Genesis 30:1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.
9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad. 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.
14 In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes (love plant) in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.
19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!”
Jacob’s Prosperity25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” 27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you. 28 Name your wages, and I will give it.” 29 Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31 He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: 32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” 34 Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” 35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. 36 And he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock.
37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. 38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
John the Baptist Prepares the WayMark 1:1 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
The Baptism of Jesus9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Jesus Begins His Ministry14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus Heals Many29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
The King Honors MordecaiEsther 6:1 On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” 4 And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” 7 And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. 9 And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’ ” 10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” 11 So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
12 Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. 13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”
Esther Reveals Haman’s Plot14 While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.
GreetingRomans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Longing to Go to Rome8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses
By J. Warner Wallace 6/3/2016
On the final page of the paperback edition of Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman famously listed the “Top Ten Verses That Were Not Originally in the New Testament.” In an effort to discredit the reliability of the New Testament text, Ehrman offered this list to demonstrate the existence of many late insertions in the text. He found this reality troubling as a young man, and eventually walked away from his Christian faith as a result:
“The Bible began to appear to me as a very human book. Just as human scribes had copied, and changed, the texts of scripture, so too had human authors originally written the texts of scripture. This was a human book from beginning to end.” (from Misquoting Jesus)
Let’s take a look at Ehrman’s list of troublesome verses and examine how they impact the reliability of the New Testament text:
(1 Jn 5:7) For there are three that testify: ESV
(Jn 8:7) 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.” ESV
(Jn 8:11) She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ]] ESV
(Lk 22:44) And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. ESV
(Lk 22:20) And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. ESV
(Mk 16:17) And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; ESV
(Mk 16:18) they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” ESV
(Jn 5:4) For an angel of the Lord went down at certain times into the pool and disturbed the waters; and whoever was the first to step in when the water was disturbed was healed of whatever disease he had. ESV
(Lk 24:12) But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. ESV
(Lk 24:51) While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. ESV
While this list may seem large (and even surprising for those of us who haven’t examined the presence of textual variants in the New Testament), I think this list does little to impact the reliability of the text. In fact, I think Ehrman is profiting from the unfamiliarity that most Christians have with the presence of textual variants. The list does seem shocking and daunting if you’ve never taken the time to examine matters such as these. But if you stop and think about it and examine each verse listed here, the impact is actually very minimal. I recognize four truths about these verses:
The Verses are Designated Earlier | Seven of these passages (John 8:7, John 8:11, Luke 22:44, Luke 22:20, Mark 16:17, Mark 16:18 and John 5:4) are already clearly designated in my Bible (I’m using the ESV for this blog post). It’s not as though these specious verses are hidden; most modern translations do an excellent job of including everything, then identifying those verses that are variants. Check it out for yourself. You’ll see that these verses, like many others in the text, have been clearly marked.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Correcting the Idea We Must Avoid Every Form of Evil
By Lenny Esposito 11/10/2015
1 Thessalonians 5:22 is a fairly popularly quoted verse. The King James Version's "Abstain from all appearance of evil" is probably the most well-known, but more modern translations, like the ESV's "abstain from every form of evil" are also familiar. Usually, those who quote the verse apply it to mean that a Christian shouldn't be found anywhere near any place or situation that seems to be sinful. Some have taken it even further, believing that any action that could be misconstrued as sinful by others should be avoided.
Such views are really misunderstanding the meaning of Paul's exhortation because they are ripping the verse out of its context. Often when I engage with Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons I will have to correct their faulty understanding of a verse that they have taken as a stand-alone admonition, when it is actually more specific and more nuanced. We recognize that taking verses out of context is the wrong way to try and bolster their views. However, if it's wrong for the Mormons and JWs, it's wrong for Christians, too. Therefore, it becomes important to correct the faulty understanding of passages such as the one above.
Bible scholar Walt Russell has written a great explanation of the context in which the Bible student should take 1 Thess 5:22. He says:
1 Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul's letter to a group of new Christians who have been persecuted by their fellow citizens in northern Greece for most of their six months in Christ. It is an adversarial context for the church, so Paul spends much of his time defending his church-planting team's integrity and actions in chapters 1-3. In chapters 4-5 ("the moral exhortation" section), he addresses five successive threats to the life of this body. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 is the fifth and final significant issue facing this fledgling church.
(1 Th 5:12–22) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. ESV
This last issue in vv. 12-22 deals broadly with the concerns that arise when the church gathers for her weekly assembly. Paul gives instructions about how to foster healthy body life in this context by rightly esteeming leaders (vv. 12-13), dealing sensitively with the varying needs of the saints (vv. 14-15), establishing a joyful assembly (vv. 16-18), and not quenching the ministry of the Holy Spirit in prophetic utterances (vv. 19-22).
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Good Riddance to Sin
By Thomas E. Fitzpatrick Fall 2013
A popular American TV sitcom in the 1970s featured a fictional character who was so cool he couldn’t admit he might be wrong. Audiences around the world watched as Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli of Happy Days struggled to articulate the word. It just wasn’t in his vocabulary. He was simply way too cool; it was inconceivable that he could be “wrr-, wrr-, wrr-,” … wrong.
Is anything or anyone wrong anymore? Does it depend on whom you ask? To be sure, human beings continue to err in judgment and to behave badly. However, today it seems that much human wrongdoing is reduced to the accepted fact that everyone makes mistakes.
People do make mistakes, but do people still do wrong? Even more pointedly, do people still sin?
Modern society seems to prefer softer, gentler terms when depicting human faults and flaws. Describing behavior as sinful is strictly reserved for the most heinous forms of depravity. Violations of what were once considered established moral principles are increasingly portrayed as matters of personal preference, likes and dislikes, quirks and idiosyncrasies. Vices are mere foibles, the natural by-product of human frailty.
In an effort to be understanding and tolerant of human misconduct, have we unwittingly absolved ourselves of being sinners? Are we too sophisticated to ss-, ss-, sss-, . . . sin?
The Case For Boredom
By Kevin DeYoung 1/25/2017
I don’t get bored as much as I should. Chances are neither do you. And the chances are exceedingly good that your children aren’t as bored as they should be.
What’s so good about being bored? Nothing intrinsically, but boredom provides the space for creativity, for mental wandering, for musings, ponderings, and a lifestyle of prayer.
Remember how boring life used to be. You’d wait in a line and just think, or sit on a plane and stare out the window, or relax on the couch and do nothing at all. I think of how much more my mind used to wander on walks and how I was better able to concentrate on books. I think of how bored I was on long car rides and at meals with adults and, yes, even in church. Of course, some boredom is just boring. But boredom also teaches us the discipline of sitting still and the invaluable lesson of being alone with our thoughts.
I’m no Luddite who rejects technological innovation and longs for the simple life when we walked to school in the snow uphill both ways. But there is no doubt that our phones—let’s be honest, my phone—has made us less attuned to the quiet moments of life.
For many people, they grab their phone first thing in the morning. They look at it last thing before bed. They check it at traffic lights and scroll through social media while waiting in line at the bank. They thumb through Facebook when they have 10 minutes to kill. They are tethered to their phone on the plane. They can’t go much more than 15 minutes in a meeting without swiping the screen. They eat with their phones, sleep with their phones, even go to the bathroom with their phones.
Kevin DeYoung Books:
- 1 The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
- 2 Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
- 3 Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem
- 4 The Hole in Our Holiness (Paperback Edition): Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness
- 5 What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
- 6 Taking God At His Word (Paperback Edition): Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me
- 7 The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism
- 8 What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission
- 9 Acting the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification
- 10 Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion
- 11 Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
- 12 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (Gospel Coalition Series)
- 13 The Holy Spirit (The Gospel Coalition Booklets)
- 14 Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (Faith and Freedom)
- 15 Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung (2013-09-23)
- 16 Freedom and Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church
- 17 Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me by Kevin DeYoung (30-Apr-2014) Hardcover
- 18 Why Our Church Switched to the ESV
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 16You Will Not Abandon My Soul
16 A Miktam Of David.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
Irresistible Grace | John Murray
By John Murray
In reference to all the aspects from which God’s saving grace may be viewed we must always reckon with the reality and gravity of sin. The salvation God has provided is more than salvation from sin and its consequences. Its design embraces the exceeding riches of God’s grace and contemplates the highest conceivable destiny that could be bestowed upon creatures, conformity to the image of God’s own Son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (cf. Rom. 8:29). But no such destiny could be envisioned or achieved without salvation from sin in all its ramifications and liabilities. In order to be salvation to it must first of all be salvation from.
