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Exodus 20     Luke 23     Job 38     2 Corinthians 8

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.   The first commandment with a blessing.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”   See Exodus 20; Luke 23; Job 38; 2 Corinthians 8 in the accordian tab below.

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

Laws About Altars

22 And the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it. 26 And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’

Luke 23

Jesus Before Pilate

Luke 23:1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

Jesus Before Herod

6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

The Crucifixion

26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,   darkness. Not an eclipse, because Passover occurs at the time of the full moon. This was a supernatural darkness.  Reformation Study Bible (2016) NKJV   45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Jesus Is Buried

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Job 38

The LORD Answers Job

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2  “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3  Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

4  “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5  Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6  On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7  when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8  “Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9  when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10  and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11  and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

12  “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13  that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14  It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15  From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.

16  “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17  Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18  Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

19  “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20  that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21  You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

22  “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23  which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
24  What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25  “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
26  to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
27  to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?

28  “Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29  From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30  The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.

31  “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
32  Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33  Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?

34  “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
35  Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
36  Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
37  Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38  when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?

39  “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40  when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
41  Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?

2 Corinthians 8

Encouragement to Give Generously

2 Corinthians 8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

Commendation of Titus

16 But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. 20 We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Many Mansions - Jonathan Edwards

[Sermon Date: "The Sabbath after the seating of the New Meeting House, Dec 25, 1737."]

     IN these words may be observed two things,

     1. The thing described, viz., Christ's Father's house. Christ spoke to his disciples in the foregoing chapter as one that was about to leave them. He told 'em, verse 31, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him," and then goes to giving of them counsel to live in unity and love one another, as one that was going from them. By which they seemed somewhat surprised and hardly knew what to make of it. And one of them, viz., Peter, asked him where he was going; verse 36, "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord whither goest thou?" Christ did not directly answer and tell him where he was going, but he signifies where in these words afterwards, in the verse 12, he tells 'em plainly that he was going to his Father.

     2. We may observe the description given of it, viz., that in it there are many mansions. The disciples seemed very sorrowful at the news of Christ's going away, but Christ comforts 'em with that, that in his Father's house where he was going there was not only room for him, but room for them too. There were many mansions. There was not only a mansion there for him, but there were mansions enough for them all; there was room enough in heaven for them. When the disciples perceived that Christ was going away, they manifested a great desire to go with him, and particularly Peter. Peter in the latter part of the foregoing chapter asked him whither he went to that end that he might follow him. Christ told him that whither he went he could not follow him now, but that he should follow him afterwards. But Peter, not content with Christ, seemed to have a great mind to follow him now. "Lord," says he, "why cannot I follow thee now?" So that the disciples had a great mind still to be with Christ, and Christ in the words of the text intimates that they shall be with him. Christ signifies to 'em that he was going home to his Father's house, and he encourages 'em that they shall be with him there in due time, in that there were many mansions there. There was a mansion provided not only for him, but for them all (for Judas was not then present), and not only for them, but for all that should ever believe in him to the end of the world; and though he went before, he only went to prepare a place for them that should follow.

     The text is a plain sentence; 'tis therefore needless to press any doctrine in other words from it: so that I shall build my discourse on the words of the text. There are two propositions contained in the words, viz.,

     I. that heaven is God's house, and

     II. that in this house of God there are many mansions.

     Prop. I. Heaven is God's house. An house of public worship is an house where God's people meet from time to time to attend on God's ordinances, and that is set apart for that and is called God's house. The temple of Solomon was called God's house. God was represented as dwelling there. There he has his throne in the holy of holies, even the mercy seat over the ark and between the cherubims.

     Sometimes the whole universe is represented in Scripture as God's house, built with various stories one above another: Amos 9:6, "It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven;" and Psalm 104:3, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters." But the highest heaven is especially represented in Scripture as the house of God. As to other parts of the creation, God hath appointed them to inferior uses; but this part he has reserved for himself for his own abode. We are told that the heavens are the Lord's, but the earth he hath given to the sons of men. God, though he is everywhere present, is represented both in Old Testament and New as being in heaven is a special and peculiar manner. Heaven is the temple of God. Thus we read of God's temple in heaven, Revelation 15:5. Solomon's temple was a type of heaven. The apostle Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews does from time to time call heaven the holy of holies, as being the antitype not only of the temple of Solomon, but of the most holy place in that temple, which was the place of God's most immediate residence: Hebrews 9:12, "He entered in once into the holy place;" verse 24, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself." Houses where assemblies of Christians worship God are in some respects figures of this house of God above. When God is worshipped in them in spirit and truth, they become the outworks of heaven and as it were its gates. As in houses of public worship here there are assemblies of Christians meeting to worship God, so in heaven there is a glorious assembly, or Church, continually worshipping God: Hebrews 12:22,23, "But ye are come unto mount Sion, [and unto] the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, that are written in heaven."

     Heaven is represented in Scripture as God's dwelling-house; Psalm 113:5, "Who is like [unto] the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high," and Psalm 123:1, "Unto thee I lift up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens." Heaven is God's palace. 'Tis the house of the great King of the universe; there he has his throne, which is therefore represented as his house or temple; Psalm 11:4, "The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven."

     Heaven is the house where God dwells with his family. God is represented in Scripture as having a family; and though some of this family are now on earth, yet in so being they are abroad and not at home, but all going home: Ephesians 3:15, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Heaven is the place that God has built for himself and his children. God has many children, and the place designed for them is heaven; therefore the saints, being the children of God, are said to be of the household of God, Ephesians 2:19: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." God is represented as a householder or head of a family, and heaven is his house.

     Heaven is the house not only where God hath his throne, but also where he doth as it were keep his table, where his children sit down with him at his table and where they are feasted in a royal manner becoming the children of so great a King:

     Luke 22:30, "That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;" Matthew 26:29, "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

     God is the King of kings, and heaven is the place where he keeps his court. There are his angels and archangels that as the nobles of his court do attend upon him.

     Prop. II. There are many mansions in the house of God. By many mansions is meant many seats or places of abode. As it is a king's palace, there are many mansions. Kings' houses are wont to be built very large, with many stately rooms and apartments. So there are many mansions in God's house.

     When this is spoken of heaven, it is chiefly to be understood in a figurative sense, and the following things seem to be taught us in it.

     1. There is room in this house of God for great numbers. There is room in heaven for a vast multitude, yea, room enough for all mankind that are or ever shall be; Luke 14:22, "Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room."

     It is not with the heavenly temple as it often is with houses of public worship in this world, that they fill up and become too small and scanty for those that would meet in them, so that there is not convenient room for all. There is room enough in our heavenly Father's house. This is partly what Christ intended in the words of the text, as is evident from the occasion of his speaking them. The disciples manifested a great desire to be where Christ was, and Christ therefore, to encourage them that it should be as they desired, tells them that in his Father's house where he was going were many mansions, i.e., room enough for them.

     There is mercy enough in God to admit an innumerable multitude into heaven. There is mercy enough for all, and there is merit enough in Christ to purchase heavenly happiness for millions of millions, for all men that ever were, are or shall be. And there is a sufficiency in the fountain of heaven's happiness to supply and fill and satisfy all: and there is in all respects enough for the happiness of all.

     2. There are sufficient and suitable accommodations for all the different sorts of persons that are in the world: for great and small, for high and low, rich and poor, wise and unwise, bond and free, persons of all nations and all conditions and circumstances, for those that have been great sinners as well as for moral livers; for weak saints and those that are babes in Christ as well as for those that are stronger and more grown in grace. There is in heaven a sufficiency for the happiness of every sort; there is a convenient accommodation for every creature that will hearken to the calls of the Gospel. None that will come to Christ, let his condition be what it will, need to fear but that Christ will provide a place suitable for him in heaven.

     This seems to be another thing implied in Christ's words. The disciples were persons of very different condition from Christ: he was their Master, and there were his disciples; he was their Lord, and there were the servants; he was their Guide, and they were the followers; he was their Captain, and they the soldiers; he was the Shepherd, and they the sheep; [he was, as it were, the] Father, [and they the] children; he was the glorious, holy Son of God, they were the poor, sinful, corrupt men. But yet, though they were in such different circumstances from him, yet Christ encourages them that there shall not only be room in heaven for him, but for them too; for there were many mansions there. There was not only a mansion to accommodate the Lord, but the disciples also; not only the head, but the members; not only the Son of God, but those that are naturally poor, sinful, corrupt men: as in a king's palace there is not only a mansion or room of state built for the king himself and for his eldest son and heir, but there are many rooms, mansions for all his numerous household, children, attendants and servants.

     3. It is further implied that heaven is a house that was actually built and prepared for a great multitude. When God made heaven in the beginning of the world, he intended it for an everlasting dwelling-place for a vast and innumerable multitude. When heaven was made, it was intended and prepared for all those particular persons that God had from eternity designed to save: Matthew 25:34, "Come, ye blessed [of my Father, inherit the Kingdom] prepared for you [from the foundation of the world]." And that is a very great and innumerable multitude: Revelation 7:9, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes." Heaven being built designedly for these was built accordingly; it was built so as most conveniently to accommodate all this multitude: as a house that is built for a great family is built large and with many rooms in it; as a palace that is built for a great king that keeps a great court with many attendants is built exceeding great with a great many apartments; and as an house of public worship that is built for a great congregation is built very large with many seats in it.

     4. When it is said, ["In my father's house are many mansions"], it is meant that there are seats of various dignity and different degrees and circumstances of honor and happiness. There are many mansions in God's house because heaven is intended for various degrees of honor and blessedness. Some are designed to sit in higher places there than others; some are designed to be advanced to higher degrees of honor and glory than others are; and, therefore, there are various mansions, and some more honorable mansions and seats, in heaven than others. Though they are all seats of exceeding honor and blessedness yet some are more so than others.

     Thus a palace is built. Though every part of the palace is magnificent as becomes the palace of a king, yet there are many apartments of various honor, and some are more stately and costly than others, according to the degree of dignity. There is one apartment that is the king's presence-chamber; there are other apartments for the next heir to the crown; there are others for other children; and others for their attendants and the great officers of the household: one for the high steward, and another for the chamberlain, and others for meaner officers and servants.

     Another image of this was in Solomon's temple. There were many mansions of different degrees of honor and dignity. There was the holy of holies, where the ark was that was the place of God's immediate residence, where the high priest alone might come; and there was another apartment called the holy place, where the other priests might come; and next to that was the inner court of the temple, where the Levites were admitted: and there they had many chambers or mansions built for lodging-rooms for the priests; and next to that was the court of Israel where the people of Israel might come; and next to that was the court of the Gentiles where the Gentiles, those that were called the "Proselytes of the Gate," might come.

     And we have an image of this in houses built for the worship of Christian assemblies. In such houses of God there are many seats of different honor and dignity, from the most honorable to the most inferior of the congregation.

     Not that we are to understand the words of Christ so much in a literal sense, as that every saint in heaven was to have a certain seat or room or place of abode where he was to be locally fixed. 'Tis not the design of the Scriptures to inform us much about the external circumstances of heaven or the state of heaven locally considered; but we are to understand what Christ says chiefly in a spiritual sense. Persons shall be set in different degrees of honor and glory in heaven, as is abundantly manifested in Scripture: which may fitly be represented to our imaginations by there being different seats of honor, as it was in the temple, as it is in kings' courts. Some seats shall be nearer the throne than others. Some shall sit next to Christ in glory: Matthew 20:23, "To sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."

     Christ has doubtless respect to these different degrees of glory in the text. When he was going to heaven and the disciples were sorrowful at the thoughts of parting with their Lord, he lets them know that there are seats or mansions of various degrees of honor in his Father's house, that there was not only one for him, who was the Head of the Church and the elder brother, but also for them that were his disciples and younger brethren.

