Balaam’s First OracleNumbers 23 1 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. 3 And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, 4 and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” 5 And the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” 6 And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. 7 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,
“From Aram Balak has brought me,
the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
and come, denounce Israel!’
8 How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
9 For from the top of the crags I see him,
from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
and not counting itself among the nations!
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
and let my end be like his!”
Balaam’s Second Oracle13 And Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.” 14 And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.” 16 And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” 17 And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the LORD spoken?” 18 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,
“Rise, Balak, and hear;
give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
19 God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
20 Behold, I received a command to bless:
he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
21 He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The LORD their God is with them,
and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brings them out of Egypt
and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23 For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
no divination against Israel;
now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
‘What has God wrought!’
24 Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
and as a lion it lifts itself;
it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
and drunk the blood of the slain.”
Hide Me from the WickedPsalm 64 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
9 Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.
10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!
O God of Our SalvationPsalm 65 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David. A Song.
1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3 When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
6 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
The Judgment of BabylonIsaiah 13:1 The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
2 On a bare hill raise a signal;
cry aloud to them;
wave the hand for them to enter
the gates of the nobles.
3 I myself have commanded my consecrated ones,
and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger,
my proudly exulting ones.
4 The sound of a tumult is on the mountains
as of a great multitude!
The sound of an uproar of kingdoms,
of nations gathering together!
The LORD of hosts is mustering
a host for battle.
5 They come from a distant land,
from the end of the heavens,
the LORD and the weapons of his indignation,
to destroy the whole land.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come!
7 Therefore all hands will be feeble,
and every human heart will melt.
8 They will be dismayed:
pangs and agony will seize them;
they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at one another;
their faces will be aflame.
9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people more rare than fine gold,
and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the LORD of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And like a hunted gazelle,
or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
and each will flee to his own land.
15 Whoever is found will be thrust through,
and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed in pieces
before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
and their wives ravished.
17 Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them,
who have no regard for silver
and do not delight in gold.
18 Their bows will slaughter the young men;
they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb;
their eyes will not pity children.
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans,
will be like Sodom and Gomorrah
when God overthrew them.
20 It will never be inhabited
or lived in for all generations;
no Arab will pitch his tent there;
no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21 But wild animals will lie down there,
and their houses will be full of howling creatures;
there ostriches will dwell,
and there wild goats will dance.
22 Hyenas will cry in its towers,
and jackals in the pleasant palaces;
its time is close at hand
and its days will not be prolonged.
1 Peter 1
Greeting1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Born Again to a Living Hope3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. As we examine together the prayer contained in 1 Peter 1:3-5, let us consider eight things: (1) its connection—that we may perceive who all are included by the words “begotten us again”; (2) its nature—a doxology (“Blessed be”); (3) its Object—“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”; (4) its ascription—“His abundant mercy”; (5) its incitement—“hath begotten us again unto a lively hope”; (6) its acknowledgment—“by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”; (7) its substance—“to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you”; and (8) its guaranty—“who are kept by the power of God through faith.” There is much here of interest and deep importance. Therefore, it would be wrong for us to hurriedly dismiss such a passage with a few generalizations, especially since it contains such a wealth of spiritual, joyful reflection that cannot but edify the mind and stir up the will and affections of every saint who rightly meditates upon it. May we be duly affected by its contents and truly enter into its elevated spirit. A Guide to Fervent Prayer 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Called to Be Holy13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
The Emotional Life of our Lord
By Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
It belongs to the truth of our Lord’s humanity, that he was subject to all sinless human emotions. In the accounts which the Evangelists give us of the crowded activities which filled the few years of his ministry, the play of a great variety of emotions is depicted. It has nevertheless not proved easy to form a universally acceptable conception of our Lord’s emotional life. Not only has the mystery of the Incarnation entered in as a disturbing factor, the effect of the divine nature on the movements of the human soul brought into personal union with it has been variously estimated. Differences have arisen also as to how far there may be attributed to a perfect human nature movements known to us only as passions of sinful beings. I. II. “For the innumerable dead III.
Two opposite tendencies early showed themselves in the Church. One, derived ultimately from the ethical ideal of the Stoa, which conceived moral perfection under the form of apatheia, naturally wished to attribute this ideal dira0eaa to Jesus, as the perfect man. The other, under the influence of the conviction that, in order to deliver men from their weaknesses, the Redeemer must assume and sanctify in his own person all human patha, as naturally was eager to attribute to him in its fulness every human pathos. Though in far less clearly defined forms, and with a complete shifting of their bases, both tendencies are still operative in men’s thought of Jesus. There is a tendency in the interest of the dignity of his person to minimize, and there is a tendency in the interest of the completeness of his humanity to magnify, his affectional movements. The one tendency may run some risk of giving us a somewhat cold and remote Jesus, whom we can scarcely believe to be able to sympathize with us in all our infirmities. The other may possibly be in danger of offering us a Jesus so crassly human as scarcely to command our highest reverence. Between the two, the figure of Jesus is liable to take on a certain vagueness of outline, and come to lack definiteness in our thought. It may not be without its uses, therefore, to seek a starting point for our conception of his emotional life in the comparatively few2 affectional movements which are directly assigned to him in the Gospel narratives. Proceeding outward from these, we may be able to form a more distinctly conceived and firmly grounded idea of his emotional life in general.
It cannot be assumed beforehand, indeed, that all the emotions attributed to Jesus in the Evangelical narratives are intended to be ascribed distinctively to his human soul.3 Such is no doubt the common view. And it is not an unnatural view to take as we currently read narratives, which, whatever else they contain, certainly present some dramatization of the human experiences of our Lord.4 No doubt the naturalness of this view is its sufficient general justification. Only, it will be well to bear in mind that Jesus was definitely conceived by the Evangelists as a two-natured person, and that they made no difficulties with his duplex consciousness. In almost the same breath they represent him as declaring that he knows the Father through and through and, of course, also all that is in man, and the world which is the theatre of his activities, and that he is ignorant of the time of the occurrence of a simple earthly event which concerns his own work very closely; that he is meek and lowly in heart and yet at the same time the Lord of men by their relations to whom their destinies are determined, — “no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” In the case of a Being whose subjective life is depicted as focusing in two centers of consciousness, we may properly maintain some reserve in ascribing distinctively to one or the other of them mental activities which, so far as their nature is concerned, might properly belong to either. The embarrassment in studying the emotional life of Jesus arising from this cause, however, is more theoretical than practical. Some of the emotions attributed to him in the Evangelical narrative are, in one way or another, expressly assigned to his human soul. Some of them by their very nature assign themselves to his human soul. With reference to the remainder, just because they might equally well be assigned to the one nature or the other, it may be taken for granted that they belong to the human soul, if not exclusively, yet along with the divine Spirit; and they may therefore very properly be used to fill out the picture. We may thus, without serious danger of confusion, go simply to the Evangelical narrative, and, passing in review the definite ascriptions of specific emotions to Jesus in its records, found on them a conception of his emotional life which may serve as a starting-point for a study of this aspect of our Lord’s human manifestation.
The establishment of this starting-point is the single task of this essay. No attempt will be made in it to round out our view of our Lord’s emotional life. It will content itself with an attempt to ascertain the exact emotions which are expressly assigned to him in the Evangelical narrative, and will leave their mere collocation to convey its own lesson. We deceive ourselves, however, if their mere collocation does not suffice solidly to ground certain very clear convictions as to our Lord’s humanity, and to determine the lines on which our conception of the quality of his human nature must be filled out.
This emotional movement was aroused in our Lord as well by the sight of individual distress (Mk. i. 41; Mt. xx. 34; Lk. vii. 13) as by the spectacle of man’s universal misery (Mk. vi. 34, viii. 2; Mt. ix. 36, xiv. 14, xv. 32). The appeal of two blind men that their eyes might be opened (Mt. xx. 34), the appeal of a leper for cleansing (Mk. i. 41), — though there may have been circumstances in his case which called out Jesus’ reprobation (verse 43), — set our Lord’s heart throbbing with pity, as did also the mere sight of a bereaved widow, wailing by the bier of her only son as they bore him forth to burial, though no appeal was made for relief (Lk. vii. 13).13 The ready spontaneity of Jesus’ pity is even more plainly shown when he intervenes by a great miracle to relieve temporary pangs of hunger: “I have compassion on” — or better, “I feel pity for” — “the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way; and some of them are come from far” (Mk. viii. 2; Mt. xv. 32), — the only occasion on which Jesus is recorded as testifying to his own feeling of pity. It was not merely the physical ills of life, however, — want and disease and death, — which called out our Lord’s compassion. These ills were rather looked upon by him as themselves rooted in spiritual destitution. And it was this spiritual destitution which most deeply moved his pity. The cause and the effects are indeed very closely linked together in the narrative, and it is not always easy to separate them. Thus we read in Mark vi. 34: “And he came forth and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them” — better, “he felt pity for them,” — “because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he taught them many things.” But in the parallel passage in Mt. xiv. 14, we read: “And he came forth and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on” (“felt pity for”) “them, and he healed their sick.” We must put the two passages together to get a complete account: their fatal ignorance of spiritual things, their evil case under the dominion of Satan in all the effects of his terrible tyranny, are alike the object of our Lord’s compassion.14 In another passage (Mt. ix. 36) the emphasis is thrown very distinctly on the spiritual destitution of the people as the cause of his compassionate regard: “But when he saw the multitude, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd.” This description of the spiritual destitution of the people is cast in very strong language. They are compared to sheep which have been worn out and torn by running hither and thither through the thorns with none to direct them, and have now fallen helpless and hopeless to the ground.15 The sight of their desperate plight awakens our Lord’s pity and moves him to provide the remedy.
No other term is employed by the New Testament writers directly to express our Lord’s compassion.16 But we read elsewhere of its manifestation in tears and sighs. The tears which wet his cheeks18 when, looking upon the uncontrolled grief of Mary and her companions, he advanced, with heart swelling with indignation at the outrage of death, to the conquest of the destroyer (Jno. xi. 35), were distinctly tears of sympathy. Even more clearly, his own unrestrained wailing over Jerusalem and its stubborn unbelief was the expression of the most poignant pity: “O that thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace” (Lk. xix. 41)!19 The sight of suffering drew tears from his eyes; obstinate unbelief convulsed him with uncontrollable grief. Similarly when a man afflicted with dumbness and deafness was brought to him for healing we are only told that he “sighed”20 (Mk. vii. 34); but when the malignant unbelief of the Pharisees was brought home to him he “sighed from the bottom of his heart” (Mk. viii. 12).21 “Obstinate sin,” comments Swete appropriately, “drew from Christ a deeper sigh than the sight of suffering (Lk. vii. 34 and cf. Jno. xiii. 20), a sigh in which anger and sorrow both had a part (iii. 4 note).”22 We may, at any rate, place the loud wailing over the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem and the deep sighing over the Pharisees’ determined opposition side by side as exhibitions of the profound pain given to our Lord’s sympathetic heart, by those whose persistent rejection of him required at his hands his sternest reprobation. He “sighed from the bottom of his heart” when he declared, “There shall no sign be given this generation”; he wailed aloud when he announced, “The days shall come upon thee when thine enemies shall dash thee to the ground.” It hurt Jesus to hand over even hardened sinners to their doom.