We cannot assess the gravity of sin unless we probe to that which is central in its definition. If we say that sin is selfishness we do state something that belongs to the character of sin, especially if we think of self-centeredness and construe this as involving the worship of self rather than of the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:25). The iniquity of sin is thereby disclosed. Again, if we say that sin is the assertion of human autonomy versus the sovereignty of God we are saying something relevant. Sin is precisely that, and it became apparent in Eden when the sin of our race began.
But we must ask: are these analyses sufficient? To put it otherwise: does not Scripture warrant and compel a more penetrating description? When Paul says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7), he has surely provided us with what is ultimate in the definition of sin. Sin is the contradiction of God, contradiction all along the line of God’s unique and essential glory. Nothing is more germane to God’s glory than his truth; he is truth. The tempter was well aware of this and so his strategy was framed accordingly. To the woman he said: “ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). This was blatant contradiction of God’s veracity. When the woman acceded to this contradiction her integrity collapsed and to sin she became captive. Our Lord’s indictment of the tempter is to the effect that his own fall from integrity was of the same character as that by which he seduced Eve. “He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Yes, the essence of sin is to be against God (cf. Ps. 51:4); it is the contradiction of God in the whole range of its connotation and application. When Paul wrote, “the carnal mind is enmity against God,” he added, “for it is not subject to the law of God” (Rom. 8:7). It is significant that the law of God should be specified in this connection. The enmity manifests itself in insubjection to the law of God. And not only so. The insubjection may be said to constitute the enmity, the contradiction. For the law is the glory of God coming to expression for the regulation of human thought, word, and action consonant with the image in which man has been created. So sin can be defined in terms of law as “lawlessness” (I John 3:4).
The contradiction which sin offers to God and to his will, if it is not adequately described as resistance, involves and is expressed in resistance. Scripture sometimes uses this term or its equivalents to express the attitude of unbelief (cf. Acts 7:51; 13:45; Rom. 10:21; II Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:9). It is obvious that sin consists in resistance to the will of God. If the claims of God were not resistible, there would be no sin. The claims of God come to expression in the gospel and all rejection of the gospel and of its demands is resistance. In the gospel we have the supreme revelation of the grace of God, and Christ is the embodiment of that grace. The glory of God is nowhere more effulgent than in the face of Jesus Christ. Hence unbelief is resistance of grace at the zenith of its disclosure and overture. So to say that all grace is irresistible is to deny the plain facts of observation and experience as also of Scripture teaching. Stephen was bold enough to indict his unbelieving audience with resistance to the Holy Spirit: “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). This is the enormity of unbelief; it is the contradiction of sin expressing itself in resistance to the claims and overtures of supreme love and grace. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19).
John Murray Books:
- 1 Redemption Accomplished and Applied
- 2 Collected Writings of John Murray: Lectures in Systematic Theology
- 3 Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics
- 4 Christian Baptism
- 5 The Covenant of Grace: A Biblico-Theological Study (Biblical & Theological Studies)
- 6 Little Lives of the Great Saints
- 7 St. Joseph Daily Prayer Book: Prayers, Readings, and Devotions for the Year
- 8 Collected Writings of John Murray (4 Volume Set)
- 9 Divorce
- 10 Calvin on Scripture and Divine Sovereignty
- 11 Redemption Accomplished and Applied by Murray, John (1955) Paperback
- 12 001: Collected Writings of John Murray: Claims of Truth (His Collected Writings of John Murray; V. 1) (His Collected Writings of John Murray; V. 1)
- 13 Free Offer of the Gospel
- 14 Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics by John Murray (1957-07-17)
- 15 Little Lives of the Great Saints
What’s Wrong with Wright: Examining the New Perspective on Paul
By Phil Johnson
My assignment in this hour is to give a critical review of an influential book by Anglican author N.T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham. The book is titled What Saint Paul Really Said. It’s a fairly thin paperback, fewer than 200 pages, and although Wright is a prolific writer, best known and most influential because of his massive scholarly works, this little book—which is written in a simple style for the serious lay person—has undoubtedly been the most influential (and perhaps the most controversial) of all his published works. One of its aims is to explain the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” in a clear and concise format so that lay readers can grasp the main ideas.
The book is easy to read and thought-provoking. Wright is a gifted writer. He is able to communicate effortlessly on either a scholarly or a popular level, and he moves back and forth easily between the two styles. He seems to feel as much at home writing simple material for lay people as he does when he writes massive tomes for scholars. And he’s prolific. It’s no easy task to keep up with everything Tom Wright publishes.
His style in this book is warm and winsome. He no doubt anticipated that he would have critics when he wrote the book, so throughout the book he makes every effort to disarm his critics. He seems to labor to leave the impression throughout the book that even though he subscribes to a “New Perspective on Paul,” he’s not trying to overthrow the old Protestant confessional doctrinal standards. He claims he is not denying that Christ took believers’ sins and they in turn get His righteousness; he’s simply saying that’s not what the apostle Paul meant when he spoke about justification. Wright claims his concerns are biblical and exegetical, not theological and dogmatic.
Evangelical readers who know Wright’s reputation are likely to read him with great sympathy. In his other works, Wright has skillfully defended the historicity of Jesus and the truth of the resurrection against the skepticism and liberal scholarship of people like the “Jesus Seminar.” Lots of evangelicals know Wright best from his excellent work in this realm of scholarly apologetics, and we do owe him a great debt for the clarity and force with which he has answered the left wing of contemporary scholarship.
Tom Wright’s name and face have become recognized throughout the United Kingdom, mainly because of his frequent appearances on the BBC—where he usually takes the conservative side against the radical skeptics in the scholarly world. People who know him from the popular media usually assume that Tom Wright’s evangelical credentials are impeccable. And (let’s face it) he probably does have much more in common with evangelicalism than the average Anglican bishop these days.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR'S HOUSE, THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR'S WIFE NOR HIS MAN-SERVANT, NOR HIS MAID-SERVANT, NOR HIS OX NOR HIS ASS, NOR ANYTHING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOUR'S.
49. The purport is: Since the Lord would have the whole soul pervaded with love, any feeling of an adverse nature must be banished from our minds. The sum, therefore, will be, that no thought be permitted to insinuate itself into our minds, and inhale them with a noxious concupiscence tending to our neighbour's loss. To this corresponds the contrary precept, that every thing which we conceive, deliberate, will, or design, be conjoined with the good and advantage of our neighbour. But here it seems we are met with a great and perplexing difficulty. For if it was correctly said above, that under the words adultery and theft, lust and an intention to injure and deceive are prohibited, it may seem superfluous afterwards to employ a separate commandment to prohibit a covetous desire of our neighbour's goods. The difficulty will easily be removed by distinguishing between design and covetousness.  Design, such as we have spoken of in the previous commandments, is a deliberate consent of the will, after passion has taken possession of the mind. Covetousness may exist without such deliberation and assent, when the mind is only stimulated and tickled by vain and perverse objects. As, therefore, the Lord previously ordered that charity should regulate our wishes, studies, and actions, so he now orders us to regulate the thoughts of the mind in the same way, that none of them may be depraved and distorted, so as to give the mind a contrary bent. Having forbidden us to turn and incline our mind to wrath, hatred, adultery, theft, and falsehood, he now forbids us to give our thoughts the same direction.
50. Nor is such rectitude demanded without reason. For who can deny the propriety of occupying all the powers of the mind with charity? If it ceases to have charity for its aim, who can question that it is diseased? How comes it that so many desires of a nature hurtful to your brother enter your mind, but just because, disregarding him, you think only of yourself? Were your mind wholly imbued with charity, no portion of it would remain for the entrance of such thoughts. In so far, therefore, as the mind is devoid of charity, it must be under the influence of concupiscence. Some one will object that those fancies which casually rise up in the mind, and forthwith vanish away, cannot properly be condemned as concupiscences, which have their seat in the heart. I answer, That the question here relates to a description of fancies which while they present themselves to our thoughts, at the same time impress and stimulate the mind with cupidity, since the mind never thinks of making some choice, but the heart is excited and tends towards it. God therefore commands a strong and ardent affection, an affection not to be impeded by any portion, however minute, of concupiscence. He requires a mind so admirably arranged as not to be prompted in the slightest degree contrary to the law of love. Lest you should imagine that this view is not supported by any grave authority, I may mention that it was first suggested to me by Augustine.  But although it was the intention of God to prohibit every kind of perverse desire, he, by way of example, sets before us those objects which are generally regarded as most attractive: thus leaving no room for cupidity of any kind, by the interdiction of those things in which it especially delights and loves to revel.