     Christ also may probably have respect not only to different degrees of glory in heaven, but different circumstances. Though the employment and happiness of all the heavenly assembly shall in the general be the same, yet 'tis not improbable that there may be circumstantial difference. We know what their employment [is] in general, but not in particular. We know not how one may be employed to subserve and promote the happiness of another, and all to help one another. Some may there be set in one place for one office or employment, and others [in] another, as 'tis in the Church on earth. God hath set every one in the body as it hath pleased him; one is the eye, another the ear, another the head, etc. But because God has not been pleased expressly to reveal how it shall be in this respect, therefore I shall not insist upon it, but pass to make some IMPROVEMENT of what has been offered.

     I. Here is encouragement for sinners that are concerned and exercised for the salvation of their souls, such as are afraid that they shall never go to heaven or be admitted to any place of abode there, and are sensible that they are hitherto in a doleful state and condition in that they are out of Christ, and so have no right to any inheritance in heaven, but are in danger of going to hell and having their place of eternal abode fixed there. You may be encouraged by what has been said, earnestly to seek heaven; for there are many mansions there. There is room enough there. Let your case be what it will, there is suitable provision there for you; and if you come to Christ, you need not fear that he will prepare a place for you; he'll see to it that you shall be well accommodated in heaven.

     But II. I would improve this doctrine in a twofold exhortation.

     1. Let all be hence exhorted earnestly to seek that they may be admitted to a mansion in heaven. You have heard that this is God's house; it is his temple. If David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah and in the land of Geshur and of the Philistines, so longed that he might again return into the land of Israel that he might have a place in the house of God here on earth, and prized a place there so much, though it was but that of a door-keeper, how great a happiness will it be to have a place in this heavenly temple of God! If they are looked upon as enjoying a high privilege that have a seat appointed them in kings' courts or in apartments in kings' palaces, especially those that have an abode there in the quality of the king's children, then how great a privilege will it be to have an apartment or mansion assigned to us in God's heavenly palace, and to have a place there as his children! How great is their glory and honor that are admitted to be of the household of God!

     And seeing there are many mansions there, mansions enough for us all, our folly will be the greater if we neglect to seek a place in heaven, having our minds foolishly taken up about the worthless, fading things of this world. Here consider three things:

     (1) How little a while you can have any mansion or place of abode in this world. Now you have a dwelling amongst the living. You have a house or mansion of your own, or at least one that is at present for your use, and now you have a seat in the house of God; but how little a while will this continue! In a very little while, and the place that now knows you in this world will know you no more. The habitation you have here will be empty of you; you will be carried dead out of it, or shall die at a distance from it, and never enter into it any more, or into any other abode in this world. Your mansion or place of abode in this world, however convenient or commodious it may be, is but as a tent that shall soon be taken down, but a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. Your stay is as it were but for a night. Your body itself is but a house of clay which will quickly moulder and tumble down, and you shall have no other habitation here in this world but the grave.

     Thus God in his providence is putting you in mind by the repeated instances of death that have been in the town within the two weeks past, both in one house: in which death he has shown his dominion over old and young. The son was taken away first before the father, being in his full strength and flower of his days; and the father, who was then well and having no appearance of approaching death, followed in a few days: and their habitation and their seat in the house of God in this world will know them no more.

     Take warning by these warnings of Providence to improve your time that you may have a mansion in heaven. We have a house of worship newly created amongst us which now you have a seat in, and probably are pleased with the ornaments of it; and though you have a place in so comely a house, yet you know not how little a while you shall have a place in this house of God. Here are a couple snatched away by death that had met in it but a few times, that have been snatched out of it before it was fully finished and never will have any more a seat in it. You know not how soon you may follow, and then of great importance will it be to you to have a seat in God's house above. Both of the persons lately deceased were much on their death-beds warning others to improve their precious time. The first of them was much in expressing his sense of the vast importance of an interest in Christ, as I was a witness, and was earnest in calling on others to improve their time, to be thorough, to get an interest in Christ, and seemed very desirous that young people might receive council and warning from him, as the words of a dying man, to do their utmost to make sure of conversion; and a little before he died left a request to me that I would warn the young people in his room. God had been warning of you in his death and the death of his father that so soon followed. The words of dying persons should be of special weight with us, for then they are in circumstances wherein they are most capable to look on things as they are and judge aright of 'em,--between both worlds as it were. Still that we must all be in.

     Let our young people, therefore, take warning from hence, and don't be such fools as to neglect seeking a place and mansion in heaven. Young persons are especially apt to be taken with the pleasing things of this world. You are now, it may be, much pleased with hopes of your future circumstances in this world; [and you are now, it may be, much] pleased with the ornaments of that house of worship that you with others have a place in. But, alas, do you not too little consider how soon you may be taken away from all these things, and no more forever have any part in any mansion or house or enjoyment or happiness under the sun? Therefore let it be your main care to secure an everlasting habitation for hereafter.

     (2) Consider when you die, if you have no mansion in the house of God in heaven, you must have your place of abode in the habitation of devils. There is no middle place between them, and when you go hence, you must go to one or the other of these. Some have a mansion prepared for them in heaven from the foundation [of the world]; others are sent away as cursed into everlasting burnings prepared for the [devil and his angels]. Consider how miserable those must be that shall have their habitation with devils to all eternity. Devils are foul spirits; God's great enemies. Their habitation is the blackness of darkness; a place of the utmost filthiness, abomination, darkness, disgrace and torment, O, how would you rather ten thousand times have no place of abode at all, have no being, than to have a place [with devils]!

     (3) If you die unconverted, you will have the worse place in hell for having had a seat or place in God's house in this world. As there are many mansions, places of different degrees of honor in heaven, so there are various abodes and places or degrees of torment and misery in hell; and those will have the worst place there that [dying unconverted, have had the best place in God's house here]. Solomon speaks of a peculiarly awful sight that he had seen, that of a wicked man buried that had gone [from the place of the holy], Ecclesiastes 8:10. Such as have had a seat in God's house, have been in a sense exalted up to heaven, set on the gate of heaven, [if they die unconverted, shall be] cast down to hell.

     2. The second exhortation that I would offer from what has been said is to seek a high place in heaven. Seeing there are many mansions of different degrees of honor and dignity in heaven, let us seek to obtain a mansion of distinguished glory. 'Tis revealed to us that there are different degrees of glory to that end that we might seek after the higher degrees. God offered high degrees of glory to that end, that we might seek them by eminent holiness and good works: 2 Corinthians 9:6, "He that sows sparingly [shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully]." It is not becoming persons to be over anxious about an high seat in God's house in this world, for that is the honor that is of men; but we can't too earnestly seek after an high seat in God's house above, by seeking eminent holiness, for that is the honor that is of God.

     'Tis very little worth the while for us to pursue after honor in this world, where the greatest honor is but a bubble and will soon vanish away, and death will level all. Some have more stately houses than others, and some are in higher office than others, and some are richer than others and have higher seats in the meeting-house than others; but all graves are upon a level. One rotting, putrefying corpse is as ignoble as another; the worms are as bold with one carcass as another.

     But the mansions in God's house above are everlasting mansions. Those that have seats allotted 'em there, whether of greater or lesser dignity, whether nearer or further from the throne, will hold 'em to all eternity. This is promised, Revelation 3:12 :"Him that overcometh I will make him a pillar in the temple [of my God, and he shall go no more out]." If it be worth the while to desire and seek high seats in the meeting-house, where you are one day in a week, and where you shall never come but few days in all; if it be worth the while much to prize one seat above another in the house of worship only because it is the pew or seat that is ranked first in number, and to be seen here for a few days, how will it be worth the while to seek an high mansion in God's temple and in that glorious place that is the everlasting habitation of God and all his children! You that are pleased with your seats in this house because you are seated high or in a place that is looked upon honorable by those that sit round about, and because many can behold you, consider how short a time you will enjoy this pleasure. And if there be any that are not suited in their seats because they are too low for them, let them consider that it is but a very little while before it will [be] all one to you whether you have sat high or low here. But it will be of infinite and everlasting concern to you where your seat is in another world. Let your great concern be while in this world so to improve your opportunities in God's house in this world, whether you sit high or low, as that you may have a distinguished and glorious mansion in God's house in heaven, where you may be fixed in your place in that glorious assembly in an everlasting rest.

     Let the main thing that we prize in God's house be, not the outward ornaments of it, or a high seat in it, but the word of God and his ordinances in it. And spend your time here in seeking Christ, that he may prepare a place for you in his Father's house, that when he comes again to this world, he may take you to himself, that where he is, there you may be also.

     [From Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited with introduction and notes by H. Horman Gardiner, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1904.]

The “Mind-Boggling” Trinity

By William Lane Craig

      (The Question) I would consider myself agnostic but have a question regarding the probability of God as accepted by the majority of the Christian community: Aren't the odds of a triune god beyond astronomical? To accept that there is an omnipotent, eternal being is difficult enough, but three separate beings that possess this nature? The term "mind boggling" doesn't even begin to describe the unlikelihood... Thanks!

     Thanks for your question, Steve! Before I address it, let’s be sure we state accurately what the doctrine of the Trinity is. It is not the doctrine that there are “three separate beings that possess this [divine] nature.” That would be polytheism. Christians hold that there is one tri-personal God.

     Now this is admittedly mind-boggling. But don’t equate being mind-boggling with being improbable. Quantum mechanics is mind-boggling, but that doesn’t imply that it is improbable as an account of the physical world. We live in a universe that is so mind-boggling as almost to defy comprehension!

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Books by William Lane Craig -

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
On Guard for Students: A Thinker's Guide to the Christian Faith
Five Views on Apologetics
God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism
The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology
Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time
The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom
The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

What is Concordism in Bible-Science Discussion?

By Scot McKnight 3/7/2017

     From the forthcoming Dictionary of Christianity and Science, edited by Paul Copan, Tremper Longman III, Christopher L. Reese, and Michael G. Strauss.

     CONCORDISM. Concordism refers to the position that the teaching of the Bible on the natural world, properly interpreted, will agree with the teaching of science (when it properly understands the data), and may in fact supplement science. The concordist not only believes that nature and Scripture will harmonize, but sees specific references in the Bible to current scientific understanding of the universe. The concordist, then, looks for those close parallels in order to show that Scripture concords or agrees with scientific conclusions.

     Because the concordist holds Scripture as entirely truthful, there cannot be any ultimate contradiction between Scripture rightly interpreted and nature rightly interpreted. In both Scripture and nature, of course, there is the potential for error in the interpretation. Concordism, however, assumes that correlations can be made, believing in a degree of accuracy of interpretation (though not infallibility) in current science and in showing he Scripture supports clear scientific conclusions.

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     Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of more than fifty books, is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.  Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly speaks at local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the USA and abroad. Dr. McKnight obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham (1986) and has been a professor for more than three decades.

     Scot McKnight is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society for New Testament Studies. He is the author of the award-winning The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, which won the Christianity Today book of the year for Christian Living. His books include Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of UsThe Story of the ChristPraying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, TodayThe Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of JesusA Community Called Atonement (Living Theology). He broadened his Jesus Creed project in writing a daily devotional: 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed. His studies in conversion were expanded with his newest book, Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy, a book he co-authored with his former student Hauna Ondrey. Other books are The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible and Fasting: The Ancient Practices, as well as A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together and Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church.

     McKnight wrote a commentary on James (The Letter of James (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)), a book on discipleship (One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow), and a Jesus Creed book for high school students (with Syler Thomas and Chris Folmsbee) called The Jesus Creed for Students: Loving God, Loving Others. His research on gospel was published in the Fall of 2011 in a book called The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited. Along with Joe Modica, McKnight co-edited Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. Also he published an e-book affirming the importance of the doctrine of perseverance in a book called A Long Faithfulness: The Case for Christian Perseverance. His most recent commentary is Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary). In the Fall of 2015 his book on heaven appeared: The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible's Truth About Life to Come, and he has a book appearing in 2017 The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us.

