began preaching, finding huge crowds whenever he mounted a pulpit. On Wednesday, January 10, 1739, having preached the previous night, he rose to leave for Oxford to be ordained to the Anglican ministry. His diary reads: Slept about three hours, rose at five, set out at ten, and reached Oxford by five in the Evening. As I entered the city, I called to mind the mercies I had received since I left it. They are more than I am able to express. Oh that my heart may be melted by the sense of them.

     He expected church doors to open following his ordination, but the reverse occurred. Many ministers envied his success. Some didn’t trust his association with Methodists, Moravians, and other nonconformists. And Whitefield alienated others by sometimes speaking too critically.

     A Welsh evangelist, Howell Harris, was creating a storm by preaching in the fields, and Whitefield wondered if he, too, should take to the open air. Outside Bristol among coal miners Whitefield preached out-of-doors for the first time on February 17. About 200 heard him. Soon 10,000 were showing up, and that launched a lifetime of preaching from tombstones, tree stumps, and makeshift platforms.

     Whitefield’s sermons were electric. His vivid imagination, prodigious memory, powerful voice, and ardent sincerity mesmerized listeners. He could be heard a mile away, and his voice was so rich that British actor David Garrick said, “I would give 100 guineas if I could say ‘O’ like Mr. Whitefield.”

     Later that year, Whitefield, 25, toured the American colonies, sparking the Great Awakening and bringing multitudes to Christ. His final sermon in Boston drew the largest crowd that had ever gathered in America — 23,000 people, more than Boston’s entire population. He has been called the greatest evangelist in history, save for Paul.

     The Lord said: “… I chose you to speak for me to the nations.” I replied, “I’m not a good speaker, Lord, and I’m too young.” “Don’t say you’re too young,” the Lord answered. “If I tell you to go and speak to someone, then go!”
--- Jeremiah 1:4-7a.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 10

     “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
--- 2 Timothy 4:8.

     Doubting one! thou hast often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear not! all the people of God shall enter there. I love the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed, “I have no fear of going home; I have sent all before me; God’s finger is on the latch of my door, and I am ready for him to enter.” “But,” said one, “are you not afraid lest you should miss your inheritance?” “Nay,” said he, “nay; there is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it.” O Christian, what a joyous thought! thy portion is secure; “there remaineth a rest.” “But cannot I forfeit it?” No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it. It is mine as securely as if I were there. Come with me, believer, and let us sit upon the top of Nebo, and view the goodly land, even Canaan. Seest thou that little river of death glistening in the sunlight, and across it dost thou see the pinnacles of the eternal city? Dost thou mark the pleasant country, and all its joyous inhabitants? Know, then, that if thou couldst fly across thou wouldst see written upon one of its many mansions, “This remaineth for such a one; preserved for him only. He shall be caught up to dwell for ever with God.” Poor doubting one, see the fair inheritance; it is thine. If thou believest in the Lord Jesus, if thou hast repented of sin, if thou hast been renewed in heart, thou art one of the Lord’s people, and there is a place reserved for thee, a crown laid up for thee, a harp specially provided for thee. No one else shall have thy portion, it is reserved in heaven for thee, and thou shalt have it ere long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

          Evening - January 10

     “In my flesh shall I see God.” --- Job 19:26.

     Mark the subject of Job’s devout anticipation “I shall see God.” He does not say, “I shall see the saints”—though doubtless that will be untold felicity—but, “I shall see God.” It is not—“I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold,” but “I shall see God.” This is the sum and substance of heaven, this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing “him as he is,” shall be made completely like him. Likeness to God—what can we wish for more? And a sight of God—what can we desire better? Some read the passage, “Yet, I shall see God in my flesh,” and find here an allusion to Christ, as the “Word made flesh,” and that glorious beholding of him which shall be the splendour of the latter days. Whether so or not it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All his attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as he is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, his gifts, his love to us, and his glory in all his purposes, and in all his actions, these shall make a theme which will be ever new. The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. “Whom mine eye shall behold, and not another.” Take realizing views of heaven’s bliss; think what it will be to you. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.” All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness which can never dim, a glory which can never fade—“I shall see God.”