Such, then, is the Second Table of the Law, in which we are sufficiently instructed in the duties which we owe to man for the sake of God, on a consideration of whose nature the whole system of love is founded. It were vain, therefore, to inculcate the various duties taught in this table, without placing your instructions on the fear and reverence to God as their proper foundation. I need not tell the considerate reader, that those who make two precepts out of the prohibition of covetousness, perversely split one thing into two. There is nothing in the repetition of the words, "Thou shalt not covet." The "house" being first put down, its different parts are afterwards enumerated, beginning with the "wife;" and hence it is clear, that the whole ought to be read consecutively, as is properly done by the Jews. The sum of the whole commandment, therefore, is, that whatever each individual possesses remain entire and secure, not only from injury, or the wish to injure, but also from the slightest feeling of covetousness which can spring up in the mind.
51. It will not now be difficult to ascertain the general end contemplated by the whole Law--viz. the fulfilment of righteousness, that man may form his life on the model of the divine purity. For therein God has so delineated his own character, that any one exhibiting in action what is commanded, would in some measure exhibit a living image of God. Wherefore Moses, when he wished to fix a summary of the whole in the memory of the Israelites, thus addressed them, "And now, Israel, what does the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes which I command thee this day for thy good?" (Deut. 10:12, 13). And he ceased not to reiterate the same thing, whenever he had occasion to mention the end of the Law. To this the doctrine of the Law pays so much regard, that it connects man, by holiness of life, with his God; and, as Moses elsewhere expresses it (Deut. 6:5; 11:13), and makes him cleave to him. Moreover, this holiness of life is comprehended under the two heads above mentioned. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself." First, our mind must be completely filled with love to God, and then this love must forthwith flow out toward our neighbour. This the Apostle shows when he says, "The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned," (1 Tim. 1:5). You see that conscience and faith unfeigned are placed at the head, in other words, true piety; and that from this charity is derived. It is a mistake then to suppose, that merely the rudiments and first principles of righteousness are delivered in the Law, to form, as it were, a kind of introduction to good works, and not to guide to the perfect performance of them. For complete perfection, nothing more can be required than is expressed in these passages of Moses and Paul. How far, pray, would he wish to go, who is not satisfied with the instruction which directs man to the fear of God, to spiritual worship, practical obedience; in fine, purity of conscience, faith unfeigned, and charity? This confirms that interpretation of the Law which searches out, and finds in its precepts, all the duties of piety and charity. Those who merely search for dry and meagre elements, as if it taught the will of God only by halves, by no means understand its end, the Apostle being witness.
52. As, in giving a summary of the Law, Christ and the Apostles sometimes omit the First Table, very many fall into the mistake of supposing that their words apply to both tables. In Matthew, Christ calls "judgment, mercy, and faith," the "weightier matters of the Law." I think it clear, that by faith is here meant veracity towards men. But in order to extend the words to the whole Law, some take it for piety towards God. This is surely to no purpose. For Christ is speaking of those works by which a man ought to approve himself as just. If we attend to this, we will cease to wonder why, elsewhere, when asked by the young man, "What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" he simply answers, that he must keep the commandments, "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," (Mt. 19:16, 18). For the obedience of the First Table consisted almost entirely either in the internal affection of the heart, or in ceremonies. The affection of the heart was not visible, and hypocrites were diligent in the observance of ceremonies; but the works of charity were of such a nature as to be a solid attestation of righteousness. The same thing occurs so frequently in the Prophets, that it must be familiar to every one who has any tolerable acquaintance with them.  For, almost on every occasion, when they exhort men to repentance, omitting the First Table, they insist on faith, judgment, mercy, and equity. Nor do they, in this way, omit the fear of God. They only require a serious proof of it from its signs. It is well known, indeed, that when they treat of the Law, they generally insist on the Second Table, because therein the cultivation of righteousness and integrity is best manifested. There is no occasion to quote passages. Every one can easily for himself perceive the truth of my observation.
53. Is it then true, you will ask, that it is a more complete summary of righteousness to live innocently with men, than piously towards God? By no means; but because no man, as a matter of course, observes charity in all respects, unless he seriously fear God, such observance is a proof of piety also. To this we may add, that the Lord, well knowing that none of our good deeds can reach him (as the Psalmist declares, Psalm 16:2), does not demand from us duties towards himself, but exercises us in good works towards our neighbour. Hence the Apostle, not without cause, makes the whole perfection of the saints to consist in charity (Eph. 3:19; Col. 3:14). And in another passage, he not improperly calls it the "fulfilling of the law," adding, that "he that loveth another has fulfilled the law," (Rom. 13:8). And again, "All the law is fulfilled in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," (Gal. 5:14). For this is the very thing which Christ himself teaches when he says, "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets," (Mt. 7:12). It is certain that, in the law and the prophets, faith, and whatever pertains to the due worship of God, holds the first place, and that to this charity is made subordinate; but our Lord means, that in the Law the observance of justice and equity towards men is prescribed as the means which we are to employ in testifying a pious fear of God, if we truly possess it.
54. Let us therefore hold, that our life will be framed in best accordance with the will of God, and the requirements of his Law, when it is, in every respect, most advantageous to our brethren. But in the whole Law, there is not one syllable which lays down a rule as to what man is to do or avoid for the advantage of his own carnal nature. And, indeed, since men are naturally prone to excessive self-love, which they always retain, how great soever their departure from the truth may be, there was no need of a law to inflame a love already existing in excess. Hence it is perfectly plain,  that the observance of the Commandments consists not in the love of ourselves, but in the love of God and our neighbour; and that he leads the best and holiest life who as little as may be studies and lives for himself; and that none lives worse and more unrighteously than he who studies and lives only for himself, and seeks and thinks only of his own. Nay, the better to express how strongly we should be inclined to love our neighbour, the Lord has made self-love as it were the standard, there being no feeling in our nature of greater strength and vehemence. The force of the expression ought to be carefully weighed. For he does not (as some sophists have stupidly dreamed) assign the first place to self-love, and the second to charity. He rather transfers to others the love which we naturally feel for ourselves. Hence the Apostle declares, that charity "seeketh not her own," (1 Cor. 13:5). Nor is the argument worth a straw, That the thing regulated must always be inferior to the rule. The Lord did not make self-love the rule, as if love towards others was subordinate to it; but whereas, through natural pravity, the feeling of love usually rests on ourselves, he shows that it ought to diffuse itself in another direction--that we should be prepared to do good to our neighbour with no less alacrity, ardour, and solicitude, than to ourselves.
55. Our Saviour having shown, in the parable of the Samaritan (Luke 10:36), that the term neighbour comprehends the most remote stranger, there is no reason for limiting the precept of love to our own connections. I deny not that the closer the relation the more frequent our offices of kindness should be. For the condition of humanity requires that there be more duties in common between those who are more nearly connected by the ties of relationship, or friendship, or neighbourhood. And this is done without any offence to God, by whose providence we are in a manner impelled to do it. But I say that the whole human race, without exception, are to be embraced with one feeling of charity: that here there is no distinction of Greek or Barbarian, worthy or unworthy, friend or foe, since all are to be viewed not in themselves, but in God. If we turn aside from this view, there is no wonder that we entangle ourselves in error. Wherefore, if we would hold the true course in love, our first step must be to turn our eyes not to man, the sight of whom might oftener produce hatred than love, but to God, who requires that the love which we bear to him be diffused among all mankind, so that our fundamental principle must ever be, Let a man be what he may, he is still to be loved, because God is loved.