     He co-wrote with his daughter a Jesus Creed book for children: Sharing God's Love: The Jesus Creed for Chldren.

     McKnight’s current projects is a commentary on Colossians (Eerdmans) as well as a book on the Holy Spirit.

     Other books include Who Do My Opponents Say That I Am?: An Investigation of the Accusations Against the Historical Jesus (The Library of New Testament Studies)Jesus and His Death: Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement TheoryLight Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period by Scot McKnight (1991-04-02)A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context (Studying the Historical Jesus)Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the GospelsGalatians (The NIV Application Commentary) and Galatians (The NIV Application Commentary)Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels (Guides to New Testament Exegesis), and he is a co-editor with J.B. Green and I.H. Marshall of the award-winning Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series) as well as the co-editor, with J.D.G. Dunn, The Historical Jesus in Recent Research. He regularly contributes chapter length studies to dictionaries, encyclopedias, books and articles for magazines and online webzines. McKnight’s books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Portuguese.

     Scot McKnight was also ordained by Bishop Todd Hunter to the Diaconate in Churches for the Sake of Others, a segment of Anglican Churches of North America. He and Kris are active in their church, Church of the Redeemer.

     McKnight blogs at Jesus Creed.

     Scot McKnight was elected into the Hall of Honor at Cornerstone University in honor of his basketball accomplishments during his college career. He and his wife, Kristen, live in Libertyville, Illinois. They enjoy traveling, long walks, gardening, and cooking. They have two adult children, Laura (married to Mark Barringer) and Lukas (married to Annika Nelson), and two grandchildren: Aksel and Finley.

Godly Strategy in Response to Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’

By Tom Gilson 3/5/2017

     Wow. Disney’s “gay moment” in the film Beauty and the Beast sure has stirred up feelings among Christians. Calls for boycotts. Closed doors. Angry urgings to quit being “nice.”

     That last came from comments on my Stream article last week, The Beastly Beauty of Disney’s ‘Gay Moment’ — And How We Should Respond. Apparently some readers thought I was suggesting we back out of the conflict. I’m not. I’m talking about our strategy as followers of Christ.

     Another comment on that article asked for more specific thoughts on what to do at a time like this. Jesus told His disciples to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) Our forays into pro-gay culture must likewise be marked with both strategic savvy and godly action.

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     Tom Gilson is a senior editor of The Stream, author of the new 2016 parent-friendly guide to keeping kids in the faith, titled Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, the chief editor of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, and Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician: A Preliminary Response To "A Manual For Creating Atheists" the author/host of the Thinking Christian blog.

     He lives in southwest Ohio with Sara, his wife, and their two 20-something children. He has received a B.Mus. in Music Education with a specialty in performance from Michigan State University and an M.S. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida. When he’s not writing he loves drinking coffee, canoeing, walking in the woods, and playing his trombones.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 29

Ascribe to the LORD Glory
29 A Psalm Of David.

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

ESV Study Bible

Why You Can Embrace Disillusionment

By Aimee Joseph 3/7/2017

     Stomach in knots. Clenched fists. Heart pounding. Tear-stained eyes. I expected to be hurt in life, but I didn’t expect it from you. You were a safe place, a trusted confidant.

     Many of us have experienced the sinking sensation that comes from being hurt by those we love—and trusted—most.

     Life provides countless moments of disillusionment. Spouses hurt each other in vulnerable places. Friends betray our trust. Churches leave us with wounds.

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Aimee Joseph works alongside her husband, G'Joe, who directs Campus Outreach San Diego. They love watching college students brought from lost to leaders through Christ in the church for the world. Parenting three little boys keeps her busy, writing on her blog and studying the Word keep her sane. She has a passion to see women trained to love God and his Word.

Exodus 20; Luke 23; Job 38; 2 Corinthians 8

By Don Carson 3/9/2018

     The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20) were once learned by every child at school in the Western world. They established deeply ingrained principles of right and wrong that contributed to the shaping of Western civilization. They were not viewed as ten recommendations, optional niceties for polite people. Even many of those who did not believe that they were given by God himself (“God spoke all these words,” 20:1) nevertheless viewed them as the highest brief summary of the kind of private and public morality needed for the good ordering of society.

     Their importance is now fast dissipating in the West. Even many church members cannot recite more than three or four of them. It is unthinkable that a thoughtful Christian would not memorize them.

     Yet it is the setting in which they were first given that calls forth this meditation. The Ten Commandments were given by God through Moses to the Israelites in the third month after their rescue from Egypt. Four observations:

     (1) The Ten Commandments are, in the first place, the high point of the covenant mediated by Moses (cf. 19:5), delivered by God at Sinai (Horeb). The rest of the covenant makes little sense without them; the Ten Commandments themselves are buttressed by the rest of the covenantal stipulations. However enduring, they are not merely abstract principles, but are cast in the concrete terms of that culture: e.g., the prohibition to covet your neighbor’ s ox or donkey.

     (2) The Ten Commandments are introduced by a reminder that God redeemed this community from slavery: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (20:2). They are his people not only because of Creation, not only because of the covenant with Abraham, but because God rescued them from Egypt.

     (3) God delivered the Ten Commandments in a terrifying display of power. In an age before nuclear holocaust, the most frightening experience of power was nature unleashed. Here, the violence of the storm, the shaking of the earth, the lightning, the noise, the smoke (19:16-19; 20:18) not only solemnized the event, but taught the people reverent fear (20:19-29). The fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7), but also keeps people from sinning (Ex. 20:20). God wants them to know he had rescued them; he also wants them to know he is not a domesticated deity happily dispensing tribal blessings. He is not only a good God, but a terrifying, awesome God.

     (4) Since God is so terrifying, the people themselves insist that Moses should mediate between him and them (20:18-19). And this prepares the way for another, final, Mediator (Deut. 18:15-18).

(Dt 18:15–18) 15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.   ESV

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

Don Carson Books:

Love Facebook? You’re Probably Depressed and Lonely

By Eric Lieberman 3/7/2017

     The more time a young adult spends on social media, the more prone they are to feeling lonely, according to a new study.

     Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine conducted a study and found that frequently browsing and engaging in social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat increases the probability of feeling socially isolated.

     “This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults,” Brian A. Primack, director of Pittsburgh University’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, said Monday in an official press release.

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     Michael Schulson is a freelance journalist covering religion, science, and technology. He lives in Durham, N.C.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 4.


The divisions of this chapter are,--I. The orthodox doctrine of repentance being already expounded, the false doctrine is refuted in the present chapter; a general summary survey being at the same time taken of the doctrine of the Schoolmen, sec. 1, 2. II. Its separate parts are afterwards examined. Contrition, sec. 2 and 3. Confession, sec. 4-20. Sanctification, from sec. 20 to the end of the chapter.


1. Errors of the Schoolmen in delivering the doctrine of repentance. 1. Errors in defining it. Four different definitions considered. 2. Absurd division. 3. Vain and puzzling questions. 4. Mode in which they entangle themselves.

2. The false doctrine of the Schoolmen necessary to be refuted. Of contrition. Their view of it examined.

3. True and genuine contrition.

4. Auricular confession. Whether or not of divine authority. Arguments of Canonists and Schoolmen. Allegorical argument founded on Judaism. Two answers. Reason why Christ sent the lepers to the priests.

5. Another allegorical argument. Answer.

6. A third argument from two passages of Scripture. These passages expounded.

7. Confession proved not to be of divine authority. The use of it free for almost twelve hundred years after Christ. Its nature. When enacted into a law. Confirmation from the history of the Church. A representation of the ancient auricular confession still existing among the Papists, to bear judgment against them. Confession abolished in the Church of Constantinople.

8. This mode of confession disapproved by Chrysostom, as shown by many passages.

9. False confession being thus refuted, the confession enjoined by the word of God is considered. Mistranslation in the old version. Proof from Scripture that confession should be directed to God alone.

10. Effect of secret confession thus made to God. Another kind of confession made to men.

11. Two forms of the latter confession--viz. public and private. Public confession either ordinary or extraordinary. Use of each. Objection to confession and public prayer. Answer.

12. Private confession of two kinds. 1. On our own account. 2. On account of our neighbor. Use of the former. Great assistance to be obtained from faithful ministers of the Church. Mode of procedure. Caution to be used.

13. The use of the latter recommended by Christ. What comprehended under it. Scripture sanctions no other method of confession.

14. The power of the keys exercised in these three kinds of confession. The utility of this power in regard to public confession and absolution. Caution to be observed.

15. Popish errors respecting confession. 1. In enjoining on all the necessity of confessing every sin. 2. Fictitious keys. 3. Pretended mandate to loose and bind. 4. To whom the office of loosing and binding committed.

16. Refutation of the first error, from the impossibility of so confessing, as proved by the testimony of David.

17. Refuted farther from the testimony of conscience. Impossible to observe this most rigid obligation. Necessarily leads to despair or indifference. Confirmation of the preceding remarks by an appeal to conscience.

18. Another refutation of the first error from analogy. Sum of the whole refutation. Third refutation, laying down the surest rule of confession. Explanation of the rule. Three objections answered.

19. Fourth objection--viz. that auricular confession does no harm, and is even useful. Answer, unfolding the hypocrisy, falsehood, impiety, and monstrous abominations of the patrons of this error.

20. Refutation of the second error. 1. Priests not successors of the Apostles. 2. They have not the Holy Spirit, who alone is arbiter of the keys.

21. Refutation of the third error. 1. They are ignorant of the command and promise of Christ. By abandoning the word of God they run into innumerable absurdities.

22. Objection to the refutation of the third error. Answers, reducing the Papists to various absurdities.

23. Refutation of the fourth error. 1. Petitio principii. 2. Inversion of ecclesiastical discipline. Three objections answered.

24. Conclusion of the whole discussion against this fictitious confession.

25. Of satisfaction, to which the Sophists assign the third place in repentance. Errors and falsehoods. These views opposed by the terms,--1. Forgiveness. 2. Free forgiveness. 3. God destroying iniquities. 4. By and on account of Christ. No need of our satisfaction.

26. Objection, confining the grace and efficacy of Christ within narrow limits. Answers by both John the Evangelist and John the Baptist. Consequence of these answers.

27. Two points violated by the fiction of satisfaction. First, the honor of Christ impaired. Secondly, the conscience cannot find peace. Objection, confining the forgiveness of sins to Catechumens, refuted.

28. Objection, founded on the arbitrary distinction between venial and mortal sins. This distinction insulting to God and repugnant to Scripture. Answer, showing the true distinction in regard to venial sin.

29. Objection, founded on a distinction between guilt and the punishment of it. Answer, illustrated by various passages of Scripture. Admirable saying of Augustine.

30. Answer, founded on a consideration of the efficacy of Christ's death, and the sacrifices under the law. Our true satisfaction.

31. An objection, perverting six passages of Scripture. Preliminary observations concerning a twofold judgment on the part of God. 1. For punishment. 2. For correction.

32. Two distinctions hence arising. Objection, that God is often angry with his elect. Answer, God in afflicting his people does not take his mercy from them. This confirmed by his promise, by Scripture, and the uniform experience of the Church. Distinction between the reprobate and the elect in regard to punishment.

33. Second distinction. The punishment of the reprobate a commencement of the eternal punishment awaiting them; that of the elect designed to bring them to repentance. This confirmed by passages of Scripture and of the Fathers.

34. Two uses of this doctrine to the believer. In affliction he can believe that God, though angry, is still favourable to him. In the punishment of the reprobate, he sees a prelude to their final doom.