It hurt Jesus, — because Jesus’ prime characteristic was love, and love is the foundation of compassion. How close to one another the two emotions of love and compassion lie, may be taught us by the only instance in which the emotion of love is attributed to Jesus in the Synoptics (Mk. x. 21). Here we are told that Jesus, looking upon the rich young ruler, “loved”23 him, and said to him, “One thing thou lackest.” It is not the “love of complacency” which is intended, but the “love of benevolence”; that is to say, it is the love, not so much that finds good, as that intends good, — though we may no doubt allow that “love of compassion is never” — let us rather say, “seldom” — “absolutely separated from love of approbation”;24 that is to say, there is ordinarily some good to be found already in those upon whom we fix our benevolent regard. The heart of our Saviour turned yearningly to the rich young man and longed to do him good; and this is an emotion, we say, which, especially in the circumstances depicted, is not far from simple compassion.25
It is characteristic of John’s Gospel that it goes with simple directness always to the bottom of things. Love lies at the bottom of compassion. And love is attributed to Jesus only once in the Synoptics, but compassion often; while with John the contrary is true — compassion is attributed to Jesus not even once, but love often. This love is commonly the love of compassion, or, rather, let us broaden it now and say, the love of benevolence; but sometimes it is the love of sheer delight in its object. Love to God is, of course, the love of pure complacency. We are surprised to note that Jesus’ love to God is only once explicitly mentioned (Jno. xiv. 31); but in this single mention it is set before us as the motive of his entire saving work and particularly of his offering of himself up. The time of his offering is at hand, and Jesus explains: “I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of this world cometh; and he hath nothing in me; but [I yield myself to him] that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.”26 The motive of Jesus’ earthly life and death is more commonly presented as love for sinful men; here it is presented as loving obedience to God. He had come to do the will of the Father; and because he loved the Father, his will he will do, up to the bitter end. He declares his purpose to be, under the impulse of love, “obedience up to death, yea, the death of the cross.”
The love for man which moved Jesus to come to his succor in his sin and misery was, of course, the love of benevolence. It finds its culminating expression in the great words of Jno. xv. 13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends: ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you”27 — rather an illuminating definition of ‘friends,’ by the way, especially when it is followed by: “Ye did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit.” “Friends,” it is clear, in this definition, are rather those who are loved than those who love. This culminating expression of his love for his own, by which he was sustained in his great mission of humiliation for them, is supported, however, by repeated declarations of it in the immediate and wider context. In the immediately preceding verses, for example, it is urged as the motive and norm of the love — spring of obedience — which he seeks from his disciples: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples. Even as my Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be fulfilled. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you” (Jno. xv. 8-12). As his love to the Father was the source of his obedience to the Father, and the living spring of his faithfulness to the work which had been committed to him, so he declares that the love of his followers to him, imitating and reproducing his love to them, is to be the source of their obedience to him, and through that, of all the good that can come to human beings, including, as the highest reach of social perfection, their love for one another. Self-sacrificing love is thus made the essence of the Christian life, and is referred for its incentive to the self-sacrificing love of Christ himself: Christ’s followers are to “have the same mind in them which was also in Christ Jesus.” The possessive pronouns throughout this passage — “abide in my love,” “in my love,” “in his (the Father’s) love” — are all subjective:28 so that throughout the whole, it is the love which Christ bears his people which is kept in prominent view as the impulse and standard of the love he asks from his people. This love had already been adverted to more than once in the wider context (xiii. 1, 34, xiv. 21) in the same spirit in which it is here spoken of. Its greatness is celebrated: he not only “loved his own which were in the world,” but “loved them utterly” (xiii. 1).29 It is presented as the model for the imitation of those who would live a Christian life on earth: “even as I have loved you” (xiii. 34). It is propounded as the Christian’s greatest reward: “and I will love him and manifest myself unto him” (xiv. 21).
The emotion of love as attributed to Jesus in the narrative of John is not confined, however, to these great movements — his love to his Father which impelled him to fulfil all his Father’s will in the great work of redemption and his love for those whom, in fulfilment of his Father’s will, he had chosen to be the recipients of his saving mercy, laying down his life for them. There are attributed to him also those common movements of affection which bind man to man in the ties of friendship. We hear of particular individuals whom “Jesus loved,” the meaning obviously being that his heart knit itself to theirs in a simple human fondness. The term employed to express this friendship is prevailingly that high term which designates a love that is grounded in admiration and fulfils itself in esteem;30 but the term which carries with it only the notion of personal inclination and delight is not shunned.31 We are given to understand that there was a particular one of our Lord’s most intimate circle of disciples on whom he especially poured out his personal affection. This disciple came to be known, as, by the way of eminence, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” though there are subtle suggestions that the phrase must not be taken in too exclusive a sense.32 Both terms, the more elevated and the more intimate, are employed to express Jesus’ love for him.33 The love of Jesus for the household at Bethany and especially for Lazarus, is also expressly intimated to us, and it also by both terms, — though the more intimate one is tactfully confined to his affection for Lazarus himself. The message which the sisters sent Jesus is couched in the language of the warmest personal attachment: “Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick”; and the sight of Jesus’ tears calls from the witnessing Jews an exclamation which recognizes in him the tenderest personal feeling: “Behold, how he loved him!” But when the Evangelist widens Jesus’ affection to embrace the sisters also, he instinctively lifts the term employed to the more deferential expression of friendship: “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” Jesus’ affection for Mary and Martha, while deep and close, had nothing in it of an amatory nature, and the change in the term avoids all possibility of such a misconception.34 Meanwhile, we perceive our Lord the subject of those natural movements of affection which bind the members of society together in bonds of close fellowship. He was as far as possible from insensibility to the pleasures of social intercourse (cf. Mt. xi. 19) and the charms of personal attractiveness. He had his mission to perform, and he chose his servants with a view to the performance of his mission. The relations of the flesh gave way in his heart to the relations of the spirit: “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. xii. 50) and it is “those who do the things which he commands them” whom he calls his “friends” (Jno. xv. 14). But he had also the companions of his human heart: those to whom his affections turned in a purely human attachment. His heart was open and readily responded to the delights of human association, and bound itself to others in a happy fellowship.35
It is Mark, for instance, who tells us explicitly (iii. 5) that the insensibility of the Jews to human suffering exhibited in a tendency to put ritual integrity above humanity, filled Jesus with indignant anger. A man whose hand had withered, met with in the synagogue one Sabbath, afforded a sort of test-case. The Jews treated it as such and “watched Jesus whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day, that they might accuse him.” Jesus accepted the challenge. Commanding the man to “rise in the midst” of the assemblage, he put to them the searching question, generalizing the whole case: “Is it lawful to do good or to do evil on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” “But,” says the narrative, “they kept silent.” Then Jesus’ anger rose: “he looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their heart.” What is meant is, not that his anger was modified by grief, his reprobation of the hardness of their hearts was mingled with a sort of sympathy for men sunk in such a miserable condition. What is meant is simply that the spectacle of their hardness of heart produced in him the deepest dissatisfaction, which passed into angry resentment.36 Thus the fundamental psychology of anger is curiously illustrated by this account; for anger always has pain at its root, and is a reaction of the soul against what gives it discomfort.37 The hardness of the Jews’ heart, vividly realized, hurt Jesus; and his anger rose in repulsion of the cause of his pain. There are thus two movements of feeling brought before us here. There is the pain which the gross manifestation of the hardness of heart of the Jews inflicted on Jesus. And there is the strong reaction of indignation which sprang out of this pain. The term by which the former feeling is expressed has at its basis the simple idea of pain, and is used in the broadest way of every kind of pain, whether physical or mental, emphasizing, however, the sensation itself, rather than its expression.38 It is employed here appropriately, in a form which throws an emphasis on the inwardness of the feeling, of the discomfort of heart produced in Jesus by the sight of man’s inhumanity to man. The expression of this discomfort was in the angry look which he swept over the unsympathetic assemblage. It is not intimated that the pain was abiding, the anger evanescent. The glance in which the anger was manifested is represented as fleeting in contrast with the pain of which the anger was the expression. But the term used for this anger is just the term for abiding resentment, set on vengeance.39 Precisely what is ascribed to Jesus, then, in this passage is that indignation at wrong, perceived as such, wishing and intending punishment to the wrong-doer, which forms the core of what we can vindicatory justice.40 This is a necessary reaction of every moral being against perceived wrong.
On another occasion Mark (x. 14) pictures Jesus to us as moved by a much lighter form of the emotion of anger. His disciples, — doubtless with a view to protecting him from needless drafts upon his time and strength, — interfered with certain parents, who were bringing to him their babies (Lk. xviii. 15) “that he should touch them.” Jesus saw their action, and, we are told, “was moved with indignation.” The term employed here41 expresses, originally, physical (such, for example, as is felt by a teething child), and then mental (Mt. xx. 24, xxi. 15, xxvi. 8; Mk. x. 41, xiv. 4; Lk. xiii. 14, cf. II Cor. vii. 11) “irritation.” Jesus was “irritated,” or perhaps we may better render, was “annoyed,” “vexed,” at his disciples. And (so the term also suggests) he showed his annoyance, — whether by gesture or tone or the mere shortness of his speech: “Let the children come to me; forbid them not!”42 Thus we see Jesus as he reacts with anger at the spectacle of inhumanity, so reacting with irritation at the spectacle of blundering misunderstanding, however well-meant.
Yet another phase of angry emotion is ascribed to Jesus by Mark, but in this case not by Mark alone. Mark (xiv. 3) tells us that on healing a leper, Matthew (ix. 30) that on healing two blind men, Jesus “straitly,” “strictly,” “sternly,” “charged” them, — as our English versions struggle with the term, in an attempt to make it describe merely the tone and manner of his injunction to the beneficiaries of his healing power, not to tell of the cures wrought upon them. This term,43 however, does not seem to mean, in its ordinary usage, to “charge,” to “enjoin,” however straitly or strictly, but simply to “be angry at,” or, since it commonly implies that the anger is great, to “be enraged with,” or, perhaps better still, since it usually intimates that the anger is expressed by audible signs, to “rage against.” If we are to take it in its customary sense, therefore, what we are really told in these passages is that Jesus, “when he had raged against the leper, sent him away;” that “he raged against the blind men, saying, ‘See that no one know it!” If this rage is to be supposed (with our English versions) to have expressed itself only in the words recorded, the meaning would not be far removed from that of the English word “bluster” in its somewhat rare transitive use, as, for example, when an old author writes: “He meant to bluster all princes into perfect obedience.”44 The implication of boisterousness, and indeed of empty noise, which attends the English word, however, is quite lacking from the Greek, the rage expressed by which is always thought of as very real. What it has in common with “bluster” is thus merely its strong minatory import. The Vulgate Latin accordingly cuts the knot by rendering it simply “threatened,” and is naturally followed in this by those English versions (Wycliffe, Rheims) which depend on it.45 Certainly Jesus is represented here as taking up a menacing attitude, and threatening words are placed on his lips: “See that thou say nothing to any man,” “See that no one know it”— a form of speech which always conveys a threat.46 But “threaten” can scarcely be accepted as an adequate rendering of the term whether in itself or in these contexts. When Matthew tells us “And he was enraged at them, saying . . .” the rage may no doubt be thought to find its outlet in the threatening words which follow:47 but the implication of Mark is different: “And raging at him,” or “having raged at him” — “he straightway sent him forth.” When it is added: “And saith to him, ‘See that thou say nothing to any one” a subsequent moment in the transaction is indicated.48 How our Lord’s rage was manifested, we are not told. And this is really just as true in the case of Matthew as in that of Mark. To say, “he was enraged at them, saying (threatening words),” is not to say merely, “he threatened them”: it is to say that a threat was uttered and that this threat was the suitable accompaniment of his rage.