56. Wherefore, nothing could be more pestilential than the ignorance or wickedness of the Schoolmen in converting the precepts respecting revenge and the love of enemies (precepts which had formerly been delivered to all the Jews, and were then delivered universally to all Christians) into counsels which it was free to obey or disobey, confining the necessary observance of them to the monks, who were made more righteous than ordinary Christians, by the simple circumstance of voluntarily binding themselves to obey counsels. The reason they assign for not receiving them as laws is, that they seem too heavy and burdensome, especially to Christians, who are under the law of grace. Have they, indeed, the hardihood to remodel the eternal law of God concerning the love of our neighbour? Is there a page of the Law in which any such distinction exists; or rather do we not meet in every page with commands which, in the strictest terms, require us to love our enemies? What is meant by commanding us to feed our enemy if he is hungry, to bring back his ox or his ass if we meet it going astray, or help it up if we see it lying under its burden? (Prov. 25:21; Exod. 23:4). Shall we show kindness to cattle for man's sake, and have no feeling of good will to himself? What? Is not the word of the Lord eternally true: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay?" (Deut. 32:35). This is elsewhere more explicitly stated: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people," (Lev. 19:18). Let them either erase these passages from the Law, or let them acknowledge the Lord as a Lawgiver, not falsely feign him to be merely a counsellor.
57. And what, pray, is meant by the following passage, which they have dared to insult with this absurd gloss? "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven," (Mt. 5:44, 45). Who does not here concur in the reasoning of Chrysostom (lib. de Compunctione Cordis, et ad Rom. 7), that the nature of the motive makes it plain that these are not exhortations, but precepts? For what is left to us if we are excluded from the number of the children of God? According to the Schoolmen, monks alone will be the children of our Father in heaven--monks alone will dare to invoke God as their Father. And in the meantime, how will it fare with the Church? By the same rule, she will be confined to heathens and publicans. For our Saviour says, "If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" It will truly be well with us if we are left only the name of Christians, while we are deprived of the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven! Nor is the argument of Augustine less forcible: "When the Lord forbids adultery, he forbids it in regard to the wife of a foe not less than the wife of a friend; when he forbids theft, he does not allow stealing of any description, whether from a friend or an enemy," (August. Lib. de Doctr. Christ). Now, these two commandments, "Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery," Paul brings under the rule of love; nay, he says that they are briefly comprehended in this saying, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," (Rom. 13:9). Therefore, Paul must either be a false interpreter of the Law, or we must necessarily conclude, that under this precept we are bound to love our enemies just as our friends. Those, then, show themselves to be in truth the children of Satan who thus licentiously shake off a yoke common to the children of God. It may be doubted whether, in promulgating this dogma, they have displayed greater stupidity or impudence. There is no ancient writer who does not hold it as certain that these are pure precepts. It was not even doubted in the age of Gregory, as is plain from his decided assertion; for he holds it to be incontrovertible that they are precepts. And how stupidly they argue! The burden, say they, were too difficult for Christians to hear! As if any thing could be imagined more difficult than to love the Lord with all the heart, and soul, and strength. Compared with this Law, there is none which may not seem easy, whether it be to love our enemy, or to banish every feeling of revenge from our minds. To our weakness, indeed, every thing, even to the minutest tittle of the Law, is arduous and difficult. In the Lord we have strength. It is his to give what he orders, and to order what he wills. That Christians are under the law of grace, means not that they are to wander unrestrained without law, but that they are engrafted into Christ, by whose grace they are freed from the curse of the Law, and by whose Spirit they have the Law written in their hearts. This grace Paul has termed, but not in the proper sense of the term, a law, alluding to the Law of God, with which he was contrasting it. The Schoolmen, laying hold of the term Law, make it the ground-work of their vain speculations. 
58. The same must be said of their application of the term, venial sin, both to the hidden impiety which violates the First Table, and the direct transgression of the last commandment of the Second Table.  They define venial sin to be, desire unaccompanied with deliberate assent, and not remaining long in the heart. But I maintain that it cannot even enter the heart unless through a want of those things which are required in the Law. We are forbidden to have strange gods. When the mind, under the influence of distrust, looks elsewhere or is seized with some sudden desire to transfer its blessedness to some other quarter, whence are these movements, however evanescent, but just because there is some empty corner in the soul to receive such temptations? And, not to lengthen out the discussion, there is a precept to love God with the whole heart, and mind, and soul; and, therefore, if all the powers of the soul are not directed to the love of God, there is a departure from the obedience of the Law; because those internal enemies which rise up against the dominion of God, and countermand his edicts prove that his throne is not well established in our consciences. It has been shown that the last commandment goes to this extent. Has some undue longing sprung up in our mind? Then we are chargeable with covetousness, and stand convicted as transgressors of the Law. For the Law forbids us not only to meditate and plan our neighbour's loss, but to be stimulated and inflamed with covetousness. But every transgression of the Law lays us under the curse, and therefore even the slightest desires cannot be exempted from the fatal sentence. "In weighing our sins," says Augustine, "let us not use a deceitful balance, weighing at our own discretion what we will, and how we will, calling this heavy and that light: but let us use the divine balance of the Holy Scriptures, as taken from the treasury of the Lord, and by it weigh every offence, nay, not weigh, but rather recognise what has been already weighed by the Lord," (August. De Bapt. cont. Donatist. Lib. 2 chap. 6). And what saith the Scripture? Certainly when Paul says, that "the wages of sin is death," (Rom. 6:23), he shows that he knew nothing of this vile distinction. As we are but too prone to hypocrisy, there was very little occasion for this sop to soothe our torpid consciences.
59. I wish they would consider what our Saviour meant when he said, "Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven," (Mt. 5:19). Are they not of this number when they presume to extenuate the transgression of the Law, as if it were unworthy of death? The proper course had been to consider not simply what is commanded, but who it is that commands, because every least transgression of his Law derogates from his authority. Do they count it a small matter to insult the majesty of God in any one respect? Again, since God has explained his will in the Law, every thing contrary to the Law is displeasing to him. Will they feign that the wrath of God is so disarmed that the punishment of death will not forthwith follow upon it? He has declared plainly (if they could be induced to listen to his voice, instead of darkening his clear truth by their insipid subtleties), "The soul that sinneth it shall die," (Ezek. 18:20). Again, in the passage lately quoted, "The wages of sin is death." What these men acknowledge to be sin, because they are unable to deny it, they contend is not mortal. Having already indulged this madness too long, let them learn to repent; or, if they persist in their infatuation, taking no further notice of them, let the children of God remember that all sin is mortal, because it is rebellion against the will of God, and necessarily provokes his anger; and because it is a violation of the Law, against every violation of which, without exception, the judgment of God has been pronounced. The faults of the saints are indeed venial, not, however, in their own nature, but because, through the mercy of God, they obtain pardon.
 This chapter is connected with Book 1., chap. 1 and 2, and with Book 2, chap. 1--6. See also Book 2, chap. 2 sec. 22.
 See Calvin, De Vera Ecclesiæ Reformandæ Ratione.
 See Augustin. De Civitate Dei, Lib. 4 c. 12, and Lib. 12 c. 20, and Lib. 14 c. 12. See also Lib. De Bono Conjugali, and Lib. Contra Adversarios Legis et Prophetarum, Lib. 1 c. 14.
 "Ne sit nobis Lesbiæ regulæ," omitted in the French.
 The French is "Tout ainsi comme si quelcun vouloit faire une belle monstre d'un corps sans teste;" just as if one were to try to make a beautiful monster of a body without a head.
 Origen in Exod. cap. 20 Homil. 8; Augustin. contra duas Epist. Pelagii, Lib. 3 cap. 4; Quæst. in Vet. Test. Lib. 2 cap. 74; Epist cxix ad Januarium, cap. 11. The opinion of Josephus, and the last-mentioned opinion of Augustine, are briefly refuted by Calvin in Exod. cap. 20, in expounding the Fifth Commandment.
 The French is, "Nous avous aussi un autre ancien Pere qui accorde a nostre opinion, celui que a ecrit les Commentaires imparfaits sur Sainct Matthiue." We have also another ancient Father who agrees with us in our opinion, he who wrote the unfinished Commentaries on St Matthew.
 "Præsenti causæ."--The French is, "du temps que la loi devoit estre publiée;" to the time when the Law was to be published.
 Exod. 3:6; Amos 1:2; Hab. 2:20; Psalm 80:2; 99:1; Isaiah 37:16.
 "E faucibus mortis."--French, "du gouffre d'enfer;" from the gulf of hell.