35. Objection, as to the punishment of David, answered. Why all men here subjected to chastisement.

36. Objections, founded on five other passages, answered.

37. Answer continued.

38. Objection, founded on passages in the Fathers. Answer, with passages from Chrysostom and Augustine.

39. These satisfactions had reference to the peace of the Church, and not to the throne of God. The Schoolmen have perverted the meaning of some absurd statements by obscure monks.

1. I come now to an examination of what the scholastic sophists teach concerning repentance. This I will do as briefly as possible; for I leave no intention to take up every point, lest this work, which I am desirous to frame as a compendium of doctrine, should exceed all bounds. They have managed to envelop a matter, otherwise not much involved, in so many perplexities, that it will be difficult to find an outlet if once you get plunged but a little way into their mire. And, first, in giving a definition, they plainly show they never understood what repentance means. For they fasten on some expressions in the writings of the Fathers which are very far from expressing the nature of repentance. For instance, that to repent is to deplore past sins and not commit what is to be deplored. Again that it is to bewail past evils and not to sin to do what is to be bewailed. Again, that it is a kind of grieving revenge, punishing in itself what it grieves to have committed. Again, that it is sorrow of heart and bitterness of soul for the evils which the individual has committed, or to which he has consented. [326] Supposing we grant that these things were well said by Fathers (though, if one were inclined to dispute, it were not difficult to deny it), they were not, however said with the view of describing repentance but only of exhorting penitents not again to fall into the same faults from which they had been delivered. But if all descriptions of this kind are to be converted into definitions, there are others which have as good a title to be added. For instance, the following sentence of Chrysostom: "Repentance is a medicine for the cure of sin, a gift bestowed from above, an admirable virtue, a grace surpassing the power of laws." Moreover, the doctrine which they [327] afterwards deliver is somewhat worse than their definition. For they are so keenly bent on external exercises, that all you can gather from immense volumes [328] is, that repentance is a discipline, and austerity, which serves partly to subdue the flesh, partly to chasten and punish sins: of internal renovation of mind, bringing with it true amendment of life, there is a strange silence. [329] No doubt, they talk much of contrition and attrition, torment the soul with many scruples, and involve it in great trouble and anxiety; but when they seem to have deeply wounded the heart, they cure all its bitterness by a slight sprinkling of ceremonies. Repentance thus shrewdly defined, they divide into contrition of the heart, confession of the mouth, and satisfaction of works. [330] This is not more logical than the definition, though they would be thought to have spent their whole lives in framing syllogisms. [331] But if any one argues from the definition (a mode of argument prevalent with dialecticians) that a man may weep over his past sins and not commit things that cause weeping; may bewail past evils, and not commit things that are to be bewailed; may punish what he is grieved for having committed, though he does not confess it with the mouth,--how will they defend their division? For if he may be a true penitent and not confess, repentance can exist without confession. If they answer, that this division refers to repentance regarded as a sacrament, or is to be understood of repentance in its most perfect form, which they do not comprehend in their definitions, the mistake does not rest with me: let them blame themselves for not defining more purely and clearly. When any matter is discussed, I certainly am dull enough to refer everything to the definition as the hinge and foundation of the whole discussion. But granting that this is a license which masters have, let us now survey the different parts in their order. In omitting as frivolous several things which they vend with solemn brow as mysteries, I do it not from ignorance. It were not very difficult to dispose of all those points which they plume themselves on their acuteness and subtilty in discussing; but I consider it a sacred duty not to trouble the reader to no purpose with such absurdities. It is certainly easy to see from the questions which they move and agitate, and in which they miserably entangle themselves, that they are pealing of things they know not. Of this nature are the following: Whether repentance of one sin is pleasing to God, while there is an obstinate adherence to other sins. Again, whether punishments divinely indicted are available for satisfaction. Again, whether repentance can be several times repeated for mortal sins, whereas they grossly and wickedly define that daily repentance has to do with none but venial sins. In like manner, with gross error, they greatly torment themselves with a saying of Jerome, that repentance is a second plank after shipwreck. [332] Herein they show that they have never awoke from brutish stupor, so as to obtain a distant view of the thousandth part of their sins.

2. I would have my readers to observe, that the dispute here relates not to a matter of no consequence; [333] but to one of the most important of all--viz. the forgiveness of sins. For while they require three things in repentance--viz. compunction of heart, confession of the mouth, and satisfaction of work [334] --they at the same time teach that these are necessary to obtain the pardon of sins. If there is any thing in the whole compass of religion which it is of importance to us to know, this certainly is one of the most important--viz. to perceive and rightly hold by what means, what rule, what terms, with what facility or difficulty, forgiveness of sins may be obtained. Unless our knowledge here is clear and certain, our conscience can have no rest at all, no peace with God, no confidence or security, but is continually trembling, fluctuating, boiling, and distracted; dreads, hates, and shuns the presence of God. But if forgiveness of sins depends on the conditions to which they bind it, nothing can be more wretched and deplorable than our situation. Contrition they represent as the first step in obtaining pardon; and they exact it as due, that is, full and complete: meanwhile, they decide not when one may feel secure of having performed this contrition in due measure. I admit that we are bound strongly and incessantly to urge every man bitterly to lament his sins, and thereby stimulate himself more and more to dislike and hate them. For this is the "repentance to salvation not to be repented of," (2 Cor. 7:10). But when such bitterness of sorrow is demanded as may correspond to the magnitude of the offense, and be weighed in the balance with confidence of pardon, miserable consciences are sadly perplexed and tormented when they see that the contrition due for sin is laid upon them, and yet that they have no measure of what is due, so as to enable them to determine that they have made full payment. If they say, we are to do what in us lies, we are always brought back to the same point; [335] for when will any man venture to promise himself that he has done his utmost in bewailing sin? Therefore, when consciences, after a lengthened struggle and long contests with themselves, find no haven in which they may rest, as a means of alleviating their condition in some degree, they extort sorrow and wring out tears, in order to perfect their contrition.

3. If they say that this is calumny on my part, let them come forward and point out a single individual who, by this doctrine of contrition, has not either been driven to despair, or has not, instead of true, opposed pretended fear to the justice of God. We have elsewhere observed, that forgiveness of sins never can be obtained without repentance, because none but the afflicted, and those wounded by a consciousness of sins, can sincerely implore the mercy of God; but we, at the same time, added, that repentance cannot be the cause of the forgiveness of sins: and we also did away with that torment of souls--the dogma that it must be performed as due. Our doctrine was, that the soul looked not to its own compunction or its own tears, but fixed both eyes on the mercy of God alone. Only we observed, that those who labour and are heavy laden are called by Christ, seeing he was sent "to preach good tidings to the meek;" "to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;" "to comfort all that mourn." [336] Hence the Pharisees were excluded, because, full of their own righteousness, they acknowledged not their own poverty; and despisers, because, regardless of the divine anger, they sought no remedy for their wickedness. Such persons neither labour nor are heavy laden, are not broken-hearted, bound, nor in prison. But there is a great difference between teaching that forgiveness of sins is merited by a full and complete contrition (which the sinner never can give), and instructing him to hunger and thirst after the mercy of God, that recognizing his wretchedness, his turmoil, weariness, and captivity, you may show him where he should seek refreshment, rest, and liberty; in fine, teach him in his humility to give glory to God.

4. Confession has ever been a subject of keen contest between the Canonists and the Scholastic Theologians; the former contending that confession is of divine authority--the latter insisting, on the contrary, that it is merely enjoined by ecclesiastical constitution. In this contest great effrontery has been displayed by the Theologians, who have corrupted and violently wrested every passage of Scripture they have quoted in their favour. [337] And when they saw that even thus they could not gain their object, those who wished to be thought particularly acute had recourse to the evasion that confession is of divine authority in regard to the substance, but that it afterwards received its form from positive enactment. Thus the silliest of these quibblers refer the citation to divine authority, from its being said, "Adam, where art thou?" (Gen. 3:9, 12); and also the exception from Adam having replied as if excepting, "The women whom thou gavest to be with me," &c.; but say that the form of both was appointed by civil law. Let us see by what arguments they prove that this confession, formed or unformed, is a divine commandment. The Lord, they say, sent the lepers to the priests (Mt. 8:4). What? did he send them to confession? Who ever heard tell that the Levitical priests were appointed to hear confession? Here they resort to allegory. The priests were appointed by the Mosaic law to discern between leper and leper: sin is spiritual leprosy; therefore it belongs to the priests to decide upon it. Before I answer, I would ask, in passing, why, if this passage makes them judges of spiritual leprosy, they claim the cognizance of natural and carnal leprosy? This, for sooth, is not to play upon Scripture! [338] The law gives the cognizance of leprosy to the Levitical priests: let us usurp this to ourselves. Sin is spiritual leprosy: let us also have cognizance of sin. I now give my answer: There being a change of the priesthood, there must of necessity be a change of the law. All the sacerdotal functions were transferred to Christ, and in him fulfilled and ended (Heb. 7:12). To him alone, therefore, all the rights and honors of the priesthood have been transferred. If they are so fond then of hunting out allegories, let them set Christ before them as the only priest, and place full and universal jurisdiction on his tribunal: this we will readily admit. Besides, there is an incongruity in their allegory: it classes a merely civil enactment among ceremonies. Why, then, does Christ send the lepers to the priests? Lest the priests should be charged with violating the law, which ordained that the person cured of leprosy should present himself before the priest, and be purified by the offering of a sacrifice, he orders the lepers who had been cleansed to do what the law required. "Go and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded for a testimony unto them." (Luke 5:17). And assuredly this miracle would be a testimony to them: they had pronounced them lepers; they now pronounce them cured. Whether they would or not, they are forced to become witnesses to the miracles of Christ. Christ allows them to examine the miracle, and they cannot deny it: yet, as they still quibble, they have need of a testimony. So it is elsewhere said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations," (Mt. 24:14). Again, "Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles," (Mt. 10:18); that is, in order that, in the judgment of Gods they might be more filly convicted. But if they prefer taking the view of Chrysostom (Hom. 12 de Muliere Cananæa), he shows that this was done by Christ for the sake of the Jews also, that he might not be regarded as a violator of the law. But we are ashamed to appeal to the authority of any man in a matter so clear, when Christ declares that he left the legal right of the priests entire, as professed enemies of the Gospel, who were always intent on making a clamour if their mouths were not stopped. Wherefore, let the Popish priests, in order to retain this privilege, openly make common cause with those whom it was necessary to restrain, by forcible means, from speaking evil of Christ. [339] For there is here no reference to his true ministers.

5. They draw their second argument from the same fountain,--I mean allegory; as if allegories were of much avail in confirming any doctrine. But, indeed, let them avail, if those which I am able to produce are not more specious than theirs. They say, then, that the Lord, after raising Lazarus, commanded his disciples to "loose him and let him go," (John 11:44). Their first statement is untrue: we nowhere read that the Lord said this to the disciples; and it is much more probable that he spoke to the Jews who were standing by, that from there being no suspicion of fraud the miracle might be more manifest, and his power might be the more conspicuous from his raising the dead without touching him, by a mere word. In the same way, I understand that our Lord, to leave no ground of suspicion to the Jews, wished them to roll back the stone, feel the stench, perceive the sure signs of death, see him rise by the mere power of a word, and first handle hint when alive. And this is the view of Chrysostom (Serm. C. Jud. Gent. et Haeret). But granting that it was said to the disciples, what can they gain by it? That the Lord gave the apostles the power of loosing? How much more aptly and dexterously might we allegorize and say, that by this symbol the Lord designed to teach his followers to loose those whom he raises up; that is, not to bring to remembrance the sins which he himself had forgotten, not to condemn as sinners those whom he had acquitted, not still to upbraid those whom he had pardoned, not to be stern and severe in punishing, while he himself was merciful and ready to forgive. Certainly nothing should more incline us to pardon than the example of the Judge who threatens that he will be inexorable to the rigid and inhumane. Let them go now and vend their allegories. [340]

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

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" Luke 23:34.

