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Judges 9     Acts 13     Jeremiah 22     Mark 8


Judges 9

Abimelech's Conspiracy

Judges 9 Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother's family, 2 “Say in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.”

3 And his mother's relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” 4 And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. 5 And he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. 6 And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.

7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

16 “Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved— 17 for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, 18 and you have risen up against my father's house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— 19 if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” 21 And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother.

The Downfall of Abimelech

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25 And the leaders of Shechem put men in ambush against him on the mountaintops, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way. And it was told to Abimelech.

26 And Gaal the son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his relatives, and the leaders of Shechem put confidence in him. 27 And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and reviled Abimelech. 28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? 29 Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Increase your army, and come out.’”

30 When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now therefore, go by night, you and the people who are with you, and set an ambush in the field. 33 Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city. And when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do.”

34 So Abimelech and all the men who were with him rose up by night and set an ambush against Shechem in four companies. 35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from the ambush. 36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!” And Zebul said to him, “You mistake the shadow of the mountains for men.” 37 Gaal spoke again and said, “Look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the Diviners' Oak.” 38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them.” 39 And Gaal went out at the head of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him. And many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate. 41 And Abimelech lived at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives, so that they could not dwell at Shechem.

42 On the following day, the people went out into the field, and Abimelech was told. 43 He took his people and divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. And he looked and saw the people coming out of the city. So he rose against them and killed them. 44 Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, while the two companies rushed upon all who were in the field and killed them. 45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

46 When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-berith. 47 Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 And Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do as I have done.” 49 So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about 1,000 men and women.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech's head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home. 56 Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57 And God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.


Acts 13

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

Acts 13 1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Barnabas and Saul on Cyprus

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.”

Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas at Antioch in Pisidia

13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


Jeremiah 22

Jeremiah 22 1 Thus says the Lord: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah and speak there this word, 2 and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. 3 Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. 5 But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. 6 For thus says the Lord concerning the house of the king of Judah:

“‘You are like Gilead to me,
like the summit of Lebanon,
yet surely I will make you a desert,
an uninhabited city.
7 I will prepare destroyers against you,
each with his weapons,
and they shall cut down your choicest cedars
and cast them into the fire.

8 “‘And many nations will pass by this city, and every man will say to his neighbor, “Why has the Lord dealt thus with this great city?” 9 And they will answer, “Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped other gods and served them.”’”

10 Weep not for him who is dead,
nor grieve for him,
but weep bitterly for him who goes away,
for he shall return no more
to see his native land.

Message to the Sons of Josiah

11 For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and who went away from this place: “He shall return here no more, 12 but in the place where they have carried him captive, there shall he die, and he shall never see this land again.”

13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
and his upper rooms by injustice,
who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing
and does not give him his wages,
14 who says, ‘I will build myself a great house
with spacious upper rooms,’
who cuts out windows for it,
paneling it with cedar
and painting it with vermilion.
15 Do you think you are a king
because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
declares the Lord.
17 But you have eyes and heart
only for your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practicing oppression and violence.”

18 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:

“They shall not lament for him, saying,
‘Ah, my brother!’ or ‘Ah, sister!’
They shall not lament for him, saying,
‘Ah, lord!’ or ‘Ah, his majesty!’
19 With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried,
dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

20 “Go up to Lebanon, and cry out,
and lift up your voice in Bashan;
cry out from Abarim,
for all your lovers are destroyed.
21 I spoke to you in your prosperity,
but you said, ‘I will not listen.’
This has been your way from your youth,
that you have not obeyed my voice.
22 The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds,
and your lovers shall go into captivity;
then you will be ashamed and confounded
because of all your evil.
23 O inhabitant of Lebanon,
nested among the cedars,
how you will be pitied when pangs come upon you,
pain as of a woman in labor!”

24 “As I live, declares the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.”

28 Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot,
a vessel no one cares for?
Why are he and his children hurled and cast
into a land that they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
30 Thus says the Lord:
“Write this man down as childless,
a man who shall not succeed in his days,
for none of his offspring shall succeed
in sitting on the throne of David
and ruling again in Judah.”


Mark 8

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Mark 8 1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The Pharisees Demand a Sign

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

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A Free Education

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 11/1/2010

     “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Such is the wisdom one can expect to find on a car’s bumper. Wisdom, however, is found in God’s Word, which, surprisingly, says not a peep about “education.” Yet it does call us to seek wisdom, even as it calls us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It does speak of truth, and it speaks this truth — that Jesus is the truth that sets us free.

     Education, once upon a time, was understood paradoxically as that which both grounds us and sets us free. It has now become that which sets us loose and costs us everything. And all because we serve the false god of mammon. Consider first how a modern, or should I say a postmodern, education sets us loose. As Allan Bloom taught us in Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students, the great majority of colleges and universities in the West is firmly committed to the notion that there is no truth and no right and wrong. Ninety-eight percent of all incoming college freshman enter the hallowed halls persuaded of relativism. Over the course of four years, that assumption is systematically entrenched. Thus, students walk away from their college educations utterly adrift. But they are not free from another perspective. Students pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for the privilege of learning the truth that there is no truth to learn.

     Why would anyone make such a trade? Foolishness. We have been taught that a college education is the key either to a well-paying job or the key to a better graduate school, which in turn is the key to a well-paying job. We need a well-paying job so that we can afford either private education or at least be able to live in the “good” school district, so that our children can get into the best colleges, so that they can get into the best graduate schools, so that they can make the money to keep the process going for our grandchildren. I call this “hell’s hamster wheel,” and it is time for all of us to get off.

     There is, of course, nothing wrong with learning a set of skills that increases our productivity. Studying toward a trade or a profession can be a good and healthy thing, a tool to help us fulfill the dominion mandate to rule over the earth. This is not, however, why the university was created. education once aspired to be “liberal.” Liberal in this context isn’t intended as a political designation for those who we desire a bigger and more intrusive state. Neither is it intended to describe theological liberalism, which denies the truthfulness of God’s Word. Instead, liberal here refers to the liberty of the graduate. A liberally educated person is one who is equipped not for a mere job but to think God’s thoughts after Him, to see His world as He would have us.

     A free man, for instance, is not given to accepting the status quo, assuming that four years down at the state university is an undiluted good. A free man is not given to buying into a deadly nostalgia that assumes his alma mater hasn’t changed in the twenty-five years since he went there. A free man is not simply going to accept the wildly implausible notion that sending his son or daughter off to Vanity Fair for four or more years is a great way to bless his heirs. A free man is wise enough not to buy into the lottery-like unspoken pitch that if you don’t spend a hundred thousand dollars on an “education,” your child will starve. A free man thinks deliberately about his own future and the future of his children. A free man finds wisdom where God keeps it, not in the knowledge of the experts but in the simplicity of the Bible.

     As a father, I worry. A sound, biblical education may prepare my children for heaven, but how will they live? Steeping my children, as they prepare to enter adulthood, in God’s Word will surely feed their souls and adorn them with beauty, but how will they find food, clothing, and shelter? It seems I am not the first to struggle with such worries. I suspect I won’t be the last. Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:31–33). I need this truth to set me free. I need to live as a citizen of the kingdom of God such that I know our daily bread, to mix a metaphor, is the fruit of God’s provision through hard work, not the result of my wisdom in pursuing specialized training. Better still, I need to be free enough to know that I am, with my children, a slave of Jesus Christ. He, and not the priests of higher education, is my Master. Such means that I am free. Such means I am called to raise my children to live free as well.

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     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

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What’s in a Name?

By Mark Futato 11/1/2010

     Anybody who has spent any time in the church can tell stories of flat-out ridiculous attitudes and actions they have seen in the lives of God’s people. There is nothing new under the sun. The book of Jonah exposes in a sometimes humorous way the foibles of the faithful in ancient Israel. Against the backdrop of human folly shines the brilliance of divine faithfulness. Such is the message of the book of Jonah. We need not, however, study the whole book to get this message. It is found in Jonah’s name.

     Some scholars are hesitant to see any significance in Jonah’s name. In brief, three reasons should suffice to overcome this hesitancy. One, the author of the book of Jonah uses a variety of names for God in a way that is theologically significant. Two, the book of Jonah is filled with rhetorical devices, so we should not be surprised if the name of one of the chief characters plays into the storyline. Three, naming is significant in many other Old Testament narratives. I will mention just a few from the early chapters of Genesis.

     Adam (1:26) means “humanity,” and he is the representative of the human race. Eve (3:20) means “living” because she will be the mother of all of the living. Cain (4:1) sounds like the word for “acquired,” and Eve said she acquired a male child with the help of the Lord. Abel (v. 2) means “vanity” because his life was in vain, having been snuffed out in its prime. Seth (v. 25) means “replacement” because he was a replacement for the son that Eve lost.

