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3/10/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Deuteronomy  32 - 34


Deuteronomy 32

Deuteronomy 32

1 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
3 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
ascribe greatness to our God!

4 “The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.
5 They have dealt corruptly with him;
they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
they are a crooked and twisted generation.
6 Do you thus repay the Lord,
you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?
7 Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you.
8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
9 But the Lord's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.

10 “He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
12 the Lord alone guided him,
no foreign god was with him.
13 He made him ride on the high places of the land,
and he ate the produce of the field,
and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,
and oil out of the flinty rock.
14 Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,
with fat of lambs,
rams of Bashan and goats,
with the very finest of the wheat—
and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.

15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.
18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth.

19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them,
because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
I will see what their end will be,
for they are a perverse generation,
children in whom is no faithfulness.
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

23 “‘And I will heap disasters upon them;
I will spend my arrows on them;
24 they shall be wasted with hunger,
and devoured by plague
and poisonous pestilence;
I will send the teeth of beasts against them,
with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.
25 Outdoors the sword shall bereave,
and indoors terror,
for young man and woman alike,
the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
26 I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces;
I will wipe them from human memory,”
27 had I not feared provocation by the enemy,
lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant,
it was not the Lord who did all this.”’

28 “For they are a nation void of counsel,
and there is no understanding in them.
29 If they were wise, they would understand this;
they would discern their latter end!
30 How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the Lord had given them up?
31 For their rock is not as our Rock;
our enemies are by themselves.
32 For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
their clusters are bitter;
33 their wine is the poison of serpents
and the cruel venom of asps.

34 “‘Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
35 Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
36 For the Lord will vindicate[g] his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
37 Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
38 who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!

39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
40 For I lift up my hand to heaven
and swear, As I live forever,
41 if I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand takes hold on judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and will repay those who hate me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
and my sword shall devour flesh—
with the blood of the slain and the captives,
from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’

43 “Rejoice with him, O heavens;
bow down to him, all gods,
for he avenges the blood of his children
and takes vengeance on his adversaries.
He repays those who hate him
and cleanses[m] his people's land.”

44 Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua[o] the son of Nun. 45 And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Moses' Death Foretold

48 That very day the Lord spoke to Moses, 49 “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. 50 And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. 52 For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”

Deuteronomy 33

Moses' Final Blessing on Israel

Deuteronomy 33 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. 2 He said,

“The Lord came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.
3 Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his[d] hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,
4 when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
5 Thus the Lord became king in Jeshurun,
when the heads of the people were gathered,
all the tribes of Israel together.

6 “Let Reuben live, and not die,
but let his men be few.”

7 And this he said of Judah:

“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah,
and bring him in to his people.
With your hands contend for him,
and be a help against his adversaries.”

8 And of Levi he said,

“Give to Levi your Thummim,
and your Urim to your godly one,
whom you tested at Massah,
with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;
9 who said of his father and mother,
‘I regard them not’;
he disowned his brothers
and ignored his children.
For they observed your word
and kept your covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob your rules
and Israel your law;
they shall put incense before you
and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
11 Bless, O Lord, his substance,
and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

12 Of Benjamin he said,

“The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
and dwells between his shoulders.”

13 And of Joseph he said,

“Blessed by the Lord be his land,
with the choicest gifts of heaven above,
and of the deep that crouches beneath,
14 with the choicest fruits of the sun
and the rich yield of the months,
15 with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.
May these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.
17 A firstborn bull—he has majesty,
and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
with them he shall gore the peoples,
all of them, to the ends of the earth;
they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

18 And of Zebulun he said,

“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
and Issachar, in your tents.
19 They shall call peoples to their mountain;
there they offer right sacrifices;
for they draw from the abundance of the seas
and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

20 And of Gad he said,

“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
Gad crouches like a lion;
he tears off arm and scalp.
21 He chose the best of the land for himself,
for there a commander's portion was reserved;
and he came with the heads of the people,
with Israel he executed the justice of the Lord,
and his judgments for Israel.”

22 And of Dan he said,

“Dan is a lion's cub
that leaps from Bashan.”

23 And of Naphtali he said,

“O Naphtali, sated with favor,
and full of the blessing of the Lord,
possess the lake and the south.”

24 And of Asher he said,

“Most blessed of sons be Asher;
let him be the favorite of his brothers,
and let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
and as your days, so shall your strength be.

26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, ‘Destroy.’
28 So Israel lived in safety,
Jacob lived alone,
in a land of grain and wine,
whose heavens drop down dew.
29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
a people saved by the Lord,
the shield of your help,
and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread upon their backs.”


Deuteronomy 34

The Death of Moses

Deuteronomy 34 1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8 And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

ESV Study Bible


What I'm Reading

The Rich, Historic Roll Call of Great Christian Thinkers and Scientists

By J. Warner Wallace 3/2/2018

     If you listen carefully to our increasingly secular culture, you might think science and reason are completely incompatible with Christian belief. Several notable scientists and thinkers in the past two hundred years have been atheists, and their ranks seem to have grown in direct proportion with our increase in scientific knowledge. Is a scientific understanding of the world incompatible with Christian Theism? Must rational thinkers and scientific investigators abandon their belief in God to discover scientific truth or contribute to the larger scientific enterprise? No. In fact, the historic roll call of scientists has included many great Christian believers. I thought it might be helpful to remind ourselves of the contribution offered by Christian theists throughout the history of scientific discovery (a much larger list provided the foundation for my summary):

     John Philoponus (c.490 to c.570) | He theorized about the nature of light and stars and criticized Aristotelian physics

     Bede, the Venerable (c.672 to 735) | He wrote two volumes on “Time and its Reckoning” that revealed a new understanding of the “progress wave-like” nature of tides

     Pope Silvester II (c.950 to 1003) | He influenced and shaped the teaching of math and astronomy in Christian schools

     Hermannus Contractus (1013 to 1054) | He wrote on geometry, mathematics, and the astrolabe (a historical astronomical instrument used by classical astronomers and navigators)

Click here to go to source

James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

Does The Universe Have a Wonderful Plan For Your Life?

By Joel Settecase 2/27/2018

     Every worldview worth its philosophical salt must address the question of metaphysics, that is, what is the nature of reality? Followers of Jesus need to be able to know both what the Bible teaches and how that teaching interacts with the popular view of the culture.

     What is ultimate reality like? Is it the universe? Is it God? Are these just two different words for the same concept?

     The Pop Culture Answer: All is One | “The Universe has a plan, kids.” So went a line from the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” about a young man Ted and his quest to meet the mother of his children. Over nine seasons, the “Universe” guided the cast through signs and clues to the inevitable outcome of Ted meeting his future wife.

     Over the last few decades. countless TV shows, movies, books, and blogs have relied on and promoted the idea that the universe is guiding humanity.

     One famous former-pastor-turned-TV-host even recently proclaimed that, “The Universe is rigged in your favor.”

     This way of thinking about the universe is rooted in a worldview (scholar Peter Jones call it One-ism) that says “all is one.” The universe is all there is — or at least all that can be known — and any meaning, purpose or value must be found inside it.

Click here for entire article

     Joel Settecase is the associate pastor at Park Community Church on the Northwest Side of Chicago. He previously served in pastoral and teaching roles in Edgebrook (Chicago), at Grace Pointe Church and at Chicago Hope Academy. Way back when, he worked in personal finance and real estate. Joel is the author of the New Covenant Catechism for Little Ones and writes on ministry and apologetics. Joel is the proud husband of Aliza and father of three children.

Is It Time for Evangelicals to Strategically Withdraw from the Culture?

By Christianity Today Editors 2/27/2017

     Retreating from battle can be a failure of nerve, a sign of defeat, or a tactical move. In any case, it’s one of the most difficult military maneuvers to pull off with minimum loss of life.

     In our March cover story, Rod Dreher argues that Christians have lost not merely a cultural battle but the war itself. In skirmish after skirmish—abortion, divorce law, public piety, and human sexuality—the nation has adopted sub-Christian and anti-Christian ways. Add to that the legal assault on our ability to freely express and live our faith—well, it feels to Dreher and others that while the war is over, the battle is more fierce than ever.

     But it’s not as if “secular America” is the bad guy and “the church” is the good guy. Dreher recognizes that much of the church has been co-opted by the secular, and much of the secular has taken on the aura of religion. In the chaos of battle, it is sometimes hard to tell who is on whose side. Dreher calls for a Christian retreat in part to admit how badly the culture war has gone. But this retreat is not a failure of nerve nor a sign of defeat (Jesus is still Lord), but a tactical withdrawal to regroup the church for the days ahead.

Click here for entire article

To What Will Your Lenten Season Give Birth?

By Christine Sine 3/1/2017

     Lent is here. It begins with Ash Wednesday on March 1st and ends with Maundy Thursday on April 13th. Last week I updated all our Lent, Holy Week and Easter resource lists, reread posts from previous Lenten seasons and started to think about what I want to do this year.

     Lent is often seen as a time of giving up; we focus on the negative rather than the positive. I am convinced, however, that giving up is not meant to be an exercise in self-denial. Rather, it is about transformation. We give up so that something new can be birthed.

     In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, written by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, in conjunction with Douglas Abrams, the authors say, the three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous.

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     Christine Sine is the executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small community based organization with a passion for sustainability, simplicity, spirituality and hospitality. She is a keen gardener, and an author who loves to help people connect their spiritual practices to their everyday life. She blogs at Godspace.

Christine Sine Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 29

Ascribe to the LORD Glory
29 A Psalm Of David.

7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

ESV Study Bible

Marriage Has Not Evolved...Until Now

By Sean McDowell 3/7/2017

     One of the most common reasons give in favor of supporting same-sex marriage is the claim that marriage has evolved over time. In his majority ruling for the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

     “The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time.”

     He argues that expanding marriage to include same-sex couples is the next logical evolutionary step. In support of this claim, Kennedy cites how marriage was once viewed as an arrangement and then became a voluntary contract between a man and a woman. And he also notes that the state used to legally consider marriage a male-dominated institution. As a result, he concludes:

Click here for entire article

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

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

Apologetics: Is Inerrancy A Modern Invention?

By Timothy Paul Jones 8/29/2016

     “Inerrancy” is the belief that the Bible never errs. It’s another way of saying that the Old and New Testaments—as they were originally written—declare what is true and describe accurately what happened in the past. To say the Bible is inerrant is to say that the Scriptures do not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.

     Some scholars have argued, however, that the notion of an inerrant Bible is a modern invention and that ancient Christians didn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture at all.

     So what did Christians in the first few centuries of the church’s story believe about the Bible?

     It is true that the earliest Christians didn’t use the word “inerrancy.” And yet, from the earliest stages of Christian history, it’s also true that faithful church leaders treated the Old and New Testaments as God’s inerrant revelation of himself.

     The Concept of Inerrancy in the Writings of the Earliest Christians | Take a look at these selections from the writings of church leaders in the first few centuries of Christian history:

Click here to go to source

     My name is Timothy Paul Jones, and I love living with my wife and four daughters in the city of Louisville. Over the past two decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading several congregations as a pastor and in associate ministry roles. Now, I serve as a professor and associate vice president at one of the largest seminaries in the world, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here, I invest my time in mentoring a rising generation of God-called ministers of the gospel. I also serve as a pastor at the Midtown congregation of Sojourn Community Church and write books in the fields of apologetics and family ministry. A few of these books include the award-winning How We Got the Bible and Christian History Made Easy. My past scholarly research has focused on the psychology of faith and on factors that influence faith formation in Christian households. Currently, my focus has turned toward the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. In addition to earning a doctor of philosophy degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature and a master of divinity with an emphasis in church history and New Testament studies.