     MAN HAD DONE HIS WORST. The one by whom the world was made had come into it, but the world knew him not. The Lord of glory had tabernacled among men, but he was not wanted. The eyes which sin had blinded saw in him no beauty that he should be desired. At his birth there was no room in the inn, which foreshadowed the treatment he was to receive at the hands of men. Shortly after his birth Herod sought to slay him, and this intimated the hostility his person evoked and forecast the cross as the climax of man’s enmity. Again and again, his enemies attempted his destruction. And now their vile desires are granted them. The Son of God had yielded himself up into their hands. A mock trial had been gone through, and though his judges found no fault in him, nevertheless, they had yielded to the insistent clamoring of those who hated him as they cried again and again "Crucify him".

     He yielded himself up. He was not murdered. He was not a victim. He came to do His Father's will.

     The fell deed had been done. No ordinary death would suffice his implacable foes. A death of intense suffering and shame was decided upon. A cross had been secured: the Saviour had been nailed to it. And there he hangs - silent. But presently his pallid lips are seen to move – is he crying for pity? No. What then? Is he pronouncing malediction upon his crucifiers? No. He is praying, praying for his enemies - "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

     This first of the seven cross-sayings of our Lord presents him in the attitude of prayer. How significant! How instructive! His public ministry had opened with prayer (Luke 3:21), and here we see it closing in prayer. Surely he has left us an example! No longer might those hands minister to the sick, for they are nailed to the cross; no longer may those feet carry him on errands of mercy, for they are fastened to the cruel tree; no longer may he engage in instructing the apostles, for they have forsaken him and fled. How then does he occupy himself? In the ministry of prayer! What a lesson for us.

     Perhaps these lines may be read by some who by reason of age and sickness are no longer able to work actively in the Lord’s vineyard. Possibly in days gone by, you were a teacher, you were a preacher, a Sunday-school teacher, a tract-distributor: but now you are bed-ridden. Yes, but you are still here on earth! Who knows but for what God is leaving you here a few more days is to engage in the ministry of prayer -and perhaps accomplish more by this than by all your past active service. If you are tempted to disparage such a ministry remember your Saviour. He prayed, prayed for others, prayed for sinners, even in his last hours.

     In praying for his enemies not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong and hate us, but he also taught us never to regard any as beyond the reach of prayer. If Christ prayed for his murderers then surely we have encouragement to pray now for the very chief of sinners! Christian reader, never lose hope. Does it seem a waste of time for you to continue praying for that man, that woman, that wayward child of yours? Does their case seem to become more hopeless every day? Does it look as though they had gone beyond the reach of divine mercy? Perhaps that one you have prayed for so long has been ensnared by one of the Satanic cults of the day, or he may now be an avowed and blatant infidel, in a word, an open enemy of Christ. Remember then the cross. Christ prayed for his enemies. Learn then not to look on any as beyond the reach of prayer.

     One other thought concerning this prayer of Christ. We are shown here the efficacy of prayer. This cross-intercession of Christ for his enemies met with a marked and definite answer. The answer is seen in the conversion of the three thousand souls on the day of Pentecost. I base this conclusion on Acts 3:17 where the apostle Peter says, "And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." It is to be noted that Peter used the word "ignorance" which corresponds with our Lord’s "they know not what they do". Here then is the divine explanation of the 3,000 converted under a single sermon. It was not Peter’s eloquence which was the cause but the Saviour’s prayer. And, Christian reader, the same is true of us. Christ prayed for you and me long before we believed in him. Turn to John 17:20 for proof. "Neither pray I for these (the apostles) alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word" (John 17:20). Once more let us profit from the perfect exemplar. Let us too make intercession for the enemies of God, and if we pray in faith we also shall pray effectively unto the salvation of lost sinners.

(Jn 17:20–21) “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. ESV

(Ac 3:17) “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. ESV

     To come now directly to our text:

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

     1. Here we see the fulfillment of the prophetic word.

     How much God made known before hand of what should transpire on that day of days! What a complete picture did the Holy Spirit furnish of our Lord’s Passion with all the attendant circumstances! Among other things it had been foretold that the Saviour should "make intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12). This did not have reference to the present ministry of Christ at God’s right hand. It is true that "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25), but this speaks of what he is doing now for those who have believed on him, whereas Isaiah 53:12 had reference to his gracious act at the time of his crucifixion. Observe what his intercession for the transgressors is there linked with - "and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

(Is 53:12)Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

(Heb 7:25) Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ESV

     That Christ should make intercession for his enemies was one of the items of the wonderful prophecy found in Isaiah 53. This chapter tells us at least ten things about the humiliation and suffering of the Redeemer. It declared that he should be despised and rejected of men; that he should be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; that he should be wounded, bruised and chastised; that he should be led, unresistingly, to slaughter; that he should be dumb before his shearers; that he should not only suffer at the hands of man but also be bruised by the Lord; that he should pour out his soul unto death; that he should be buried in a rich man’s tomb; and then it was added, that he would be numbered with transgressors; and finally, that he should make intercession for the transgressors. Here then was the prophecy - "and made intercession for the transgressors"; there was the fulfillment of it - "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". He thought of his murderers. He pleaded for his crucifiers; he made intercession for their forgiveness.

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

The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross

The Holiness of God

By R.C. Sproul

     No one ever carried on a livelier, more strident debate with God than did Job. If ever a man seemed to have a right to challenge God, it was Job. Job had been declared righteous by God Himself, and still he was afflicted with immeasurable misery. The drama of Job makes it seem as if the poor man was nothing more than a pawn in a cosmic struggle between God and Satan. God allowed Job to be put to a test. His possessions were stolen; his family was destroyed; and finally he was afflicted with a tormenting scourge of boils. He found no relief from his pain. His bodily anguish soon affected his soul.

     I once talked to an elderly woman who was battling cancer with chemotherapy. She suffered the side effects of nausea from the treatments. I asked her how her spirits were holding up, and she offered a most candid reply: “It is hard to be a Christian with your head in the toilet.” The woman understood that there is a close connection between body and soul. It is extremely difficult to be spiritual when the body is afflicted with unremitting pain.

     Yet Job did not blaspheme. He cried out, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Even his wife tried to get him to find ultimate relief. Her advice was simple and to the point: “Curse God and die.”

     Job refused to take the easy way out. He suffered the counsel of fools by listening to the advice of his friends. Finally he rose up to challenge God on the matter. He faced God alone, wrestling and struggling for answers to his misery. The reply of God was hardly comforting:

     See Job 38:1-11 in the Daily Bible reading above.

     This was a difficult oral examination. Job demanded answers from God. Instead of answers he received a bundle of questions in return. God rebuked Job for casting a dark shadow over divine wisdom by his own ignorance. It was as if God said, “OK, Job, you want to interrogate me? Fine, I’ll answer your questions, but first I have a few for you.” Like bullets from a rapid-fire machine gun, questions fell from the lips of God, each one more intimidating than the last. Finally Job spoke:

     (Job 40:3-5) 3 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 4 “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

     Consider the image Job used. He said that he would place his hand over his mouth. He gagged himself. He covered his lips with his hand lest any more foolish words escaped his mouth. He was sorry that he ever challenged God. He recognized that his words had been presumptuous. He had said all he wanted to say.

     But the interrogation continued. God was not yet finished with the examination. He asked a series of questions that overwhelmed Job:

     (Job 40:8) 8 Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?

     Here the issue is plain. Job’s challenge flies into the teeth of divine justice. His charges are an insult to a holy God. God’s question rings in Job’s ears: “Will you condemn me to justify yourself?” There is no doubt that Job longed to be justified. He was sick of the accusations of his friends. He did not understand why he was so miserable. He prayed for vindication. But his desire had gone out of control. He was on the verge of trading God’s justification for his own. He had crossed a line in the debate, suggesting that perhaps God had done evil. God asked him straight out, “Do you want to condemn me so that you can be exonerated?”

     The full weight of God’s questions fell hard on Job. He was almost crushed by them. Finally he took his hand away from his mouth and spoke again. This time there were no accusations in his words. He broke his vow of silence only to voice his contrition:

     (Job 42:2-6) 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

     When we read this section of Job we may get the idea that God was bullying Job. He cried out for answers and God said that He would answer Job’s questions. But the answers never came forth. To be sure, there was a condition attached to the promise of answers: Job was required to answer first. But Job flunked his exam. God then gave no answers.

     Yet Job was satisfied. Even though God gave no answers, Job’s questions were put to rest. He received a higher answer than any direct reply could have provided. God answered Job’s questions not with words, but with Himself. As soon as Job saw who God was, that was all that he needed. He was able to leave the details in God’s hands. Once God Himself was no longer shrouded in mystery, Job was able to live comfortably with a few unanswered questions. When God appeared, Job was so busy repenting he did not have time for further challenges. His rage was redirected to himself: “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

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

R.C. Sproul Books:

  • Jonathan Edwards Typology
  • Servant
  • Creation Typology

#1 Dr. Gerald McDermott      Dallas Theological Seminary


#2 Chuck Swindoll      Dallas Theological Seminary


#3 Dr. Gerald McDermott      Dallas Theological Seminary


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Give God your best
     3/9/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.’

(2 Sa 24:24) But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. ESV

     Instead of trusting God for victory over his enemies, David decided of his own volition to count the number of troops in his army to see how strong he was. God considered it ‘a slap in the face’, and a plague hit Israel that wiped out seventy thousand people. In order to stop the plague, David was told: ‘Build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite’ (v.18 NLT). When Araunah realised what was happening, he offered his threshing floor and oxen to David free of charge. But David said: ‘“No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So, David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer…and the plague on Israel was stopped’ (vv. 24-25 NLT). The old Anglo-Saxon word for worship is worth-ship, which is the act of ascribing worth or value to a person or object. What’s the point? It’s this: when it comes to serving God, if it doesn’t cost – it doesn’t count! God knows we can’t all give the same amount. But what He’s asking for isn’t equal giving, but equal sacrifice! The Bible says, ‘Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything’ (Proverbs 3:9 NLT). So, whether you’re worshipping, serving, or giving, make sure you’re giving God your best.

Numbers 15-16
Mark 6:30-56

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     On this date, March 9,1862, the historic Civil War battle took place between the Confederate iron-plated ship Merrimac, which had just destroyed two Union boats, and the Union’s ironclad vessel, the Monitor, designed by Swedish Immigrant John Ericsson. After 4 hours of bombardment, with cannon balls deflecting off their decks, the Confederate ship was crippled and withdrew to Virginia. Naval warfare was forever changed that day. When John Ericsson was offered payment for designing the Monitor, he replied: “Nothing could induce me to accept any remuneration… [It is] my contribution to the glorious… triumph… which freed 4,000,000 bondsmen.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

      I said his outward life became simplified, and used the passive voice intentionally. He didn't have to struggle, and renounce, and strain to achieve simplicity. He yielded to the Center and his life became simple. It was synoptic. It had singleness of eye. "If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light." His many selves were integrated into a single true self, whose whole aim was humbly walking in the presence and guidance and will of God. There was no shouting down of a disgruntled minority by a majority vote among his selves. It was as if there were in him a presiding chairman who, in the solemn, holy silence of inwardness, took the sense of the meeting. I would suggest that the Quaker method of conducting business meetings is also applicable to the conducting of our individual lives, inwardly. The Holy One stood by, in the inner life of John Woolman, as did Jesus when He stood over against the treasury and watched men and women casting their gifts into the treasury.