     Examples could be multiplied, but suffice to say that it is common for personal names to have theological significance in Hebrew narratives.

     The author of the book of Jonah tells us that the word of the Lord came to “Jonah the son of Amittai” (v. 1). With this naming, the author identifies the Jonah of our story with the Jonah known from the history of the kings, who prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II (see 2 Kings 14:25). The reign of Jeroboam II was characterized by two things: human waywardness and divine blessing. In spite of Israel’s waywardness, she experienced the blessing of God in a way that was reminiscent of the glory days of David and Solomon (vv. 23–29). As we will see, Jonah also experiences the blessing of God in spite of his waywardness, and in this way he serves as a representative of the nation.

     In addition to this straightforward use of the name “Jonah the son of Amittai” that identifies him with the historical prophet, I think the author also uses the name in a way that is theologically significant, especially since the author uses the naming of God in a way that is theologically significant.

     In addition to being a proper noun, the Hebrew word for “Jonah” is also a common noun that means “dove.” In American culture, the word dove can be used symbolically to refer to a variety of things, including “peace” and the “Holy Spirit.” In a similar way, the Hebrew word for “dove” can be used symbolically in a variety of ways. Of particular interest is its use in Hosea 7:11, where we read, “Ephraim is like a dove, silly and without sense.” From the beginning of the story to its end, Jonah will show himself to be true to his name “silly and without sense.”

     But the author does not simply give us Jonah’s “first” name. He goes on to give us his “last” name. Is there significance here?

     Since there were numerous people with the same names in ancient Israel, Hebrew tradition specified individuals in reference to their fathers. So Jonah is called “the son of Amittai.” The Hebrew noun translated “Amittai” is made up of two parts. The first part comes from a noun that means, among other things, “reliability, dependability, trustworthiness, faithfulness, constancy.” The second part of the name is the personal pronoun “my.” So when hearing Jonah’s full name in the story, ancient Israelites would have easily heard “Dove, the son of my faithfulness.” And that he was! From the beginning of the book to its end, Jonah not only shows himself to be “silly and without sense,” but he ever remains the son of God’s “faithfulness.”

     In the book of Jonah, the primary way in which God’s faithfulness manifests itself is in compassion. Even when God disciplines Jonah in the story, this discipline is from God’s compassionate heart and for Jonah’s good. God never gives up on Jonah but remains faithful to him throughout the story. Jonah is one who repeatedly experiences God’s faithful compassion.

     In short, therefore, the story of Jonah has a twofold focus: Jonah’s silly and senseless waywardness and God’s faithful compassion. This twofold focus is why the story of Jonah has touched the hearts of God’s people throughout the generations. From the time when the story was first told until the present day, it speaks to God’s people about the ways in which we, like Jonah, are silly and senseless at times and yet always remain the objects of God’s faithful compassion.

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     Dr. Mark D. Futato is Robert L. Maclellan Chair of Old Testament and academic dean of Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando.

By Faith, Not Fear

By Scotty Smith 11/1/2010

     “Lions and tigers and bears, O my!” That’s not only one of the more memorable lines from cinematic history, it’s one of the more recognizable themes in contemporary discipleship. Sometimes fear of the enemies to our faith seems much more pronounced than faith in the object of our faith — the Lord Jesus Christ.

     We can ill afford to be naive about the “schemes of our enemy” — the prowling, roaring lion, seeking to devour (2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8). Only an abusive parent and an irresponsible church doesn’t seek to protect the lambs of Jesus. Moreover, we can ill afford naiveté about the glory and grace of Jesus — the Lion of the tribe of Judah. We are called to a discipleship that is proactive rather than reactive — engaging rather than escaping — one filled with faith, not crippled by fear.

     So what’s the connection between a concern to protect our kids from the dangers of life in our fallen world and a commitment to prepare them to live as kingdom-servants in that very same world — the world Jesus is committed to renew and restore?

     In my first season of vocational ministry, I erred on the side of protection. Influenced by bad eschatology, a pragmatic gospel, a dualistic worldview, and paranoid parents, I thought more in terms of helping graduating seniors survive rather than thrive in their first few years out of high school.

     But over the past three decades, a greater grasp of the gospel has led me to invest more in the preparation end of the protection-preparation continuum. For the sake of brevity, I’ll mention three areas that we parents and local parishes should take seriously as we seek to prepare our young people for life in the real world — God’s world.

A Satisfying Gospel Spirituality

     It’s one thing for our children to be able to defend the faith against false religion, but quite another for them actually to delight in the faith they defend.

     As a young convert and collegian, I depended more on the apologetics of Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis than on the power of the gospel “to get me by.” I felt more of a burden to defend God and the Bible than joy and peace in knowing Him. I objectified my professors as adversaries; ignored Paul’s instruction about being kind instead of quarrelsome (2 Tim. 2:24); and did very little to make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (Titus 2:10).

     While we teach our children to believe in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, let’s make sure they are discovering and savoring Jesus in every portion of the inspired Scriptures. Let’s help them know why Jesus is the only way to the Father, but let’s make sure they are feasting on Him as the bread of life and the giver of the water that slakes our deepest thirst. If the increase of wickedness leads to love growing cold (Matt. 24:12), then let’s stoke the fires of gospel affection rather than simply lamenting the increase of wickedness (Ps. 63:3–4).


A Robust Biblical Sexuality

     The world into which God calls our children is sexually broken. Of course, covenant children need to be aware of sexual temptations as they move into the next season of life. Of course, they need us to be direct with them about the destructiveness of pornography. Yet before there was broken sexuality there was a life of shameless nakedness (Gen. 2:25). A bigger issue, of course, for this generation is the need to introduce them to the frolicking goodness, the sensual wonder, and the magnificent beauty of the sexuality for which God designed us.

     Do our children sense we are more alarmed over the “gay agenda” than we are excited about the biblical credenda for sex? Do our children have any clue that we, their parents, actually have and enjoy sex? What would cause us more fear and shock: Finding obscene sexual materials on their computers or having them knock on our bedroom door when we’re making love? Have our kids ever been taught age-appropriate and context-appropriate truths, images, and metaphors from the Bible about the beauty and joy of sex? We must do this well.


Honest, Grace-Infused Community

     Relationships, relationships, meaningful relationships. I don’t know of any generation more hungry and more in need of substantive, grace-infused relationships than this one. Not only must we wrap the truth of the gospel around their hearts, we must wrap our arms around them and enter into their brokenness, struggles, and longings (see 1 Thess. 2:8).

(1 Th 2:8) 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.   ESV

     As parents, do our children see us still needing the gospel? Are they catching the contagion of repentance as a way of life in our homes? As pastors, mentors, and disciplers, do our parishioners and protégés hear brokenness in our prayers? Do they see vulnerability when they are with us? Are we giving them our hearts or just books and advice on moral reform?

     Should the time come when our children find themselves “coming to their senses” in some “far away country,” will their inclination be to come and find the welcoming heart of God where we live, or will they avoid the self-righteous elder brother in us?

     Maybe the final word is this: Let’s protect this upcoming generation of young people by preparing them in the gospel so much earlier and so much more thoroughly than we were.

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     Rev. Scotty Smith is founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Rev. Scotty Smith Books:

Be Prepared

By R.C. Sproul 11/1/2010

     Never argue with the man with the microphone. On several occasions, I’ve been invited to appear on radio or television programs for interviews by controversial hosts. For the most part, I have declined these interviews because of the format in which they are structured. Though they promise the opportunity for open debate, such debate is rarely forthcoming. There are certain hosts who are ruthless in their treatment of their guests and get away with it because of the power of the microphone. Whoever controls the microphone controls the game. If the host makes a particular statement, the guest must rely on the mercy of the person with the microphone in order to offer a rebuttal to the host. At any time in the course of such discussions, the comments of the guest can be silenced.

     I use this illustration frequently in talking with students who encounter hostile professors in college or in seminary. In their efforts to defend the truth claims of Christianity, students often valiantly charge in where angels fear to tread and are attacked viciously by the professor. I try to communicate to them that, as valiant as their attempts may be, they are in most cases exercises in futility because the professor controls the discussion. The classroom is not a place where open debate is usually encouraged. To the contrary, on the campuses of many universities and even seminaries, open season has been declared on Christian students. For some reason, it seems that professors in such settings take delight in trying to undermine the faith of their students. This is one reason why the New Testament warns us that not many should become teachers, for with teaching comes a greater judgment.