On Gratitude and the Fifth Commandment

By Dr. Eric Hutchinson 3/8/2017

     In my first two posts, we’ve seen what the classical two-kingdoms distinction was for the sixteenth century Reformers, whether “Lutheran” or “Reformed,” and also the way in which the Ten Commandments functioned in Protestant ethical reasoning, viz., as a sum of the moral law, which is equivalent in substance and principle to the natural law and which therefore applies to all people at all times.

     As Melanchthon says, “Since these laws are the eternal rule of the mind of God, they always sounded forth in the church, even before the time of Moses, and they shall remain in force forever and apply also to the Gentiles.” These same principles are found to be reflected in other parts of the Mosaic code as well: “There are also many natural laws in the civil and ceremonial laws which also are perpetual, such as the law which prohibits incestuous practices, Leviticus 18, because the reverence for blood relationships pertains to these virtues.”

     Of the Ten Commandments, it was the Fifth that was of chief importance for political reflection. One gets a glimpse of the reason for this in the Curate’s words in the scene below taken from Whit Stillman’s film Love and Friendship (along with a subtle correction of those traditions that follow the division of the commandments in the LXX rather than the Hebrew division)1:

Click here for entire article

Dr. Eric Hutchinson: B.A., Hillsdale College, M.A., Bryn Mawr College, Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College
Awards:
Berthe M. Marti Fellowship in Latin 2005-2006 (affiliated fellowship, American Academy in Rome)
Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities 2007-2008 (declined to accept position at Hillsdale College)
NEH Summer Scholar, Summer Seminar 2010 (“The ‘Falls of Rome’: The Transformation of Rome in Late Antiquity”)

Why Understanding the Imago Dei is More Crucial than Ever

By Lenny Esposito 10/3/2014

     In the very beginning of the Bible, it states that man is created in God's image. In fact, the phrase is repeated three times in Genesis 1:26-27, which is the ancient Jewish equivalent of typing in all caps to underscore the point. Theologians throughout the ages use the Latin imago Dei when speaking of this unique aspect of human creation, however most people are still a bit fuzzy as to what being made in the image of God means.

     Some people misunderstand the concept of being made in God's image to mean that God modeled our physical attributes after his own. This is a mistake as Jesus clearly taught that God is not physical but a spirit (John 4:24). As I've explained elsewhere, bearing the image of God means that humans are fundamentally different from every other animal created on the earth. Part of the imago Dei is the capability we have to reason and the ability to exercise our free will and make meaningful choices.

     Recently, though, asked a question that I expect many other Christians may have about this definition. A person asked "What about those who are mentally ill, though? How can they bear God's image if they lack the ability to reason or make decisions for themselves?" This is a good question that reveals bias of our modern culture that has larger implications across a variety of moral issues.

Click here for entire article

     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.

     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"

     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.

     Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

How is Man Created in the Image of God?

By Lenny Esposito

     I'm having a hard time understanding how humans are both born in sin and created in God's image. Are we physically created in God's image or are our spirits patterned after His?

     If created physically after His image then what about those born with physical defects? If spiritually then what about those who happen to have very deranged minds, who are just ruthless and evil?

     Whenever someone is being difficult, I'm able to brush it off by saying, "Well, God created them, too" but there are some whom it would be an insult to Him to say such a thing. I understand that we're all born in sin as a result of Adam and Eve, but how do theologians explain when God's impression on man begins and ends in the womb or even before conception?

Click here for entire article

     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.

     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"

     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.

     Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood…

By Lydia McGrew

     There is a striking similarity between the language Jesus uses concerning eating his flesh and drinking his blood in what is known as the bread of life discourse, found only in John 6, and in the institution of the Lord’s Supper, found in all three of the Synoptic Gospels but not in John.

(Jn 6:53–56) 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. ESV

     Compare this passage to, for example, the words of institution in the Gospel of Luke:

(Lk 22:19–20) 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. ESV

     Mark and Matthew also refer to eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood in parallel passages (Mark 14.22– 24 and Matt 26.26– 29).

(Mk 14:22–24) 22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. ESV

(Mt 26:26–29) 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” ESV

     There is a well-known tradition of interpretation that insists that John 6 is absolutely not about Communion in any sense at all but only about believing in Jesus by faith, whether or not in connection with receiving Communion. Perhaps the most famous proponent of this view was Martin Luther, 6 who insisted that “the sixth chapter of John does not refer at all to the Supper.” 7 Luther, as it happens, was a sacramentalist, holding to consubstantiation (the view that in some sense the body and blood of Jesus are “in, with, and under” the elements of bread and wine in Communion), but many non-sacramentalists have, quite understandably, adopted Luther’s interpretation of John 6 as having nothing whatsoever to do with Communion.

     I should admit frankly that this insistence that Jesus’ words in John 6 do not have anything to do with the Lord’s Supper seems to me extreme and implausible. Assuming that Jesus spoke the words in John 6 at all (a point to which I will return shortly), it would seem that such an insistence means that the exact similarity of the wording between the passages is at most the result of Jesus’ general fondness for the metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Moreover, this view would seem to mean that in John 6 the metaphor refers to believing in him by faith at any time and in any context but that in the words of institution it refers more specifically to believing on him and remembering his death when one partakes of Communion. Despite the similarity of wording, the disciples, apparently, were not expected to recognize his words at the institution as connected in any special way to the discourse which made such a stir, recorded in John 6, but were to have understood both teachings merely to use a striking and even disturbing metaphor for faith in Jesus in some context or another. All of this seems to me quite strained, perhaps motivated in part by the idea that Jesus could not have been speaking in John 6 about a rite that he had not yet instituted. My own interpretive conclusions notwithstanding, however, the claim that John 6 is not at all about Communion cannot be entirely set aside, if for no other reason than that (I suspect) a fair number of the readers of this book accept that interpretation.

     Alternatively, one can hold that Jesus was speaking of the Lord’s Supper in John 6, not in the sense that the crowds were expected to understand this at that time by his teaching, but in the sense that he was alluding cryptically to something that he would make clearer later to those who continued to follow him. This sort of veiled allusion would hardly be uncharacteristic of Jesus’ teaching as we find it elsewhere. For example, his words to Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit in John 3 would not have been clear to Nicodemus at the time but would have become much clearer in the light of Pentecost. The statement, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” recorded in John 2.19 is glossed by John, in hindsight, as referring to the resurrection, but Jesus himself apparently did not explain it at the time.

     If one takes Jesus to be teaching in John 6 in anticipation of his own later institution of the Lord’s Supper, there is a further division that can be made: One can hold a memorialist view and take it that Jesus was alluding in advance to the Lord’s Supper and that the disciples would have understood only later that he was urging the importance of remembering his death by means of that commanded rite. Or one can hold some version of sacramentalism, whether it be transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or a spiritual Real Presence view.

     What does all of this have to do with undesigned coincidences? Can one agree that there is an undesigned coincidence between John 6 and the words of institution if one holds Luther’s view on the interpretation of John 6?

     If one holds that Jesus was foreshadowing the Lord’s Supper in John 6, regardless of whether or not one holds a sacramental view of Communion, one can view the similarity of language (rightly, I believe) as a straightforward, familiar type of undesigned coincidence between the passages. The passage in John 6 raises the question, “Why did Jesus talk to the people about such an odd thing as eating his flesh and drinking his blood?” and this question is answered by the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The institution is recorded only in the Synoptics, and Jesus’ discourse on himself as the bread of life and on the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood is recorded only in John. The answer to the question is that he spoke this way in John 6 in anticipation of instituting the Lord’s Supper at the end of his ministry, expecting his followers to put it all together later if they persevered in discipleship (as contrasted with those who fell away in John 6.66– 67). This is the kind of undesigned coincidence we have seen already, in which a question is raised by one Gospel and the answer found only in one or more of the other Gospels. Such a coincidence confirms both accounts by means of the fit between question and answer.

     But what if one is insistent that John 6 is not about the Lord’s Supper at all? In that case, the following argument still applies: Suppose, hypothetically, that Jesus did not give the bread of life discourse at all. Suppose, for example, that John made it up and inserted it into the Gospel for theological reasons. In that case, where did he get the language about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood? Even someone who thinks that there is no actual teaching about Communion in the passage should recognize that, if the passage were not genuine, the language put into Jesus’ mouth almost certainly would have been borrowed from the words of institution in the Synoptic Gospels. But in that case, a critic who denies the authenticity of the discourse in John 6 faces a conundrum. Why did John not include the institution of Communion in his own Gospel? Why does he leave the odd and difficult bread of life discourse dangling, using eucharistic-sounding language but without making any connection to the very passage from which he borrowed that language? Indeed, even if John had included the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the connection would be inexplicit, as the two passages would come far apart in the Gospel without any obvious connection. One might have expected even more than mere inclusion of the Lord’s Supper if the bread of life discourse is an invention. Just as John pauses to inform the reader that Jesus spoke of the temple of his body in John 2, one might expect John to pause after noting the disgust and puzzlement of the crowd in John 6 and gloss Jesus’ words as referring to his body given in the Lord’s Supper. 8 That, at any rate, would not be an unreasonable expectation if he had gone to the trouble to invent the discourse. But at least we would expect that he would include the institution of the Lord’s Supper itself. This is all the more likely since the purpose of such an invention of the discourse would presumably be theological, but including the words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood without any connection to the Supper or to any other passage on the same theme does little to serve a theological agenda.

     Here it should be noted that the argument from undesigned coincidences often gives us evidence that the Gospel writers saw themselves first and foremost as witnesses to the deeds and words of Jesus Christ, not primarily as authors of literary and/ or theologically sculpted works. Those two roles are not necessarily in conflict, so long as the author of the literary or theological work is always scrupulous about his role as a witness— for example, so long as he does not ever “make” things happen in a way contrary to the way that, to the best of his knowledge, they actually happened. But it is particularly noticeable that the Gospel authors often seem to write with the lack of affectation that we find in a person whose primary purpose is getting important information out there, getting down what happened, making it available, rather than in one whose primary purpose is to fit together what he writes in a polished manner. The author of the Gospel of John is certainly theological, perhaps more so than any of the other Gospel writers. But again and again we find him including items in his Gospel without their full explanations, apparently just because he wanted his readers to know that they happened. That sort of approach on John’s part is a perfectly good explanation of the presence of the John 6 discourse and the absence of the account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in John. The fact that we find John apparently doing this type of thing repeatedly argues for the priorities of the witness rather than the priorities of the theologian or literary craftsman, and it fits well with statements within the Gospel itself, most notably John 19.35: “He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe.”

     One does not need to hold that Jesus’ words in John 6, taken as genuine, are actually about the Lord’s Supper to see the force of this argument. If John had faked the discourse, it is highly unlikely that he would not include the institution. Since he does not include the institution but does include the discourse, leaving it as a puzzle over which theologians have argued down the ages, the better explanation is that he includes the discourse because it actually happened and because he knows that it actually happened and wants to tell about it. He doesn’t include the Lord’s Supper when he tells about the Last Supper because he has other things he wants to include at that point in his Gospel instead that are not found in the Synoptic Gospels— things like Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet (John 13), the high priestly prayer (John 17), and several chapters of additional teachings of Jesus found only in John’s account of Jesus’ last night with his disciples. Since his purpose is to be a witness to Jesus more than the crafter of a unified theological and literary work of art, and since he is in all events testifying to what he knows is true, he does not worry about the fact that the bread of life discourse with its surprising language is not particularly connected to anything else in his own Gospel.