The cause of our Lord’s anger does not lie on the surface in either case. The commentators seem generally inclined to account for it by supposing that Jesus foresaw that his injunction of silence would be disregarded.49 But this explanation, little natural in itself, seems quite unsuitable to the narrative in Mark where we are told, not that Jesus angrily enjoined the leper to silence, but that he angrily sent him away. Others accordingly seek the ground of his anger in something displeasing to him in the demeanor of the applicants for his help, in their mode of approaching or addressing him, in erroneous conceptions with which they were animated, and the like. Klostermann imagines that our Lord did not feel that miraculous healings lay in the direct line of his vocation, and was irritated because he had been betrayed by his compassion into undertaking them. Volkmar goes the length of supposing that Jesus resented the over-reverential form of the address of the leper to him, on the principle laid down in Rev. xix. 10, “See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee.” Even Keil suggests that Jesus was angry with the blind men because they addressed him openly as “Son of David,” not wishing “this untimely proclamation of him as Messiah on the part of those who held him as such only on account of his miracles.” It is more common to point out some shortcoming in the applicants: they did not approach him with sufficient reverence or with sufficient knowledge of the true nature of his mission; they demanded their cure too much as a matter of course, or too much as if from a mere marvel-monger; and in the case of the leper at least, with too little regard to their own obligations. A leper should not approach a stranger; certainly he should not ask or permit a stranger to put his hand upon him; especially should he not approach a stranger in the streets of a city (Lk. v. 12) and very particularly not in a house (Mk. i. 43: “He put him out”), above all if it were, as it might well be here, a private house. That Jesus was indignant at such gross disregard of law was natural and fully explains his vehemence in driving the leper out and sternly admonishing him to go and fulfil the legal requirements.50 This variety of explanation is the index of the slightness of the guidance given in the passages themselves to the cause of our Lord’s anger; but it can throw no doubt upon the fact of that anger, which is directly asserted in both instances and must not be obscured by attributing to the term by which it is expressed some lighter significance.51 The term employed declares that Jesus exhibited vehement anger, which was audibly manifested.52 This anger did not inhibit, however, the operation of his compassion (Mk. i. 41; Mt. ix. 27) but appears in full manifestation as its accompaniment. This may indicate that its cause lay outside the objects of his compassion, in some general fact the nature of which we may possibly learn from other instances.
The same term occurs again in John’s narrative of our Lord’s demeanor at the grave of his beloved friend Lazarus (Jno. xi. 33, 38). When Jesus saw Mary weeping — or rather “wailing,” for the term is a strong one and implies the vocal expression of the grief53 — and the Jews which accompanied her also “wailing,” we are told, as our English version puts it, that “he groaned in the spirit and was troubled”; and again, when some of the Jews, remarking on his own manifestation of grief in tears, expressed their wonder that he who had opened the eyes of the blind man could not have preserved Lazarus from death, we are told that Jesus “again groaned in himself.” The natural suggestion of the word “groan” is, however, that of pain or sorrow, not disapprobation; and this rendering of the term in question is therefore misleading. It is better rendered in the only remaining passage in which it occurs in the New Testament, Mk. xiv. 5, by “murmured,” though this is much too weak a word to reproduce its implications. In that passage it is brought into close connection with a kindred term54 which determines its meaning. We read: “But there were some that had indignation among themselves . . . and they murmured against her.” Their feeling of irritated displeasure expressed itself in an outburst of temper. The margin of our Revised Version at Jno. xi. 33, 38, therefore, very properly proposes that we should for “groaned” in these passages, substitute “moved with indignation,” although that phrase too is scarcely strong enough. What John tells us, in point of fact, is that Jesus approached the grave of Lazarus, in a state, not of uncontrollable grief, but of irrepressible anger. He did respond to the spectacle of human sorrow abandoning itself to its unrestrained expression, with quiet, sympathetic tears: “Jesus wept” (verse 36).55 But the emotion which tore his breast and clamored for utterance was just rage. The expression even of this rage, however, was strongly curbed. The term which John employs to describe it is, as we have seen, a definitely external term.56 “He raged.” But John modifies its external sense by annexed qualifications: “He raged in spirit,” “raging in himself” He thus interiorizes the term and gives us to understand that the ebullition of Jesus’ anger expended itself within him. Not that there was no manifestation of it: it must have been observable to be observed and recorded;57 it formed a marked feature of the occurrence as seen and heard.58 But John gives us to understand that the external expression of our Lord’s fury was markedly restrained: its manifestation fell far short of its real intensity. He even traces for us the movements of his inward struggle: “Jesus, therefore, when he saw her wailing, and the Jews that had come with her wailing, was enraged in spirit and troubled himself’59 . . . and wept. His inwardly restrained fury produced a profound agitation of his whole being, one of the manifestations of which was tears.
Why did the sight of the wailing of Mary and her companions enrage Jesus? Certainly not because of the extreme violence of its expression; and even more certainly not because it argued unbelief — unwillingness to submit to God’s providential ordering or distrust of Jesus’ power to save. He himself wept, if with less violence yet in true sympathy. with the grief of which he was witness. The intensity of his exasperation, moreover, would be disproportionate to such a cause; and the importance attached to it in the account bids us seek its ground in something less incidental to the main drift of the narrative. It is mentioned twice, and is obviously emphasized as an indispensable element in the development of the story, on which, in its due place and degree, the lesson of the incident hangs. The spectacle of the distress of Mary and her companions enraged Jesus because it brought poignantly home to his consciousness the evil of death, its unnaturalness, its “violent tyranny” as Calvin (on verse 38) phrases it. In Mary’s grief, he “contemplates” — still to adopt Calvin’s words (on verse 33), — “the general misery of the whole human race” and burns with rage against the oppressor of men. Inextinguishable fury seizes upon him; his whole being is discomposed and perturbed; and his heart, if not his lips, cries out, —
Is my soul disquieted.”60
There is another term which the Synoptic Gospels employ to describe our Lord’s dealing with those he healed (Mt. xii. 16), which is sometimes rendered by our English versions — as the term we have just been considering is rendered in similar connections (Mk. i. 43; Mt. ix. 30) — by “charged” (Mt. xli. 16, xvi. 20; Mk. iii. 12, viii. 30, ix. 21); but more frequently with more regard to its connotation of censure, implying displeasure, “by rebuked” (Mt. xvii. 18; Mk. ix. 21; Lk. iv. 35-41, xix. 42; Mk. viii. 30; Lk. ix. 55; Mt. viii. 20; Mk. iv. 39; Lk. iv. 39, viii. 24).62 This term, the fundamental meaning of which is “to mete out due measure,” with that melancholy necessity which carries all terms which express doing justice to sinful men downwards in their connotation, is used in the New Testament only in malam partem, and we may be quite sure is never employed without its implication of censure.63 What is implied by its employment is that our Lord in working certain cures, and, indeed, in performing others of his miracles — as well as in laying charges on his followers — spoke, not merely “strongly and peremptorily,”64 but chidingly, that is to say, with expressed displeasure.65 There is in these instances perhaps not so strong but just as clear an ascription of the emotion of anger to our Lord as in those we have already noted, and this suggests that not merely in the case of the raising of Lazarus but in many other instances in which he put forth his almighty power to rescue men from the evils which burdened them, our Lord was moved by an ebullition of indignant anger at the destructive powers exhibited in disease or even in the convulsions of nature.66 In instances like Mt. xii. 16; Mk. 12; Mt. xvi. 20; Mk. viii. 30; Lk. ix. 21, the censure inherent in the term may almost seem to become something akin to menace or threat: “he chided them to the end that they should not make him known”; he made a show of anger or displeasure directed to this end. In the cases where, however, Jesus chided the unclean spirits which he cast out it seems to lie in the nature of things that it was the tyrannous evil which they were working upon their victims that was the occasion of his displeasure.67 When he is said to have “rebuked” a fever which was tormenting a human being (Lk. iv. 39) or the natural elements — the wind and sea — menacing human lives (Mt. viii. 26; Mk. iv. 39; Lk. viii. 24), there is no reason to suppose that he looked upon these natural powers as themselves personal, and as little that the personification is only figurative; we may not improperly suppose that the displeasure he exhibited in his upbraiding them was directed against the power behind these manifestations of a nature out of joint, the same malignant influence which he advanced to the conquest of when he drew near to the tomb of Lazarus.68 In any event the series of passages in which this term is employed to ascribe to Jesus acts inferring displeasure, greatly enlarges the view we have of the play of Jesus’ emotions of anger. We see him chiding his disciples, the demons that were tormenting men, and the natural powers which were menacing their lives or safety, and speaking in tones of rebuke to the multitudes who were the recipients of his healing grace (Mt. xii. 16). And that we are not to suppose that this chiding was always mild we are advised by the express declaration that it was in one instance at least, “vehement” (Mk. iii. 12).69
Perhaps in no incidents recorded in the Gospels is the action of our Lord’s indignation more vividly displayed than in the accounts of the cleansings of the Temple. In closing the account which he gives of the earlier of these, John tells us that “his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house shall eat me up” (Jno. ii. 17). The word here employed — “zeal” — may mean nothing more than “ardor”; but this ardor may burn with hot indignation, — we read of a “zeal of fire which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. x. 27). And it seems to be this hot indignation at the pollution of the house of God — this “burning jealousy for the holiness of the house of God”70 — which it connotes in our present passage. In this act, Jesus in effect gave vent “to a righteous anger,”71 and perceiving his wrathful zeal72 his followers recognized in it the Messianic fulfilment of the words in which the Psalmist represents himself. as filled with a zeal for the house of Jehovah, and the honor of him who sits in it, that “consumes him like a fire burning in his bones, which incessantly breaks through and rages all through him.”73 The form in which it here breaks forth is that of indignant anger towards those who defile God’s house with trafficking, and it thus presents us with one of the most striking manifestations of the anger of Jesus in act. It is far, however, from being the only instance in which the action of Jesus’ anger is recorded for us. And the severity of his language equals the decisiveness of his action. He does not scruple to assault his opponents with the most vigorous denunciation. Herod he calls “that fox” (Lk. xiii. 32); the unreceptive, he designates briefly “swine” (Mt. vii. 6) ; those that tempt him he visits with the extreme term of ignominy — Satan (Mk. viii. 33). The opprobrious epithet of “hypocrites” is repeatedly on his lips (Mt. xv. 7, xxiii. passim; Lk. xiii. 15), and he added force to this reprobation by clothing it in violent figures, — they were “blind guides,” “whited sepulchres,” and, less tropically, “a faithless and perverse generation,” a “wicked and adulterous generation.” He does not shrink even from vituperatively designating them ravening wolves (Mt. vii. 15), serpents, brood of vipers (Mt. xii. 34), even children of the evil one: “Ye are,” he declares plainly, “of your father, the Devil” (Jno. viii. 44). The long arraignment of the Pharisees in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew with its iterant, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” and its uncompromising denunciation, fairly throbs with indignation, and brings Jesus, before us in his sternest mood, the mood of the nobleman in the parable (Lk. xix. 27), whom he represents as commanding: “And as for these my enemies, bring them hither and slay them before me.”74
The holy resentment of Jesus has been made the subject of a famous chapter in Ecco Homo.75 The contention of this chapter is that he who loves men must needs hate with a burning hatred all that does wrong to human beings, and that, in point of fact, Jesus never wavered in his consistent resentment of the special wrong-doing which he was called upon to witness. The chapter announces as its thesis, indeed, the paradox that true mercy is no less the product of anger than of pity: that what differentiates the divine virtue of mercy from “the vice of insensibility” which is called “tolerance,” is just the under-lying presence of indignation. Thus — so the reasoning runs, — “the man who cannot be angry cannot be merciful,” and it was therefore precisely the anger of Christ which proved that the unbounded compassion he manifested to sinners “was really mercy and not mere tolerance.” The analysis is doubtless incomplete; but the suggestion, so far as it goes, is fruitful. Jesus’ anger is not merely the seamy side of his pity; it is the righteous reaction of his moral sense in the presence of evil. But Jesus burned with anger against the wrongs he met with in his journey through human life as truly as he melted with pity at the sight of the world’s misery: and it was out of these two emotions that his actual mercy proceeded.