     At the same time, our Lord Himself warned against those who bring harm to one of His little ones. In most cases, it is easy for a man or woman with a doctorate and years of experience in higher education to humiliate a student, no matter how strong the student’s faith is or how articulate the student may be. It’s a mismatch, and it’s a mismatch that unscrupulous teachers greedily seize upon.

     These teachers explain their tactics by saying they’re simply trying to open the closed minds of the students or to bring them to deliverance from their slavery to outmoded ideas. The excuses are as endless as they are mindless. In the first week of my first year attending seminary, a professor was sharply critical of a student for coming to the seminary with too many preconceived ideas. The idea the seminary student brought with him that the professor described as an unwarranted preconception was his belief in the deity of Christ. I was shocked when I saw a student being humiliated for having the audacity to come to seminary with the idea already formed in his mind that Christ is the incarnate Son of God. The real question, however, was this one: Why was the professor, who was supposedly committed to the creedal statements of the seminary, denying the deity of Christ in such a situation? But this type of thing happens far more regularly than many people realize.

     When I was on the faculty of a Christian college many years ago, I had a constant stream of students come to me with questions about the relationship between the truths affirmed in the New Testament about Christ and similar mythological affirmations found in the famous work Metamorphoses (Oxford World's Classics) by the poet Ovid. It became clear that it was the delight of the english professor in his humanities class, which included a study of Ovid, to draw parallels between the New Testament teachings about Jesus and the myths presented in Metamorphosis.

     I had the opportunity to meet in a friendly atmosphere with this professor over coffee in the student union, and I began asking him questions about his knowledge of the biblical worldview compared to the worldview of Ovid. I pointed out the remarkable number of differences between Ovid’s worldview and that of the New Testament, which the professor acknowledged existed, and I said: “It’s just simply not good teaching to point out similarities between different positions without at the same time acknowledging the signifi cant differences between them. In your critique of Christianity, you have failed to mention these differences, which is not a sound approach to the matter.” He was contrite and committed not to do that anymore. But again, that was one incident out of literally tens of thousands that take place every year on campuses, not only at secular universities, but at church-related colleges and even in theological seminaries, as I’ve already mentioned.

     One of the problems we have here is the criteria we use when choosing colleges or universities to attend in the first place. So often parents are impressed by the beauty of the campus of the particular institution or by their own remembrance of the commitment of the institution a generation ago, overlooking the reality that the approach to Christianity changes in various institutions as the faculty changes. The most significant barometer for choosing any kind of institution of higher learning is not the beauty of its campus but its faculty.

     If you’re looking to send your children to an institution that has a Christian history or a Christian relationship, do not assume that the current faculty is fully persuaded of the truth claims of Christianity. You may indeed be throwing your children into the fire of a crucible they are not expecting and are not really prepared to withstand. I am not for educating people in a sheltered environment where there is no interaction with the secular mindset and with pagan worldviews, but we need to be fully prepared to understand when and where those worldviews come into collision with Christianity and how to avoid collisions that may be disastrous.

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Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

R.C. Sproul Books:

The Year in Books

By Keith Mathison 12/1/2010

     I have always enjoyed recommending books, and for the final “Beyond the Wicket Gate” column of 2010, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the significant books that have been published so far this year, books that you may not have heard about but should consider reading. This list is not exhaustive. I have not seen all of the books published this year, and even if I had, it is humanly impossible to read them all. It is inevitable, therefore, that there will be great books missing from this list. Furthermore, since I am writing several months before this column will be published, I will miss some of those books published later in the year.

     The year 2009 was a good year for Reformed believers because it was the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, and this anniversary prompted the publication of numerous books related to Calvin and Calvinism. The flow of such books did not cease in 2010. Reformation Heritage Books published Piety's Wisdom: A Summary of Calvin's Institutes with Study Questions by J. Mark Beach, a professor at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. The same publisher also released Calvin: Theologian and Reformer, edited by Joel R. Beeke and Garry J. Williams. This volume contains seven brief chapters dealing with the life, the work, and the theology of Calvin. A much larger volume was published in the Calvin 500 Series by P&R Publishing. This work is edited by David Hall and is titled Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of His Quincentenary (Calvin 500). It is a collection of twenty-three academic papers presented at an assembly gathered in Geneva to celebrate the anniversary of Calvin’s birth.

     This year seems to have been a slow one thus far for exceptional commentaries. There are exceptions, however. Pillar New Testament Commentary (Set of 16 Volumes) (The Pillar New Testament Commentary) (2013-07-25) series published by Eerdmans and edited by D.A. Carson continues to compete with Pixar Animation for the longest continuous series of great releases. Early this year, Eerdmans added a substantive 600-page commentary on The Letter to the Hebrews (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)) by Peter T. O’Brien to its Pillar series. This one belongs in every pastor’s library. By the time this column is published, Eerdmans will have also added a commentary on 1 Corinthians to the Pillar series. There are a number of other commentaries that should be available by the time this column is published. Baker Academic is adding a commentary on Ephesians to its Baker Exegetical Commentaries series. Eerdmans is adding a commentary on Hosea to its New International Commentary on the Old Testament series and commentaries on the Gospel of John and the Epistle of James to its New International Commentary on the New Testament series. Both New Testament commentaries are replacing older works in the series.

     Two must-reads related in one way or another to Christianity and culture are David VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion) and James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. VanDrunen’s work traces the development of the doctrine of natural law and the “two-kingdoms” concept in Reformed thought from the sixteenthcentury to the present. Hunter’s work analyzes the failure of the common Christian view of its world-changing task and criticizes the tactics of the Christian right, the Christian left, and the neo-Anabaptists before offering an alternative proposal. Neither book will convince every reader, but both publications make important contributions to the discussion of culture among Christians.

     Several significant works for students of systematic and historical theology were released this year. Christian Focus published a small book that should become required reading for every seminary student. The Trials of Theology: Becoming a 'proven worker' in a dangerous business, edited by Andrew J.B. Cameron and Brian S. Rosner, contains several essays by luminaries such as Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, and Warfield on how to navigate the dangers of theological study. It also contains several essays by contemporary authors such as Carson, Carl Trueman, and Gerald Bray focusing on specific areas of theological study.

     Reformation Heritage Books published the second volume of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: 1552-1566 Volume 2. This volume contains translations of thirty-five Reformed confessions written between 1552 and 1566. Some, such as the Belgic Confession, are well known. Others, such as the Confession of Piotrków, are not. By the time this column is published, Reformation Heritage will also have published the works of the great Reformed theologian Herman Witsius. This five-volume set will include a reprint of his classic work on covenant theology, Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man (2 Volumes), and his commentaries on the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

     Students of the early church and patristic theology welcomed the second edition of Frances Young’s From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and Its Background, one of the most helpful introductions to the writings of the fourth and fifth centuries. Finally, InterVarsity Press has published Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy: Engaging with Early and Medieval Theologians, a collection of essays on several important early and medieval theologians, from Irenaeus to Aquinas. For Christian bibliophiles, it has been another very good year.

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Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.

Keith Mathison Books:

Judges 9; Acts 13; Jeremiah 22; Mark 8

By Don Carson 7/26/2018

     Today I want to drw attention to a couple of points drawn from opposite ends of Acts 13.

     (1) The church leadership in Antioch must have been extraordinarily diverse (Acts13:1). Barnabas’s real name was Joseph. He was a Levite from Cyprus (Acts 4:36-37). At a time when the church in Jerusalem was growing so quickly it must have been impossible for the apostles to remember everyone’s name, this Joseph was noticed for his remarkable gift of encouragement; as a result he was rewarded with a nickname that reflected his character: Barnabas — Son of Encouragement. Then there was Simeon “called Niger” — an expression that almost certainly means “Simeon the Black.”

     In the ancient world, unlike the British and American experience, slavery was tied to the economic system (people who went bankrupt might sell themselves into slavery) and to military might; it was not restricted to a particular race. (Thus there could be African slaves, English slaves, Jewish slaves, and so forth.) So there was nothing anomalous about having “Simeon the Black” as one of the leaders. About Lucius of Cyrene we know almost nothing. Apparently, he, like Barnabas, was from a Mediterranean island, and the form of his name shows he belongs to the Hellenistic world. Manean had enough connections with minor nobility that he had been reared with Herod the tetrarch.

     Then there was Saul himself, by this time a veteran evangelist, church planter, and Bible teacher of fifteen years’ experience, with many scars to prove it. In the wake of this call, he progressively moved in Gentile circles, and used the name connected with his Roman citizenship, Paul (Acts 13:9). (Roman citizens had three names. We do not know the other two in the case of “Mr. Paul” — for Paul was certainly the family name. Saul was an additional name preserved for the sake of his Jewish heritage.) He, too, was from out of town — from Tarsus. What glorious and cosmopolitan diversity there is in this church in Antioch.