     If you take the discourse in John 6 to be about the Lord’s Supper, you will take the undesigned coincidence to be of one kind: What lies behind both it and the words of institution is the reality that Jesus said both of them and that Jesus wanted in both of them to teach about the Lord’s Supper. On the other hand, if you take the discourse in John 6 to be about believing on Jesus and not about the Lord’s Supper at all, you will take the undesigned coincidence to be of a somewhat different kind: On that view, the coincidence of language is explained by Jesus’ preference for that particular metaphor, which he used in both places as a way of teaching about believing in him in various contexts.

     In either case, the coincidence supports the reliability of John in his unique material.


Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts

     Lydia McGrew

1. The Word of Forgiveness

A.W. Pink from The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

     "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

     2. Here we see Christ identified with his people.

     "Father, forgive them." On no previous occasion did Christ make such a request of the Father. Never before had he invoked the Father’s forgiveness of others. Hitherto he forgave himself. To the man sick of the palsy he had said, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matthew 9:2). To the woman who washed his feet with her tears in the house of Simon, he said, "Thy sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:48). Why then should he now ask the Father to forgive, instead of directly pronouncing forgiveness himself?

     Forgiveness of sin is a divine prerogative. The Jewish scribes were right when they reasoned "Who can forgive sins but God only?" (Mark 2:7). But you say, Christ was God. Truly; but man also - the God-man. He was the Son of God that had become the Son of Man with the express purpose of offering himself as a sacrifice for sin. And when the Lord Jesus cried "Father, forgive them" he was on the cross, and there he might not exercise his divine prerogatives. Mark carefully his own words, and then behold the marvellous accuracy of scripture. He had said, "The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins" (Matthew 9:6). But he was no longer on earth! He had been "lifted up from the earth" (John 12:32)! Moreover, on the cross he was acting as our substitute; the just was about to die for the unjust. Hence it was that hanging there as our representative, he was no longer in the place of authority where he might exercise his own divine prerogatives, therefore takes he the position of a suppliant before the Father. Thus we say that when the blessed Lord Jesus cried, "Father, forgive them", we see him absolutely identified with his people. No longer was he in the position "on earth" where he had the "power" or "right" to forgive sins; instead, he intercedes for sinners - as we must.

     "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

     3. Here we see the divine estimate of sin and its consequent guilt.

     Under the Levitical economy God required that atonement should be made for sins of ignorance.

     "If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him" (Lev. 5:15, 16).

     And again we read:

     "And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses, even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations; Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the Lord, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, for their ignorance" (Num. 15: 22-25).

     It is in view of such scriptures as these that we find David prayed, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults" (Ps. 19:12).

     Sin is always sin in the sight of God whether we are conscious of it or not. Sins of ignorance need atonement just as truly as do conscious sins. God is holy, and he will not lower his standard of righteousness to the level of our ignorance. Ignorance is not innocence. As a matter of fact, ignorance is more culpable now than it was in the days of Moses. We have no excuse for our ignorance. God has clearly and fully revealed his will. The Bible is in our hands, and we cannot plead ignorance of its contents except to condemn our laziness. God has spoken and by his word we shall be judged.

     And yet the fact remains that we are ignorant of many things, and the fault and blame are ours. And this does not minimize the enormity of our guilt. Sins of ignorance need the divine forgiveness as our Lord’s prayer here plainly shows. Learn then how high is God’s standard, how great is our need, and praise him for an atonement of infinite sufficiency, which cleanseth from all sin.

     "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."


The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     6. They now come to closer quarters, while they support their view by passages of Scripture which they think clearly in their favour. [341] Those who came to John's baptism confessed their sins, and James bids us confess our sins one to another (James 5:16). It is not strange that those who wished to be baptized confessed their sins. It has already been mentioned, that John preached the baptism of repentance, baptized with water unto repentance. Whom then could he baptize, but those who confessed that they were sinners? Baptism is a symbol of the forgiveness of sins; and who could be admitted to receive the symbol but sinners acknowledging themselves as such? They therefore confessed their sins that they might be baptized. Nor without good reason does James enjoin us to confess our sins one to another. But if they would attend to what immediately follows, they would perceive that this gives them little support. The words are, "Confess your sins one to another, and pray one for another." He joins together mutual confession and mutual prayer. If, then, we are to confess to priests only, we are also to pray for them only. What? It would even follow from the words of James, that priests alone can confess. In saying that we are to confess mutually, he must be addressing those only who can hear the confession of others. He says, "allelous", mutually, by turns, or, if they prefer it, reciprocally. But those only can confess reciprocally who are fit to hear confession. This being a privilege which they bestow upon priests only, we also leave them the office of confessing to each other. Have done then with such frivolous absurdities, and let us receive the true meaning of the apostle, which is plain and simple; first, That we are to deposit our infirmities in the breasts of each other, with the view of receiving mutual counsel, sympathy, and comfort; and, secondly, That mutually conscious of the infirmities of our brethren we are to pray to the Lord for them. Why then quote James against us who so earnestly insist on acknowledgment of the divine mercy? No man can acknowledge the mercy of God without previously confessing his own misery. Nay, we pronounce every man to be anathema who does not confess himself a sinner before God, before his angels, before the Church; in short, before all men. "The Scripture has concluded all under sin," "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God," that God alone may be justified and exalted (Gal. 3:22; Rom. 3:9, 19).

7. I wonder at their effrontery in venturing to maintain that the confession of which they speak is of divine authority. We admit that the use of it is very ancient; but we can easily prove that at one time it was free. It certainly appears, from their own records, that no law or constitution respecting it was enacted before the days of Innocent III. Surely if there had been a more ancient law they would have fastened on it, instead of being satisfied with the decree of the Council of Lateral, and so making themselves ridiculous even to children. In other matters, they hesitate not to coin fictitious decrees, which they ascribe to the most ancient Councils, that they may blind the eyes of the simple by veneration for antiquity. In this instance it has not occurred to them to practice this deception, and hence, themselves being witnesses, three centuries have not yet elapsed since the bridle was put, and the necessity of confession imposed by Innocent III. And to say nothing of the time, the mere barbarism of the terms used destroys the authority of the law. For when these worthy fathers enjoin that every person of both sexes (utriusque sexus) must once a year confess his sins to his own priest, men of wit humorously object that the precept binds hermaphrodites only, and has no application to any one who is either a male or a female. A still grosser absurdity has been displayed by their disciples, who are unable to explain what is meant by one's own priest (proprius sacerdos). Let all the hired ravers of the Pope babble as they may, [342] we hold that Christ is not the author of this law, which compels men to enumerate their sins; nay, that twelve hundred years elapsed after the resurrection of Christ before any such law was made, and that, consequently, this tyranny was not introduced until piety and doctrine were extinct, and pretended pastors had usurped to themselves unbridled license. There is clear evidence in historians, and other ancient writers, to show that this was a politic discipline introduced by bishops, not a law enacted by Christ or the Apostles. Out of many I will produce only one passage, which will be no obscure proof. Sozomen [343] relates, [344] that this constitution of the bishops was carefully observed in the Western churches, but especially at Rome; thus intimating that it was not the universal custom of all churches. He also says, that one of the presbyters was specially appointed to take charge of this duty. This abundantly confutes their falsehood as to the keys being given to the whole priesthood indiscriminately for this purpose, since the function was not common to all the priests, but specially belonged to the one priest whom the bishop had appointed to it. He it was (the same who at present in each of the cathedral churches has the name of penitentiary) who had cognizance of offenses which were more heinous, and required to be rebuked for the sake of example. He afterwards adds, that the same custom existed at Constantinople, until a certain matron, while pretending to confess, was discovered to have used it as a cloak to cover her intercourse with a deacon. In consequence of that crime, Nectarius, the bishop of that church--a man famous for learning and sanctity--abolished the custom of confessing. Here, then, let these asses prick up their ears. If auricular confession was a divine law, how could Nectarius have dared to abolish or remodel it? Nectarius, a holy man of God, approved by the suffrage of all antiquity, will they charge with heresy and schism? With the same vote they will condemn the church of Constantinople, in which Sozomen affirms that the custom of confessing was not only disguised for a time, but even in his own memory abolished. Nay, let them charge with defections not only Constantinople but all the Eastern churches, which (if they say true) disregarded an inviolable law enjoined on all Christians.

8. This abrogation is clearly attested in so many passages by Chrysostom, who lived at Constantinople, and was himself prelate of the church, that it is strange they can venture to maintain the contrary: "Tell your sins", says he, "that you may efface them: if you blush to tell another what sins you have committed, tell them daily in your soul. I say not, tell them to your fellow-servant who may upbraid you, but tell them to God who cures them. Confess your sins upon your bed, that your conscience may there daily recognize its iniquities." Again, "Now, however, it is not necessary to confess before witnesses; let the examination of your faults be made in your own thought: let the judgment be without a witness: let God alone see you confessing." Again, "I do not lead you publicly into the view of your fellow servants; I do not force you to disclose your sins to men; review and lay open your conscience before God. Show your wounds to the Lord, the best of physicians, and seek medicine from him. Show to him who upbraids not, but cures most kindly." Again, "Certainly tell it not to man lest he upbraid you. Nor must you confess to your fellow servant, who may make it public; but show your wounds to the Lord, who takes care of you, who is kind and can cure." He afterwards introduces God speaking thus: "I oblige you not to come into the midst of a theatre, and have many witnesses; tell your sins to me alone in private, that I may cure the ulcer." [345] Shall we say that Chrysostom, in writing these and similar passages, carried his presumption so far as to free the consciences of men from those chains with which they are bound by the divine law? By no means; but knowing that it was not at all prescribed by the word of God, he dares not exact it as necessary.

9. But that the whole matter may be more plainly unfolded, we shall first honestly state the nature of confession as delivered in the word of God, and thereafter subjoin their inventions--not all of them indeed (who could drink up that boundless sea?) but those only which contain summary of their secret confession. Here I am grieved to mention how frequently the old interpreter [346] has rendered the word confess instead of praise, a fact notorious to the most illiterate, were it not fitting to expose their effrontery in transferring to their tyrannical edict what was written concerning the praises of God. To prove that confession has the effect of exhilarating the mind, they obtrude the passage in the psalm, "with the voice of joy and praise," (Vulgate, confessionis) (Ps. 42:4). But if such a metamorphosis is valid, any thing may be made of any thing. But, as they have lost all shame, let pious readers reflect how, by the just vengeance of God, they have been given over to a reprobate mind, that their audacity may be the more detestable. If we are disposed to acquiesce in the simple doctrine of Scripture, there will be no danger of our being misled by such glosses. There one method of confessing is prescribed; since it is the Lord who forgives, forgets and wipes away sins, to him let us confess them, that we may obtain pardon. He is the physician, therefore let us show our wounds to him. He is hurt and offended, let us ask peace of him. He is the discerner of the heart, and knows all one thoughts; let us hasten to pour out our hearts before him. He it is, in fine, who invites sinners; let us delay not to draw near to him. "I acknowledge my sin unto thee," says David; "and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin," (Ps. 32:5). Another specimen of David's confessions is as follows: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness," (Ps. 51:1). The following is Daniel's confession: "We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and thy judgments," (Dan. 9:5). Other examples every where occur in Scripture: the quotation of them would almost fill a volume. "If we confess our sins," says John, "he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," (1 John 1:9). To whom are we to confess? to Him surely;--that is, we are to fall down before him with a grieved and humbled heart, and sincerely accusing and condemning ourselves, seek forgiveness of his goodness and mercy.