 Calvin. in Catechismo; De Necessitate Reformandæ Ecclesiæ Ratio.
 The French adds, "Car c'est un hommage spirituel qui se rend a lui comme souverain Roy, et ayant toute superiorité sur nos ames." For this is a spiritual homage which is rendered to him as sovereign King, having full supremacy over our souls.
 Or "Strong," this name being derived from a word denoting strength.
 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:30; Jer. 62:5; Hos. 2:9; Jer. 3:1, 2; Hos. 2:2.
 1 Sam. 14:44; 2 Kings 5:31; 2 Cor. 1:23.
 The French adds, "jurans par S. Jaques ou S. Antoine;"--swearing by St James or St Anthony.
 Exod. 23:13; Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Heb. 6:13.
 Gen. 21:24; 26:31; 31:53; Ruth 3:13; 1 Kings 18:10.
 Num. 13:22; Ezek. 20:12; 22:8; 23:38; Jer. 27:21, 22, 27; Isiah 55:2; Neh. 9:14.
 N"Finem istum politicum et ecclesiasticum ordinem."P--French, "la police et ordre en l'Eglise;" policy and order in the Church.
 As to this liberty, See Socrates, Hist. Trip. Lib. 9 c. 38.
 French, "ne discernans entre le Dimanche et le Sabbath autrement, sinon que le septiéme jour estoit abrogé qu'on gardoit pour lors, mais qu'il on faloit, neantmoins garder un;"--making no other distinction between the Sunday and the Sabbath, save that the seventh day, which was kept till then, was abrogated, but that it was nevertheless necessary to keep some one day.
 French, "leur conviendroyent mieux;"--whould be more applicable to them.
 Exod. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Prov. 20:20; Deut. 21:18; Mt. 25:4; Eph. 6:1; Colloss. 3:20.
 The French adds, "et la doit plustost augmenter, qu'amoindrir confirmer que viloer;"--and ought to augment rather than diminish, to confirm rather than violate it.
 Book 3, Chap. 7 sec 4--7; Chap. 20 sec. 38, 45; Book 4 Chap. 1 sec 13--19; Chap. 17 sec. 38, 40.
 See Ambros. Lib. de Philosoph., quoted by Augustine in his book, Contra Julian, Lib. 2.
 The French is "D'avantage ce precepte s'estend jusques l?, que nous n'affections point une plaisanterie d'honnesteté et une grace de brocarder et mordre en riant les uns et les autres, comme sont aucuns, qui se bagnent quand ils peuvent faire vergogne ? quelqu'un: car par telle intemperance souventes fois quelque marque demeure sur l'homme qu'on a ainsi noté."--Moreover, the commandment extends thus far: we must not affect a good-humoured pleasantry and grace in nicknaming, and with a smile say cutting things of others, as some persons do, who are delighted when they can make another blush: by such intemperance a stigma is often fastened on the individual thus attacked.
 See supra, chap. 2, end of sec. 24; and Book 3 chap 3 sec. 11, 12, 13; and Book 4 chap. 15 sec. 11, 12.
 See August. Ep. 200, ad Asellicum, et Quæstio, Lib. 88, sub fin. Quæst. 66; but especially Conscio. 8, in Ps. 118. The subject is also touched on in Ps. 142 and De Temp. Serm. 45, and Retract. Lib. 1 cap. 5, and De Continentia, cap. 8.
 Is. 1:17; 57:6; Jer. 7:5, 6; Ezek. 18:7, 8; Hosea 6:6; Zech. 7:9, 10.
 See Book 3 chap. 7 sec. 4. Also August. de Doctrina Christiana, Lib. 1 chap. 23 et seq.
 The French is "Ces folastres sans propos prennent un grand mystére en ce mot de Loy;" these foolish fellows absurdly find a great mystery in this term Law.
 See Book 3 chap. 4 sec. 28, where it is also shown that this is not the dogma of the Stoics--that all sins are equal.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Praise God every day
1/29/2018 Bob Gass
‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory.’
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” ESV
A Christian farmer taught his horse to start and stop, using words from the Bible. When he wanted the horse to go, he would shout, ‘Praise the Lord.’ When he wanted the horse to stop, he would shout, ‘Hallelujah.’ All went well until one day a thunderbolt caused the horse to take off galloping at full speed. Realising he had lost control, the farmer panicked and forgot the words he had trained the horse to respond to. Up ahead was a cliff, and they were headed towards it at full speed. Desperately he tried to recall every religious word he’d ever heard of. He shouted, ‘Amen! Jesus saves! Worthy! Holy!’ Nothing worked. Just as the horse approached the precipice, he shouted, ‘Hallelujah!’ The horse stopped right there on the edge. Relieved, he wiped the sweat off his brow and said, ‘Whew, praise the Lord!’ Seriously, praising the Lord is not a religious activity that belongs only in church on Sunday morning. ‘From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD’s name is to be praised’ (Psalm 113:3 NKJV). That means let your first words in the morning and your last words at night, be praise to God. ‘Why should I praise God every day?’ you ask. Because He is worthy of your praise. ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.’ And one more thought. Spoken words of love and appreciation draw people together and create intimacy. Do you want to get closer to God? Start praising Him more.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He read a poem at President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and received the Congressional Gold Medal. Beginning as a farmer in New Hampshire, he became a teacher at Amherst College, the University of Michigan and a professor of poetry at Harvard. His name was Robert Frost, and he died this day, January 29, 1963. In an interview on radio station WQED, Pittsburgh, Robert Frost stated: “Ultimately, this is what you go before God for: You’ve had bad luck and good luck and all you really want in the end is mercy.”
Thomas R. Kelly
There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating; meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a pro founder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.
The secular world of today values and cultivates only the first level, assured that there is where the real business of mankind is done, and scorns, or smiles in tolerant amusement, at the cultivation of the second level; a luxury enterprise, a vestige of superstition, an occupation for special temperaments. But in a deeply religious culture men know that the deep level of prayer and of divine attendance is the most important thing in the world. It is at this deep level that the real business of life is determined. The secular mind is an abbreviated, fragmentary mind, building only upon a part of man's nature and neglecting a part, the most glorious part, of man's nature, powers and resources. The religious mind involves the whole of man, embraces his relations with time within their true ground and setting in the Eternal Lover. It ever keeps close to the fountains of divine creativity. In lowliness it knows joys and stabilities, peace and assurances, that are utterly incomprehensible to the secular mind. It lives in resources and powers that make individuals radiant and triumphant, groups tolerant and bonded together in mutual concern, and is bestirred to an outward life of unremitting labor.
Between the two levels is fruitful interplay, but ever the accent must be upon the deeper level, where the soul ever dwells in the presence of the Holy One. For the religious man is forever bringing all affairs of the first level down into the Light, holding them there in the Presence, re-seeing them and the whole of the world of men and things in a new and over turning way, and responding to them in spontaneous, incisive and simple ways of love and faith. Facts remain facts, when brought into the Presence in the deeper level, but their value, their significance, is wholly realigned. Much apparent wheat becomes utter chaff, and some chaff becomes wheat. Imposing powers? They are out of the Life, and must crumble. Lost causes? If God be for them, who can be against them? Rationally plausible futures? They are weakened or certified in the dynamic Life and Light. Tragic suffering? Already He is there, and we actively move, in His tenderness, toward the sufferers. Hopeless debauchees? These are children of God, His concern and ours. Inexorable laws of nature? The dependable framework for divine reconstruction. The fall of a sparrow? The Father's love. For faith and hope and love for all things are engendered in the soul, as we practice their submission and our own to the Light Within, as we humbly see all things, even darkly and as through a glass, yet through the eye of God.
But the upper level of our mind plays upon the deeper level of divine immediacy of internal communion and of prayer. It furnishes us with the objects of divine concern, "the sensualized material of our duty," as Fichte called it. It furnishes us with those culture-patterns of our group which are at one and the same time the medium and the material for their regeneration, our language, our symbols, our traditions, and our history. It provides for the mystic the suggestions for his metaphors, even the metaphor of the Light, the Seed, the Sanctuary, whereby he would suggest and communicate the wonder of God's immediacy and power. It supplies the present-day tools of reflection whereby the experience of Eternity is knit into the fabric of time and thought. But theologies and symbols and creeds, though inevitable, are transient and become obsolescent, while the Life of God sweeps on through the souls of men in continued revelation and creative newness. To that divine Life we must cling. In that Current we must bathe. In that abiding yet energizing Center we are all made one, behind and despite the surface differences of our forms and cultures. For the heart of the religious life is in commitment and worship, not in reflection and theory.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Pour out the best you have,
and always be poor.