     (2) After the detailed account of Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch, we are told that many Gentiles “honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). An excellent exercise is to discover all the ways Acts, or even the entire New Testament, speaks of conversion and of converts — and then to use all of those locutions in our own speech. For our ways of talking about such matters both reflect and shape the way we think of such matters. There is no biblical passage that speaks of “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior” (though the notion itself is not entirely wrong). So why do many adopt this expression, and never speak in the terms of verse 48?

(Ac 13:48) 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.   ESV

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

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Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 78

Tell the Coming Generation
78 A Maskil Of Asaph.

39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.
40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert!
41 They tested God again and again
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power
or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
43 when he performed his signs in Egypt
and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
44 He turned their rivers to blood,
so that they could not drink of their streams.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,
and frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave their crops to the destroying locust
and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamores with frost.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail
and their flocks to thunderbolts.
49 He let loose on them his burning anger,
wrath, indignation, and distress,
a company of destroying angels.

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     11. As it is sometimes necessary for kings and states to take up arms in order to execute public vengeance, the reason assigned furnishes us with the means of estimating how far the wars which are thus undertaken are lawful. For if power has been given them to maintain the tranquillity of their subjects, repress the seditious movements of the turbulent, assist those who are violently oppressed, and animadvert on crimes, can they use it more opportunely than in repressing the fury of him who disturbs both the ease of individuals and the common tranquillity of all; who excites seditious tumult, and perpetrates acts of violent oppression and gross wrongs? If it becomes them to be the guardians and maintainers of the laws, they must repress the attempts of all alike by whose criminal conduct the discipline of the laws is impaired. Nay, if they justly punish those robbers whose injuries have been afflicted only on a few, will they allow the whole country to be robbed and devastated with impunity? Since it makes no difference whether it is by a king or by the lowest of the people that a hostile and devastating inroad is made into a district over which they have no authority, all alike are to be regarded and punished as robbers. Natural equity and duty, therefore, demand that princes be armed not only to repress private crimes by judicial inflictions, but to defend the subjects committed to their guardianship whenever they are hostilely assailed. Such even the Holy Spirit, in many passages of Scripture, declares to be lawful.

12. But if it is objected, that in the New Testament there is no passage or example teaching that war is lawful for Christians, I answer, first, that the reason for carrying on war, which anciently existed, still exists in the present day, and that, on the other hand, there is no ground for debarring magistrates from the defence of those under them; and, secondly, that in the Apostolical writings we are not to look for a distinct exposition of those matters, their object being not to form a civil polity, but to establish the spiritual kingdom of Christ; lastly, that there also it is indicated, in passing, that our Saviour, by his advent, made no change in this respect. For (to use the words of Augustine) "if Christian discipline condemned all wars, when the soldiers ask counsel as to the way of salvation, they would have been told to cast away their arms, and withdraw altogether from military service. Whereas it was said (Luke 3:14), Concuss no one, do injury to no one, be contented with your pay. Those whom he orders to be contented with their pay he certainly does not forbid to serve" (August. Ep. 5 ad Marcell.) But all magistrates must here be particularly cautious not to give way, in the slightest degree, to their passions. Or rather, whether punishments are to be inflicted, they must not be borne headlong by anger, nor hurried away by hatred, nor burn with implacable severity; they must, as Augustine says (De Civit. Dei. Lib. 5 cap. 24), "even pity a common nature in him in whom they punish an individual fault;" or whether they have to take up arms against an enemy, that is, an armed robber, they must not readily catch at the opportunity, nay, they must not take it when offered, unless compelled by the strongest necessity. For if we are to do far more than that heathen demanded, who wished war to appear as desired peace, assuredly all other means must be tried before having recourse to arms. In fine, in both cases, they must not allow themselves to be carried away by any private feeling, but be guided solely by regard for the public. Acting otherwise, they wickedly abuse their power which was given them, not for their own advantage, but for the good and service of others. On this right of war depends the right of garrisons, leagues, and other civil munitions. By garrisons, I mean those which are stationed in states for defence of the frontiers; by leagues, the alliances which are made by neighbouring princes, on the ground that if any disturbance arise within their territories, they will mutually assist each other, and combine their forces to repel the common enemies of the human race; under civil munitions, I include everything pertaining to the military art.

13. Lastly, we think it proper to add, that taxes and imposts are the legitimate revenues of princes, which they are chiefly to employ in sustaining the public burdens of their office. These, however, they may use for the maintenance of their domestic state, which is in a manner combined with the dignity of the authority which they exercise. Thus we see that David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Jehoshaphat, and other holy kings, Joseph also, and Daniel, in proportion to the office which they sustained, without offending piety, expended liberally of the public funds; and we read in Ezekiel, that a very large extent of territory was assigned to kings (Ezek. 48:21). In that passage, indeed, he is depicting the spiritual kingdom of Christ, but still he borrows his representation from lawful dominion among men. Princes, however, must remember, in their turn, that their revenues are not so much private chests as treasuries of the whole people (this Paul testifies, Rom. 13:6), which they cannot, without manifest injustice, squander or dilapidate; or rather, that they are almost the blood of the people, which it were the harshest inhumanity not to spare. They should also consider that their levies and contributions, and other kinds of taxes, are merely subsidies of the public necessity, and that it is tyrannical rapacity to harass the poor people with them without cause. These things do not stimulate princes to profusion and luxurious expenditure (there is certainly no need to inflame the passions, when they are already, of their own accord, inflamed more than enough), but seeing it is of the greatest consequence that, whatever they venture to do, they should do with a pure conscience, it is necessary to teach them how far they can lawfully go, lest, by impious confidence, they incur the divine displeasure. Nor is this doctrine superfluous to private individuals, that they may not rashly and petulantly stigmatise the expenditure of princes, though it should exceed the ordinary limits.

14. In states, the thing next in importance to the magistrates is laws, the strongest sinews of government, or, as Cicero calls them after Plato, the soul, without which, the office of the magistrate cannot exist; just as, on the other hand, laws have no vigour without the magistrate. Hence nothing could be said more truly than that the law is a dumb magistrate, the magistrate a living law. As I have undertaken to describe the laws by which Christian polity is to be governed, there is no reason to expect from me a long discussion on the best kind of laws. The subject is of vast extent, and belongs not to this place. I will only briefly observe, in passing, what the laws are which may be piously used with reference to God, and duly administered among men. This I would rather have passed in silence, were I not aware that many dangerous errors are here committed. For there are some who deny that any commonwealth is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations. How perilous and seditious these views are, let others see: for me it is enough to demonstrate that they are stupid and false. We must attend to the well known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law, and we must attend to each of these parts, in order to understand how far they do, or do not, pertain to us. Meanwhile, let no one be moved by the thought that the judicial and ceremonial laws relate to morals. For the ancients who adopted this division, though they were not unaware that the two latter classes had to do with morals, did not give them the name of moral, because they might be changed and abrogated without affecting morals. They give this name specially to the first class, without which, true holiness of life and an immutable rule of conduct cannot exist.

15. The moral law, then (to begin with it), being contained under two heads, the one of which simply enjoins us to worship God with pure faith and piety, the other to embrace men with sincere affection, is the true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all nations and of all times, who would frame their life agreeably to the will of God. For his eternal and immutable will is, that we are all to worship him and mutually love one another. The ceremonial law of the Jews was a tutelage by which the Lord was pleased to exercise, as it were, the childhood of that people, until the fulness of the time should come when he was fully to manifest his wisdom to the world, and exhibit the reality of those things which were then adumbrated by figures (Gal. 3:24; 4:4). The judicial law, given them as a kind of polity, delivered certain forms of equity and justice, by which they might live together innocently and quietly. And as that exercise in ceremonies properly pertained to the doctrine of piety, inasmuch as it kept the Jewish Church in the worship and religion of God, yet was still distinguishable from piety itself, so the judicial form, though it looked only to the best method of preserving that charity which is enjoined by the eternal law of God, was still something distinct from the precept of love itself. Therefore, as ceremonies might be abrogated without at all interfering with piety, so, also, when these judicial arrangements are removed, the duties and precepts of charity can still remain perpetual. But if it is true that each nation has been left at liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial, still these are always to be tested by the rule of charity, so that while they vary in form, they must proceed on the same principle. Those barbarous and savage laws, for instance, which conferred honour on thieves, allowed the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, and other things even fouler and more absurd, I do not think entitled to be considered as laws, since they are not only altogether abhorrent to justice, but to humanity and civilised life.