     And under the silent, watchful eye of the Holy One we all are standing, whether we know it or not. And in that Center, in that holy Abyss where the Eternal dwells at the base of our being, our programs, our gifts to Him, our offerings of duties performed are again and again revised in their values, Many of the things we are doing seem so important to us. We haven't been able to say No to .them, because they seemed so important. But if we center down, as the old phrase goes, and live in that holy Silence which is dearer than life, and take Our life program into the silent places of the heart, with complete openness, ready to do, ready to renounce according to His leading, then many of the things we are doing lose their vitality for us. I should like to testify to this, as a personal experience, graciously given. There is a re­ evaluation of much that we do or try to do, which is done for us, and we know what to do and what to let alone.

     Let me talk very intimately and very earnestly with you about Him who is dearer than life. Do you really want to live your lives, every moment of your lives, in His Presence? Do you long for Him, crave Him? Do you love His Presence? Does every drop of blood in your body love Him? Does every breath you draw breathe a prayer, a praise to Him? Do you sing and dance within yourselves, as you glory in His love? Have you set yourselves to be His, and only His, walking every moment in holy obedience? I know I'm talking like an old-time evangelist. But I can't help that, nor dare I restrain myself and get prim and conventional. We have too long been prim and restrained. The fires of the love of God, of our love toward God, and of His love toward us, are very hot. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart' and soul and mind and strength." Do we really do it? Is love steadfastly directed toward God, in our minds, all day long? Do we intersperse our work with gentle prayers and praises to Him? Do we live in the steady peace of God, a peace down at the very depths of our souls, where all strain is gone and God is already victor over the world, already victor over our weaknesses?This life, this abiding, enduring peace that never fails, this serene power and unhurried conquest, inward conquest over ourselves, outward conquest over the world, is meant to be ours. It is a life that is freed from strain and anxiety and hurry, for something of the Cosmic Patience of God becomes ours. Are our lives unshakable, because we are clear down on bed rock, rooted and grounded in the love of God? This is the first and the great commandment.

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Pray as though everything depended on God.
Work as though everything depended on you.
--- Saint Augustine  Devotions from the Desert: Encountering God

Ah, there is nothing more beautiful than the difference between the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a holy being, and the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a self-righteous being. The one is all contempt; the other, all pity.
--- Alexander MacLaren  Sermons Preached In Union Chapel, Manchester

The Christian life that is joyless is a discredit to God and a disgrace to itself.
--- Maltbie D. Babcock  Thoughts for every-day living from the spoken and written words of Maltbie Davenport Babcock

For every vision there is an equal and opposite revision.
--- Kelvin Throop III  The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation

... from here, there and everywhere

Anarchy or Totalitarianism
     Care of Expanding Pluralism

     Neuhaus ( The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America ) is also concerned that the new vacuum in the public square may be pushing us ever closer to the dangers of either anarchy or totalitarianism, mindless chaos or mind-chilling control." As a matter of fact, we may have taken the first, small steps into the darkness of this dilemma already. Our drug-infested, crime-ridden inner cities have become miniature workshops in which we can see how the inherent instability of our social order can easily lead to complete disorder. Where those who have no stake in the preservation of order are able to out-muscle those who do, where there is no dynamic operating except that of raw power, then either chaos is not far away or the outer limits of the permissible means of control and law enforcement are being tested. The knife edge between chaos and control is where democracy flourishes, but democracy without a common core of values with which to mediate and moderate the conflicts of competing special interests has yet to be tried. It is this vacuum in our social world, this emptiness, this awesome fragility, this demise of so much that has made Western civilization a truly great civilization that has opened the way for the emergence of pluralism. Among all of the fruits of modernization, it is pluralism, Berger ( The Precarious Vision A Sociologist Looks At Social Fictions And Christian Faith ) believes, that poses the most significant objection to Christian faith, and so we need briefly to get it in focus.

     In society there is no longer any center of values that exerts a centripetal force on our collective life, and in religion the theological center that once held together thought and practice, private and publie, has likewise disappeared. The new emptiness at the heart of both society and religion has been filled by their respective forms of pluralization. What was once a single universe in each case has broken apart into a mass of smaller, independent worlds that are now moving away on their own trajectories. Since this pattern is being repeated in different ways, there are different kinds of pluralization.

     In society, these "worlds" are made up of the small units of meaning — "sub-worlds" — in which we exist and through which we pass, perhaps even several times a day. ( The Precarious Vision A Sociologist Looks At Social Fictions And Christian Faith ) These worlds all have their own values, their own cognitive horizons, their own reasons for and ways of doing things, their own class interests. In many cases, the only things connecting these worlds are the people who shuttle among them. We move from the relationships and values of the family setting to an entirely different set of relationships and values in the workplace, from professional friends to whom we relate in one kind of way to personal friends to whom we relate in another, from service organizations to the larger business and bureaucratic structures in society that we must inhabit at least informauonally and psychologically, from the catastrophes and crises beamed into our consciousness each evening by the TV news programs to the soft-peddled amusements and hardcore pornography served up by the entertainment industry. Then we go to church. And lying across these worlds, sometimes identifying with them and sometimes disengaging from them, are the further subcultures associated with age, ethnic background, class interest, and occupation. To move among these multiple worlds smoothly, we have to master the many languages of survival. Not many will be able to surmount this cultural diversity without considerable cognitive dissonance. If society's emptiness produces what Durkheim called anomie, the breakdown of social cohesion and then of the meaning of things, then cognitive dissonance produces psychological confusion and anxiety. There was a time when both society and religion were held together by centripetal forces, but now each is being pulled apart by centrifugal forces, and this is significantly affecting the way in which we see our world.

     While it seems to be the case that secularization is the cause and cultural pluralization is the effect, there can be little doubt that, as Berger has argued, each strengthens the other. Our experience of cultural pluralization produces a greater emptiness in the center, and the emptiness in the center in turn demands more pluralization. This constant pressure away from any unifying focus gives powerful impetus to yet another form of pluralization, the breakdown in the unity of our knowledge and the emergence in its place of a mass of specialized fields and disciplines, each with its own assumptions, procedures, and criteria for judgment.

     This development has at least been a boon to the publishers of popular magazines. Since 1950, magazines have proliferated at twice the rate of the population's growth. They have served to create nationwide fraternities of people who do not know one another but who nonetheless share in a weekly communion of glossy layouts. Beautiful women, motorbikes, ski slopes, guns, and hundreds of other interests hold the various fraternities together. As entertainment and diversion, this experiment in specialization may not be problematic, but it becomes downright pernicious when we are trying to make sense out of our total world. We shop today in what Bryan Wilson has called a "random supermarket of knowledge." ( Religion in Secular Society: Fifty Years On ) It is the randomness, the lack of connection, the independence of these private worlds of knowing, that fractures reality. If we understand what the physicists are talking about, the sociologists make no sense to us; if we accept Carl Sagan's perspective on the world, we may not be able to enter into Solzhenitsyn's mind. The supermarket in which we shop for knowledge is at once a testimony to our genius in mastering the world and of our capacity for breaking up reality.

     The psychological fallout from this constant barrage of changing experiences, changing scenarios, changing worlds, changing worldviews, and changing values — the multilingual commerce of our everyday experience — is dramatic. On the one hand, it greatly accentuates the importance of novelty and spontaneity, as with each new situation, each new opportunity, each new alternative we have to make a choice." We are, in fact, caught up in a whirlwind of choices that is tearing at the very foundations of our stability. If societies in Eastern Europe under the dominance of Marxist regimes languished for lack of choice, we languish from having too many choices to make. We sometimes define freedom not as the ability to choose but as the opportunity to avoid having to choose. Freedom means being able to "drop out." ( Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation ) On the other hand, the relativity and impermanence of everything from values to possessions creates a deep sense of "homelessness," even of lostness, of not belonging, of not having roots in our world, of being unable to find a permanent niche into which we can fit. ( Beyond belief;: Essays on religion in a post-traditional world ) Amid the peals of freedom, these are the modern thunderclaps of damnation.

No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?

Journal of John Woolman 3/9
     University of Virginia Library 1994

     1760. Visit, in Company with Samuel Eastburn, to Long Island, Rhode Island, Boston, etc. -- Remarks on the Slave-Trade at New-port; also on Lotteries -- Some Observations on the Island of Nantucket.

     FOURTH month, 1760. -- Having for some time past felt a sympathy in my mind with Friends eastward, I opened my concern in our Monthly Meeting, and, obtaining a certificate, set forward on the 17th of this month, in company with my beloved friend Samuel Eastburn. We had meetings at Woodbridge, Rahway, and Plainfield, and were at their Monthly Meeting of ministers and elders in Rahway. We labored under some discouragement, but through the invisible power of truth our visit was made reviving to the lowly-minded, with whom I felt a near unity of spirit, being much reduced in my mind. We passed on and visited most of the meetings on Long Island. It was my concern from day to day to say neither more nor less than what the spirit of truth opened in me, being jealous over myself lest I should say anything to make my testimony look agreeable to that mind in people which is not in pure obedience to the cross of Christ.

     The spring of the ministry was often low, and through the subjecting power of truth we were kept low with it; from place to place they whose hearts were truly concerned for the cause of Christ appeared to be comforted in our labors, and though it was in general a time of abasement of the creature, yet through his goodness who is a helper of the poor we had some truly edifying seasons both in meetings and in families where we tarried; sometimes we found strength to labor earnestly with the unfaithful, especially with those whose station in families or in the Society was such that their example had a powerful tendency to open the way for others to go aside from the purity and soundness of the blessed truth.

     At Jericho, on Long Island, I wrote home as follows: --

     24th of the fourth month, 1760.

     We are favored with health; have been at sundry meetings in East Jersey and on this island. My mind hath been much in an inward, watchful frame since I left thee, greatly desiring that our proceedings may be singly in the will of our Heavenly Father.

     As the present appearance of things is not joyous, I have been much shut up from outward cheerfulness, remembering that promise, "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord"; as this from day to day has been revived in my memory, I have considered that his internal presence in our minds is a delight of all others the most pure, and that the honest-hearted not only delight in this, but in the effect of it upon them. He regards the helpless and distressed, and reveals his love to his children under affliction, who delight in beholding his benevolence, and in feeling Divine charity moving in them. Of this I may speak a little, for though since I left you I have often an engaging love and affection towards thee and my daughter, and friends about home, and going out at this time, when sickness is so great amongst you, is a trial upon me; yet I often remember there are many widows and fatherless, many who have poor tutors, many who have evil examples before them, and many whose minds are in captivity; for whose sake my heart is at times moved with compassion, so that I feel my mind resigned to leave you for a season, to exercise that gift which the Lord hath bestowed on me, which though small compared with some, yet in this I rejoice, that I feel love unfeigned towards my fellow-creatures. I recommend you to the Almighty, who I trust, cares for you, and under a sense of his heavenly love remain,
Thy loving husband,
J. W.

John Woolman's Journal

Proverbs 12:8-9
     by D.H. Stern

8     A person wins praise in keeping with his common sense,
but a person with a warped mind is treated with contempt.

9     Better to be despised and have a servant
than to boast of one’s status but have nothing to eat.

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

           “No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it—no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather.” --- GEORGE MACDONALD


     Blake wrote the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I have written of their Divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I know what he meant. But in some sense or other the attempt to make that marriage is perennial. The attempt is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain. This belief I take to be a disastrous error. You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you have to leave behind. We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.

     I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, ‘with backward mutters of dissevering power’—or else not. It is still ‘either-or’. If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell. I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in ‘the High Countries’. In that sense it will be true for those who have completed the journey (and for no others) to say that good is everything and Heaven everywhere. But we, at this end of the road, must not try to anticipate that retrospective vision. If we do, we are likely to embrace the false and disastrous converse and fancy that everything is good and everywhere is Heaven.

     But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.