Never be diplomatic and careful
about the treasure God gives.
This is poverty triumphant.
--- Oswald Chambers
Faith is not something to grasp,
it is a state to grow into.
Faith... must be enforced by reason...
when faith becomes blind it dies.
--- Mohandas Gandhi
We must believe in free will. We have no choice.
--- Isaac B. Singer (1902-1991)
It is therefore indisputable, that the Christians who lived nearest to the time of our Saviour believed, with undoubting confidence, that he had unequivocally forbidden war; and they openly avowed this belief; and that, in support of it, they were willing to sacrifice, and did sacrifice, their fortunes and their lives.
--- Jonathan Dymond 1796-1828
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
seven which he detests:
17 a haughty look, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that plots wicked schemes,
feet swift in running to do evil,
19 a false witness who lies with every breath,
and him who sows strife among brothers.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
But it is hardly credible that one could be so positively ignorant!
Who art Thou, Lord? --- Acts 26:15.
“The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand.” There is no escape when Our Lord speaks. He always comes with an arrestment of the understanding. Has the voice of God come to you directly? If it has, you cannot mistake the intimate insistence with which it has spoken to you in the language you know best, not through your ears, but through your circumstances. God has to destroy our determined confidence in our own convictions. ‘I know this is what I should do’—and suddenly the voice of God speaks in a way that overwhelms us by revealing the depths of our ignorance. We have shown our ignorance of Him in the very way we determined to serve Him. We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His, we hurt Him by our advocacy for Him, we push His claims in the spirit of the devil. Our words sound all right, but our spirit is that of an enemy. “He rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” The spirit of Our Lord in an advocate of His is described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Have I been persecuting Jesus by a zealous determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty and yet have hurt Him in doing it, I may be sure it was not my duty, because it has not fostered the meek and quiet spirit, but the spirit of self-satisfaction. We imagine that whatever is unpleasant is our duty! Is that anything like the spirit of our Lord—“I delight to do Thy will, O My God.”
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
On the doorstep
full of decency
because it wants something.
And I offered
a chance to give,
do I concentrate
on the chin's pimple,
on the money he will make,
on the wife's ugliness
behind him, cumbrous
as a calf in tow?
I see him as somebody's infant
of love's showers pouring
I see the halo over
to the nuclear cloud.
Friend, I say,
nursing him with my eyes
from the bone's
cancer, since we are at death's
door, come in,
let us peer at eternity
through the cracks in each other's hearts.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
The Gospel of Mark opens with a series of vignettes depicting the beginning of the ministry of Jesus Messiah, the Son of God. The focus on Jesus’ coming begins with the OT promise (1:2–3) of a precursor that is fulfilled by John the Baptist (1:4–6) whose own role as a prophet, indicated by his food and clothing (1:6), culminates in his heralding of Jesus’ coming (1:7–8). The Baptist’s preaching and baptism set the stage for the divine declaration that attests Jesus to be the Son of God (1:9–11) who resists Satan in the wilderness temptations (1:12–13) and who himself emerges in Galilee to herald the fulfillment of time, the good news of God’s reign (1:14–15). Thus the opening section sets forth the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Messiah, Son of God” (1:1).
Yet this opening section has given rise to a variety of opinions regarding its proper designation, its limits and its sources. Cranfield (33) reflects the diversity in the passage’s designation by entitling the section “The Beginning” and then noting that it serves as a “prologue” to the Gospel that “introduces” Jesus of Nazareth. It has become rather common to refer to these opening verses as a “prologue” (e.g., Bacon, JBL 26  84; Grundmann, 34; Lane, 39; Pesch, 71–72; Seitz, JBL 82  201), while others prefer the more neutral “introduction” (e.g., Dautzenberg, BZ 21  3; Keck, NTS 12 [1965–66] 352–70; Lightfoot, Message, 15; Taylor, 151) or “preface” (e.g., Anderson, 63). The evangelist (1:1) apparently referred to this section as the “beginning” (so Cranfield, 33; Gnilka, 1:39 [“initium”]; Lohmeyer, 9; Schweizer, 28).
Behind the choice of terminology lies the basic question of the section’s relationship to the rest of the Gospel. Whereas “prologue” and “preface” connote a more self-contained section, “introduction” and clearly “beginning” signal a more integral relationship between this material and the rest of the Gospel. The answer ultimately lies in the significance of the opening verse.
.... Based on an examination of this material, Mark appears to have formed the opening of his Gospel from a mixed quotation (1:2b–3) taken either from a setting similar to 1:4 or found as an isolated testimonium, a traditional unit on the appearance and ministry of John the Baptist (1:4–8), a tradition of Jesus’ baptism by John (1:9–11) previously combined with an account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (1:12–13) and a summary statement consisting of several traditional formulas to summarize Jesus’ message (1:14–15). The evangelist has aligned these units under his heading of 1:1–3 to show how the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Messiah, Son of God” corresponds to Isaiah’s promise. In this way, he introduces and identifies John the Baptist and the main character of his story, Jesus Messiah, Son of God.
Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 34a, Mark 1-8:26 (guelich), 498pp
Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four. In powerful prose, Mark tells story after story about Jesus. It is also Mark, not Matthew, that is the oldest of the four gospels.
Many of the stories bear the mark of eyewitness testimony. The early church believed that Mark, a close companion of Peter, reported what Peter had witnessed, and represents Peter’s testimony to the life of his Lord.
Distinctives of Mark are explored in the introduction to this Gospel.
The Gospel can be simply outlined. After a brief introduction (1:2–13), Mark links together stories around simple, clear themes.
Mark records a stream of healings in the opening chapters of his Gospel. Christians have often wondered, is there healing for us today? The Bible clearly indicates that God can heal. But in New Testament times God did not always heal even His most faithful servants (see 2 Cor. 12:7–10). When one of Paul’s dearest friends was ill, the apostle did not “heal” him, but rather prayed and waited for God’s answer (cf. Phil. 2:26–28). What Jesus’ healings assure us of is that, whatever our need, God cares!
The Teacher's Commentary
Frank W. Boreham
I like to think that Jesus spent forty nights of His wondrous life out in the Wild with the wolves. 'He was with the wild beasts,' Mark tells us, and the statement is not recorded for nothing. Night is the great leveller. Desert and prairie are indistinguishable in the night. Night folds everything in sable robes, and the loveliest landscape is one with the dreariest prospect. North and South, East and West, are all alike in the night. Here is the Wild of the West. 'A vast silence reigned,' Jack London tells us. 'The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter—the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild—the savage, frozen-hearted Northern Wild!' Here, I say, is the Wild. And here is the life of the Wild: 'Bill opened his mouth to speak, but changed his mind. Instead, he pointed towards the wall of darkness that pressed about them from every side. There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals. Henry indicated with his hand a second pair and a third. A circle of the gleaming eyes had drawn about their camp. Now and again a pair of eyes moved, or disappeared to appear again a moment later.'
What did it mean—those restless flashing eyes, like fireflies breaking across the surface of the darkness? It simply meant that they were in the Wild at night, and they were with the wild beasts. And what does it mean, this vivid fragment from my Bible? It means that He was in the Wild at night, night after night for forty nights, and He was with the wild beasts. He heard the roar of the lion as it awoke the echoes of the slumbering forest. He saw the hyena pass stealthily near Him in the track of a timid deer, and watched the cheetah prowl through the brushwood in pursuit of a young gazelle. He heard the squeal of the hare as the crouching fox sprang out; and the flutter of the partridge as the jackal seized its prey. He heard the slither of the viper as it glided through the grass beside His head; and was startled by the shrieking of the nightbirds, and the flapping of their wings, as they whirled and swooped about Him. And He too saw the gleaming eyes of the hungry wolves as they drew their fierce cordon around Him. For He was out in the Wild for forty nights, and He was with the wild beasts.
And yet He was unhurt! Now why was He unharmed those forty nights with the scrub around Him alive with claws and talons and fangs? He was with the wild beasts, Mark tells us, and yet no lion sprang upon Him; no lone wolf slashed at Him with her frightful fangs; no serpent bit Him.