16. What I have said will become plain if we attend, as we ought, to two things connected with all laws--viz. the enactment of the law, and the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests. Equity, as it is natural, cannot be the same in all, and therefore ought to be proposed by all laws, according to the nature of the thing enacted. As constitutions have some circumstances on which they partly depend, there is nothing to prevent their diversity, provided they all alike aim at equity as their end. Now, as it is evident that the law of God which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other (August. de Civit. Dei, Lib. 19 c. 17). The law of God forbids to steal. The punishment appointed for theft in the civil polity of the Jews may be seen in Exodus 22. Very ancient laws of other nations punished theft by exacting the double of what was stolen, while subsequent laws made a distinction between theft manifest and not manifest. Other laws went the length of punishing with exile, or with branding, while others made the punishment capital. Among the Jews, the punishment of the false witness was to "do unto him as he had thought to have done with his brother" (Deut. 19:19). In some countries, the punishment is infamy, in others hanging, in others crucifixion. All laws alike avenge murder with blood, but the kinds of death are different. In some countries, adultery was punished more severely, in others more leniently. Yet we see that amidst this diversity they all tend to the same end. For they all with one mouth declare against those crimes which are condemned by the eternal law of God--viz. murder, theft, adultery, and false witness; though they agree not as to the mode of punishment. This is not necessary, nor even expedient. There may be a country which, if murder were not visited with fearful punishments, would instantly become a prey to robbery and slaughter. There may be an age requiring that the severity of punishments should be increased. If the state is in troubled condition, those things from which disturbances usually arise must be corrected by new edicts. In time of war, civilisation would disappear amid the noise of arms, were not men overawed by an unwonted severity of punishment. In sterility, in pestilence, were not stricter discipline employed, all things would grow worse. One nation might be more prone to a particular vice, were it not most severely repressed. How malignant were it, and invidious of the public good, to be offended at this diversity, which is admirably adapted to retain the observance of the divine law. The allegation, that insult is offered to the law of God enacted by Moses, where it is abrogated, and other new laws are preferred to it, is most absurd. Others are not preferred when they are more approved, not absolutely, but from regard to time and place, and the condition of the people, or when those things are abrogated which were never enacted for us. The Lord did not deliver it by the hand of Moses to be promulgated in all countries, and to be everywhere enforced; but having taken the Jewish nation under his special care, patronage, and guardianship, he was pleased to be specially its legislator, and as became a wise legislator, he had special regard to it in enacting laws.

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


  • The Sacraments
  • Church and Holy Spirit
  • Ecumenism

#1 Allen Yeh  Biola University

 

#2 Allen Yeh   Biola University

 

#3 Allen Yeh   Biola University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     3/1/2015    Bible-Believing, Bible-Obeying

     As a pastor, I spend much of my time out in the community, and I meet new people every week. When people inquire what I do for a living, I tell them I am a pastor. At that point I get responses that vary depending on whether the person is a Christian and whether he or she has been to church recently. When I tell them I serve as a pastor of a church called Saint Andrew’s Chapel, I then have to explain what kind of church we are and what kind of church we’re not. It’s the most natural way I have found to be able to explain the gospel to unbelievers in our community on a regular basis. Over the years, I have also found that describing our church initially in two simple ways is most effective for helping them understand who we are and what we believe. I explain that we are a Bible-believing and gospel-preaching church; and, if they haven’t run away yet, I then proceed to explain slowly and carefully what it means to believe the Bible—what the gospel is, who Jesus is and what He did, how sinners are saved, and why we worship as a community of believers. Although most people don’t realize it, I am giving them a basic, five-minute systematic theology course based on and flowing from the doctrine of Scripture. The doctrine of Scripture informs every other doctrine. It is a most practical doctrine for all of life.

     Scripture is the foundation for all we believe and the fountain from which we daily drink. It was the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation, and it holds the message of eternal life for ourselves, our children, and our neighbors. It is the sacred Word of God given to us by human authors through the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, and it is our only inerrant and infallible authority for all of faith and life. Nevertheless, many professing Christians give little attention to it. Though they constantly look for a special word from God, there it sits on their shelves, gathering dust. It is ignored by many people who sit in our churches, and it is under attack by many outside the church. It has been under attack ever since the fall, when the serpent asked, “Did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1).

     Fundamentally, the devil questioned the authority of the Word of God, and the devil’s servants have been questioning it ever since. Questioning the authority of God’s Word is tantamount to questioning God Himself, and questioning whether God’s sacred Word contains errors is in fact questioning God’s ability to do all things perfectly. If we question God’s Word, we have set ourselves up as a higher tribunal than God and have declared ourselves judges of God and His Word. Nevertheless, as Bible-believing Christians, we must not simply refrain from questioning the truth of God’s Word, and we must not merely believe that God’s Word is true, but we must actually believe God’s Word and submit to it in all of life as we live coram Deo, before His face.

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this day, July 26, 1775, Benjamin Franklin became the first Postmaster General of the United States. Before the Revolution he served in that position under the British Crown. Franklin also established the first volunteer fire department, a circulating public library and the lighting of city streets. He helped found the University of Pennsylvania, a hospital, an insurance company, a city police force, a night watch and the first militia. A printer, scientist, philosopher and statesmen, Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanac: “Work as if you were to live 100 years; pray as if you were to die tomorrow.”

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


Religion is what you are left with
after the Holy Spirit has left the building.
--- Bono

     Hence also to be informed, that God the Father, and God the Son, do mutually rely and trust to one another in the business of our redemption. The Father relies upon the Son for the performance of his part; as it is, Isa. 42: 1, ” Behold my servant, whom I uphold.” And, to speak plain, the Father so far trusted Christ, that upon the credit of his promise to come into the world, and in the fulness of time to become a sacrifice for the elect, he saved all the Old Testament saints, whose faith also respected a Christ to come; with reference whereto, it is said, Heb. 11: 39, 40. “That they received not the promises, God having provided some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” i. e. without Jesus Christ manifested in the flesh, in our times, though believed on, as to come in the flesh, in their times.

     And as the Father trusted Christ, so does Christ, in like manner, depend upon, and trust his Father. For, having performed his part, and left the world again, he now trusteth his Father for the accomplishment of that promise made him, Isa. 53: 10. “That he shall see his seed,” &c. He depends upon his Father for all the elect that are left behind, yet unregenerated, as well as those already called, that they shall be all preserved unto the heavenly kingdom, according to that, John 17: 11. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world; and I come unto thee: holy Father, keep, through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me.” And can it be imagined, that the Father will fail in his trust, who every way acquitted himself so punctually to the Son? It cannot be.
--- John Flavel

The doctrine of the Trinity … is truth for the heart. The fact that it cannot be satisfactorily explained, instead of being against it, is in its favor. Such a truth had to be revealed; no one could have imagined it.
--- A. W. Tozer
The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     5. Upon this the men of power, with the high priests, as also all the part of the multitude that were desirous of peace, took courage, and seized upon the upper city [Mount Sion;] for the seditious part had the lower city and the temple in their power; so they made use of stones and slings perpetually against one another, and threw darts continually on both sides; and sometimes it happened that they made incursions by troops, and fought it out hand to hand, while the seditious were superior in boldness, but the king's soldiers in skill. These last strove chiefly to gain the temple, and to drive those out of it who profaned it; as did the seditious, with Eleazar, besides what they had already, labor to gain the upper city. Thus were there perpetual slaughters on both sides for seven days' time; but neither side would yield up the parts they had seized on.

     6. Now the next day was the festival of Xylophory; upon which the custom was for every one to bring wood for the altar [that there might never be a want of fuel for that fire which was unquenchable and always burning]. Upon that day they excluded the opposite party from the observation of this part of religion. And when they had joined to themselves many of the Sicarii, who crowded in among the weaker people, [that was the name for such robbers as had under their bosoms swords called Sicae,] they grew bolder, and carried their undertaking further; insomuch that the king's soldiers were overpowered by their multitude and boldness; and so they gave way, and were driven out of the upper city by force. The others then set fire to the house of Ananias the high priest, and to the palaces of Agrippa and Bernice; after which they carried the fire to the place where the archives were reposited, and made haste to burn the contracts belonging to their creditors, and thereby to dissolve their obligations for paying their debts; and this was done in order to gain the multitude of those who had been debtors, and that they might persuade the poorer sort to join in their insurrection with safety against the more wealthy; so the keepers of the records fled away, and the rest set fire to them. And when they had thus burnt down the nerves of the city, they fell upon their enemies; at which time some of the men of power, and of the high priests, went into the vaults under ground, and concealed themselves, while others fled with the king's soldiers to the upper palace, and shut the gates immediately; among whom were Ananias the high priest, and the ambassadors that had been sent to Agrippa. And now the seditious were contented with the victory they had gotten, and the buildings they had burnt down, and proceeded no further.