10. He who has adopted this confession from the heart and as in the presence of God, will doubtless have a tongue ready to confess whenever there is occasion among men to publish the mercy of God. He will not be satisfied to whisper the secret of his heart for once into the ear of one individual, but will often, and openly, and in the hearing of the whole world, ingenuously make mention both of his own ignominy, and of the greatness and glory of the Lord. In this way David, after he was accused by Nathan, being stung in his conscience, confesses his sin before God and men. "I have sinned unto the Lord," says he (2 Sam. 12:13); that is, I have now no excuse, no evasion; all must judge me a sinner; and that which I wished to be secret with the Lord must also be made manifest to men. Hence the secret confession which is made to God is followed by voluntary confession to men, whenever that is conducive to the divine glory or our humiliation. For this reason the Lord anciently enjoined the people of Israel that they should repeat the words after the priest, and make public confession of their iniquities in the temple; because he foresaw that this was a necessary help to enable each one to form a just idea of himself. And it is proper that by confession of our misery, we should manifest the mercy of our God both among ourselves and before the whole world.

11. It is proper that this mode of confession should both be ordinary in the Church, and also be specially employed on extraordinary occasions, when the people in common happen to have fallen into any fault. Of this latter description we have an example in the solemn confession which the whole people made under the authority and guidance of Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 1:6, 7). For their long captivity, the destruction of the temple, and suppression of their religion, having been the common punishment of their defection, they could not make meet acknowledgment of the blessing of deliverance without previous confession of their guilt. And it matters not though in one assembly it may sometimes happen that a few are innocent, seeing that the members of a languid and sickly body cannot boast of soundness. Nay, it is scarcely possible that these few have not contracted some taint, and so bear part of the blame. Therefore, as often as we are afflicted with pestilence, or war, or famine, or any other calamity whatsoever, if it is our duty to retake ourselves to mourning, fasting, and other signs of guiltiness, confession also, on which all the others depend, is not to be neglected. That ordinary confession which the Lord has moreover expressly commended, no sober man, who has reflected on its usefulness, will venture to disapprove. Seeing that in every sacred assembly we stand in the view of God and angels, in what way should our service begin but in acknowledging our own unworthiness? But this you will say is done in every prayer; for as often as we pray for pardon, we confess our sins. I admit it. But if you consider how great is our carelessness, or drowsiness, or sloth, you will grant me that it would be a salutary ordinance if the Christian people were exercised in humiliation by some formal method of confession. For though the ceremony which the Lord enjoined on the Israelites belonged to the tutelage of the Law, yet the thing itself belongs in some respect to us also. And, indeed, in all well ordered churches, in observance of an useful custom, the minister, each Lord's day, frames a formula of confession in his own name and that of the people, in which he makes a common confession of iniquity, and supplicates pardon from the Lord. In short, by this key a door of prayer is opened privately for each, and publicly for all.

12. Two other forms of private confession are approved by Scripture. The one is made on our own account, and to it reference is made in the passage in James, "Confess your sins one to another," (James 5:16); for the meaning is, that by disclosing our infirmities to each other, we are to obtain the aid of mutual counsel and consolation. The other is to be made for the sake of our neighbor, to appease and reconcile him if by our fault he has been in any respect injured. In the former, although James, by not specifying any particular individual into whose bosom we are to disburden our feelings, leaves us the free choice of confessing to any member of the church who may seem fittest; yet as for the most part pastors are to be supposed better qualified than others, our choice ought chiefly to fall upon them. And the ground of preference is, that the Lord, by calling them to the ministry, points them out as the persons by whose lips we are to be taught to subdue and correct our sins, and derive consolation from the hope of pardon. For as the duty of mutual admonition and correction is committed to all Christians, but is specially enjoined on ministers, so while we ought all to console each other mutually and confirm each other in confidence in the divine mercy, we see that ministers, to assure our consciences of the forgiveness of fins, are appointed to be the witnesses and sponsors of it, so that they are themselves said to forgive sins and loose souls (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). When you hear this attributed to them, reflect that it is for your use. Let every believer, therefore, remember, that if in private he is so agonized and afflicted by a sense of his sins that he cannot obtain relief without the aid of others, it is his duty not to neglect the remedy which God provides for him--viz. to have recourse for relief to a private confession to his own pastor, and for consolation privately implore the assistance of him whose business it is, both in public and private, to solace the people of God with Gospel doctrine. But we are always to use moderation, lest in a matter as to which God prescribes no certain rule, our consciences be burdened with a certain yoke. Hence it follows first, that confession of this nature ought to be free so as not to be exacted of all, but only recommended to those who feel that they have need of it; and, secondly, even those who use it according to their necessity must neither be compelled by any precept, nor artfully induced to enumerate all their sins, but only in so far as they shall deem it for their interest, that they may obtain the full benefit of consolation. Faithful pastors, as they would both eschew tyranny in their ministry, and superstition in the people, must not only leave this liberty to churches, but defend and strenuously vindicate it.

13. Of the second form of confession, our Savior speaks in Matthew. "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother has ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift," (Mt. 5:23, 24). Thus love, which has been interrupted by our fault, must be restored by acknowledging and asking pardon for the fault. Under this head is included the confession of those who by their sin have given offense to the whole Church (supra, sec. 10). For if Christ attaches so much importance to the offense of one individual, that he forbids the sacrifice of all who have sinned in any respect against their brethren, until by due satisfaction they have regained their favor, how much greater reason is there that he, who by some evil example has offended the Church should be reconciled to it by the acknowledgment of his fault? Thus the member of the Church of Corinth was restored to communion after he had humbly submitted to correction (2 Cor. 2:6). This form of confession existed in the ancient Christian Church, as Cyprian relates: "They practice repentance," says he, "for a proper time, then they come to confession, and by the laying on of the hands of the bishop and clergy, are admitted to communion." Scripture knows nothing of any other form or method of confessing, and it belongs not to us to bind new chains upon consciences which Christ most strictly prohibits from being brought into bondage. Meanwhile, that the flock present themselves before the pastor whenever they would partake of the Holy Supper, I am so far from disapproving, that I am most desirous it should be everywhere observed. For both those whose conscience is hindered may thence obtain singular benefit, and those who require admonition thus afford an opportunity for it; provided always no countenance is given to tyranny and superstition.

14. The power of the keys has place in the three following modes of confession,--either when the whole Church, in a formal acknowledgment of its defects, [347] supplicates pardon; or when a private individual, who has given public offense by some notable delinquency, testifies his repentance; or when he who from disquiet of conscience needs the aid of his minister, acquaints him with his infirmity. With regard to the reparation of offense, the case is different. For though in this also provision is made for peace of conscience, yet the principal object is to suppress hatred, and reunite brethren in the bond of peace. But the benefit of which I have spoken is by no means to be despised, that we may the more willingly confess our sins. For when the whole Church stands as it were at the bar of God, confesses her guilt, and finds her only refuge in the divine mercy, it is no common or light solace to have an ambassador of Christ present, invested with the mandate of reconciliations by whom she may hear her absolution pronounced. Here the utility of the keys is justly commended when that embassy is duly discharged with becoming order and reverence. In like manner, when he who has as it were become an alien from the Church receives pardon, and is thus restored to brotherly unity, how great is the benefit of understanding that he is pardoned by those to whom Christ said, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them," (John 20:23). Nor is private absolution of less benefit or efficacy when asked by those who stand in need of a special remedy for their infirmity. It not seldom happens, that he who hears general promises which are intended for the whole congregation of the faithful, nevertheless remains somewhat in doubts, and is still disquieted in mind, as if his own remission were not yet obtained. Should this individual lay open the secret wound of his soul to his pastor, and hear these words of the Gospel specially addressed to him, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee," (Mt. 9:2), [348] his mind will feel secure, and escape from the trepidation with which it was previously agitated. But when we treat of the keys, us must always beware of dreaming of any power apart from the preaching of the Gospel. This subject will be more fully explained when we come to treat of the government of the Church (Book 4 chap. 11, 12). There we shall see, that whatever privilege of binding and loosing Christ has bestowed on his Church is annexed to the word. This is especially true with regard to the ministry of the keys, the whole power of which consists in this, that the grace of the Gospel is publicly and privately sealed on the minds of believers by means of those whom the Lord has appointed; and the only method in which this can be done is by preaching.

15. What say the Roman theologians? That all persons of both sexes, [349] so soon as they shall have reached the years of discretion, must, once a year at least, confess all their sins to their own priest; that the sin is not discharged unless the resolution to confess has been firmly conceived; that if this resolution is not carried into effect when an opportunity offers, there is no entrance into Paradise; that the priest, moreover has the power of the keys, by which he can loose and bind the sinner; because the declaration of Christ is not in vain: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," (Mt. 18:18). Concerning this power, however they wage a fierce war among themselves. Some say there is only one key essentially--viz. the power of binding and loosing; that knowledge, indeed, is requisite for the proper use of it, but only as an accessory, not as essentially inherent in it. Others seeing that this gave too unrestrained license, have imagined two keys--viz. discernment and power. Others, again, seeing that the license of priests was curbed by such restraint, have forged other keys (infra, sec. 21), the authority of discerning to be used in defining, and the power to carry their sentences into execution; and to these they add knowledge as a counselor. This binding and loosing, however, they do not venture to interpret simply, to forgive and wipe away sins, because they hear the Lord proclaiming by the prophet, "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior." "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions," (Isaiah 43:11, 25). But they say it belongs to the priest to declare who are bound or loosed, and whose sins are remitted or retained; to declare, moreover, either by confession, when he absolves and retains sins, or by sentence, when he excommunicates or admits to communion in the Sacraments. Lastly, perceiving that the knot is not yet untied, because it may always be objected that persons are often undeservedly bound and loosed, and therefore not bound or loosed in heaven; as their ultimate resource, they answer, that the conferring of the keys must be taken with limitations because Christ has promised that the sentence of the priest, properly pronounced, will be approved at his judgment-seat according as the bound or loosed asked what they merited. They say, moreover, that those keys which are conferred by bishops at ordination were given by Christ to all priests but that the free use of them is with those only who discharge ecclesiastical functions; that with priests excommunicated or suspended the keys themselves indeed remain, but tied and rusty. Those who speak thus may justly be deemed modest and sober compared with others, who on a new anvil have forged new keys, by which they say that the treasury of heaven is locked up: these we shall afterwards consider in their own place (chap. 5 sec. 2).