'Henry,' said one of Jack London's heroes to the other, as they watched the wolfish eyes flashing hither and thither in the darkness, 'it's an awful misfortune to be out of ammunition!'
But He was unarmed and unprotected! No blade was in His hand; no ring of fire blazed round about Him to affright the prowling brutes. And yet He was unharmed! Not a tooth nor a claw left scratch or gash upon Him! Why was it? It will never do to fall back upon the miraculous, for the very point of the story of the Temptation is His sublime refusal to sustain Himself by superhuman aid. By the employment of miracle He could easily have commanded the stones to become bread, and He might thus have grandly answered the taunt of the Tempter and have appeased the gnawings of His body's hunger at one and the same time. But it would have spoiled everything. He went into the Wild to be tempted 'like as we are tempted'; and since miracle is not at our disposal He would not let it be at His. It is impossible, therefore, to suppose that He scorned the aid of miracle to protect Him from hunger, but called in the aid of miracle to protect Him from the beasts.
Now in order to solve this problem I turned to my Bible, beginning at the very beginning. And there, in the very first chapter, I found the explanation. 'Have dominion,' God said, 'over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' There was nothing really miraculous in Christ's authority over the fish. I never see a man dangling with a line without a sigh for our lost dominion. There was nothing really miraculous in Christ's immunity from harm. The wolves did not tear Him; He told them not to do so. He was a man, just such a man as God meant all men to be. And therefore He 'had dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.' He was unscathed in the midst of the wolves, not because He was superhuman, but because He was truly human. We are something less than human, the wrecks and shadows of men. Having forfeited the authority of our humanity, the fish no longer obey us, and we have perforce to dangle for them with hooks and strings. The wolves and the tigers no longer stand off at our command, and we have to fall back upon camp-fires and pistols. It is very humiliating! The crown is fallen from our heads, and all things finned and furred and feathered mock us in our shame. But Thine, O Man of men, is the power and the dominion, and all the creatures of the Wild obey Thee! 'He was with the wild beasts.'
What did those wild, dumb, eloquent eyes say to Jesus as they looked wonderingly at Him out there in the Wild? As they bounded out of the thicket, crouched, stared at Him, and slunk away, what did they say to Him, those great lean wolves? And what did He say to them? Animals are such eloquent things, especially at such times. 'The foxes have holes,' Jesus said, long afterwards, remembering as He said it how He watched the creatures of the Wild seek out their lairs. 'And the birds of the air have nests,' He said, remembering the twittering and fluttering in the boughs above His head as the feathered things settled down for the night. 'But the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head,' He concluded, as He thought of those long, long nights in the homeless Wild. Did He mean that the wolves were better off than He was? We are all tempted to think so when the conflict is pressing too hardly upon us. There seems to be less choice, and therefore less responsibility, among the beasts of the field; less play of right and wrong. 'I think,' said Walt Whitman—
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so
placid and self-contained;
I stand and look at them sometimes an hour at a stretch.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania
of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived
thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
Was some flitting, hovering thought like this part of the Temptation in the Wild? Is that what Mark means when he says so significantly that 'He was with the wild beasts'? Surely; for He was tempted in all points like as we are, and we have all been tempted in this. 'Good old Carlo!' we have said, as we patted the dog's head, looking down out of our eyes of anguish into his calm, impassive gaze. 'Good old Carlo, you don't know anything of such struggles, old boy!' And we have fancied for a moment that Carlo had the best of it. It was a black and blasphemous thought, and He struck it away, as we should strike at a hawk that fluttered in front of our faces and threatened to pick at our eyes. But for one moment it hovered before Him, and He caught its ugly glance. It is a very ugly glance. Our capacity for great inward strife and for great inward suffering is the one proof we have that we were made in the image of God.
Was He thinking, I wonder, when He went out to the wolves in the Wild of those who, before so very long, would be torn to pieces by hungry beasts for His dear sake?
'To-day,' said Amplonius, a teacher of the persecuted Roman Christians, 'to-day, by the cruel order of Trajan, Ignatius was thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. He it was, my children, whom Jesus took, when as yet he was but a little child, and set him in the midst of the disciples and said, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." And now, from the same Lord who that day laid His sacred hands upon his head, he has received the martyr crown. But Ignatius did not fear the beasts, my children. I have seen a letter which he wrote but yesterday to the aged Polycarp, the angel of the Church of Smyrna. In it he says that the hungry creatures have no terrors for him. "Would to God," he said, "that I were come to the beasts prepared for me. I wish that, with their gaping mouths, they were now ready to rush upon me. Let the angry beasts tear asunder my members so that I may win Christ Jesus." Thus Ignatius wrote but yesterday to the beloved Polycarp; and to-day, with a face like the face of an angel, he gave himself to the wolves. We know not which of us shall suffer next, my children. The people are still crying wildly, "The Christians to the lions!" It may be that I, your teacher, shall be the next to witness for the faith. But let us remember that for forty days and forty nights Jesus was Himself with the wild beasts, and not one of them durst harm Him. And He is still with the wild beasts wherever we His people, are among them; and their cruel fangs can only tear us so far as it is for our triumph and His glory.' So spake Amplonius, and the Church was comforted.
And at this hour there is, in the catacomb at St. Callixtus, at Rome, a rude old picture of Jesus among the untamed creatures of the Wild. The thought that lions and leopards crouched at His feet in the days of His flesh, and were subject unto Him, was very precious to the hunted and suffering people.
Sometimes, too, I fancy that He saw, in these savage brutes that harmed Him not, a symbol and a prophecy of His own great conquest. For they, with their hateful fangs and blooded talons, were part of His vast constituency. 'The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together,' Paul declares. Richard Jefferies pointed to a quaint little English cottage beside a glorious bank of violets. But he could never bring himself to pluck the fragrant blossoms, for, in the cottage, the dreaded small-pox had once raged. 'It seemed,' says Jefferies, 'to quite spoil the violet bank. There is something in disease so destructive; as it were, to flowers.' And as the violets shared the scourge, so the creatures shared the curse. And as they stared dumbly into the eyes of the Son of God they seemed to half understand that their redemption was drawing nigh. 'In Nature herself,' as Longfellow says, 'there is a waiting and hoping, a looking and yearning, after an unknown something. Yes, when above there, on the mountain, the lonely eagle looks forth into the grey dawn to see if the day comes not; when by the mountain torrent the brooding raven listens to hear if the chamois is returning from his nightly pasture in the valley; and when the rising sun calls out the spicy odours of the Alpine flowers, then there awake in Nature an expectation and a longing for a future revelation of God's majesty.' Did He see this brooding sense of expectancy in the fierce eyes about Him? And did He rejoice that the hope of the Wild would in Him be gloriously fulfilled? Who knows?
In his The Cloister and the Hearth, Charles Reade tells of the temptation and triumph of Clement the hermit. 'And one keen frosty night, as he sang the praises of God to his tuneful psaltery, and his hollow cave rang with his holy melody, he heard a clear whine, not unmelodious. It became louder. He peeped through the chinks of his rude door, and there sat a great red wolf moaning melodiously with his nose high in the air! Clement was delighted. "My sins are going," he cried, "and the creatures of God are owning me!" And in a burst of enthusiasm he sang:
Praise Him, all ye creatures of His!
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!
And all the time he sang the wolf bayed at intervals.' Did Jesus, I wonder, see the going of the world's sin and the departure of its primal curse in the faces of the wild things that howled and roared around Him? As the fierce things prowled around Him and left Him unharmed, did He see a symbol of His final subjugation of all earth's savage and restless elements? Who shall say?
'He was with the wild beasts,' says Mark, 'and the angels ministered unto Him.' Life always hovers between the beasts and the angels; and however wolfish may be the eyes that affright us in the day of our temptation, we may be sure that our solitary struggle is watched by invisible spectators, and that, after the baying of the beasts, we shall hear the angels sing.
Mushrooms on the Moor (Dodo Press)
Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. --- 1 Corinthians 13:13.
What is the supreme good? (The World's Great Sermons, Volume 10) You have life before you. Once only can you live it. What is the noblest object of desire to covet?