          The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 21:29-30
     by D.H. Stern

29     A wicked man puts on a bold face,
whereas the upright prepares his ways.

30     No wisdom, discernment or counsel
succeeds against ADONAI..


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)

Mushrooms On The Moor
     by Frank W. Boreham

     V | LANDLORD AND TENANT

     I heard a capital story the other evening under the most astonishing circumstances. It was at a public meeting connected with a religious conference. A certain minister rose to address us. We knew from past experience that we should have a most suggestive and stimulating address. But, somehow, it did not occur to us that we should be favoured with a story. And when this grave and sedate member of our assembly suddenly launched out into the intricacies of his tale, it was as great a surprise as though the haildrops turned out to be diamonds, or Vesuvius had begun to pour forth gold. Before we knew what had happened, we were electrified by the story of a man who dwelt in a very comfortable house, with a large, light, airy cellar. The river ran near by. One day the river overflowed, the cellar was flooded, and all the hens that he kept in it were drowned. The next day he bounced off to see the landlord.

     'I have come,' he said, 'to give you notice. I wish to leave the house.'

     'How is that?' asked the astonished landlord. 'I thought you liked it so much. It is a very comfortable, well-built house, and cheap.'

     'Oh, yes,' the tenant replied, 'but the river has overflowed into my cellar, and all my hens are drowned.'

     'Oh, don't let that make you give up the house,' the landlord reasoned; 'try ducks!'

     I entirely forget—I most fervently hope that my friend will never see this lamentable confession of mine!—I entirely forget what he made of this delightful story. But, looking back on it now, I can see quite clearly that half the philosophy of life is wrapped up in its delicious folds. It raises the question at the very outset as to how far I am under any obligation to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The river has flooded my cellar and drowned all my hens. Very well. Now two courses are open to me. Shall I grin and bear it? or shall I make a change? I must remember that it is very nice living on the banks of the river. There is the boat-house at the foot of the garden. What delightful hours we have spent gliding up and down the bends and reaches of the tranquil stream, watching the reflections in the water, and picnicking under the willows on its grassy banks! How the children love to come down here and feed the swans as the graceful creatures glide proudly hither and thither, seeming to be conscious that their beauty richly deserves all the homage that is paid to it! The fishing, too! The whirr of the line, and the bend of the rod, and the splash of the trout; why, there was more concentrated excitement in some of those tremendous moments than in all the politics and battles since the world began! And the bathing! On those hot summer days when the very air seemed to scorch the skin, how exquisite those swirling waters seemed! Am I to give up all this enjoyment because, once in five years perhaps, the swollen stream floods my cellar and drowns my hens? That is the question, and it is a live question too.

     Now the trouble is a little deeper than appears on the surface. For if I persuade myself that it is my duty to bounce off down to the owner of the house and give him notice to quit, I shall soon find myself spending a considerable proportion of my time in waiting upon my landlords. In the next house to which I go I shall not only miss the boating and fishing and bathing, but I shall within six months discover other disadvantages quite as grave as the occasional flooding of my riverside cellar. And then I shall have to move again. And moving will become a habit with me. And, on the whole, it is a bad habit. It may be good for the hens; but there are other things to be considered besides hens. The solar system is not kept in operation solely for the benefit of the hens in the cellar. There are the children, and, with all respect for the fowl-yard, children are as much worthy of consideration as chickens. It is not good for children to be everlastingly moving. It is good for them to have sacred and beautiful memories of the home of their childhood. It is good for them to feed the swans, and play under the willows, year in and year out, and to retain the swans and the willows as part of the background with which memory will always paint the picture of their infancy. It is good for children to feel a certain fixity and stability about home and school and friends.

     George Gissing pathetically tells how the spirit of dereliction stole into the life of Godwin Peak. It was all owing to the family gipsyings. 'As a result of the family's removal first from London to the farm, and then into Twybridge, Godwin had no friends of old standing. A boy reaps advantage from the half-parental kindness of men and women who have watched his growth from infancy; in general it affects him as a steadying influence, keeping before his mind the social bonds to which his behaviour owes allegiance. Godwin had no ties which bound him strongly to any district.' He was like a ship that belongs to no port in particular, and that drifts hither and thither about the world as fugitive commissions may arise.

     The finest of all the fine arts is the art of putting up with nasty things. It is not very nice to have all your hens drowned. You get fond of hens. And apart from the financial loss involved, there is a sense of bereavement in seeing all your choice Dorkings, your favourite Leghorns, your lovely Orpingtons, or your beautiful Silver Wyandottes all lying dead and bedraggled in the muddy cellar. Few things are more disconcerting. And yet I am writing this article for no other purpose than to assert that the best thing to do, if you must have hens, is to bury these as quickly as possible and send down to the market for a fresh supply. It is certainly gratifying to one's pride as a tenant to feel that one has a grievance and can now show his glorious independence of the landlord. There is always a pleasurable piquancy in being able to resign, or dismiss somebody, or give notice. But my interest is every bit as well worth considering as my dignity. And whilst my dignity clamours to get even with the landlord, my interest reminds me of the swans and the willows, the boating and the fishing. My dignity shouts angrily about my dead fens; but my interest whispers significantly about my living children. So that, all things considered, it is better to bury the hens and the hatchet at the same time. I may quit my riverside residence and have a waterproof fowl-run in another street; but when I see somebody else taking his children out in my old boat, I shall only bite my lip and wish that I had quietly restocked my chicken-run. It may be a most iniquitous proceeding on the part of the landlord to allow the river to flood my cellar but, thinking it over calmly, I am convinced that it is my duty as a Christian to forgive him. And it always pays a man to do his duty.

     I had thought of devoting a paragraph to ministers and deacons. But perhaps I had better not. These matters are very intricate and very delicate, and need a tenderer touch than mine. Things will sometimes go wrong. The river will rise. The cellar gets flooded, and the hens get drowned. But, really, I am certain that, nine times out of ten, perhaps ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it is better to bury the poor birds quietly and say no more about it. I don't know quite how to apply this parable. I was afraid I should get out of my depth if I ventured into such matters. But suppose that the minister finds some morning that his cellar is flooded and his pet birds drowned. Of course, it is pleasant to send in your resignation and say that you will not stand it. And yet, and yet—rivers will rise; it is a way that rivers have; and the Church Secretary, when he receives the resignation, feels as helpless as the landlord. And has the minister any guarantee that the next river on the banks of which he builds his nest will never rise? And, even if he is certain of perfection in the fields to which he flies, is he quite justified in avenging his dead hens by imperilling his living children and his living church?

     Or perhaps I have misinterpreted the story. I am really very nervous about it, and feel that I have plunged into things too high for me. Perhaps the minister is the landlord. It is through his wickedness that the river has risen and drowned some of the Church's best hens, or at least ruffled the fine feathers of some of the Church's best birds. It is the easiest thing in the world to give him notice to quit. And it accords magnificently with the dignity of the situation. But are we quite sure that the poor minister made the river rise? That is the question the tenant ought to consider. Was it the landlord's fault? I repeat that rivers will rise at times, generally at storm times. The Nile and the Tigris used to rise in prehistoric times. It is a way rivers have. I really think that it will be as well to say no more about it. Try to smooth down the ruffled feathers and forget. It may not have been his fault; and, anyhow, we shall be saying good-bye to a good many delightful experiences if we part company.

     And, really, when you think it over quietly, there seems to be a great deal in the landlord's suggestion: 'Try ducks!' Of course, ducks are the very thing for a riverside dwelling. Every change, however small, should be dictated by reason and not by caprice. This was the essential difference between the stupid tenant and the wise landlord. The tenant said, 'I will make a fundamental change, and I will make it capriciously—I will leave the house!' The landlord said, 'Why not make an incidental change, and make it reasonably? Try ducks!' I have in my time seen great numbers of people, among all kinds and conditions of men, throw up their riverside dwellings in high dudgeon because their hens were drowned in the cellar. But among my saddest letters I find some from those who tell me how they miss the swans and the boat-house, the trout and the willows, and how sincerely they wish now that they had tried ducks. But it is too late; the flashing stream is the paradise of other tenants; and the children's most romantic memory of childhood twines itself about the fun of getting the piano and the dining-room table in and out of the different doors. We may easily form a stupid habit of giving the landlord notice whenever the river happens to rise; and we forget that it is from just such movements—such goings and such stayings—that life as a whole takes its tint and colour. Destiny is made of trifles. Our weal and our woe are determined by comparatively insignificant issues. Somebody has finely said that we make our decisions, and then our decisions turn round and make us.