16. To each of these views I will briefly reply. As to their binding the souls of believers by their laws, whether justly or unjustly, I say nothing at present, as it will be seen at the proper place; but their enacting it as a law, that all sins are to be enumerated; their denying that sin is discharged except under the condition that the resolution to confess has been firmly conceived; their pretence that there is no admission into Paradise if the opportunity of confession has been neglected, are things which it is impossible to bear. Are all sins to be enumerated? But David, who, I presume, had honestly pondered with himself as to the confession of his sins, exclaimed, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults," (Ps. 19:12); and in another passage, "Mine iniquities are gone over my head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me," (Ps. 38:4). He knew how deep was the abyss of our sins, how numerous the forms of wickedness, how many heads the hydra carried, how long a tail it drew. Therefore, he did not sit down to make a catalogue, but from the depth of his distress cried unto the Lord, "I am overwhelmed, and buried, and sore vexed; the gates of hell have encircled me: let thy right hand deliver me from the abyss into which I am plunged, and from the death which I am ready to die." Who can now think of a computation of his sins when he sees David's inability to number his?

17. By this ruinous procedure, the souls of those who were affected with some sense of God have been most cruelly racked. First, they retook themselves to calculation, proceeding according to the formula given by the Schoolmen, and dividing their sins into boughs, branches, twigs, and leaves; then they weighed the qualities, quantities, and circumstances; and in this way, for some time, matters proceeded. But after they had advanced farther, when they looked around, nought was seen but sea and sky; no road, no harbor. The longer the space they ran over, a longer still met the eye; nay, lofty mountains began to rise, and there seemed no hope of escape; none at least till after long wanderings. They were thus brought to a dead halt, till at length the only issue was found in despair. Here these cruel murderers, to ease the wounds which they had made, applied certain fomentations. Every one was to do his best. But new cares again disturbed, nay, new torments excruciated their souls. "I have not spent enough of time; I have not exerted myself sufficiently: many things I have omitted through negligence: forgetfulness proceeding from want of care is not excusable." Then new drugs were supplied to alleviate their pains. "Repent of your negligence; and provided it is not done supinely, it will be pardoned." All these things, however, could not heal the wound, being not so much alleviations of the sore as poison besmeared with honey, that its bitterness might not at once offend the taste, but penetrate to the vitals before it could be detected. The dreadful voice, therefore, was always heard pealing in their ears, "Confess all your sins," and the dread thus occasioned could not be pacified without sure consolation. Here let my readers consider whether it be possible to take an account of the actions of a whole year, or even to collect the sins committed in a single day, seeing every man's experience convinces him that at evening, in examining the faults of that single day, memory gets confused, so great is the number and variety presented. I am not speaking of dull and heartless hypocrites, who, after animadverting on three or four of their grosser offenses, think the work finished; but of the true worshipers of God, who, after they have performed their examination, feeling themselves overwhelmed, still add the words of John: "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things," (1 John 3:20); and, therefore, tremble at the thought of that Judge whose knowledge far surpasses our comprehension.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream (Part 2)

By John Bunyan 1678

THE SIXTH STAGE

     Thus they went on till they came to the place where Evangelist met with Christian and Faithful, and prophesied to them what should befall them at Vanity Fair. Then said their guide, Hereabouts did Christian and Faithful meet with Evangelist, who prophesied to them of what troubles they should meet with at Vanity Fair.

     HON. Say you so? I dare say it was a hard chapter that then he did read unto them.

     GREAT. It was so, but he gave them encouragement withal. But what do we talk of them? They were a couple of lion-like men; they had set their faces like a flint. Do not you remember how undaunted they were when they stood before the judge?

     HON. Well: Faithful bravely suffered.

     GREAT. So he did, and as brave things came on’t; for Hopeful, and some others, as the story relates it, were converted by his death.

     HON. Well, but pray go on; for you are well acquainted with things.

     GREAT. Above all that Christian met with after he had passed through Vanity Fair, one By-ends was the arch one.

     HON. By-ends! what was he?

     GREAT. A very arch fellow, a downright hypocrite; one that would be religious, whichever way the world went; but so cunning, that he would be sure never to lose or suffer for it. He had his mode of religion for every fresh occasion, and his wife was as good at it as he. He would turn from opinion to opinion; yea, and plead for so doing, too. But, so far as I could learn, he came to an ill end with his by-ends; nor did I ever hear that any of his children were ever of any esteem with any that truly feared God.

     Now by this time they were come within sight of the town of Vanity, where Vanity Fair is kept. So, when they saw that they were so near the town, they consulted with one another how they should pass through the town; and some said one thing, and some another. At last Mr. Great-Heart said, I have, as you may understand, often been a conductor of pilgrims through this town. Now, I am acquainted with one Mr. Mnason,

Acts 21:16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.   ESV

a Cyprusian by nation, an old disciple, at whose house we may lodge. If you think good, we will turn in there.

     Content, said old Honest; Content, said Christiana; Content, said Mr. Feeble-mind; and so they said all. Now you must think it was eventide by that they got to the outside of the town; but Mr. Great-Heart knew the way to the old man’s house. So thither they came; and he called at the door, and the old man within knew his tongue as soon as ever he heard it; so he opened the door, and they all came in. Then said Mnason, their host, How far have ye come to-day? So they said, from the house of Gaius our friend. I promise you, said he, you have gone a good stitch. You may well be weary; sit down. So they sat down.

     GREAT. Then said their guide, Come, what cheer, good sirs? I dare say you are welcome to my friend.

     MNAS. I also, said Mr. Mnason, do bid you welcome; and whatever you want, do but say, and we will do what we can to get it for you.

     HON. Our great want, a while since, was harbor and good company, and now I hope we have both.

     MNAS. For harbor, you see what it is; but for good company, that will appear in the trial.

     GREAT. Well, said Mr. Great-Heart, will you have the pilgrims up into their lodging?

     MNAS. I will, said Mr. Mnason. So he had them to their respective places; and also showed them a very fair dining-room, where they might be, and sup together until the time should come to go to rest.

     Now, when they were seated in their places, and were a little cheery after their journey, Mr. Honest asked his landlord if there was any store of good people in the town.

     MNAS. We have a few: for indeed they are but a few when compared with them on the other side.

     HON. But how shall we do to see some of them? for the sight of good men to them that are going on pilgrimage, is like the appearing of the moon and stars to them that are sailing upon the seas.

     MNAS. Then Mr. Mnason stamped with his foot, and his daughter Grace came up. So he said unto her, Grace, go you, tell my friends, Mr. Contrite, Mr. Holy-man, Mr. Love-saints, Mr. Dare-not-lie, and Mr. Penitent, that I have a friend or two at my house who have a mind this evening to see them. So Grace went to call them, and they came; and after salutation made, they sat down together at the table.

     Then said Mr. Mnason their landlord, My neighbors, I have, as you see, a company of strangers come to my house; they are pilgrims: they come from afar, and are going to Mount Zion. But who, quoth he, do you think this is? pointing his finger to Christiana. It is Christiana, the wife of Christian, the famous pilgrim, who, with Faithful his brother, was so shamefully handled in our town. At that they stood amazed, saying, We little thought to see Christiana when Grace came to call us; wherefore this is a very comfortable surprise. They then asked her of her welfare, and if these young men were her husband’s sons. And when she had told them they were, they said, The King whom you love and serve make you as your father, and bring you where he is in peace.

     HON. Then Mr. Honest (when they were all sat down) asked Mr. Contrite and the rest, in what posture their town was at present.

     CONT. You may be sure we are full of hurry in fair-time. ’T is hard keeping our hearts and spirits in good order when we are in a cumbered condition. He that lives in such a place as this is, and has to do with such as we have, has need of an item  to caution him to take heed every moment of the day.   As it is today. We do well to listen to the following:

Proverbs 4:20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
  ESV


     HON. But how are your neighbors now for quietness?

     CONT. They are much more moderate now than formerly. You know how Christian and Faithful were used at our town; but of late, I say, they have been far more moderate. I think the blood of Faithful lieth as a load upon them till now; for since they burned him, they have been ashamed to burn any more. In those days we were afraid to walk the street; but now we can show our heads. Then the name of a professor was odious; now, especially in some parts of our town, (for you know our town is large,) religion is counted honorable. Then said Mr. Contrite to them, Pray how fareth it with you in your pilgrimage? how stands the country affected towards you?

     HON. It happens to us as it happeneth to wayfaring men: sometimes our way is clean, sometimes foul; sometimes up hill, sometimes down hill;  we are seldom at a certainty.  The wind is not always on our backs, nor is every one a friend that we meet with in the way. We have met with some notable rubs already, and what are yet behind we know not; but for the most part, we find it true that has been talked of old, A good man must suffer trouble.

     CONT. You talk of rubs; what rubs have you met withal?

     HON. Nay, ask Mr. Great-Heart, our guide; for he can give the best account of that.

     GREAT. We have been beset three or four times already. First, Christiana and her children were beset by two ruffians, who they feared would take away their lives. We were beset by Giant Bloody-man, Giant Maul, and Giant Slay-good. Indeed, we did rather beset the last than were beset by him. And thus it was: after we had been some time at the house of Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, we were minded upon a time to take our weapons with us, and go see if we could light upon any of those that are enemies to pilgrims; for we heard that there was a notable one thereabouts. Now Gaius knew his haunt better than I, because he dwelt thereabout. So we looked, and looked, till at last we discerned the mouth of his cave: then we were glad, and plucked up our spirits. So we approached up to his den; and lo, when we came there, he had dragged, by mere force, into his net, this poor man, Mr. Feeble-mind, and was about to bring him to his end. But when he saw us, supposing, as we thought, he had another prey, he left the poor man in his hole, and came out. So we fell to it full sore, and he lustily laid about him; but, in conclusion, he was brought down to the ground, and his head cut off, and set up by the way-side for a terror to such as should after practise such ungodliness. That I tell you the truth, here is the man himself to affirm it, who was as a lamb taken out of the mouth of the lion.

     FEEBLE. Then said Mr. Feeble-mind, I found this true, to my cost and comfort: to my cost, when he threatened to pick my bones every moment; and to my comfort, when I saw Mr. Great-Heart and his friends, with their weapons, approach so near for my deliverance.

     HOLY. Then said Mr. Holy-man, There are two things that they have need to possess who go on pilgrimage; courage, and an unspotted life. If they have not courage, they can never hold on their way; and if their lives be loose, they will make the very name of a pilgrim stink.

     LOVE. Then said Mr. Love-saints, I hope this caution is not needful among you: but truly there are many that go upon the road, who rather declare themselves strangers to pilgrimage, than strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

     DARE. Then said Mr. Dare-not-lie, ’Tis true. They have neither the pilgrim’s weed, nor the pilgrim’s courage; they go not uprightly, but all awry with their feet; one shoe goeth inward, another outward; and their hosen are out behind: here a rag, and there a rent, to the disparagement of their Lord.

     PEN. These things, said Mr. Penitent, they ought to be troubled for; nor are the pilgrims like to have that grace put upon them and their Pilgrim’s Progress as they desire, until the way is cleared of such spots and blemishes. Thus they sat talking and spending the time until supper was set upon the table, unto which they went, and refreshed their weary bodies: so they went to rest.

     Now they staid in the fair a great while, at the house of Mr. Mnason, who in process of time gave his daughter Grace unto Samuel, Christian’s son, to wife, and his daughter Martha to Joseph.

     The time, as I said, that they staid here, was long, for it was not now as in former times. Wherefore the pilgrims grew acquainted with many of the good people of the town, and did them what service they could. Mercy, as she was wont, labored much for the poor: wherefore their bellies and backs blessed her, and she was there an ornament to her profession. And, to say the truth for Grace, Phebe, and Martha, they were all of a very good nature, and did much good in their places. They were also all of them very fruitful; so that Christian’s name, as was said before, was like to live in the world.