We have been told that the greatest thing in the religious world is faith. Well, we were wrong. I have taken you, in [1 Corinthians 13] to Christianity at its source, and there we have seen, “the greatest of these is love.” [Paul] says, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
Paul, in three short verses, gives us an amazing analysis of what this supreme thing is. By a multitude of small things and ordinary virtues, the supreme thing, the summum bonum, is made up.
The spectrum of love has nine ingredients:
• patience—“Love is patient.”
• kindness—“Love is kind.”
• generosity—“[Love] does not envy.”
• humility—“[Love] does not boast, it is not proud.”
• courtesy—“[Love] is not rude.”
• unselfishness—“[Love] is not self-seeking.”
• good temper—“[Love] is not easily angered.”
• guilelessness—“[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.”
• sincerity—“[Love] does not delight in evil but rejoices
with the truth.”
Observe that all are in relation to people, in relation to life, in relation to the known today and near tomorrow and not to the unknown eternity. Religion is not a strange or added thing but the inspiration of the secular life, the breathing of an eternal spirit through this temporal world.
Where love is, God is. Whoever lives in love lives in God. God is love. Therefore love—without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination. Lavish it on the poor, where it is very easy; especially on the rich, who often need it most; most of all on our equals, for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure. For that is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit.
--- Henry Drummond
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Saying Too Much
We can sink our own arguments by saying too much, as the French reformers sadly discovered in the 1500s. The Protestant movement initially found fertile ground in France. Several preachers, sympathetic to reform, mounted pulpits in Paris, and the king himself showed interest.
But on October 10, 1533, Nicolas Cop was elected Rector of the University of Paris and his inaugural address, prepared by a 24-year-old firebrand named John Calvin, was a declaration of war on the Catholic Church. The speech demanded reformation on the basis of the New Testament and attacked the theologians of the church who “teach nothing of faith, nothing of the love of God, nothing of remission of sins, nothing of grace, nothing of justification.”
The speech so inflamed Paris that Cop fled to Basel, and Calvin reportedly escaped his room from a window by means of sheets, fleeing disguised as a vine-dresser with a hoe on his shoulder. The ensuing months saw so many posters and tracts on Parisian streets that 1534 became known as “the year of the placards.” The tension exploded into violence over a scathing placard by an overzealous Protestant named Feret. He attacked “the horrible, great, intolerable abuses of the popish mass.”
On the night of October 18, 1534, Feret’s placard was found nailed to the king’s bedroom door, and that did it. Protestants soon filled Parisian jails. And on January 29, 1535, to purge the city from the defilement caused by Feret’s placards, an immense torch-lit procession traveled in silence from the Louvre to Notre Dame. The image of St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris, was accompanied by the royal family, princes, cardinals and church officials, ambassadors, and officers from state and university. Solemn mass was performed in the cathedral. The king declared he would behead even his own children if they embraced the “new heresies.”
The day ended with six Protestants being suspended by ropes to a great machine that lowered and raised them into burning flames, slowly roasting them to death. In the coming months, many more Protestants were fined, imprisoned, tortured, and burned.
The French Reformation miscarried.
Make your words good—you will be glad you did. Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say. If you are too eager, you will miss the road. --- Proverbs 18:20,21; 19:2b.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 29
“The things which are not seen.” --- 2 Corinthians 4:18.
In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Looking further yet, the believer’s enlightened eye can see death’s river passed, the gloomy stream forded, and the hills of light attained on which standeth the celestial city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with him, and made to sit together with him on his throne, even as he has overcome and has sat down with the Father on his throne. The thought of this future may well relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present. The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth. Hush, hush, my doubts! death is but a narrow stream, and thou shalt soon have forded it. Time, how short—eternity, how long! Death, how brief—immortality, how endless! Methinks I even now eat of Eshcol’s clusters, and sip of the well which is within the gate. The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there.
“When the world my heart is rending
With its heaviest storm of care,
My glad thoughts to heaven ascending,
Find a refuge from despair.
Faith’s bright vision shall sustain me
Till life’s pilgrimage is past;
Fears may vex and troubles pain me,
I shall reach my home at last.”
Evening - January 29
“The dove came in to him in the evening.” --- Genesis 8:11.
Blessed be the Lord for another day of mercy, even though I am now weary with its toils. Unto the preserver of men lift I my song of gratitude. The dove found no rest out of the ark, and therefore returned to it; and my soul has learned yet more fully than ever, this day, that there is no satisfaction to be found in earthly things—God alone can give rest to my spirit. As to my business, my possessions, my family, my attainments, these are all well enough in their way, but they cannot fulfil the desires of my immortal nature. “Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” It was at the still hour, when the gates of the day were closing, that with weary wing the dove came back to the master: O Lord, enable me this evening thus to return to Jesus. She could not endure to spend a night hovering over the restless waste, not can I bear to be even for another hour away from Jesus, the rest of my heart, the home of my spirit. She did not merely alight upon the roof of the ark, she “came in to him;” even so would my longing spirit look into the secret of the Lord, pierce to the interior of truth, enter into that which is within the veil, and reach to my Beloved in very deed. To Jesus must I come: short of the nearest and dearest intercourse with him my panting spirit cannot stay. Blessed Lord Jesus, be with me, reveal thyself, and abide with me all night, so that when I awake I may be still with thee. I note that the dove brought in her mouth an olive branch plucked off, the memorial of the past day, and a prophecy of the future. Have I no pleasing record to bring home? No pledge and earnest of lovingkindness yet to come? Yes, my Lord, I present thee my grateful acknowledgments for tender mercies which have been new every morning and fresh every evening; and now, I pray thee, put forth thy hand and take thy dove into thy bosom.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
SO SEND I YOU
E. Margaret Clarkson, 1915–
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Isolated from Christian fellowship and feeling very lonely, Margaret Clarkson was a 23-year-old school teacher in a gold-mining camp town in northern Ontario, Canada. Her friends and family were many miles away. As she meditated on John 20:21 one evening, God spoke to her through the phrase “So send I you.” She realized that this lonely area was the place to which God had sent her. This was her mission field. As she quickly set down her thoughts in verse, one of the finest and most popular missionary hymns of the 20th century was born.
Miss Clarkson has authored many articles and poems for Christian and educational periodicals. For more than 30 years she was involved in the Toronto, Canada, public school system in various educational capacities.
Because of a physical disability, Miss Clarkson has been unable to fulfill her early desire of going to a foreign mission field. Yet her distinguished career in education, her many inspiring writings, and this challenging missionary hymn have accomplished much for the kingdom of God, even though she has remained in Canada.
These words have been greatly used by God to challenge many to respond to God’s call for service with the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I … send me!”
So send I you to labor unrewarded, to serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown, to bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing—So send I you to toil for me alone.
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken, o’er wand’ring souls to work, to weep, to wake, to bear the burdens of a world a-weary—So send I you to suffer for My sake.
So send I you to loneliness and longing, with heart a-hung-’ring for the loved and known, forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one—So send I you to know my love alone.
So send I you to leave your life’s ambition, to die to dear desire, self-will resign, to labor long and love where men revile you—So send I you to lose your life in Mine.
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred, to eyes made blind because they will not see, to spend—tho it be blood—to spend and spare not—So send I you to taste of Calvary. “As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.”
For Today: Matthew 9:37, 38; John 4:35; 20:21; Acts 1:8.
Enter your “mission field” today with the confidence you have been placed there by your heavenly Father. Carry this musical message with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Monday, January 29, 2018 | Epiphany
Monday Of The Fourth Week After Epiphany
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 56, 57 (58)
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 64, 65
Old Testament Genesis 19:1–17 (18–23) 24–29
New Testament Hebrews 11:1–12
Gospel John 6:27–40
Index of Readings
Psalm 56, 57 (58)
56 To The Choirmaster: According To The Dove On Far-Off Terebinths. A Miktam Of David, When The Phillistines Seized Him In Gath.
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
5 All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
7 For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
57 To The Choirmaster: According To Do Not Destroy. A Miktam Of David, When He Fled From Saul, In The Cave.
1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
4 My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
[ 58 To The Choirmaster: According To Do Not Destroy. A Miktam Of David.
1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.
3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.
6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.” ]
Psalm 64, 65
64 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
9 Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.
10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!
65 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David. A Song.
1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3 When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
6 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
Genesis 19:1–17 (18–23) 24–29
19 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. 15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
[ 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. ]
23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Book of Common Prayer