     Now let nobody suppose that I am deprecating a change. On the contrary, I am advocating a change. It will never do to let the fowls drown, and to take no steps to prevent a recurrence of any such disaster. I hold no brief for stagnation. I am merely insisting that the change must commend itself to heart and conscience and reason. It must be a forward move. Look at this, for example. It is from Stanley's Life of Arnold: 'We are all in the midst of confusion,' Arnold writes from Laleham, 'the books all packed and half the furniture; and on Tuesday, if God will, we shall leave this dear place, this nine-years' home of such exceeding happiness. But it boots not to look backwards. Forward, forward, forward, should be one's motto.' And thus Arnold moved to Rugby, and made history! There are times when the landlord's gate is the high-road to glory.

     The whole matter is capable of the widest application, and must be scientifically treated. Man is always finding his fowls drowned in the cellar and going the wrong way to put things right. Generally speaking, it must be confessed that he is too fond of rushing off to the landlord. In his Travels in Russia, Theophile Gautier has a striking word concerning this perilous proclivity. 'Whatever is of real use to man,' he says, 'was invented from the beginning of the world, and all the people who have come along since have worn their brains out to find something new, but have made no improvements. Change is far from being progress; it is not yet proved that steamers are better than sailing-vessels, or railways than horse traffic. For my part, I believe that men will end in returning to the old methods, which are always the best.' I do not agree with the first part of Gautier's statement. It is not likely. But when he says that we are getting back to our starting-point, his contention is indisputable. In the beginning, man was alone with his earth; and all that he did, he did in the sweat of his brow. Then came the craze for machinery, and the world became a network of wires and a wilderness of whirling wheels. But we are beginning to recognize that it has been a ridiculous mistake. The thing is too clumsy and too complicated. Mr. Marconi has already taught us to feel half ashamed of the wires. And Mr. H. G. Wells predicts that in forty years' time all the activities of a larger and busier world will be driven by invisible currents of power, and the whole of our industrial machinery will have gone to the scrap-heap. Man will find himself once more alone with his world, but it will be a world that has taken him into its confidence and revealed to him its wonderful secrets. He will look back with a smile on the age of screaming syrens and snorting engines, of racing pistons and whirling wheels. He will be amazed at his own earlier readiness to resort to such a cumbrous and complicated system when a smaller transition would have ushered him into his kingdom.

     The whole drift of our modern scientific development is away from our clinking mechanical complexities and back towards the great primal simplicities. We have been too fond of the drastic and dramatic course, too fond of bouncing off to the landlord. We are too apt to involve ourselves in a big move when we might have gained our point by simply trying ducks. We love the things that are burdensome, the ways that are involved, the paths that lead to headache and heartache. It is a very ancient and very human tendency. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians to reprove in them the same sad blunder. 'O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?' They had abandoned he simplicities under the lure of the complexities. The Church that was urged by her Lord to return to her first love had made the same mistake. We are too prone to scorn the simple and the obvious. We forsake the fountain of living water, and hew out to ourselves clumsy cisterns. We neglect the majestic simplicities of the gospel, and involve our tired brains and hungry hearts in tortuous systems that lead us a long, long way from home. The landlord is right. The simplest course is almost always the safest.

Mushrooms on the Moor
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                The account with purity

     Out of the heart proceed … --- Matthew 15:18–20.

     We begin by trusting our ignorance and calling it innocence, by trusting our innocence and calling it purity; and when we hear these rugged statements of Our Lord’s, we shrink and say—‘But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart.’ We resent what Jesus Christ reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme Authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust His penetration, or do I prefer to trust my innocent ignorance? If I make conscious innocence the test, I am likely to come to a place where I find with a shuddering awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I shall be appalled at the possibility of evil and wrong in me. As long as I remain under the refuge of innocence, I am living in a fool’s paradise. If I have never been a blackguard, the reason is a mixture of cowardice and the protection of civilized life; but when I am undressed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis.

     The only thing that safeguards is the Redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will hand myself over to Him, I need never experience the terrible possibilities that are in my heart. Purity is too deep down for me to get to naturally: but when the Holy Spirit comes in, He brings into the centre of my personal life the very Spirit that was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ, viz. Holy Spirit, which is unsullied purity.


My Utmost for His Highest

The Island
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                The Island

And God said, I will build a church here
  And cause this people to worship me,
  And afflict them with poverty and sickness
  In return for centuries of hard work
  And patience. And its walls shall be hard as
  Their hearts, and its windows let in the light
  Grudgingly, as their minds do, and the priest’s words be drowned
  By the wind’s caterwauling. All this I will do,

  Said God, and watch the bitterness in their eyes
  Grow, and their lips suppurate with
  Their prayers. And their women shall bring forth
  On my altar, and I will choose the best
Of them to be thrown back into the sea.

And that was only on one island.


H'm

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Exodus 7:17–19


     Does a person who drinks from the well cast a stone into it?

     BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 7:17–19 / Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord.” See, I [Moses] shall strike the water in the Nile with the rod that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood; and the fish in the Nile will die. The Nile will stink so that the Egyptians will find it impossible to drink the water of the Nile.

     And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: Take your rod and hold out your arm over the waters of Egypt—its rivers, its canals, its ponds, all its bodies of water—that they may turn to blood; there shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.”

     MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 20, 1 / And it says, “Every boy that is born.” The Holy One, praised is He, started to tell Moses, “Say to Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go that they may worship Me’ ” (
Exodus 7:16). He [Moses] went and told him [Pharaoh] and he [Pharaoh] started to say, “Who is the Lord that I should heed Him?” (Exodus 5:2). Moses started saying to the Holy One, praised is He, “He’s saying ‘Who is the Lord?’ and he does not want to send them.” He [God] said to him [Moses], “Where does Egypt drink from?” He [Moses] said, “The Nile.” He [God] said to him, “Change it into blood.” He said, “I can’t change it. Does a person who drinks from the well cast a stone into it?” God said, “Let Aaron go and change it.” Aaron went and struck it, and it was changed into blood. Why didn’t Moses strike it? He said, “I was thrown into it [the Nile], and it didn’t harm me.” Because of this, Aaron struck it.

     CONTEXT / At the beginning of the Book of
Exodus, Pharaoh decreed that all the Israelite baby boys were to be drowned in the Nile. Moses, who should have been killed in this manner, was hidden and later saved by being placed in a basket on the very same river. Many years later, when Moses returned to demand that Pharaoh free the Israelites, Pharaoh refused. God then initiated a series of plagues meant to force the king’s hand. In the first plague, “blood,” God commanded:

     Say to Aaron: Take your rod and hold out your arm over the waters of Egypt … that they may turn to blood.
(
Exodus 7:19)

     The Rabbis wondered why God commanded Moses to tell Aaron to do this. Why couldn’t Moses do it himself?

     The Rabbis imagined God as directing the first plague against the very basis of Egyptian life. God asked Moses, “Where does Egypt drink from?” When Moses answered, “The Nile,” God told him, “Change it into blood.” But Moses protested, “I can’t change it. Does a person who drinks from the well cast a stone into it?” This refers back to the verses at the beginning of
Exodus 2, where Moses’ mother placed him on the Nile in a wicker basket. Moses was saved by the river: How could he now inflict a plague upon it? Thus, the saying “Does a person who drinks from the well cast a stone into it?” is clear: Moses could not repay the kindness of the Nile, which saved him from death, by bringing a plague on it. God did not force the issue with Moses but instead said, “Let Aaron go and change it.” Aaron did not have a special relationship with the Nile, and Aaron could effect the plague. God’s will was done eventually, though not by Moses.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Take Heart
     July 26

     To grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.
--- Ephesians 3:18–19.

     That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death (John 1:18); that God should be made flesh, the Creator made a creature
(Isa. 53:4); that he who filled heaven should be cradled in a manger (John 17:5); that the God of strength should be weary; that the judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the God of life should be put to death (John 19:41); that he who had the keys of hell and death should lie imprisoned in the sepulchre of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head nor, after death, to lay his body
(John 19:41–42)—and all this for fallen, miserable human beings—is beyond the thoughts of created natures. How Great Is Our God The sharp, the universal, and the continual sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the cross, above all other things speaks out the transcendent love of Jesus Christ to sinners. That matchless wrath of an angry God that was so terribly impressed on the soul of Christ quickly sapped his natural strength, yet all this wrath he patiently underwent that sinners might be saved and that he might bring “many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10).

     Oh, wonder of love! Love is submissive, it enables to suffer. So it was love that made our dear Lord Jesus lay down his life to save us from hell and to bring us to heaven. Oh, love unspeakable!