     While they lay here, there came a monster out of the woods, and slew many of the people of the town. It would also carry away their children, and teach them to suck its whelps. Now, no man in the town durst so much as face this monster; but all fled when they heard the noise of his coming.

     The monster was like unto no one beast on the earth. Its body was like a dragon, and it had seven heads and ten horns. It made great havoc of children, and yet it was governed by a woman.

Rev. 17: And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.   ESV

This monster propounded conditions to men; and such men as loved their lives more than their souls, accepted of those conditions. So they came under.

     Now Mr. Great-Heart, together with those who came to visit the pilgrims at Mr. Mnason’s house, entered into a covenant to go and engage this beast, if perhaps they might deliver the people of this town from the paws and mouth of this so devouring a serpent.

     Then did Mr. Great-Heart, Mr. Contrite, Mr. Holy-man, Mr. Dare-not-lie, and Mr. Penitent, with their weapons, go forth to meet him. Now the monster at first was very rampant, and looked upon these enemies with great disdain; but they so belabored him, being sturdy men at arms, that they made him make a retreat: so they came home to Mr. Mnason’s house again.

     The monster, you must know, had his certain seasons to come out in, and to make his attempts upon the children of the people of the town. At these seasons did these valiant worthies watch him, and did still continually assault him; insomuch that in process of time he became not only wounded, but lame. Also he has not made that havoc of the townsmen’s children as formerly he had done; and it is verily believed by some that this beast will die of his wounds.

     This, therefore, made Mr. Great-Heart and his fellows of great fame in this town; so that many of the people that wanted their taste of things, yet had a reverent esteem and respect for them. Upon this account, therefore, it was, that these pilgrims got not much hurt here. True, there were some of the baser sort, that could see no more than a mole, nor understand any more than a beast; these had no reverence for these men, and took no notice of their valor and adventures.

     Pilgrim's Progress (Illustrated): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.


  • Watchmaker Thesis
  • Philosopher Jesus?
  • Cold Case Christianity

#1 Fazale Rana | Reasons To Believe

 

#2 George Haraksin | Reasons To Believe

 

#3 J. Warner Wallace | Reasons To Believe

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Make prayer a priority
     3/10/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘We will give ourselves…to prayer and…the word.'

(Ac 6:4) But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” ESV

     In Disciplines of a Godly Man, pastor and author R. Kent Hughes says: ‘Jay Sidlow Baxter once shared a page from his own personal diary with a group of pastors who had inquired about the discipline of prayer. He began telling how…he entered the ministry determined he would be a real man of prayer. However, it wasn’t long before his increasing responsibilities, administrative duties, and the subtle subterfuges of pastoral life began to crowd prayer out. Moreover, he began to get used to it, making excuses for himself. Then one morning it all came to a head as he stood over his work-strewn desk and looked at his watch. The voice of the Spirit was calling him to pray. At the same time another velvety voice was telling him to be practical and get his letters answered, and that he ought to face the fact that he wasn’t one of the “spiritual sort” – only a few people could be like that. “That last remark,” says Baxter, “hurt like a dagger blade. I couldn’t bear to think it was true.” He was horrified by his ability to rationalise away the very ground of his ministerial vitality and power.’ Understand this: minutes invested in prayer will give you a greater return than hours spent in ceaseless activity. The New Testament apostles understood that. As the church grew bigger and they became busier, they made a life-changing decision: ‘We will give ourselves continually to prayer and…the word.’ As a result, the church grew and multiplied. So, make prayer a priority!

Numbers 17-19
Mark 7:1-16

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     26-year-old William Penn received from King Charles the charter to Pennsylvania on this date, March 10, 1681, as repayment of a debt owed to his deceased father. An Oxford graduate, Penn converted to Quakerism and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. His colony became a refuge for the persecuted peoples of Europe. Penn wrote to the Indians, whom he insisted on treating fairly: “My Friends, There is one… God…. [and He] hath made… the king of the country where I live, give… unto me a great province therein, but I desire to enjoy it with your… consent, that we may always live together as… friends.”

American Minute

The Bread Of Life
     Dr. John Stott

     If we are right in saying that in the upper room Jesus was giving an advance dramatization of his death, it is important to observe what form the drama took. It did not consist of one actor on the stage, with a dozen in the audience. No, it involved them as well as him, so that they took part in it as well as he. True, he took, blessed and broke the bread, but then he explained its significance as he gave it to them to eat. Again he took and blessed the cup, but then he explained its meaning as he gave it to them to drink. Thus they were not just spectators of this drama of the cross; they were participants in it. They can hardly have failed to get the message. Just as it was not enough for the bread to be broken and the wine to be poured out, but they had to eat and drink, so it was not enough for him to die, but they had to appropriate the benefits of his death personally. The eating and drinking were, and still are, a vivid acted parable of receiving Christ as our crucified Saviour and of feeding on him in our hearts by faith. Jesus had already taught this in his great discourse on the Living Bread which followed his feeding of the five thousand:
     ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink’. (John 6:53–55)
     His words on that occasion and his actions in the upper room both bear witness to the same reality. For him to give his body and blood in death was one thing; for us to make the blessings of his death our own is another. Yet many have not learnt this distinction. I can still remember what a revelation it was to me as a young man to be told that any action on my part was necessary. I used to imagine that because Christ had died, the world had been automatically put right. When someone explained to me that Christ had died for me, I responded rather haughtily ‘everybody knows that’, as if the fact itself or my knowledge of the fact had brought me salvation. But God does not impose his gifts on us willy-nilly; we have to receive them by faith. Of both the divine gift and the human reception the Lord’s Supper remains the perpetual outward sign. It is intended to be ‘a participation in the body and blood of Christ’ (1 Cor. 10:16).

The Cross of Christ
A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     Do you want to live in such an amazing divine Presence that life is transformed and transfigured and transmuted into peace and power and glory and miracle? If you do, then you can. But if you say you haven't the time to go down into the recreating silences, I can only say to you, "Then you don't really want to, you don't yet love God above all else in the world, with all your heart and soul and mind and strength." For, except for spells of sickness in the family and when the children are small, when terrific pressure comes upon us, we find time for what we really want to do.

     I should like to be mercilessly drastic in uncovering any sham pretense of being wholly devoted to the inner holy Presence, in singleness of love to God. But I must confess that it doesn't take time, or complicate your program. I find that a life of little whispered words of adoration, of praise, of prayer, of worship can be breathed all through the day. One can have a very busy day, outwardly speaking, and yet be steadily in the holy Presence. We do need a half-hour or an hour of quiet reading and relaxation. But I find that one can carry the recreating silences within oneself, well-nigh all the time. With delight I read Brother Lawrence, in his Practice of the Presence of God. At the close of the Fourth Conversation it is reported of him, "He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. 'The time of business,' he said, 'does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament:’ “ Our real problem, in failing to center down, is not a lack of time; it is, I fear, in too many of us, lack of joyful, enthusiastic delight in Him, lack of deep, deep-drawing love directed toward Him at every hour of the day and night.

     I think it is clear that I am talking about a revolutionary way of living. Religion isn't something to be added to our other duties, and thus make our lives yet more complex. The life with God is the center of life, and all else is remodeled and integrated by it. It gives the singleness of eye. The most important thing is not to be perpetually passing out cups of cold water to a thirsty world. We can get so fearfully busy trying to carry out the second great commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," that we are under-developed in our devoted love to God. But we must love God as well as neighbor. These things ye ought to have done and not to have left the other only partially done.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Rick Adams


What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.
--- Saint Augustine
Koinonia: A Recipe for Authentic Fellowship (Bible Study)


Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.
--- George MacDonald
The Marquis of Lossie, Volume II

It's the generally accepted privilege of theologians to stretch the heavens, that is the Scriptures, like tanners with a hide.
--- Desiderius Erasmus
27/28: Literary and Educational Writings, volume 27 and volume 28: 5: Panegyricus / Moria / Julius exclusus / Institutio principis christiani . ... 6: Ciceronianus (Collected Works of Erasmus)

You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.
--- James Thurber
James Thurber: Writings & Drawings (including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) (Library of America)

... from here, there and everywhere

Journal of John Woolman 3/10
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     We crossed from the east end of Long Island to New London, about thirty miles, in a large open boat; while we were out, the wind rising high, the waves several times beat over us, so that to me it appeared dangerous, but my mind was at that time turned to Him who made and governs the deep, and my life was resigned to him; as he was mercifully pleased to preserve us I had fresh occasion to consider every day as a day lent to me, and felt a renewed engagement to devote my time, and all I had, to him who gave it.

     We had five meetings in Narraganset, and went thence to Newport on Rhode Island. Our gracious Father preserved us in an humble dependence on him through deep exercises that were mortifying to the creaturely will. In several families in the country where we lodged, I felt an engagement on my mind to have a conference with them in private, concerning their slaves; and through Divine aid I was favored to give up thereto. Though in this concern I differ from many whose service in travelling is, I believe, greater than mine, yet I do not think hardly of them for omitting it; I do not repine at having so unpleasant a task assigned me, but look with awfulness to him who appoints to his servants their respective employments, and is good to all who serve him sincerely.

     We got to Newport in the evening, and on the next day visited two sick persons, with whom we had comfortable sittings, and in the afternoon attended the burial of a Friend. The next day we were at meetings at Newport, in the fore-noon and afternoon; the spring of the ministry was opened, and strength was given to declare the Word of Life to the people.

     The day following we went on our journey, but the great number of slaves in these parts, and the continuance of that trade from thence to Guinea, made a deep impression on me, and my cries were often put up to my Heavenly Father in secret, that he would enable me to discharge my duty faith-fully in such way as he might be pleased to point out to me.

     We took Swansea, Freetown, and Taunton in our way to Boston, where also we had a meeting; our exercise was deep, and the love of truth prevailed, for which I bless the Lord. We went eastward about eighty miles beyond Boston, taking meetings, and were in a good degree preserved in an humble dependence on that arm which drew us out; and though we had some hard labor with the disobedient, by laying things home and close to such as were stout against the truth, yet through the goodness of God we had at times to partake of heavenly comfort with those who were meek, and were often favored to part with Friends in the nearness of true gospel fellowship. We returned to Boston and bad another comfortable opportunity with Friends there, and thence rode back a day's journey eastward of Boston. Our guide being a heavy man, and the weather hot, my companion and I expressed our freedom to go on without him, to which he consented, and we respectfully took our leave of him; this we did as believing the journey would have been hard to him and his horse.

     In visiting the meetings in those parts we were measurably baptized into a feeling of the state of the Society, and in bowedness of spirit went to the Yearly Meeting at Newport, where we met with John Storer from England, Elizabeth Shipley, Ann Gaunt, Hannah Foster, and Mercy Redman, from our parts, all ministers of the gospel, of whose company I was glad. Understanding that a large number of slaves had been imported from Africa into that town and were then on sale by a member of our Society, my appetite failed, and I grew outwardly weak, and had a feeling of the condition of Habakkuk, as thus expressed, "When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered, I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble." I had many cogitations, and was sorely distressed. I was desirous that Friends might petition the Legislature to use their endeavors to discourage the future importation of slaves, for I saw that this trade was a great evil, and tended to multiply troubles, and to bring distresses on the people for whose welfare my heart was deeply concerned. But I perceived several difficulties in regard to petitioning, and such was the exercise of my mind that I thought of endeavoring to get an opportunity to speak a few words in the House of Assembly, then sitting in town.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 12:10-11
     by D.H. Stern

10     A righteous man takes care of his animal,
but the wicked? Even his compassion is cruel.

11     He who farms his land will have plenty of food,
but he who follows futilities has no sense.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Great Divorce - A Dream
     C.S. Lewis

          1

     I seemed to be standing in a busy queue by the side of a long, mean street. Evening was just closing in and it was raining. I had been wandering for hours in similar mean streets, always in the rain and always in evening twilight. Time seemed to have paused on that dismal moment when only a few shops have lit up and it is not yet dark enough for their windows to look cheering. And just as the evening never advanced to night, so my walking had never brought me to the better parts of the town. However far I went I found only dingy lodging houses, small tobacconists, hoardings from which posters hung in rags, windowless warehouses, goods stations without trains, and bookshops of the sort that sell The Works of Aristotle. I never met anyone. But for the little crowd at the bus stop, the whole town seemed to be empty. I think that was why I attached myself to the queue.