     There are only two things more to be said about this small book. Firstly, I must acknowledge my debt to a writer whose name I have forgotten and whom I read several years ago in a highly coloured American magazine of what they call ‘Scientifiction’. The unbendable and unbreakable quality of my heavenly matter was suggested to me by him, though he used the fancy for a different and most ingenious purpose. His hero travelled into the past: and there, very properly, found raindrops that would pierce him like bullets and sandwiches that no strength could bite—because, of course, nothing in the past can be altered. I, with less originality but (I hope) equal propriety; have transferred this to the eternal. If the writer of that story ever reads these lines I ask him to accept my grateful acknowledgement. The second thing is this. I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course—or I intended it to have—a moral. But the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world.

     C. S. LEWIS  April, 1945

The Great Divorce   or   The Great Divorce

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The time of relapse

     Will ye also go away? --- John 6:67.

     A penetrating question. Our Lord’s words come home most when He talks in the most simple way. We know Who Jesus is, but in spite of that He says—“Will ye also go away?” We have to maintain a venturing attitude toward Him all the time.

     “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” They went back from walking with Jesus, not into sin, but they relapsed. Many to-day are spending and being spent in work for Jesus Christ, but they do not walk with Him. The one thing God keeps us to steadily is that we may be one with Jesus Christ. After sanctification the discipline of our spiritual life is along this line. If God gives a clear and emphatic realization to your soul of what He wants, do not try to keep yourself in that relationship by any particular method, but live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live the life with God on any other line than God’s line, and that line is absolute devotion to Him. The certainty that I know I do not know—that is the secret of going with Jesus.

     Peter only saw in Jesus Someone to minister salvation to him and to the world. Our Lord wants us to be yoke-fellows with Him.

     John 6:70. Jesus answers the great lack in Peter. We cannot answer for others.

My Utmost for His Highest

Sea Christmas
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

This is the wrong Christmas
in the right place: mistletoe
water there is no kissing
under; the soused holly

of the wrack, and birds coming
to the bird-table with
no red on their breast. All
night it has snowed

foam on the splintering
beaches, but the dawn-
wind carries it away, load
after load, and look,

the sand at the year's
solstice is young flesh
on a green crib, product
of an immaculate conception.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

Teacher's Commentary
     Regulations for Holiness in the People: Leviticus 18–20

     Sexual regulation (Lev. 18). Sex is God’s invention. It is He who created human beings male and female; He who told the first pair to be fruitful and to multiply. The New Testament even calls teaching that believers are to refrain from marriage, “which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth,” the teachings of “demons” and “deceiving spirits” (1 Tim. 4:1–5).

     But sex has a specific and wonderful function in human experience. While pleasurable and exciting, sex is designed as a bonding experience: an expression of union and oneness to be known by a man and woman who commit themselves to each other for life. Outside of this context of lifelong union, and outside the context of intimate self-giving, sexual activity will be destructive rather than constructive.

Leviticus 18 reflects this and even goes beyond it. It identifies certain sexual liaisons as “detestable things” which defile not only individuals but the society (“the land,” Leviticus 18:27). Included are sexual relations with blood relations and in-laws, sexual relations with animals, and homosexuality (Leviticus 18:7–23).

     This last practice, which the Old Testament text calls “detestable,” is an issue today as gay men and women demand not just civil rights but to be recognized by society as persons who practice an acceptable “alternative lifestyle.” There are even openly homosexual clergy, who demand that their denominations affirm them as ministers of God and give congregations into their care.

     The prohibition against homosexuality is not found solely in this one passage.
Leviticus 20 expands on the sin and decrees the death penalty “if a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman” for “both of them have done what is detestable” (Hebrews 20:13).

     The New Testament Book of Romans speaks of homosexual acts as a “degrading of their bodies with one another” and calls such passions “shameful lusts” that lead to “indecent acts” (
Romans 1:24–27). Whatever moderns say about homosexuality, the Bible clearly identifies this sexual practice as sin.

I believe scripture is clear; however, does it make sense for someone who dishonors their parents, engages in adultery, defrauds their neighbor, blasphemes God, kills, steals, lies ... to pronounce judgment on someone else? Isn't Jesus the One Who judges? I see all the half price sales at the optical stores, but none offer splinter, log, beam removal. Maybe we should keep our eyes on Jesus and work on removing the ungodly from our own life first.

     As Christians, living in a secular society rather than in Israel’s “society under God,” we can take a moral stand on what is right. But probably we will not be able to criminalize homosexuality. As for those outside the Christian community who practice it, their real spiritual need is for Jesus Christ. With them, we need to keep the focus not so much on this sin as on the message of forgiveness for all sins that comes with personal faith in the Saviour.

     But those who claim to be Christians and still demand a right to be homosexual must be challenged with a vision of our Holy God, who insists that all who have a relationship with Him depart from their iniquity, to live a holy and godly life.

The Teacher's Commentary

Swimming In The Sea of Talmud
     Berakhot 28a


     The disagreement of Abaye and Rava works on two levels. In one sense, it is about the recitation of the Sh’ma. How can we make sure that a person recites the Sh’ma regularly, at the right time, in the right state of mind and the proper dress?

     Yet, Abaye and Rava are also talking about human expectations, about the excuses that all of us give at one time or another. They are asking: How much can realistically be expected from a Jew? Both sages speak out of love for God, Torah, and the Jewish people, yet each with a particular emphasis. According to Rav Ḥin’na, the son of Rav Ikka, Abaye seems much more concerned with the legal implications. Even if it creates a hardship and involves great personal sacrifice, the law nonetheless must be upheld, lest the man recite the Sh’ma in an improper condition. Rava, however, tilts the scale more towards the human dimension. The Torah does not expect the impossible, and reciting the Sh’ma, at the last possible moment, while immersed in water up to one’s neck, is as much as Rava can demand from a person. Any prohibition beyond that is too much for him. After all, the Torah was not given to angels, but to human beings!

     Every one of us, at one time or another, has said: “This is impossible, and I can’t do it!” More than one has quoted the Yiddish proverb “Shver tzu zayn a Yid—It’s hard being a Jew.” We may think: “What does God want from me? I’m only human!” When we feel overwhelmed, we tell the world: “I can’t do any more than this. Your demands on me are too much.” Milton Steinberg, a well-known rabbi and preacher, collected a series of his sermons in a work called Only Human—The Eternal Alibi.… His point was that we use this excuse to excess; we plead humanity when we really mean laziness, forgetfulness, or indifference.

     Rava’s words, “The Torah was not given to the ministering angels,” can be a great comfort to us today. They remind us that anything demanded of us by Judaism must, by its very nature, be possible, for the Torah was not given to angels, but to humans. Nevertheless, Rava’s words are a two-edged sword. Our sense of comfort is limited by the realization that we cannot run away from these demands or beg off with the words: “It’s not humanly possible!”

     Just as Rava comforts us, he also challenges us: If it seems impossible, it is not, for the Torah was not given to the angels. Therefore, everything in it is achievable, although sometimes with tremendous effort. To see that life’s demands, which may seem overwhelming, can in reality be attained is both a great relief and a tremendous challenge.

     His inside is not like his outside.

     Text / It was taught: On that day, they dismissed the doorkeeper and gave permission for the students to enter. For Rabban Gamliel used to announce: “Any student whose inside is not like his outside should not enter the study house.” That day, they added seats. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: “There is a disagreement between Abba Yosef ben Dostai and the Rabbis. One said: ‘They added four hundred seats.’ The other said: ‘Seven hundred seats.’ Rabban Gamliel became upset and said: ‘Perhaps, God forbid, I have withheld Torah from Israel.’ He was seized by a dream in which he saw white jugs filled with ashes. But it was not so; that was only to appease him.”

     Context / Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah is known to many as one of the rabbis mentioned in the traditional haggadah used at the Pesaḥ Seder. The Talmud, in the section immediately before our text above, relates what happened on “that day,” that is, the day he took over authority of the study house: Though Rabbi Elazar confessed to being “like a man of seventy years,” he was actually only eighteen years old at the time! Upon becoming head of the study house, he quickly learned about the awesome burdens of public office; his hair immediately turned gray and he remarked that he felt “like a man of seventy years.” Here is a case where, in a different sense, his inside was not like his outside: Rabbi Elazar was still quite young but looked (and apparently felt) quite old. Such is the price paid by many for leadership.

     “That day” refers to the day on which Rabban Gamliel was overthrown as head of the study house in Yavneh and replaced by Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah. On “that day,” the students rebelled against Rabban Gamliel’s authority, installing this younger and apparently kinder teacher, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, in his stead. On “that day” there was a change not only of administration but also of attitude. Previously, admission to the study house had been highly selective. Rabban Gamliel had ruled that anyone whose qualities and attributes on the inside—his heart and soul—did not equal what was visible on the outside—his deeds and learning—should not enter the study house. A doorkeeper was posted to prevent undesirable students from entering. Rabbi Elazar changed that and allowed anyone who wanted to enter his school. On “that day,” hundreds of students took up his offer.

     There is disagreement over the exact number of students, but it is clear that many new students came to the study house after Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah took over. Rabban Gamliel is saddened that his actions may have caused a decrease in Torah knowledge. His distress is lessened when he dreams of jugs filled with ashes. In talmudic times, dreams were often seen as signs or portents, and the image of ash-filled casks is taken by Rabban Gamliel to symbolize the new students. While their number may be great, they are not worthy students but hollow containers. However, the Gemara itself disagrees. Rabban Gamliel may feel better about his dream, but its meaning is not what he thinks. The purpose of the dream was only to appease Rabban Gamliel; the fact stands that he caused a diminution of Torah.

Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living

The Imitation Of Christ
     Thomas A Kempis

     Book Two / The Interior Life

     The Twelfth Chapter / The Royal Road Of The Holy Cross

     TO MANY the saying, “Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow Me,” 19 seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word: “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” 20 Those who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly now, need not fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on the day of judgment. This sign of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who during life made themselves one with the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to Christ, the judge.

     Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross.

     Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too, might take up your cross and long to die upon it. If you die with Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall also share His glory.

     Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still you will find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross.

     Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God wills. For He wishes you to learn to bear trial without consolation, to submit yourself wholly to Him that you may become more humble through suffering. No one understands the passion of Christ so thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot it is to suffer the like himself.

     The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will—above, below, without, or within—you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.

     If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one. Do you expect to escape what no mortal man can ever avoid? Which of the saints was without a cross or trial on this earth? Not even Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose every hour on earth knew the pain of His passion. “It behooveth Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, … and so enter into his glory.” (Luke 24:46, 26) How is it that you look for another way than this, the royal way of the holy cross?

     The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of his exile also increases.

     Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without hope of consolation, because he knows that great reward is coming to him for bearing his cross. And when he carries it willingly, every pang of tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God. Besides, the more the flesh is distressed by affliction, so much the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace. Not infrequently a man is so strengthened by his love of trials and hardship in his desire to conform to the cross of Christ, that he does not wish to be without sorrow or pain, since he believes he will be the more acceptable to God if he is able to endure more and more grievous things for His sake.

     It is the grace of Christ, and not the virtue of man, which can and does bring it about that through fervor of spirit frail flesh learns to love and to gain what it naturally hates and shuns.

     To carry the cross, to love the cross, to chastise the body and bring it to subjection, to flee honors, to endure contempt gladly, to despise self and wish to be despised, to suffer any adversity and loss, to desire no prosperous days on earth—this is not man’s way. If you rely upon yourself, you can do none of these things, but if you trust in the Lord, strength will be given you from heaven and the world and the flesh will be made subject to your word. You will not even fear your enemy, the devil, if you are armed with faith and signed with the cross of Christ.