It is pure perversion, to be sure, when Renan, after the debasing fashion of his sentimentalizing frivolity, transmutes Jesus’ joy in his redemptive work (Jno. xv. 11, xvii. 13) into mere pagan lightness of heart and delight in living, as if his fundamental disposition were a kind of “sweet gaiety” which “was incessantly expressing itself in lively reflections, and kindly pleasantries.” He assures us that Jesus travelled about Palestine almost as if he was some lord of revelry, bringing a festival wherever he came, and greeted at every doorstep “as a joy and a benediction”: “the women and children adored him.” The infancy of the world had come back with him “with its divine spontaneity and its naive dizzinesses of joy.” At his touch the hard conditions of life vanished from sight, and there took possession of men, the dream of an imminent paradise, of “a delightful garden in which should continue forever the charming life they now were living.” “How long,” asks Renan, “did this intoxication last?”, and answers: “We do not know. During the continuance of this magical apparition, time was not measured. Duration was suspended; a week was a century. But whether it filled years or months, the dream was so beautiful that humanity has lived on it ever since, and our consolation still is to catch its fading fragrance. Never did so much joy stir the heart of man. For a moment in this most vigorous attempt it has ever made to lift itself above its planet, humanity forgot the leaden weight which holds it to the earth and the sorrows of the life here below. Happy he who could see with his own eyes this divine efflorescence and share, if even for a day, this unparalleled illusion!”80
The perversion is equally great, however, when there is attributed to our Lord, as it is now very much the fashion to do, “before the black shadow of the cross fell athwart his pathway,” the exuberant joy of a great hope never to be fulfilled: the hope of winning his people to his side and of inaugurating the Kingdom of God upon this sinful earth by the mere force of its proclamation.81 Jesus was never the victim of any such illusion: he came into the world on a mission of ministering mercy to the lost, giving his life as a ransom for many (Lk. xix. 10; Mk. x. 4; Mt. xx. 28); and from the beginning he set his feet steadfastly in the path of suffering (Mt. iv. 3 f.; Lk. iv. 3 f.) which he knew led straight onward to death ( Jno. ii. 19, iii. 14; Mt. xii. 40; Lk. xii. 49-50; Mt. ix. 15; Mk. ii. 1-9; Lk. v. 34, etc.). Joy he had: but it was not the shallow joy of mere pagan delight in living, nor the delusive joy of a hope destined to failure; but the deep exultation of a conqueror setting captives free. This joy underlay all his sufferings and shed its light along the whole thorn-beset path which was trodden by his torn feet. We hear but little of it, however, as we hear but little of his sorrows: the narratives are not given to descriptions of the mental states of the great actor whose work they illustrate. We hear just enough of it to assure us of its presence underlying and giving its color to all his life (Lk. iv. 21;82 Jno. v. 11, xvii. 1383). If our Lord was “the Man of Sorrows,” he was more profoundly still “the Man of Joy.”84
Of the lighter pleasurable emotions that flit across the mind in response to appropriate incitements arising occasionally in the course of social intercourse, we also hear little in the case of Jesus. It is not once recorded that he laughed; we do not ever hear even that he smiled; only once are we told that he was glad, and then it is rather sober gratification than exuberant delight which is spoken of in connection with him (Jno. xi. 15). But, then, we hear little also of his passing sorrows. The sight of Mary and her companions wailing at the tomb of Lazarus, agitated his soul and caused him tears (Jno. xi. 35) ; the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem drew from him loud wailing (Lk. xix. 41). He sighed at the sight of human suffering (Mk. vii. 34) and “sighed deeply” over men’s hardened unbelief (viii. 12): man’s inhumanity to man smote his heart with pain (iii. 5). But it is only with reference to his supreme sacrifice that his mental sufferings are emphasized. This supreme sacrifice cast, it is true, its shadows before it. It was in the height of his ministry that our Lord exclaimed, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished” (Lk. xii. 50).85 Floods lie before him under which he is to be submerged,86 and the thought of passing beneath their waters “straitens” his soul. The term rendered “straitened”87 imports oppression and affliction, and bears witness to the burden of anticipated anguish which our Lord bore throughout life. The prospect of his sufferings, it has been justly said, was a perpetua188 Gethsemane; and how complete this foretaste was we may learn from the incident recorded in Jno. xii. 27,89 although this antedated Gethsemane, by only a few days. “Now is my soul90 troubled,” he cries and adds a remarkable confession of shrinking at the prospect of death, with, however, an immediate revulsion to his habitual attitude of submission to, or rather of hearty embracing of, his Father’s will. — “And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour!91 But for this cause, came I to this hour! Father, glorify Thy name!” He had come into the world to die; but as he vividly realizes what the death is which he is to die, there rises in his soul a yearning for deliverance, only however, to be at once repressed.92 The state of mind in which this sharp conflict went on is described by a term the fundamental implication of which is agitation, disquietude, perplexity.93 This perturbation of soul is three times attributed by John to Jesus (xi. 33, xii. 27, xiii. 21), and always as expressing the emotions which conflict with death stirred in him. The anger roused in him by the sight of the distress into which death had plunged Mary and her companions (xi. 33); the anticipation of his own betrayal to death (xiii. 21); the clearly realized approach of his death (xii. 27); threw him inwardly into profound agitation. It was not always the prospect of his own death (xii. 27, xiii. 21), but equally the poignant realization of what death meant for others (xi. 33) which had the power thus to disquiet him. His deep agitation was clearly, therefore, not due to mere recoil from the physical experience of death,94 though even such a recoil might be the expression not so much of a terror of dying as of repugnance to the idea of death.95 Behind death, he saw him who has the power of death, and that sin which constitutes the sting of death. His whole being revolted from that final and deepest humiliation, in which the powers of evil were to inflict upon him the precise penalty of human sin. To bow his head beneath this stroke was the last indignity, the hardest act of that obedience which it was his to render in his servant-form, and which we are told with significant emphasis, extended “up to death” (Phil. ii. 8).
So profound a repugnance to death and all that death meant, manifesting itself during his life, could not fail to seize upon him with peculiar intensity at the end. If the distant prospect of his sufferings was a perpetual Gethsemane to him, the immediate imminence of them in the actual Gethsemane could not fail to bring with it that “awful and dreadful torture” which Calvin does not scruple to call the “exordium” of the pains of hell themselves.96 Matthew and Mark almost exhaust the resources of language to convey to us some conception of our Lord’s “agony”97 as an early interpolator of Luke (Lk. xxii. 44) calls it, in this dreadful experience.98 The anguish of reluctance which constituted this “agony” is in part described by them both — they alone of the Evangelists enter into our Lord’s feelings here — by a term the primary idea of which is loathing, aversion, perhaps not unmixed with despondency.99 This term is adjoined in Matthew’s account to the common word for sorrow, in which, however, here the fundamental element of pain, distress, is prominent,100 so that we may perhaps render Matthew’s account: “He began to be distressed and despondent” (Mt. xxvi. 37). Instead of this wide word for distress of mind, Mark employs a term which more narrowly defines the distress as consternation, — if not exactly dread, yet alarmed dismay:101 “He began to be appalled and despondent” (Mk. xiv. 33). Both accounts add our Lord’s own pathetic declaration: “My soul102 is exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” the central term103 in which expresses a sorrow, or perhaps we would better say, a mental pain, a distress, which hems in on every side, from which there is therefore no escape; or rather (for the qualification imports that this hemming-in distress is mortally acute, is an anguish of a sort that no issue but death can be thought of104) which presses in and besets from every side and therefore leaves no place for defence. The extremity of this agony may have been revealed, as the interpolator of Luke tells us, by sweat dropping like clots of blood on the ground, as our Lord ever more importunately urged that wonderful prayer, in which as Bengel strikingly says,105 the horror of death and the ardor of obedience met (Lk. xxii. 44). This interpolator tells us (Lk. xxii. 43) also that he was strengthened for the conflict by an angelic visitor, and we may well suppose that had it not been for some supernatural strengthening mercifully vouchsafed (cf. Jno. xii. 27f. ), the end would then have come.’106 But the cup must needs be drained to its dregs, and the final drop was not drunk until that cry of desertion and desolation was uttered, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Mt. xxvii. 46; Mk. xv. 34).107 This culminating sorrow was actually unto death.
In these supreme moments our Lord sounded the ultimate depths of human anguish, and vindicated on the score of the intensity of his mental sufferings the right to the title of Man of Sorrows. The scope of these sufferings was also very broad, embracing that whole series of painful emotions which runs from a consternation that is appalled dismay, through a despondency which is almost despair, to a sense of well-nigh complete desolation. In the presence of this mental anguish the physical tortures of the crucifixion retire into the background, and we may well believe that our Lord, though he died on the cross, yet died not of the cross, but, as we commonly say, of a broken heart, that is to say, of the strain of his mental suffering.108 The sensitiveness of his soul to affectional movements, and the depths of the currents of feeling which flowed through his being, are thus thrown up into a very clear light. And yet it is noticeable that while they tore his heart and perhaps, in the end, broke the bonds which bound his fluttering spirit to its tenement of clay, they never took the helm of life or overthrew either the judgment of his calm understanding or the completeness of his perfect trust in his Father. If he cried out in his agony for deliverance, it was always the cry of a child to a Father whom he trusts with all and always, and with the explicit condition, Howbeit, not what I will but what Thou wilt. If the sense of desolation invades his soul, he yet confidingly commends his departing spirit into his Father’s hands (Lk. xxiii. 46).109 And through all his agony his demeanor to his disciples, his enemies, his judges, his executioners is instinct with calm self-mastery. The cup which was put to his lips was bitter: none of its bitterness was lost to him as he drank it: but he drank it; and he drank it as his own cup which it was his own will (because it was his Father’s will) to drink. “The cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (Jno. xviii. 11), — it was in this spirit, not of unwilling subjection to unavoidable evil, but of voluntary endurance of unutterable anguish for adequate ends, that he passed into and through all his sufferings. His very passion was his own action. He had power to lay down his life; and it was by his own power that he laid down his life, and by his own power that he trod the whole pathway of suffering which led up to the formal act of his laying down his life. Nowhere is he the victim of circumstances or the helpless sufferer. Everywhere and always, it is he who possesses the mastery both of circumstances and of himself.’110
The completeness of Jesus’ trust in God which is manifested in the unconditional “Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt” of the “agony,” and is echoed in the “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit” of the cross, finds endless illustration in the narratives of the Evangelists. Trust is never, however, explicitly attributed to him in so many words.111 Except in the scoffing language with which he was assailed as he hung on the cross: “He trusteth in God; let him deliver him now if he desireth him” (Mt. xxvii. 43), the term “trust” is never so much as mentioned in connection with his relations with God. Nor is the term “faith.”112 Nor indeed are many of what we may call the fundamental religious affections directly attributed to him, although he is depicted as literally living, moving and having his being in God. His profound feeling of dependence on God, for example, is illustrated in every conceivable way, not least strikingly in the constant habit of prayer which the Evangelists ascribe to him.113 But we are never directly told that he felt this dependence on God or “feared God” or felt the emotions of reverence and awe in the divine presence.114 We are repeatedly told that he returned thanks to God,115 but we are never told in so many words that he experienced the emotion of gratitude. The narrative brings Jesus before us as acting under the impulse of all the religious emotions; but it does not stop to comment upon the emotions themselves.
The same is true of the more common emotions of human life. The narrative is objective throughout in its method. On two occasions we are told that Jesus felt that occurrences which he witnessed were extraordinary and experienced the appropriate emotion of “wonder” regarding them (Mt. viii. 10; Lk. vii. 9; Mk. vi. 6).116 Once “desire” is attributed to him (Lk. xxii. 15), — he had “set his heart,” as we should say, upon eating the final passover with his disciples — the term used emphasizing the affectional movement.117 And once our Lord speaks of himself as being conceivably the subject of “shame,” the reference being, however, rather to a mode of action consonant with the emotion, than to the feeling itself (Mk. viii. 38; Lk. iv. 26).118 Besides these few chance suggestions, there are none of the numerous emotions that rise and fall in the human soul, which happen to be explicitly attributed to our Lord.119 The reader sees them all in play in his vividly narrated life-experiences, but he is not told of them.