     I had a stroke of luck right away, for just as I took my stand a little waspish woman who would have been ahead of me snapped out at a man who seemed to be with her, ‘Very well, then. I won’t go at all. So there,’ and left the queue. ‘Pray don’t imagine,’ said the man, in a very dignified voice, ‘that I care about going in the least. I have only been trying to please you, for peace sake. My own feelings are of course a matter of no importance, I quite understand that’—and suiting the action to the word he also walked away. ‘Come,’ thought I, ‘that’s two places gained.’ I was now next to a very short man with a scowl who glanced at me with an expression of extreme disfavour and observed, rather unnecessarily loudly, to the man beyond him, ‘This sort of thing really makes one think twice about going at all.’ ‘What sort of thing?’ growled the other, a big beefy person. ‘Well,’ said the Short Man, ‘this is hardly the sort of society I’m used to as a matter of fact.’ ‘Huh!’ said the Big Man: and then added with a glance at me, ‘Don’t you stand any sauce from him, Mister. You’re not afraid of him, are you?’ Then, seeing I made no move, he rounded suddenly on the Short Man and said, ‘Not good enough for you, aren’t we? Like your lip.’ Next moment he had fetched the Short Man one on the side of the face that sent him sprawling into the gutter. ‘Let him lay, let him lay,’ said the Big Man to no one in particular. ‘I’m a plain man that’s what I am and I got to have my rights same as anyone else, see?’ As the Short Man showed no disposition to rejoin the queue and soon began limping away, I closed up, rather cautiously, behind the Big Man and congratulated myself on having gained yet another step. A moment later two young people in front of him also left us arm in arm. They were both so trousered, slender, giggly and falsetto that I could be sure of the sex of neither, but it was clear that each for the moment preferred the other to the chance of a place in the bus. ‘We shall never all get in,’ said a female voice with a whine in it from some four places ahead of me. ‘Change places with you for five bob, lady,’ said someone else. I heard the clink of money and then a scream in the female voice, mixed with roars of laughter from the rest of the crowd. The cheated woman leaped out of her place to fly at the man who had bilked her, but the others immediately closed up and flung her out … So what with one thing and another the queue had reduced itself to manageable proportions long before the bus appeared.

     It was a wonderful vehicle, blazing with golden light, heraldically coloured. The Driver himself seemed full of light and he used only one hand to drive with. The other he waved before his face as if to fan away the greasy steam of the rain. A growl went up from the queue as he came in sight. ‘Looks as if he had a good time of it, eh?… Bloody pleased with himself, I bet … My dear, why can’t he behave naturally?—Thinks himself too good to look at us … Who does he imagine he is?… All that gilding and purple, I call it a wicked waste. Why don’t they spend some of the money on their house property down here?—God! I’d like to give him one in the ear-’ole.’ I could see nothing in the countenance of the Driver to justify all this, unless it were that he had a look of authority and seemed intent on carrying out his job.

     My fellow passengers fought like hens to get on board the bus though there was plenty of room for us all. I was the last to get in. The bus was only half full and I selected a seat at the back, well away from the others. But a tousle-haired youth at once came and sat down beside me. As he did so we moved off.

     ‘I thought you wouldn’t mind my tacking on to you,’ he said, ‘for I’ve noticed that you feel just as I do about the present company. Why on earth they insist on coming I can’t imagine. They won’t like it at all when we get there, and they’d really be much more comfortable at home. It’s different for you and me.’

     ‘Do they like this place?’ I asked.

     ‘As much as they’d like anything,’ he answered. ‘They’ve got cinemas and fish and chip shops and advertisements and all the sorts of things they want. The appalling lack of any intellectual life doesn’t worry them. I realised as soon as I got here that there’d been some mistake. I ought to have taken the first bus but I’ve fooled about trying to wake people up here. I found a few fellows I’d known before and tried to form a little circle, but they all seem to have sunk to the level of their surroundings. Even before we came here I’d had some doubts about a man like Cyril Blellow. I always thought he was working in a false idiom. But he was at least intelligent: one could get some criticism worth hearing from him, even if he was a failure on the creative side. But now he seems to have nothing left but his self-conceit. The last time I tried to read him some of my own stuff … but wait a minute, I’d just like you to look at it.’

     Realising with a shudder that what he was producing from his pocket was a thick wad of type-written paper, I muttered something about not having my spectacles and exclaimed, ‘Hullo! We’ve left the ground.’

     It was true. Several hundred feet below us, already half hidden in the rain and mist, the wet roofs of the town appeared, spreading without a break as far as the eye could reach.

The Great Divorce   or   The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Have a message and be one

     Preach the word. --- 2 Tim. 4:2.

     We are not saved to be “channels only,” but to be sons and daughters of God. We are not turned into spiritual mediums, but into spiritual messengers; the message must be part of ourselves. The Son of God was His own message, His words were spirit and life; and as His disciples our lives must be the sacrament of our message. The natural heart will do any amount of serving, but it takes the heart broken by conviction of sin, and baptized by the Holy Ghost, and crumpled into the purpose of God, before the life becomes the sacrament of its message.

     There is a difference between giving a testimony and preaching. A preacher is one who has realized the call of God and is determined to use his every power to proclaim God’s truth. God takes us out of our own ideas for our lives and we are “batter’d to shape and use,” as the disciples were after Pentecost. Pentecost did not teach the disciples anything; it made them the incarnation of what they preached—“Ye shall be witnesses unto Me.”

     Let God have perfect liberty when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other souls, the liberation must be real in you. Gather your material, and set it alight when you speak.

My Utmost for His Highest

Relations
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

          Relations

     An ordinary lot:
The sons dwindling from a rich
Father to a house in a terrace
And furniture of the cheap sort;
The daughters respectable, marrying
Approved husbands with clean shoes
And collars; as though dullness
And nonentity's quietness
Were virtues after the crazed ways
Of that huge man, their father,
     buying himself
Smiles, sailing his paper money
From windows of the Welsh hotel
He had purchased to drown in drink.
But one of them was drowned
Honorably. A tale has come down
From rescuers, forced to lie off
By the breakers, of men lined up
At the rail as the ship foundered,
Smoking their pipes and bantering.
     And he
Was of their company; his tobacco
Stings my eyes, who am ordinary too.

Ingrowing Thoughts (Poetry Wales poets)

Teacher's Commentary
     Various responsibilities (Lev. 19).

     Many of the regulations in this chapter expand on the basic Ten Commandments. Not only is a person not to kill, but also “not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life” (v. 16). Respect is to be shown for the elderly (v. 32), and aliens who live in the land are to be given the same consideration as those native-born.

     But mixed with these regulations which show deep moral responsibility to others are also cultic rules: do not mate different kinds of animals, do not plant two kinds of seed in the same field (v. 19), do not “cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (v. 27).

     In the Old Testament the cultic regulations which were designed simply to mark Israel as different, and the moral regulations which guard the value of every individual, are mixed together. When we move to the New Testament, the cultic is set aside. But the moral obligations that are expressed in Old Testament laws are repeated as life-principles for believers of every day and age.

     Punishments (Lev. 20). This chapter established the death penalty for a number of different sins, with lesser penalties indicated by “he will be held responsible.” Does the death penalty here suggest a harsher society? No, for that penalty is imposed not for a private kind of criminal act like theft, but only for sins which threaten the whole community.

     Sins which would shatter the integrity of the family as the basic unit of society are particularly in view here, as is spiritism, which draws the hearts of the people away from the Lord.

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Berakhot 32b

     D’RASH

     Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Elazar offer two radically different approaches to life and to many of the situations we face. On the one hand, we have Rabban Gamliel who holds up a very high standard for scholars. Their insides should equal their outsides. Today, those who enter seminaries for religious study and ordination are often carefully scrutinized so that not only their intelligence—the outside—but also their personalities, moral qualities, and attributes like compassion and understanding—the inside—meet the highest standards.

     On the other hand, we find those following the approach of Rabbi Elazar, who believes that anyone who wants to study should be welcome, at whatever level. Academies of learning—college, universities, adult education programs—cannot be only for those who are already knowledgeable. Part of the purpose of schooling is to help perfect the student who is, by definition, imperfect. How much poorer our Judaism would be today without the innumerable contributions of teachers like Rabbi Akiva whose learning, piety, and love of the Jewish people did not blossom until later in life!

     Many of us have faced a similar dilemma when we have been forced to make a decision about health care: Which doctor should we choose? What standard should we use in making this choice? One option may be a physician who is proven by years of experience to be an expert diagnostician. Her knowledge and expertise are renowned, though she is a bit aloof and scholarly at times and lacks bedside manners. The other choice is a doctor who is known for her kindness and warmth rather than for being “the best in the field.” We know that we will find personal attention and kindness in this doctor, as well as competence, if not excellence. How can we make a proper decision?

     The answer may lie in an interesting historical note: Some time after the rebellion, Rabban Gamliel was apparently reinstated as head of the study house, with Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah serving either under him or as a second dean. Perhaps the scholars of that era had come to some accommodation, realizing that not only was the standard of Rabban Gamliel too high, but that of Rabbi Elazar was too lenient; having both men in charge was an attempt to find the perfect balance.

     When facing an important decision, we, much like the Rabbis in the study house, can try to find the same balance between the two extremes. The story of Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah shows us not only how these approaches play themselves out in real life, but also how we can use the positive standards of each position to make our own sound decisions.

     The gates of tears are not closed.

     Text / Rabbi Elazar said: “From the day the Temple was destroyed, the gates of prayer have been closed, as it says: ‘And when I shout and plead, He shuts out my prayer’ [Lamentations 3:8, author’s translation]. But even though the gates of prayer are closed, the gates of tears are open, as it says: ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my appeal; do not disregard my tears’ [Psalms 39:13, author’s translation].

     Context / Rabbi Elazar’s comment—“From the day the Temple was destroyed, the gates of prayer have been closed”—might be puzzling to the modern mind. We would expect just the opposite from the Rabbis, that the destruction of the Temple with its elaborate sacrificial system led to the development of prayer rather than its demise! In our minds, Jews who were no longer able to offer animal sacrifices on the altar turned to the gates of prayer, what the Rabbis called “service [worship] of the heart,” as opposed to worship by sacrifices (the same Hebrew word, avodah is used for both types of worship). The Rabbis, however, saw the Temple as a central focus of Jewish worship and its destruction as a diminution of the power of prayer.