     Christ’s love is like his name, and that is Wonderful
(Isa. 9:6), so wonderful that it is above all creatures, beyond all measure, contrary to all nature. It is above all creatures, for it is above the angels and therefore above all others. It is beyond all measure, for time did not begin it, and time shall never end it; place does not bound it, sin does not exceed it, understandings cannot conceive it. And it is contrary to all nature, for what nature can love where it is hated? can forgive where it is provoked? can offer reconciliation where it receives wrong? What nature can heap up kindness on contempt, favor on ingratitude, mercy on sin? And yet Christ’s love has led him to all this, so that well may we spend all our days in admiring and adoring this wonderful love and be always captivated with the thoughts of it.
--- Thomas Brooks


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

On This Day
     Wilberforce  July 26

     In the 1700s an exclusive little hamlet outside London called Clapham became home to a number of prominent evangelicals and evangelical causes. Historians call these Christians the “Clapham Sect.” The most famous member of the Clapham Sect was a shrimp-size politician named William Wilberforce who had come to Christ at age 25. Wilberforce gathered his Clapham friends into regular “Cabinet Councils” to discuss national trends and to establish Christian strategies for dealing with them, making the Clapham Sect one of the most unusual fraternities in British public life. Out of it sprang the Church Missionary Society, The British and Foreign Bible Society, the Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor, the Society for the Reformation of Prison Discipline, and, most of all, Wilberforce’s history-changing crusade against slavery.

     In 1789 Wilberforce first spoke against slavery in the House of Commons. Two years later in another speech he said: Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic.

     The Clapham Sect went to work mobilizing opinion and helping Wilberforce marshal his arguments. They lectured on public platforms, wrote books, posted billboards, and lobbied leaders. Finally in 1807 after nearly 20 years of work, Wilberforce sat bent in his chair, head in his hands, weeping, as the parliament outlawed the trading of slaves in the British Empire. Later that night, a beaming Wilberforce turned to a friend and said, “Well, Henry, what do we abolish next?”

     Slavery itself, that’s what. Wilberforce pressed on for another 20 years for complete emancipation of all slaves in the British Empire. He was a virtual one-man, nonstop crusade until his health broke and he became a dying man. His friends finished the fight. On July 26, 1833, the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery passed in the House of Commons. News was rushed to the bedfast Wilberforce who raised himself on one elbow, smiled quietly, and said, “Thank God that I have lived to witness [this] day.”

     He died three days later, his life’s work finished.

   The Spirit of the LORD God has taken control of me!
   The LORD has chosen and sent me
   To tell the oppressed the good news,
   To heal the brokenhearted,
   And to announce freedom for prisoners and captives.
   --- Isaiah 61:1.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - July 26

     “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge, etc.” --- 2 Peter 1:5, 6.

     If thou wouldest enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit’s influence, and assistance, do what the Scripture tells thee, “Give diligence.” Take care that thy faith is of the right kind—that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ, and on Christ alone. Give diligent heed to thy courage. Plead with God that he would give thee the face of a lion, that thou mayest, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study well the Scriptures, and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm faith. Try to understand God’s Word; let it dwell in thy heart richly.

     When thou hast done this, “Add to thy knowledge temperance.” Take heed to thy body: be temperate without. Take heed to thy soul: be temperate within. Get temperance of lip, life, heart, and thought. Add to this, by God’s Holy Spirit, patience; ask him to give thee that patience which endureth affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur nor be depressed in your afflictions. When that grace is won look to godliness. Godliness is something more than religion. Make God’s glory your object in life; live in his sight; dwell close to him; seek for fellowship with him; and thou hast “godliness”; and to that add brotherly love. Have a love to all the saints: and add to that a charity, which openeth its arms to all men, and loves their souls. When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practise these heavenly virtues, will you come to know by clearest evidence “your calling and election.” “Give diligence,” if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand.


          Evening - July 26

     “That he may set him with princes.” --- Psalm 113:8.

     Our spiritual privileges are of the highest order. “Among princes” is the place of select society. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Speak of select society, there is none like this! “We are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood.” “We are come unto the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.” The saints have courtly audience: princes have admittance to royalty when common people must stand afar off. The child of God has free access to the inner courts of heaven. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” “Let us come boldly,” says the apostle, “to the throne of the heavenly grace.” Among princes there is abundant wealth, but what is the abundance of princes compared with the riches of believers? for “all things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Princes have peculiar power. A prince of heaven’s empire has great influence: he wields a sceptre in his own domain; he sits upon Jesus’ throne, for “He hath made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign for ever and ever.” We reign over the united kingdom of time and eternity. Princes, again, have special honour. We may look down upon all earth-born dignity from the eminence upon which grace has placed us. For what is human grandeur to this, “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”? We share the honour of Christ, and compared with this, earthly splendours are not worth a thought. Communion with Jesus is a richer gem than ever glittered in imperial diadem. Union with the Lord is a coronet of beauty outshining all the blaze of imperial pomp.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     July 26

          HE THE PEARLY GATES WILL OPEN

     Fredrick A. Blom, 1867–1927
     Translated by Nathaniel Carlson, 1879–1957

     But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 )KJV

     Out of the repentant heart of a backslidden Swedish pastor came this deeply emotional and vividly worded hymn, which expresses his renewed faith in God. After serving as the minister of several churches, Fredrick Arvid Blom somehow fell into deep sin and even was in prison for a time. “I drifted from God,” he explained, “and became embittered with myself, the world, and not the least with ministers who looked on me with suspicion because I was a member of the Socialist Party.” Then like a “dove when hunted” or “a wounded fawn,” Blom cried in anguish to his heavenly Father, who in “love divine” forgave him and healed his broken heart and life. From this restoration came this lovely text, which has since comforted many sorrowful hearts with the assurance of a never-ending divine love and a promise of an eternal heavenly home. God’s people need not fear death. Instead we ought to view it as the beginning of a new form of life—the entering into an eternal abode with our loving Savior, who will Himself open heaven’s gate to welcome us home.

     Love divine, so great and wondrous, deep and mighty, pure, sublime! Coming from the heart of Jesus—just the same thru tests of time.
     Like a dove when hunted, frightened, as a wounded fawn was I; brokenhearted, yet He healed me—He will heed the sinner’s cry.
     Love divine, so great and wondrous! All my sins He then forgave! I will sing His praise forever, for His blood, His pow’r to save.
     In life’s even-tide, at twilight, at His door I’ll knock and wait; by the precious love of Jesus I shall enter heaven’s gate.
     Chorus: He the pearly gates will open, so that I may enter in; for He purchased my redemption and forgave me all my sin.


     For Today: John 14:2, 3; 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6, 8; Revelation 7:9, 16, 17

     Try to comfort someone who is ill or fearful of death with the strong promises of Scripture that remind us of the welcome in heaven awaiting each true believer in Christ. Or, if you have opportunity, try to reassure someone who has been away from God that there is forgiveness and divine love for all who will truly repent and turn again to seek renewed fellowship with God. Sing this musical testimony as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)


     Sect. XCVIII. — THIS place the Diatribe evades by saying — ‘that it does not properly pertain to the salvation of man. For God (it says) may will that a man shall be a servant, or a poor man; and yet, not reject him from eternal salvation.’ —

     Only observe, I pray you, how many evasions and ways of escape a slippery mind will invent, which would flee from the truth, and yet cannot get away from it after all. Be it so, that this passage does not pertain to the salvation of man, (to which point I shall speak hereafter), are we to suppose, then, that Paul who adduces it, does so, for no purpose whatever? Shall we make Paul to be ridiculous, or a vain trifler, in a discussion so serious?

     But all this breathes nothing but Jerome, who dares to say, in more places than one, with a supercilious brow and a sacrilegious mouth, ‘that those things are made to be of force in Paul, which, in their own places, are of no force.’ This is no less than saying, that Paul, where he lays the foundation of the Christian doctrine, does nothing but corrupt the Holy Scriptures, and delude believing souls with sentiments hatched out of his own brain, and violently thrust into the Scriptures. — Is this honouring the Holy Spirit in Paul, that sanctified and elect instrument of God! Thus, when Jerome ought to be read with judgment, and this saying of his to be numbered among those many things which that man impiously wrote, (such was his yawning inconsiderateness, and his stupidity in understanding the Scriptures), the Diatribe drags him in without any judgment; and not thinking it right, that his authority should be lessened by any mitigating gloss whatever, takes him as a most certain oracle, whereby to judge of, and attemper the Scriptures. And thus it is; we take the impious sayings of men as rules and guides in the Holy Scripture, and then wonder that it should become ‘obscure and ambiguous;’ and that so many fathers should be blind in it; whereas, the whole proceeds from this impious and sacrilegious Reason.


The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library


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