We have now passed in review the whole series of explicit attributions to our Lord in the Gospels of specific emotional movements. It belongs to the occasional manner in which these emotional movements find record in the narrative, that it is only our Lord’s most noticeable displays of emotion which are noted. One of the effects of this is to give to his emotions as noted the appearance of peculiar strength, vividness and completeness. This serves to refute the notion which has been sometimes advanced under the influence of the “apathetic” conception of virtue, that emotional movements never ran their full course in him as we experience them, but stopped short at some point in their action deemed the point of dignity.120 In doing so, it serves equally, however, to carry home to us a very vivid impression of the truth and reality of our Lord’s human nature. What we are given is, no doubt, only the high lights. But it is easy to fill in the picture mentally with the multitude of emotional movements which have not found record just because they were in no way exceptional. Here obviously is a being who reacts as we react to the incitements which arise in daily intercourse with men, and whose reactions bear all the characteristics of the corresponding emotions we are familiar with in our experience.
Perhaps it may be well explicitly to note that our Lord’s emotions fulfilled themselves, as ours do, in physical reactions. He who hungered (Mt. iv. 2), thirsted (Jno. xix. 20), was weary (Jno. iv. 6), who knew both physical pain and pleasure, expressed also in bodily affections the emotions that stirred his soul. That he did so is sufficiently evinced by the simple circumstance that these emotions were observed and recorded. But the bodily expression of the emotions is also frequently expressly attested. Not only do we read that he wept (Jno. xi. 35) and wailed (Lk. xix. 41), sighed (Mk. vii. 34) and groaned (Mk. viii. 12) ; but we read also of his angry glare (Mk. iii. 5), his annoyed speech (Mk. x. 14), his chiding words (e. g. Mk. iii. 12), the outbreaking ebullition of his rage (e.g. Jno. xi. 33, 38) ; of the agitation of his bearing when under strong feeling (Jno. xi. 35), the open exultation of his joy (Lk. x. 21), the unrest of his movements in the face of anticipated evils (Mt. xxvii. 37), the loud cry which was wrung from him in his moment of desolation (Mt. xxvii. 46). Nothing is lacking to make the impression strong that we have before us in Jesus a human being like ourselves.
It is part of the content of this impression, that Jesus appears before us in the light of the play of his emotions as a distinct human being, with his own individuality and — shall we not say it? — even temperament. It is, indeed, sometimes suggested that the Son of God assumed at the incarnation not a human nature but human nature, that is to say, not human nature as manifesting itself in an individual, but human nature in general, “generic” or “universal” human nature. The idea which it is meant to express, is not a very clear one,121 and is apparently only a relic of the discountenanced fiction of the “real” existence of universals. In any case the idea receives no support from a survey of the emotional life of our Lord as it is presented to us in the Evangelical narratives. The impression of a distinct individuality acting in accordance with its specific character as such, which is left on the mind by these narratives is very strong. Whether our Lord’s human nature is “generic” or “individual,” it certainly — the Evangelists being witness — functioned in the days of his flesh as if it were individual; and we have the same reason for pronouncing it an individual human-nature that we have for pronouncing such any human nature of whose functioning we have knowledge.122.
This general conclusion is quite independent of the precise determination of the peculiarity of the individuality which our Lord exhibits. He himself, on a great occasion, sums up his individual character (in express contrast with other individuals) in the declaration, “I am meek and lowly of heart.” And no impression was left by his life-manifestation more deeply imprinted upon the consciousness of his followers than that of the noble humility of his bearing. It was by the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” that they encouraged one another to a life becoming a Christian man’s profession (II Cor. x. 1); for “the patience of Christ” that they prayed in behalf of one another as a blessing worthy to be set in their aspirations by the side of the “love of God” (II Thess. iii. 5); to the imitation of Christ’s meek acceptance of undeserved outrages that they exhorted one another in persecution — “because Christ also suffered for sin, leaving you an example, that ye should follow in his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (I Pet. ii. 21-23). Nevertheless we cannot fix upon humility as in such a sense our Lord’s “quality” as to obsecure in him other qualities which might seem to stand in conflict with it; much less as carrying with it those “defects” which are apt to accompany it when it appears as the “quality” of others. Meekness in our Lord was not a weak bearing of evils, but a strong forbearance in the presence of evil. It was not so much a fundamental characteristic of a nature constitutionally averse to asserting itself, as a voluntary submission of a strong person bent on an end. It did not, therefore, so much give way before indignation when the tension became too great for it to bear up against it, as coexist with a burning indignation at all that was evil, in a perfect equipoise which knew no wavering to this side or that.’ It was, in a word, only the manifestation in him of the mind which looks not on its own things but the things of others (Phil. ii. 5), and therefore spells “mission,” not “temperament.” We cannot in any case define his temperament, as we define other men’s temperaments, by pointing to his dominant characteristics or the prevailing direction of his emotional discharges.123 In this sense he had no particular temperament, and it might with truth be said that his human nature was generic, not individual. The mark of his individuality was harmonious completeness: of him alone of men, it may be truly said that nothing that is human was alien to him, and that all that is human manifested itself in him in perfect proportion and balance.
The series of emotions attributed to our Lord in the Evangelical narrative, in their variety and their complex but harmonious interaction, illustrate, though, of course, they cannot of themselves demonstrate, this balanced comprehensiveness of his individuality. Various as they are, they do not inhibit one another; compassion and indignation rise together in his soul; joy and sorrow meet in his heart and kiss each other. Strong as they are — not mere joy but exhultation, not mere irritated annoyance but raging indignation, not mere passing pity but the deepest movements of compassion and love, not mere surface distress but an exceeding sorrow even unto death, — they never overmaster him. He remains ever in control.124 Calvin is, therefore, not without justification, when, telling us125 that in taking human affections our Lord did not take inordinate affections, but kept himself even in his passions in subjection to the will of the Father, he adds: “In short, if you compare his passions with ours, they will differ not less than the clear and pure water, flowing in a gentle course, differs from dirty and muddy foam.”126 The figure which is here employed may, no doubt, be unduly pressed:127 but Calvin has no intention of suggesting doubt of either the reality or the strength of our Lord’s emotional reactions. He expressly turns away from the tendency from which even an Augustine is not free, to reduce the affectional life of our Lord to a mere show, and commends to us rather, as Scriptural, the simplicity which affirms that “the Son of God having clothed himself with our flesh, of his own accord clothed himself also with human feelings, so that he did not differ at all from his brethren, sin only excepted.” He is only solicitous that, as Christ did not disdain to stoop to the feeling of our infirmities, we should be eager, not indeed to eradicate our affections, “seeking after that inhuman apatheia commended by the Stoics,” but “to correct and subdue that obstinacy which pervades them, on account of the sin of Adam,” and to imitate Christ our Leader, — who is himself the rule of supreme perfection — in subduing all their excesses. For Christ, he adds for our encouragement, had this very thing in view, when he took our affections upon himself — “that through his power we might subdue everything in them that is sinful.” Thus, Calvin, with his wonted eagerness for religious impression, points to the emotional life of Jesus, not merely as a proof of his humanity, but as an incitement to his followers to a holy life accordant with the will of God. We are not to be content to gaze upon him or to admire him: we must become imitators of him, until we are metamorphosed into the same image.
Even this is, of course, not quite the highest note. The highest note — Calvin does not neglect it — is struck by the Epistle to the Hebrews, when it declares that “it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. ii. 17). “Surely,” says the Prophet (Is. liii. 4), “he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” — a general statement to which an Evangelist (Mt. viii. 1) has given a special application (as a case in point) when he adduces it in the form, “himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” He subjected himself to the conditions of our human life that he might save us from the evil that curses human life in its sinful manifestation. When we observe him exhibiting the movements of his human emotions, we are gazing on the very process of our salvation: every manifestation of the truth of our Lord’s humanity is an exhibition of the reality of our redemption. In his sorrows he was bearing our sorrows, and having passed through a human life like ours, he remains forever able to be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Such a High Priest, in the language of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “became” us. We needed such an one.128 When we note the marks of humanity in Jesus Christ, we are observing his fitness to serve our needs. We behold him made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, and our hearts add our witness that it became him for whom are all things and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory to make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
It is not germane to the present inquiry to enter into the debate as to whether, in assuming flesh, our Lord assumed the flesh of fallen or of unfallen man. The right answer, beyond doubt, is that he assumed the flesh of unfallen man: it is not for nothing that Paul tells us that he came, not in sinful flesh, but in “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. viii. 3). But this does not mean that the flesh he assumed was not under a curse: it means that the curse under which his flesh rested was not the curse of Adam’s first sin but the curse of the sins of his people: “him who knew no sin, he made sin in our behalf”; he who was not, even as man, under a curse, “became a curse for us.” He was accursed, not because he became man, but because he bore the sins of his people; he suffered and died not because of the flesh he took but because of the sins he took. He was, no doubt, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal. iv. 4), in one concrete act; he issued from the Virgin’s womb already our sin-bearer. But he was not sin-bearer because made of a woman; he was made of a woman that he might become sin-bearer; it was because of the suffering of death that he was made a little lower than the angels (Heb. ii. 9). It is germane to our inquiry, therefore, to take note of the fact that among the emotions which are attested as having found place in our Lord’s life-experiences, there are those which belong to him not as man but as sin-bearer, which never would have invaded his soul in the purity of his humanity save as he stood under the curse incurred for his people’s sins. The whole series of his emotions are, no doubt, affected by his position under the curse. Even his compassion receives from this a special quality: is this not included in the great declaration of Heb. iv. 15? Can we doubt that his anger against the powers of evil which afflict man, borrowed particular force from his own experience of their baneful working? And the sorrows and dreads which constricted his heart in the prospect of death, culminating in the extreme anguish of the dereliction, — do not these constitute the very substance of his atoning sufferings? As we survey the emotional life of our Lord as depicted by the Evangelists, therefore, let us not permit it to slip out of sight, that we are not only observing the proofs of the truth of his humanity, and not merely regarding the most perfect example of a human life which is afforded by history, but are contemplating the atoning work of the Saviour in its fundamental elements. The cup which he drank to its bitter dregs was not his cup but our cup; and he needed to drink it only because he was set upon our salvation.
I.The emotion which we should naturally expect to find most frequently attributed to that Jesus whose whole life was a mission of mercy, and whose ministry was so marked by deeds of beneficence that it was summed up in the memory of his followers as a going through the land “doing good” (Acts xi. 38 ), is no doubt “compassion.” In point of fact, this is the emotion which is most frequently attributed to him.5 The term employed to express it6 was unknown to the Greek classics, and was perhaps a coinage of the Jewish dispersion.7 It first appears in common use in this sense, indeed, in the Synoptic Gospels,8 where it takes the place of the most inward classical word of this connotation.9 The Divine mercy has been defined as that essential perfection in God “whereby he pities and relieves the miseries of his creatures”: it includes, that is to say, the two parts of an internal movement of pity and an external act of beneficence. It is the internal movement of pity which is emphasized when our Lord is said to be “moved with compassion” as the term is sometimes excellently rendered in the English versions.10 In the appeals made to his mercy, a more external word11 is used; but it is this more internal word that is employed to express our Lord’s response to these appeals: the petitioners besought him to take pity on them; his heart responded with a profound feeling of pity for them. His compassion fulfilled itself in the outward act; but what is emphasized by the term employed to express our Lord’s response is, in accordance with its very derivation, the profound internal movement of his emotional nature.
II.The moral sense is not a mere faculty of discrimination between the qualities which we call right and wrong, which exhausts itself in their perception as different. The judgments it passes are not merely intellectual, but what we call moral judgments; that is to say, they involve approval and disapproval according to the qualities perceived. It would be impossible, therefore, for a moral being to stand in the presence of perceived wrong indifferent and unmoved. Precisely what we mean by a moral being is a being perceptive of the difference between right and wrong and reacting appropriately to right and wrong perceived as such. The emotions of indignation and anger belong therefore to the very self-expression of a moral being as such and cannot be lacking to him in the presence of wrong. We should know, accordingly, without instruction that Jesus, living in the conditions of this earthly life under the curse of sin, could not fail to be the subject of the whole series of angry emotions, and we are not surprised that even in the brief and broken narratives of his life-experiences which have been given to us, there have been preserved records of the manifestation in word and act of not a few of them. It is. interesting to note in passing that it is especially in the Gospel of Mark, which rapid and objective as it is in its narrative, is the channel through which has been preserved to us a large part of the most intimate of the details concerning our Lord’s demeanor and traits which have come down to us, that we find these records.