     Rabbi Elazar is commenting on the efficacy of prayer. He sees that many prayers go unanswered by God and presents as proof a verse from Lamentations, one of the saddest books of the Bible. After the destruction of the Temple, it appears that God does not listen to prayers. How else could the author cry and plead before God with no answer? However, when tears are added, as proved by the verse from Psalms, God cannot disregard prayer. Rashi and Tosafot, medieval commentators on the Talmud, note that Rabbi Elazar’s interpretation of the verse seems to be: God will automatically hear the prayer of one who prays with tears. Tears alone are enough for acceptance by God.

     This is not to say that Rabbi Elazar would necessarily devalue all ritual and rote prayer. He simply adds that we cannot expect the prayers to have an impact on God if they are routine formulas that do not have personal involvement. Rabbi Elazar knows that tears symbolize the sincerity, emotions, and involvement of the worshiper. The gates of heaven are open to the person who not only says the right words, but also has the emotions to back up these words. Prayer is ultimately effective when accompanied by tears.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Three - Internal Consolation

     The First Chapter / The Inward Conversation Of Christ With The Faithful Soul

     I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me.” (
Psalm 84:9)

     Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her, who receives the word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering, and pay no heed to the murmurings of this world. Blessed indeed are the ears that listen, not to the voice which sounds without, but to the truth which teaches within. Blessed are the eyes which are closed to exterior things and are fixed upon those which are interior. Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly, who try daily to prepare themselves more and more to understand mysteries. Blessed are they who long to give their time to God, and who cut themselves off from the hindrances of the world.

     Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your senses, so that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within you. “I am your salvation,” says your Beloved. “I am your peace and your life. Remain with Me and you will find peace. Dismiss all passing things and seek the eternal. What are all temporal things but snares? And what help will all creatures be able to give you if you are deserted by the Creator?” Leave all these things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 10

     I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
---
Psalm 52:8. KJV.

     Mercy as an attribute of God is not to be confounded with mere goodness. (  Charles G. Finney: Sermons on Gospel Themes  ), Goodness may demand the exercise of justice. Mercy asks that justice be set aside. Mercy pardons the guilty. Justice treats all according to their deserts. Desert is never the rule that guides mercy, while it is precisely the rule of justice. Thus, mercy is exercised only where there is guilt.

     Mercy can be exercised no farther than one deserves punishment. If great punishment is deserved, great mercy can be shown; if endless punishment is due, there is then scope for infinite mercy.

     None can properly be said to trust in the mercy of God unless they have committed crimes and are conscious of this fact. Justice protects the innocent, and they may appeal to it. But for the guilty, nothing remains but to trust in mercy. Trusting in mercy implies a heartfelt conviction of personal guilt.

     Trust in mercy implies understanding what mercy is. Many confuse mercy with grace, considered as mere favor to the undeserving. Grace may be shown where there is no mercy, the term mercy being applied to the pardon of crime. We all know that God shows grace to all on earth. He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends his rain on the unrighteous as well as on the righteous. But to trust in this general favor is not trusting in the mercy of God. Mercy is pardon for the crimes of the guilty.

     Trust in God’s mercy implies a belief that he is merciful. We could not trust him if we had no such belief. This belief must lie at the foundation of trust. Faith, or belief, includes a committal of the soul to God and a trust in him.

     Trusting in the mercy of God forever implies a conviction of deserving endless punishment. When therefore the psalmist trusts in the mercy of God forever he renounces all hope of being ever received to favor on the score of justice.

     Trusting in mercy implies a cessation from all excuse making. The moment you trust in mercy, you give up all excuses, for these imply a reliance on God’s justice. An excuse is nothing more nor less that an appeal to justice, a plea designed to justify our conduct. Trusting in mercy forever implies that we have ceased from all excuses forever.
--- Charles G. Finney

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

On This Day   March 10
     Amazing Grace

     It took John Newton to write the hymn Amazing Grace. “Let me not fail to praise that grace that could pardon,” he said, “such sins as mine.”

     Newton had gone to sea at age 11, apprenticed on his father’s ship. He spent his teen years learning to be profane, irreligious, and indulgent. Female slaves being transported from Africa were at Newton’s disposal, and even seasoned sailors were alarmed at his corruption.

     Newton’s life angered his father and disgusted his friends, and he was finally pressed into service for the British Navy. He deserted, but was arrested, stripped, and flogged. He became the property of a slave trader in Sierra Leone, who gave him to his sadistic mistress. John became a loathsome toy she tormented for over a year.

     He finally boarded ship for Britain. On March 9, as he carelessly read a Christian book to pass the time, the thought came to him, “What if these things are true?” He snapped the book closed and shook off the question.

     I went to bed in my usual indifference, but was awakened by a violent sea which broke on us. Much of it came down below and filled the cabin where I lay. This alarm was followed by a cry that the ship was going down. We had immediate recourse to the pumps, but the water increased against all our efforts. Almost every passing wave broke over my head. I expected that every time the vessel descended into the sea, she would rise no more. I dreaded death now, and my heart foreboded the worst, if the Scriptures, which I had long since opposed, were true.

     The vessel survived the March 10, 1748 storm, and Newton began earnestly studying the Bible. He embraced Christ and eventually entered the ministry, becoming one of England’s best-loved preachers and a leader in the fight against slavery. He once recalled, That tenth of March is a day much remembered by me; and I have never suffered it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748—the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.

  From a sea of troubles I call to you, LORD.
  Won’t you please listen as I beg for mercy?
  But you forgive us, and so we will worship you.
  --- Psalm 130:1,2,4
.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 10

     “In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved.”
--- Psalm 30:6.

     “Moab settled on his lees, he hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel.” Give a man wealth; let his ships bring home continually rich freights; let the winds and waves appear to be his servants to bear his vessels across the bosom of the mighty deep; let his lands yield abundantly: let the weather be propitious to his crops; let uninterrupted success attend him; let him stand among men as a successful merchant; let him enjoy continued health; allow him with braced nerve and brilliant eye to march through the world, and live happily; give him the buoyant spirit; let him have the song perpetually on his lips; let his eye be ever sparkling with joy—and the natural consequence of such an easy state to any man, let him be the best Christian who ever breathed, will be presumption; even David said, “I shall never be moved;” and we are not better than David, nor half so good. Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way; if you are treading them, or if the way be rough, thank God for it. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy.

     We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial.

     “Afflictions, though they seem severe,
     In mercy oft are sent.”

          Evening - March 10

     “Man … is of few days, and full of trouble.” --- Job 14:1.

     It may be of great service to us, before we fall asleep, to remember this mournful fact, for it may lead us to set loose by earthly things. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity, but it may humble us and prevent our boasting like the Psalmist in our morning’s portion. “My mountain standeth firm: I shall never be moved.” It may stay us from taking too deep root in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden. Let us recollect the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman’s axe, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love which expects death, and which reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are but loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the lender’s hand may be even at the door. The like is certainly true of our worldly goods. Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? Our health is equally precarious. Frail flowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming for ever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we shall have to glorify God by suffering, and not by earnest activity. There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction; out of our few days there is not one secure from sorrow. Man’s life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it had better seek for honey in an ocean of brine. Beloved reader, set not your affections upon things of earth: but seek those things which are above, for here the moth devoureth, and the thief breaketh through, but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way home. Lord, make this thought a pillow for many a weary head!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     March 10

          SHEPHERD OF EAGER YOUTH

     Clement of Alexandria, c. 170–c. 220
Translated by Henry Martyn Dexter, 1821–1890

     Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them!” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

     Someone cried, “Where must the seed be sown to bring the most fruit when it is grown?”
     The Master heard as He said and smiled, “Go plant it for Me in the heart of a child.”
--- Unknown


     It is vitally important that our children be led to a personal relationship with Christ and instructed in His Word when they are young. What truth there is in these familiar statements: “To save a child is to save a life,” or “Give me a child till he/she is seven and I care not who gets him after that.” D. L. Moody, the noted evangelist, once said: “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.”

     Christian nurturing of our children requires consistent discipline. Webster defines discipline as “training which corrects, strengthens, and perfects.” Discipline goes far beyond merely being punitive. Discipline and training have done their job only when they result in a changed character and the desire to live with self-control. Although there may be times when our youth may rebel and react against their early Christian training, they can never get completely away from it (Proverbs 22:6).

     “Shepherd of Eager Youth” is the oldest Christian hymn of which the authorship is known. Clement of Alexandria wrote this text in the Greek language sometime between A.D. 202 and the time of his death in A.D. 220. The title in the original Greek could literally be translated “Tamer of Steeds Unbridled.” It was evidently used as a hymn of Christian instruction for new young converts from heathenism.

     Shepherd of eager youth, guiding in love and truth thru devious ways—Christ, our triumphant King, we come Thy name to sing; hither Thy children bring tributes of praise.
     Thou art our Holy Lord, the all-subduing Word, healer of strife; Thou didst Thyself abase that from sin’s deep disgrace Thou mightest save our race and give us life.
     Ever be near our side, our shepherd and our guide, our staff and song; Jesus, Thou Christ of God, by Thy enduring word lead us where Thou hast trod, make our faith strong.


     For Today: Deuteronomy 32:46; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:25.

     Reflect on this truth: The prized possession of any church is its youth. Seek to speak a word of encouragement to some young person.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Lord’s Greatest Prayer 1 - 4
     John MacArthur


The Lord’s Greatest Prayer 1
John MacArthur





The Lord’s Greatest Prayer 2
John MacArthur






The Lord’s Greatest Prayer 3
John 17 | John MacArthur





The Lord’s Greatest Prayer 4
John MacArthur




Deuteronomy 32 - 34
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Song Of Wrath Deuteronomy 32:1-42
s2-107 | 1-31-2016






Deuteronomy 32:43-52, 33:1-29, 34:1-12
m2-102 | 2-3-2016




     ==============================      ==============================


Deuteronomy 32 - 34
Lean-into-GOD






Genesis 1
Hugh Ross | Reasons To Believe





Why would God create poisonous plants
Fazale Rana | Reasons To Believe






Miniaturization and Biochemical Complexity
Fazale Rana | Reasons To Believe





Navigating Doubt as a Christian
George Haraksin | Reasons To Believe






The Rationality of God’s Existence
George Haraksin | Reasons To Believe





Science-faith conflict
George Haraksin | Reasons To Believe






Science Resists Design Found in the Universe?
Mike Strauss | Reasons To Believe





Genesis Among the Pagans
Ken Keathly | Reasons To Believe






200,000 Year Old Human Remains
Rana | Reasons To Believe





The Beauty & Blessing of Forgiveness 3
John MacArthur






The Big Picture of Salvation
John MacArthur





God’s Eternal Covenant of Promise
John MacArthur






The Inferiority of the Law
John MacArthur





Ferguson, Eareckson-Tada, Sproul
2000 National Conference | Ligonier






The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Selected Scriptures | John MacArthur





Why Sunday Is the Lord’s Day
Selected Scriptures | John MacArthur






Bible Q & A #66
John MacArthur





Forgiveness in the Age of Rage
Selected Scriptures | John MacArthur






Don’t Rebuild Walls
Christ Tore Down | John Piper





What Grieves God? | Mark 3:1–6
John Piper






Fright And Flight - Deuteronomy 32:9-11
7-17-1988 / T164 | Jon Courson





Singing And Soaring - Deuteronomy 32:7-12
12-17-2000 / S3128 | Jon Courson






Deuteronomy 32
12-20-2000 / W3128 | Jon Courson