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

Amazing Grace
     January 10

          WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS

     Joseph Scriven, 1819–1886

     A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (
Proverbs 18:24 KJV)

     A true friend loves and accepts us just as we are, stays close to us in good or in bad, and is always ready to help in time of need. Because the author of this hymn text found just such a friend in his Lord, he decided to spend his entire life showing real friendship to others.

     Joseph Scriven had wealth, education, a devoted family, and a pleasant life in his native Ireland. Then unexpected tragedy entered. On the night before Scriven’s scheduled wedding, his fiancée drowned. In his deep sorrow, Joseph realized that he could find the solace and support he needed only in his dearest friend, Jesus.

     Soon after this tragedy, Scriven dramatically changed his lifestyle. He left Ireland for Port Hope, Canada, determined to devote all of his extra time in being a friend and helper to others. He often gave away his clothing and possessions to those in need, and he worked—without pay—for anyone who needed him. Scriven became known as “the Good Samaritan of Port Hope.”

     When Scriven’s mother became ill in Ireland, he wrote a comforting letter to her, enclosing the words of his newly written poem with the prayer that these brief lines would remind her of a never-failing heavenly Friend. Sometime later, when Joseph Scriven himself was ill, a friend who came to call on him happened to see a copy of these words scribbled on scratch paper near his bed. The friend read the lines with interest and asked, “Who wrote those beautiful words?” “The Lord and I did it between us,” was Scriven’s reply.

     What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
     Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness—Take it to the Lord in prayer.
     Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; in His arms He’ll take and shield thee—Thou wilt find a solace there.


     For Today: Psalm 6:9; Mark 11:24; John 15:13–16; 1 John 5:14, 15.

     Like Joseph Scriven, we too can find relief from our burdens when we turn to our Lord as a friend. Allow this musical truth to help you realize ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | Epiphany


Wednesday Of The First Week After Epiphany
Year 2

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 119:1–24
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 12, 13, 14
Old Testament     Genesis 4:1–16
New Testament     Hebrews 2:11–18
Gospel     (John 1:29–34) 35–42

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 119:1–24

119  Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 12, 13, 14

12 To The Choirmaster: According To The Sheminith. A Psalm Of David.

1 Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the LORD;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7 You, O LORD, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

13 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

14 To The Choirmaster. Of David.

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

2 The LORD 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 turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?

5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.

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

Old Testament
Genesis 4:1–16

4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

New Testament
Hebrews 2:11–18

11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

     “I will tell of your name to my brothers;
     in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

     “I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

     “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Gospel
(John 1:29–34) 35–42

[     29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”     ]

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

The Book of Common Prayer



RNA Transcription
Jason Tresser   Biola University





DNA Groups and Stem Cells
Jason Tresser   Biola University






The Dwelling
Doyle, Ishihara, Pickett, Miller, Igram   Biola University





Understanding Free Will 1
Clay Jones   Biola University






Understanding Free Will 2
Clay Jones   Biola University





Meeting God in Silence
Lisa Igram   Biola University






Spoken Word Poetry
Gardiner, Gatch, Calvillo, Jung   Biola University





Does Brain Science Disprove Freedom? 1
Tim O'Connor   Biola University






Does Brain Science Disprove Freedom? 2
Tim O'Connor   Biola University





Navigating the Terrain of Conflict
Arianna Molloy   Biola University






Friendship in Community
Cassie Koepf & Jill Konopasky   Biola University





What Humans Are
Tim O'Connor   Biola University






Life After Death 1
Tim O'Connor   Biola University





Life After Death 2
Tim O'Connor   Biola University






God's Love & Schools
David Schmus   Biola University