“For the innumerable dead
III.We call our Lord “the Man of Sorrows,” and the designation is obviously appropriate for one who came into the world to bear the sins of men and to give his life a ransom for many. It is, however, not a designation which is applied to Christ in the New Testament, and even in the Prophet (Is. liii. 3) it may very well refer rather to the objective afflictions of the righteous servant than to his subjective distresses.76 In any event we must bear in mind that our Lord did not come into the world to be broken by the power of sin and death, but to break it. He came as a conqueror with the gladness of the imminent victory in his heart; for the joy set before him he was able to endure the cross, despising shame (Heb. xii. 2). And as he did not prosecute his work in doubt of the issue, neither did he prosecute it hesitantly as to its methods. He rather (so we are told, Lk. x. 21) “exulted in the Holy Spirit” as he contemplated the ways of God in bringing many sons to glory. The word is a strong one and conveys the idea of exuberant gladness, a gladness which fills the heart;77 and it is intimated that, on this occasion at least, this exultation was a product in Christ — and therefore in his human nature — of the operations of the Holy Spirit,78 whom we must suppose to have been always working in the human soul of Christ, sustaining and strengthening it. It cannot be supposed that, this particular occasion alone being excepted, Jesus prosecuted his work on earth in a state of mental depression. His advent into the world was announced as “good tidings of great joy” (Lk. ii. 10), and the tidings which he himself proclaimed were “the good tidings” by way of eminence. It is conceivable that he went about proclaiming them with a “sad countenance” (Mt. vi. 16)? It is misleading then to say merely, with Jeremy Taylor, “We never read that Jesus laughed and but once that he rejoiced in spirit.”79 We do read that, in contrast with John the Baptist, he came “eating and drinking,” and accordingly was malignantly called “a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Mt. xi. 19; Lk. vii. 34) ; and this certainly does not encourage us to think of his demeanor at least as habitually sorrowful.
Click here to go to source Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield B.B. Warfield Books:
- 1 The Plan of Salvation
- 2 Inspiration and Authority of the Bible
- 3 The Emotional Life of our Lord
- 4 The Plan of Salvation
- 5 The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield in Ten Volumes.
- 6 The Essence of Christianity and the Cross of Christ
- 7 The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary
- 8 Counterfeit Miracles
- 9 The Plan of Salvation: The order of God's decrees
- 10 The Theology of B. B. Warfield (Foreword by Sinclair B. Ferguson): A Systematic Summary
- 11 Biblical Doctrines
- 12 The Plan of Salvation by B. B. Warfield (2013-02-21)
- 13 The Saviour of the World: Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary
- 14 The Lion of Princeton: B.B. Warfield as Apologist and Theologian (Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology)
- 15 Faith and Life
Knowing the Enemy
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 9/1/2007
There are, no matter what may be happening around the globe, at least three wars going on at the same time. There is from the garden of Eden to the consummation of the kingdom of God the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
God has divided all the world into two great armies, and all of history is the story of this great battle. In the end, though he succeeds in bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, the serpent’s head will be crushed. This is the primordial battle, the paradigmatic conflict, the mother of all wars.
Both the second and third are intimately related to the first. The seed of the woman, we would do well to remember, joined this brightly arrayed army having been drafted from the army of the enemy. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we were all by nature children of wrath. But the Gospel promise is that He would put enmity between us and our natural father. He has regenerated us, given us new hearts such that we now love Him whom we once hated, and hate him whom we once loved. Trouble is, we still struggle with what we once were. The old man is both dead and being put to death. It wars with our members. Thus the battlefield where this second great conflict takes place is within the very souls of the children of God. Once again, the promise of the Gospel is victory. He has promised that if we confess our sins, not only will He forgive us of our sins, but will cleanse us of all unrighteousness. When we pass beyond the veil, we enter into peace, for this war will be over. All that is displeasing in the sight of God will be driven as far from us as the east is from the west.
The third battle is the mirror image of the second. The seed of the serpent not only wages war with the seed of the woman, but they too have an internal battle. Here the battle is not between an old man and a new man, but between his created nature and his fallen nature, between the remnants of the image of God and the brokenness of the fall. This battle works itself out in this peculiar tension. The unregenerate man, because he yet carries the image of God in him, desires peace, order, joy, purpose and integrity. But because he is a sinner, a rebel, a pretender to the throne of God, he desires in turn that there be no God to whom he must one day answer.
It is a fool’s quest to seek both of these ends, for they are mutually exclusive. There can be no peace if there is no law, and there can be no law without a lawgiver. There can be no order if there is none to give the world order. There can be no joy, if there is no ultimate good who transcends us. There can be no purpose if all our lives are lived under the sun. We cannot be whole, unless or until we are remade into the image of God. God is our peace, our order, our joy, our purpose, our integrity. Lose one and you must lose the other. Keep God, and all your life is lived under the known threat of His coming judgment.
It is not difficult to measure how this battle is going, in the lives of individuals, or in the context of a given culture. The strung-out, self-loathing, skid-row bum is seeing the battle go toward the denial of God’s existence. The respectable, prosperous, loving father and husband bum is inching toward integrity. The same is true of a society. A nice, clean, safe society is one wherein the battle is currently favoring the remains of the image of God. A bloodthirsty, epicurean, baby-murdering culture is one that is more willing to give up the blessings of the image of God in order to escape God.
It is good and appropriate that we should seek, in the larger battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, to push our friends, neighbors and cultures in the direction of integrity. This is what it means, by and large, to pray for the peace of Babylon. It is, on the other hand, most important that we not confuse those enemies of the kingdom of God who yet have a better handle on the image of God, with our real friends. It is critical to the grand battle that we remember that upstanding, “moral,” citizens of the world are in fact citizens of the kingdom of darkness.
Jesus is not only our king, He is our husband. We, the bride of Christ, are only whole when we more clearly reflect our husband. He is our glory, our calling. When we love the world, whether it is the world of vile depravity, or the world of vile middle-class morality, we are still playing the harlot. Integrity begins with fidelity to our husband. As we practice this, as we exhibit a loyalty to Him and Him alone, He in turn blesses us. As we put aside our love of the world, no matter how clean it may be, our husband showers us with grace. Or, to put it another way, as we seek first the kingdom of God, all these things will be added unto us.
R.C. Sproul Jr. Books
- 1 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide to Our Daily Bread
- 2 When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling
- 3 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God
- 4 Biblical Economics: A Complete Study Course
- 5 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 6 The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and the Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free
- 7 The View from a Hearse
- 8 What's In the Bible: A Tour of Scripture from the Dust of Creation to the Glory of Revelation
- 9 Economics for Everybody Study Guide
- 10 The Call to Wonder: Loving God Like a Child
- 11 Believing God: Twelve Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept
- 12 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide to Our Daily Bread
- 13 Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith
- 14 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God by R. C. Sproul Jr. (1999-03-01)
- 15 One Holy Passion: The Consuming Thirst to Know God
- 16 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide To Our Daily Bread
- 17 Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith
- 18 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God by R. C. Sproul Jr. (1999-03-01)
- 19 One Holy Passion: The Consuming Thirst to Know God
- 20 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide To Our Daily Bread
- 21 The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives
- 22 Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God
- 23 Tearing Down Strongholds: And Defending the Truth
- 24 Bound for Glory: A Practical Handbook For Raising a Victorious Family
- 25 After Darkness, Light: Distinctives of Reformed Theology: Essays in Honor of R. C. Sproul
- 26 Pulpit Aflame
- 27 Eternity in Our Hearts
- 28 Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- 29 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- 30 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God
- 31 Believing God: Twelve Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept by R.C. Sproul Jr. (2009-02-26)
- 32 Covered or Uncovered: How 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Applies to Worship and Leadership in the Church
- 33 Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology
- 34 R.C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile ,Alistair Begg , D.A. Carson,Sinclair B. Ferguson W. Robert Godfrey,Steven J. Lawson,R.C. Sproul Jr.,Derek W.H. Thomas'sHoly, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God [Hardcover](2010)
- 35 Biblical Economics Study Guide
The Pastor and His Pulpit
By Albert Martin 9/1/2007
The life of a minister is the life of his ministry.” This adage is as true now as ever. In fact, ministerial integrity is an indispensable element of any sustained credibility among a discerning people with whom we have pastoral intimacy. Such intimacy leaves us vulnerable to be known for who and what we really are in relationship to the saving truth in which we traffic. A pastor-flock relationship characterized by the biblical description in which mutual intimacy is essential (John 10:14), consistent and comprehensive integrity is imperative if one is to have a ministry that is both compelling and believable.
A short article does not permit me to identify the many categories in which this integrity ought to be jealously desired, diligently pursued, and carefully maintained. Some of these categories are addressed in the previous articles. I will touch upon three areas of paramount importance, namely, personal, domestic, and pastoral integrity.
Of supreme importance is personal integrity. Perhaps no text of Scripture captures more succinctly yet comprehensively how this is to be maintained than Acts 24:16. Paul said to Felix: “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” This text reveals that at the heart of integrity is the determination to live comfortably in the presence of God with a non-accusing conscience. In the secret chambers of our thoughts, the murky waters of our motives, in our imaginations and fantasies, to maintain a conscience void of offense. It is to come away from any time before our computers or our TVs with a healthy and uncondemned conscience. If conscience has been violated it is to run quickly to the fountain open for sin and uncleanness. It is to resolve with the psalmist: “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (Psalm 101:2–3). Such a man is no stranger to the ruthless excising of the offending eye and the merciless amputation of the offending hand. Anything that bloodies his conscience and disturbs his comfortable walk with God must go at any cost short of adding sin to sin.
Secondly, the apostle affirmed that without a good measure of domestic integrity, no man should be made an overseer in the house of God (1 Tim. 3:4–5). A pastor must so walk that he holds the consciences of his family members in an iron grip by consistent integrity of life. Our wives and children should be able to say to themselves and to others “if no preacher on the face of the earth is the real thing, my husband, my dad is the real deal.” This will mean that you must be willing to own and honestly confess to your wife and children your sins of word, attitude and deed. No mumbled, grudging “I’m sorry”; rather, “I sinned” and naming the sin. “Will you forgive me as God in Christ has forgiven me?” Then, for the family members to see you bring forth fruits answering to that repentance as you make decided efforts to mortify the sin that temporarily marred your testimony and cultivate the opposite grace. This is to “walk with integrity within your house.”
Thirdly, there is ministerial integrity. This relates primarily to the two broad areas of distinct ministerial calling and responsibility, especially for those elders who “labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). If we are to maintain integrity in our preaching we must pay the price connected with any sincere endeavor to comply with the injunction of 2 Timothy 2:15 to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” To produce sermons week after week, and year after year, that are exegetically accurate, theologically sound, helpfully illustrated, homiletically clean, practically applied, and suffused with the fragrance of Christ and the grand indicatives of grace, will demand work, work, and more work. Maintenance of our integrity can be realized in no other way.
Likewise, integrity in the aspects of governing and shepherding the flock of God will demand what Paul calls a kind of “birthing labor” that Christ be formed in His people (Gal. 4:19). The special aspects of this labor are intercessory prayer, personal and pointed encouragement, and admonition — even though the more you love the sheep in this way, the less you may be loved (Col. 1:28; 2 Cor. 12:15).
In his exhortation to the elders of the churches in Asia Minor, Peter highlights this crucial issue. Having charged them to “shepherd the flock of God,” he lists sinful attitudes and actions that ought never to characterize the motives or manner in which they fulfill this task. The capstone of the entire charge is the exhortation “being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1–3). Such men have their consciences bound by Paul’s injunction to Titus: “show yourself in all respects to be a model” (Titus 2:7).