     Set yourself, then, like a good and faithful servant of Christ, to bear bravely the cross of your Lord, Who out of love was crucified for you. Be ready to suffer many adversities and many kinds of trouble in this miserable life, for troublesome and miserable life will always be, no matter where you are; and so you will find it wherever you may hide. Thus it must be; and there is no way to evade the trials and sorrows of life but to bear them.

     Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection it you wish to be His friend and to have part with Him. Leave consolation to God; let Him do as most pleases Him. On your part, be ready to bear sufferings and consider them the greatest consolation, for even though you alone were to undergo them all, the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.

     When you shall have come to the point where suffering is sweet and acceptable for the sake of Christ, then consider yourself fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth. But as long as suffering irks you and you seek to escape, so long will you be unfortunate, and the tribulation you seek to evade will follow you everywhere. If you put your mind to the things you ought to consider, that is, to suffering and death, you would soon be in a better state and would find peace.

     Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you were not thereby insured against suffering. Jesus said: “I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”(Acts 9:16) To suffer, then, remains your lot, if you mean to love Jesus and serve Him forever.

     If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of Jesus, what great glory would be in store for you, what great joy to all the saints of God, what great edification to those about you! For all men praise patience though there are few who wish to practice it.

     With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to suffer a little for Christ since many suffer much more for the world.

     Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.

     No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself to suffer hardship for Christ. Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing more helpful for you on this earth than to suffer willingly for Christ. If you had to make a choice, you ought to wish rather to suffer for Christ than to enjoy many consolations, for thus you would be more like Christ and more like all the saints. Our merit and progress consist not in many pleasures and comforts but rather in enduring great afflictions and sufferings.

     If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for man’s salvation than suffering, Christ would have shown it by word and example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who follow Him and all who wish to follow Him to carry the cross, saying: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

     When, therefore, we have read and searched all that has been written, let this be the final conclusion—that through much suffering we must enter into the kingdom of God.

The Imitation Of Christ

Take Heart
     March 9

     As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
Psalm 103:13.

     The father will have compassion on his children to remove their dreads. ( Spurgeon's Sermons, 5 Volumes ) Some people seem to take delight in frightening children with bogey stories so that they hardly dare go out at night, but a kind father, if he finds his children frightened so, explains it all to them—he does not like to see them blanched with fear or haunted with terror. It may be that some here present are suffering because they are afraid. Are any of you under a dread of some boding evil? Be sure of this: your heavenly Father feels compassion for you.

     Some hymns speak of death as associated with pains and groans and agonizing strife. Very much of that is old bogey. How many of God’s people have we seen die without pains or groans or dying strife! I remember one who all her lifetime was afraid of death; she retired as usual to bed one night, and when they went to call her in the morning, there she lay with a sweet smile on her face; she had gone to heaven in her sleep. It was evident she never knew anything about it.

     Are God’s people by their observation of other saints driven to conclude that death is always the terrible thing the world says it is? There may be some whom God puts to bed in the dark, as we sometimes do our children, but usually he takes the candle with him and sits and talks with his children till they fall asleep. And [when they] wake up, there they are among the angels. God kisses the souls of his saints out of their bodies.

     Go to your heavenly Father and tell him you are frightened, and he has ways of taking away these fears. For though they may be ridiculous to some, a child’s dreads are never too frivolous for the sympathy of a loving father, but he meets them as if there were some great reality in them and so sets them aside.

     Whatever then your need, your woe, your grief, go to your Father and he will give you comfort. Believe from this night forward that God does pity all those who fear him, and whatever he sees of weakness in their nature and of sorrow in their lot he will help them. So may you find it now and evermore, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
--- C. H. Spurgeon

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

On This Day   March 9
     The Father of Revivalism

     One day a lawyer in Adams, New York, grew disturbed about his soul. He retreated to a nearby forest, climbed a fence, knelt by a log for prayer, and experienced a dramatic conversion. Waves of liquid love, he later said, rolled over him. The next day, Charles Finney resigned from the bar to preach the gospel, saying he was now on retainer for Jesus Christ.

     His tall frame, riveting eyes, shaggy brows, beaklike nose, and powerful voice brought many to Christ. His preaching reflected a legal mind, for he presented the case for Christ as if convincing a jury. And he was dramatic. Audiences seemed to smell smoke whenever he spoke of hell, as he frequently did.

     The highlight of Finney’s career occurred on March 9, 1831, when he successfully concluded a six-month series of meetings at the Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York. The city was dramatically transformed by his preaching. One hundred thousand people were reportedly converted, including many of the city’s leaders—bankers, lawyers, physicians, judges. Stores in Rochester closed so people could attend Finney’s meetings, and the taverns went out of business. The theater became a livery stable, and the crime rate dropped by two-thirds. The city jail was virtually empty for the next two years. The Rochester meetings have been called “the world’s greatest single revival campaign,” and 1831 is known as the greatest year of spiritual awakening in American history.

     Finney pastored for a year in New York City while recovering from cholera. Then, suffering from respiratory problems, he accepted a teaching position at Oberlin College in Ohio, later becoming its president. He left school every year at the end of the term to conduct crusades, and according to some estimates, a half million were converted during his lifetime. His innovative methods (like asking seekers to come forward) paved the way for later evangelists like D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham.

     We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. --- 2 Corinthians 5:20.

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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - March 9

     “Yea, he is altogether lovely.” --- Song of Solomon 5:16.

     The superlative beauty of Jesus is all-attracting; it is not so much to be admired as to be loved. He is more than pleasant and fair, he is lovely. Surely the people of God can fully justify the use of this golden word, for he is the object of their warmest love, a love founded on the intrinsic excellence of his person, the complete perfection of his charms. Look, O disciples of Jesus, to your Master’s lips, and say, “Are they not most sweet?” Do not his words cause your hearts to burn within you as he talks with you by the way? Ye worshippers of Immanuel, look up to his head of much fine gold, and tell me, are not his thoughts precious unto you? Is not your adoration sweetened with affection as ye humbly bow before that countenance which is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars? Is there not a charm in his every feature, and is not his whole person fragrant with such a savour of his good ointments, that therefore the virgins love him? Is there one member of his glorious body which is not attractive?—one portion of his person which is not a fresh lodestone to our souls?—one office which is not a strong cord to bind your heart? Our love is not as a seal set upon his heart of love alone; it is fastened upon his arm of power also; nor is there a single part of him upon which it does not fix itself. We anoint his whole person with the sweet spikenard of our fervent love. His whole life we would imitate; his whole character we would transcribe. In all other beings we see some lack, in him there is all perfection. The best even of his favoured saints have had blots upon their garments and wrinkles upon their brows; he is nothing but loveliness. All earthly suns have their spots: the fair world itself hath its wilderness; we cannot love the whole of the most lovely thing; but Christ Jesus is gold without alloy-light without darkness—glory without cloud—“Yea, he is altogether lovely.”

          Evening - March 9

     “Abide in me.” --- John 15:4.

     Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill. Whether it be the wormwood of woe, or the cloying surfeit of earthly delight, close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will take bitterness from the one, and satiety from the other. Live near to Jesus, Christian, and it is a matter of secondary importance whether thou livest on the mountain of honour or in the valley of humiliation. Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL-BELOVED. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. Thou hast a difficult road before thee: see, O traveller to heaven, that thou go not without thy guide. Thou hast to pass through the fiery furnace; enter it not unless, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, thou hast the Son of God to be thy companion. Thou hast to storm the Jericho of thine own corruptions: attempt not the warfare until, like Joshua, thou hast seen the Captain of the Lord’s host, with his sword drawn in his hand. Thou art to meet the Esau of thy many temptations: meet him not until at Jabbok’s brook thou hast laid hold upon the angel, and prevailed. In every case, in every condition, thou wilt need Jesus; but most of all, when the iron gates of death shall open to thee. Keep thou close to thy soul’s Husband, lean thy head upon his bosom, ask to be refreshed with the spiced wine of his pomegranate, and thou shalt be found of him at the last, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Seeing thou hast lived with him, and lived in him here, thou shalt abide with him forever.

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

Amazing Grace
     March 9


     Scottish Psalter, 1650

     My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)

     I will commit my way, O Lord, to Thee, nor doubt Thy love, though dark the way may be; Nor     murmur, for the sorrow is from God, and there is comfort even in Thy rod.
--- Unknown

     One of the characteristics of the relationship that exists between a shepherd and his flock is that sheep can always distinguish the voice of their particular shepherd. The sheep’s responsibility is simply to listen and follow.

     As Christians, we worship and acknowledge God as our Creator and Redeemer. But how comforting it is to realize that this same great God is also “my Shepherd.” In time of stress, I can rest securely in His strong arms. With the Good Shepherd leading, even death’s dark vale need not be feared since death to the believer is simply a release to God’s eternal home.

     As members of Christ’s flock, we too must recognize our heavenly Shepherd’s voice. To do so, we must always remain close enough to hear it.

     Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

     This lovely setting of the 23rd Psalm was originally put in stanza form for the Scottish Psalter of 1650, a collection that contained only the 150 psalms arranged in metrical form for congregational singing. The charming and child-like tune has only recently begun to appear in American hymnals. “The Lord’s My Shepherd” … for many children the first Bible verse learned and often the last repeated before entering “death’s dark vale.” A psalm of priceless heritage!

     The Lord’s my Shepherd—I’ll not want; He makes me down to lie in pastures green. He leadeth me the quiet waters by.
     My soul He doth restore again, and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness, e’en for His own name’s sake.
     Yea, tho I walk thru death’s dark vale, yet will I fear no ill, for Thou art with me, and Thy rod and staff me comfort still.
     My table Thou hast furnished in presence of my foes; my head Thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows.
     Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me, and in God’s house forevermore my dwelling place shall be.

     For Today: Psalm 23; 78:52; Jeremiah 29:11; John 10:1–6; Hebrews 13:20, 21; 1 Peter 5:7.

     Be sensitive to God’s inner voice with directions for your life. Determine to follow wherever He indicates. Abandon yourself to His divine guidance. Sing as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Friday March 9, 2018 | Lent

Friday Of The Third Week In Lent
Year 2

Invitatory     Psalm 95
Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 88
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 91, 92
Old Testament     Genesis 47:1–26
New Testament     1 Corinthians 9:16–27
Gospel     Mark 6:47–56

Index of Readings

Psalm 95

95 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 88
88 A Song. A Psalm Of The Sons Of Korah. To The Choirmaster: According To Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil Of Heman The Ezrahite.

1 O LORD, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 91, 92

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

92 A Psalm. A Song For The Sabbath.

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

5 How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Old Testament
Genesis 47:1–26

47 So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” 2 And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” 4 They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

7 Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. 11 Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” 16 And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.

23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” 25 And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” 26 So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 9:16–27

16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Mark 6:47–56

47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

The Book of Common Prayer

Exodus 20:1-3 Pt 1

s2-044 9-14-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:4-6 Pt 2

s2-045 9-21-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:7 Pt 3

s2-046 9-28-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:18-26, 21:1-6

m2-044 10-2-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:8-11 Pt 4

s2-047 10-5-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:12 Pt 5

s2-048 10-12-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:13 Pt 6

s2-049 10-19-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:14 Pt 7

s2-050 11-2-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:15 Pt 8

s2-051 11-09-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:16 Pt 9

s2-052 11-16-2014 | Brett Meador

Exodus 20:17 Pt 10

s2-053 11-23-2014 | Brett Meador

Avoiding Pride in a World

of Selfie Sticks
and Social Media Platforms
John Piper

Your Money May Keep You from Heaven

John Piper

Willing God's Will as a Way

of Knowing Christ’s Word
John Piper

In What Sense Did Christ Die

for the Non-Elect?
John Piper

How Does ‘Willful Sinning’

Threaten My Salvation?
John Piper

Don’t Rebuild Walls

Christ Tore Down
John Piper

What Grieves God? | Mark 3:1–6

John Piper