Yes, it is true, that “the life of a minister is the life of his ministry.”
Albert Martin Books:
Duty and Honor
By R.C. Sproul 9/1/2007
Several years ago I was participating in a discussion with some business men in Jackson, Mississippi. In the course of the conversation, one of the men made reference to a man who was not present at the meeting. He said, “He is an honorable man.” When I heard this comment, my ears perked up as I thought for a moment I was hearing a foreign language being spoken. I realized that I was in the middle of the Deep South where customs of old had not entirely been eradicated, yet I still could not get over that somebody in this day and age was using the word honor as a descriptive term for a human being. The term honor has become somewhat archaic. We may think of the famous speech that General Douglas MacArthur gave at West Point entitled, “Duty, Honor, Country,” but that was more than a half a century ago. Today, the word honor has all but disappeared from the English language. Virtually, the only time I see the word in print is on bumper stickers that declare that the owner of the automobile has a child who is on the “Honor Roll,” but “Honor Roll” is perhaps the last vestigial remnant of a forgotten concept.
I speak about honor because the dictionary lists the term honor as the chief synonym for the word integrity. My concern in this article is to ask: “What is the meaning of integrity?” If we use the pedestrian definitions given to us by lexicographers, such as we find in Webster’s dictionary, we read several entries. In the first instance, integrity is defined as “uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles.” Second, integrity means “soundness of character.” Third, integrity means “honesty.” Fourth, integrity refers to being “whole or entire.” Fifth and finally, integrity means to be “unimpaired in one’s character.”
Now, these definitions describe persons who are almost as rare as the use of the term honor. In the first instance, integrity would describe someone whom we might call “a person of principle.” The person who is a person of principle is one, as the dictionary defines, who is uncompromising. The person is not uncompromising in every negotiation or discussion of important issues, but is uncompromising with respect to moral and ethical principles. This is a person who puts principle ahead of personal gain. The art of compromise is a virtue in a politically correct culture, which political correctness itself is modified by the adjectival qualifier political. To be political is often to be a person who compromises everything, including principle.
We also see that integrity refers to soundness of character and honesty. When we look to the New Testament, for example, in the epistle of James, James gives a list of virtues that are to be manifested in the Christian life. In the fifth chapter of that letter at verse 12, he writes, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no,’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” Here James elevates the trustworthiness of a person’s word, the simple statement of yes or no, as a virtue that is “above all.” What James is getting at is that integrity requires a kind of honesty that indicates that when we say we will do something, our word is our bond. We should not require sacred oaths and vows in order to be trusted. People of integrity can be trusted on the basis of what they say.
In our culture, we see again and again the distinction between a politician and a statesman. One person I know made that distinction in these terms: A politician is a person who looks to the next election, while a statesman is a person who looks to the next generation.
There is, admittedly, a kind of cynicism inherent in such a distinction, the idea being that politicians are people who will compromise virtue or compromise principle in order to be elected or to stay in office. Such lack of virtue is found not only in politicians, but it is found in the churches everyday, which appears at times to be filled with ministers who are quite prepared to compromise the truth of the Gospel for the sake of their current popularity. This is the same lack of integrity that destroyed the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, where the false prophets proclaimed what they knew the people wanted to hear, rather than what God had commanded them to say. That is the quintessence of the lack of integrity.
When we come to the New Testament, we look at the supreme example of a lack of integrity in the judgment accorded Jesus by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. After examining and interrogating Jesus, Pilate made the announcement to the clamoring crowd: “I find no fault in Him.” Yet after this declaration, Pilate was willing to deliver the faultless One into the hands of the raging mob. This was a clear act of political compromise where principle and ethics were thrown to the wind in order to appease a hungry crowd.
We look back again to the Old Testament to the experience of the prophet Isaiah in his vision recorded in chapter 6 of that book. We remember that Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up as well as the seraphim singing the Trisagion: “Holy, Holy, Holy.” In response to this epiphany, Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me,” announcing a curse upon himself. He said the reason for his curse was because “I am undone” or “ruined.” What Isaiah experienced in that moment was human disintegration. Prior to that vision, Isaiah was perhaps viewed as the most righteous man in the nation. He stood secure and confident in his own integrity. Everything was being held together by his virtue. He considered himself a whole, integrated person, but as soon as he saw the ultimate model and standard for integrity and virtue in the character of God, he experienced disintegration. He fell apart at the seams, realizing that his sense of integrity was at best a pretense.
Calvin indicated that this is the common lot of human beings, who as long as they keep their gaze fixed on the horizontal or terrestrial level of experience, are able to congratulate themselves and consider themselves with all flattery of being slightly less than demigods. But once they raise their gaze to heaven and consider even for a moment what kind of being God is, they stand shaking and quaking, becoming completely disavowed of any further illusion of their integrity.
The Christian is to reflect the character of God. The Christian is to be uncompromising with respect to ethical principles. The Christian is called to be a person of honor whose word can be trusted.
- 1 The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World
- 2 The Holiness of God
- 3 Chosen by God
- 4 Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
- 5 What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics
- 6 Knowing Scripture
- 7 The Donkey Who Carried a King
- 8 Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Romans
- 11 Everyone's A Theologian
- 12 John (St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary)
- 13 Classic Teachings on the Nature of God: The Holiness of God; Chosen by God; Pleasing God—Three Books in One
- 14 The Priest with Dirty Clothes
- 15 Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism
- 16 The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus' Life Mean for You
- 17 The Barber Who Wanted to Pray
- 18 God's Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children (Classic Theology)
- 19 The Prince's Poison Cup
- 20 Mark: St. Andrews Expositional Commentary
- 21 The Mystery of the Holy Spirit
- 22 Does Prayer Change Things? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 23 The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version Hardcover w/Maps
- 24 Now, That's a Good Question!
- 25 The Intimate Marriage: A Practical Guide to Building a Great Marriage (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 26 O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God
- 27 The Prayer of the Lord
- 28 After Darkness, Light: Distinctives of Reformed Theology: Essays in Honor of R. C. Sproul
- 29 The Last Days according to Jesus: When Did Jesus Say He Would Return?
- 30 The Lightlings
- 31 Who Is the Holy Spirit? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 32 Classical Apologetics
- 33 Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life
- 34 Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification
- 35 What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 36 The King Without a Shadow
- 37 Reason to Believe: A Response to Common Objections to Christianity
- 38 Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons
- 39 Ultimate Issues (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 40 Can I Be Sure I'm Saved? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 41 How Should I Think about Money? (Crucial Questions)
- 42 What is Repentance? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 43 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- 44 Does God Control Everything? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 45 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 46 Can I Know God's Will? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 47 Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together
- 48 Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 49 Can I Trust the Bible? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 50 Holy Bible: New Geneva Study Bible, New King James Version
- 51 Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible
- 52 What is Baptism? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 53 A Walk With God: Luke
- 54 Cómo defender su fe (Una Introduccion a La Apologetica) (Spanish Edition)
- 55 Saved from What?
- 56 What Is Faith? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 57 Lifeviews
- 58 What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 59 Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology
- 60 The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 61 Can I Have Joy in My Life? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 62 By R. C. Sproul - Knowing Scripture (First) (1/26/09)
By Gene Edward Veith 9/1/2007
The talk shows were buzzing recently about a sex education class in a Maryland school that had students chew a stick of gum, then pass it around so that everyone in the class chewed it. This learning activity was supposed to make some kind of point, never specified, about sexually-transmitted diseases. It turns out, this gross-out exercise was not the brainchild of some left-wing progressive educational theorist. The communal gum-chewing was sponsored by a Christian “faith-based” group that was allowed to come into the classroom to teach about abstinence.
In fact, the “gum game” has its origins in evangelical church youth groups. Another is “Toothbrush Buffet” in which youth group leaders brush their teeth and spit into a cup. The cup is then passed along to the next person in line, who uses what is in the cup to brush his teeth. Everyone in the youth group gets a turn. The last one drinks down everyone’s spit. Then there is the “Human Vegematic” in which the youth leader chews up a mixture of dog food, sardines, potted meat, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, and salsa, topped off with holiday eggnog. He then spits out the mixture into a glass and encourages the members of the youth group to drink it.
It is not immediately clear what the purpose is of these “Sick and Twisted Games,” as they are described in youth resource web sites and publications. They are evidently designed to appeal to a particularly juvenile sense of humor, so if the purpose is only to make church seem like “fun,” perhaps — following church growth theory — they “work.”
But they are indeed effective teaching devices. They teach young people to suppress their inhibitions. They teach them to give in to peer pressure. They teach more thoughtful young people that church is utterly lame, embarrassing, and stupid. What they do not teach — and actually teach against — is integrity.
The young person with integrity would refuse to do something repulsive, no matter what the youth minister said and despite the pressure from all of his friends to conform to what the group is doing. The young person with integrity would walk out. If he did, that might give others the courage to show their own integrity and walk out with him. They might refuse to go to youth group and get together to do something really wild and crazy, like, I don’t know, study the Bible.
Having integrity requires the ability to refuse to conform. It means resisting cultural pressure. And, in our increasingly non-Christian culture, cultivating this kind of integrity is a spiritual survival skill.
Parents, churches, and schools rightly try to teach adolescents to resist peer pressure. Ironically, the methods they use often teach the opposite lesson. For some reason, resist-peer-pressure programs often employ touchy-feely team-building exercises borrowed from sensitivity training groups. You fall back and let the other members of your group catch you. You climb walls and jump off them secured with ropes, with your friends hanging on to keep you from getting hurt. You go on “trust walks,” going blindfolded, with your peers leading you along. These all teach you to trust your friends.
But how does that help you resist peer pressure? Resisting peer pressure entails the ability not to trust your friends.
Though teenagers are often presented as the victims of peer pressure, so are adults. We are all familiar with the conservative politicians who go to Washington full of conservative zeal, only to become more and more liberal, to the extent they find acceptance on the D.C. cocktail circuit. College professors may recognize the silliness of feminist scholarship and politically-correct speech codes, but they may never have the courage to say so in the faculty lounge. Ministers — and youth ministers — know very well they must preach against the ungodly culture, and yet they nevertheless cause their churches to conform to that culture in a usually futile effort to be popular.
We adults compromise our integrity at work, at play, and by ourselves. We do not speak up or act as we should, caring more for our co-workers’ — or total strangers’ — opinion of us than for what we ourselves know is right.
Since we fallen human beings are so easily influenced by the people around us, surrounding ourselves with godly people will help us on the path toward integrity. There is bad peer pressure, but there is also good peer pressure. Good friends can be an antidote to bad friends. Conservative caucuses and traditionalist, professional organizations can help members resist the leftward tide. And this is one reason Christians need the church, a community of believers whose fellowship, authority, and discipleship can keep its members in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
But even churches should not try to turn their members into conformists, exerting social pressure to make everyone the same. The goal should be instilling integrity, not conformity.
The biblical model for the church is a unity of diversity, a body consisting of radically distinct and different organs. Scripture speaks of feet, ears, and eyes, which, with all of their differences, cohere in one Spirit and one baptism into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12–27). For the good of the body, the feet, ears, and eyes each must have integrity.
Gene Edward Veith Books:
- 1 God at Work (Redesign): Your Christian Vocation in All of Life
- 2 Spirituality of the Cross Revised Edition
- 3 Loving God with All Your Mind: Thinking as a Christian in the Postmodern World
- 4 Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood
- 5 Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview (Concordia Scholarship Today)
- 6 Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life
- 7 Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture
- 8 State of the Arts: From Bezalel to Mapplethorpe
- 9 Reading Between the Lines (Redesign): A Christian Guide to Literature (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series)
- 10 Imagination Redeemed: Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of Your Mind
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 49Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?
49 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of The Ssons Of Korah.
13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah
16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
Numbers 23; Psalms 64-65; Isaiah 13; 1 Peter 1
By Don Carson 5/14/2018
Balaam recognizes that he cannot control the oracles he receives (Num. 23). He cannot even be sure that an oracle will be given him: “Perhaps the LORD will come to meet with me,” he explains (23:3).
“The LORD put a message in Balaam’s mouth” (23:5), and this message is reported in the oracle of vv. 7-10. (1) Cast in poetic form, it stakes out the independence of the true prophet. Although Balak is the one who summoned him, Balaam asks, “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced?” (23:8). (2) The last part of this first oracle reflects on the Israelites themselves. They consider themselves different from the other nations — after all, they are the covenant people of God — and therefore they will not be assimilated (23:9). Not only will their numbers vastly increase (“Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel?”), but they are declared to be righteous, the kind of people who ultimately meet a glorious end (23:10).
Balak does not give up easily, and in due course the Lord gives Balaam a second oracle (23:18-24). Here the same themes are repeated and strengthened. (1) Balaam can pronounce only blessing on Israel. After all, God is not going to change his mind just because Balak wants Balaam to take another shot at it. “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind”(23:19). In any case, not only has Balaam “received a command to bless,” but even if Balaam disobeyed the command, he frankly admits, God “has blessed, and I cannot change it” (23:20). “There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (23:23). (2) As for Israel, no misfortune or misery is observed there, for “the LORD their God is with them” (23:21). Since the God of the Exodus is their God, they have the strength of a wild ox, and will triumph over their enemies (23:22, 24).
Two observations: (1) Balak represents the kind of approach to religion cherished by superstitious people. For them, religion serves to crank up blessings and call down curses. The gods serve me, and I am angry and frustrated if they can’t be tamed. (2) After the succession of reports of the dreary rebellions of the Israelites, it is astonishing to hear them praised so highly. But the reason, of course, is because it is God who sustains and strengthens them. If God blesses his people, no curse against them can stand. And since God is the source of this oracle, this is God’s view of things — and our great ground of confidence and hope.
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:
- 1 An Introduction to the New Testament
- 2 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 3 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 5 Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation
- 6 Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- 7 Exegetical Fallacies
- 8 For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Matthew (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 11 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 12 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 13 How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 14 New Testament Commentary Survey
- 15 For the Love of God, Volume 2: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word
- 16 9: Matthew and Mark (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 17 Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14
- 18 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 19 The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures
- 20 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: John 14-17
- 21 Introducing NT: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
- 22 Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
- 23 Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
- 24 Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10
- 25 The Intolerance of Tolerance
- 26 From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation
- 27 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 28 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension
- 29 The Expositor's Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke Vol. 8
- 30 Christ and Culture Revisited
- 31 NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 32 The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 33 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
- 34 Gagging of God, The
- 35 The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices
- 36 The God Who Is There Leader's Guide: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 37 What Is the Gospel?
- 38 His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
- 39 The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the OT
- 40 Love in Hard Places
- 41 Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth
- 42 God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World
- 43 Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
- 44 Telling the Truth
- 45 God's Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah
- 46 Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
- 47 The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7
- 48 Sunsets: Reflections for Life's Final Journey
- 49 God with Us: Themes from Matthew
- 50 A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13
- 51 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 52 The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry
- 53 Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World
- 54 Matthew, Vol.2 (Ch. 13-28), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 55 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 56 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 57 Entrusted with the Gospel: Pastoral Expositions of 2 Timothy
- 58 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension
- 59 The Holy Spirit
- 60 The Plan
- 61 Collected Writings on Scripture
- 62 The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 63 Matthew, Vol.1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 64 Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry
- 65 The Restoration of All Things
- 66 Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
- 67 Christ's Redemption
- 68 Exegetical Fallacies
- 69 Justification
- 70 Greek Accents: A Student's Manual
- 71 Gospel-Centered Ministry
- 72 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 77 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 78 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 79 [(Christ and Culture Revisited)]
- 80 When Jesus Confronts the World: An Exposition of Matthew 8-10
- 81 The Church: God's New People
- 82 Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
- 83 Love in Hard Places
- 84 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God'S Story
- 85 NT Commentary Survey
- 86 The Inclusive Language Debate
- 87 Exegetical Fallacies
- 88 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17
- 89 NT Commentary Survey
- 90 How long, O Lord? (2nd edition): Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 91 Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
- 92 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 93 By D. A. Carson - Gagging of God
- 94 Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed
- 95 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 96 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 97 A Call to Spiritual Reformation
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
COMPARISON BETWEEN THE FALSE CHURCH AND THE TRUE.
The divisions of the chapter are,--I. Description of a spurious Church, resembling the Papacy vaunting of personal succession, of which a refutation is subjoined. sec. 1-4. II. An answer, in name of the orthodox Churches, to the Popish accusations of heresy and schism. A description of the Churches existing at present under the Papacy.
1. Recapitulation of the matters treated in the previous chapter. Substance of the present chapter--viz. Where lying and falsehood prevail, no Church exists. There is falsehood wherever the pure doctrine of Christ is not in vigour.
2. This falsehood prevails under the Papacy. Hence the Papacy is not a Church. Still the Papists extol their own Church, and charge those who dissent from it with heresy and schism. They attempt to defend their vaunting by the name of personal succession. A succession which abandons the truth of Christ proved to be of no importance.
3. This proof confirmed, 1. By examples and passages of Scripture; 2. By reason and the authority of Augustine.
4. Whatever the Papists may pretend, there is no Church where the word of God appears not.
5. The objection of personal succession, and the charge of heresy and schism, refuted, both from Scripture and Augustine.
6. The same thing confirmed by the authority of Cyprian. The anathemas of the Papists of no consequence.
7. The churches of the Papists in the same situation as those of the Israelites, which revolted to superstition and idolatry under Jeroboam.
8. The character of those Israelitish churches.
9. Hence the Papists act unjustly when they would compel us to communion with their Church. Their two demands. Answer to the first. Sum of the question. Why we cannot take part in the external worship of the Papists.
10. Second demand of the Papists answered.
11. Although the Papacy cannot properly be called a Church, still, against the will of Antichrist himself, there is some vestige of a Church in the Papacy, as Baptism and some other remnants.
12. The name of Church not conceded to the Papacy, though under its domination there have been some kind of churches. Herein is a fulfilment of Paul's prophecy, that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God. Deplorable condition of such churches. Summary of the chapter.
1. How much the ministry of the word and sacraments should weigh with us, and how far reverence for it should extend, so as to be a perpetual badge for distinguishing the Church, has been explained; for we have shown, first, that wherever it exists entire and unimpaired, no errors of conduct, no defects should prevent us from giving the name of Church ;  and, secondly, that trivial errors in this ministry ought not to make us regard it as illegitimate. Moreover, we have shown that the errors to which such pardon is due, are those by which the fundamental doctrine of religion is not injured, and by which those articles of religion, in which all believers should agree, are not suppressed, while, in regard to the sacraments, the defects are such as neither destroy nor impair the legitimate institution of their Author.  But as soon as falsehood has forced its way into the citadel of religion, as soon as the sum of necessary doctrine is inverted, and the use of the sacraments is destroyed, the death of the Church undoubtedly ensues, just as the life of man is destroyed when his throat is pierced, or his vitals mortally wounded. This is clearly evinced by the words of Paul when he says, that the Church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone" (Eph. 2:20). If the Church is founded on the doctrine of the apostles and prophets, by which believers are enjoined to place their salvation in Christ alone, then if that doctrine is destroyed, how can the Church continue to stand? The Church must necessarily fall whenever that sum of religion which alone can sustain it has given way. Again, if the true Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15), it is certain that there is no Church where lying and falsehood have usurped the ascendancy.
2. Since this is the state of matters under the Papacy, we can understand how much of the Church there survives.  There, instead of the ministry of the word, prevails a perverted government, compounded of lies, a government which partly extinguishes, partly suppresses, the pure light. In place of the Lord's Supper, the foulest sacrilege has entered, the worship of God is deformed by a varied mass of intolerable superstitions; doctrine (without which Christianity exists not) is wholly buried and exploded, the public assemblies are schools of idolatry and impiety. Wherefore, in declining fatal participation in such wickedness, we run no risk of being dissevered from the Church of Christ. The communion of the Church was not instituted to be a chain to bind us in idolatry, impiety, ignorance of God, and other kinds of evil, but rather to retain us in the fear of God and obedience of the truth. They, indeed, vaunt loudly of their Church,  as if there was not another in the world; and then, as if the matter were ended, they make out that all are schismatics who withdraw from obedience to that Church which they thus depict, that all are heretics who presume to whisper against its doctrine (see sec 5). But by what arguments do they prove their possession of the true Church? They appeal to ancient records which formerly existed in Italy, France, and Spain, pretending to derive their origin from those holy men who, by sound doctrine, founded and raised up churches, confirmed the doctrine, and reared the edifice of the Church with their blood; they pretend that the Church thus consecrated by spiritual gifts and the blood of martyrs was preserved from destruction by a perpetual succession of bishops. They dwell on the importance which Irenæus, Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, and others, attached to this succession (see sec. 3). How frivolous and plainly ludicrous these allegations are, I will enable any, who will for a little consider the matter with me, to understand without any difficulty. I would also exhort our opponents to give their serious attention, if I had any hope of being able to benefit them by instruction; but since they have laid aside all regard to truth, and make it their only aim to prosecute their own ends in whatever way they can, I will only make a few observations by which good men and lovers of truth may disentangle themselves from their quibbles. First, I ask them why they do not quote Africa, and Egypt, and all Asia, just because in all those regions there was a cessation of that sacred succession, by the aid of which they vaunt of having continued churches. They therefore fall back on the assertion, that they have the true Church, because ever since it began to exist it was never destitute of bishops, because they succeeded each other in an unbroken series. But what if I bring Greece before them? Therefore, I again ask them, Why they say that the Church perished among the Greeks, among whom there never was any interruption in the succession of bishops--a succession, in their opinion, the only guardian and preserver of the Church? They make the Greeks schismatics. Why? because, by revolting from the Apostolic See, they lost their privilege. What? Do not those who revolt from Christ much more deserve to lose it? It follows, therefore, that the pretence of succession is vain, if posterity do not retain the truth of Christ, which was handed down to them by their fathers, safe and uncorrupted, and continue in it.
3. In the present day, therefore, the presence of the Romanists is just the same as that which appears to have been formerly used by the Jews, when the Prophets of the Lord charged them with blindness, impiety, and idolatry. For as the Jews proudly vaunted of their temple, ceremonies, and priesthood, by which, with strong reason, as they supposed, they measured the Church, so, instead of the Church, we are presented by the Romanists with certain external masks, which often are far from being connected with the Church, and without which the Church can perfectly exist. Wherefore, we need no other argument to refute them than that with which Jeremiah opposed the foolish confidence of the Jews--namely, "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are these" (Jer. 7:4). The Lord recognises nothing as his own, save when his word is heard and religiously observed. Thus, though the glory of God sat in the sanctuary between the cherubim (Ezek. 10:4), and he had promised that he would there have his stated abode, still when the priests corrupted his worship by depraved superstitions, he transferred it elsewhere, and left the place without any sanctity. If that temple which seemed consecrated for the perpetual habitation of God, could be abandoned by God and become profane, the Romanists have no ground to pretend that God is so bound to persons or places, and fixed to external observances, that he must remain with those who have only the name and semblance of a Church. This is the question which Paul discusses in the Epistle to the Romans, from the ninth to the twelfth chapter. Weak consciences were greatly disturbed, when those who seemed to be the people of God not only rejected, but even persecuted the doctrine of the Gospel. Therefore, after expounding doctrine, he removes this difficulty, denying that those Jews, the enemies of the truth, were the Church, though they wanted nothing which might otherwise have been desired to the external form of the Church. The ground of his denial is, that they did not embrace Christ. In the Epistle to the Galatians, when comparing Ishmael with Isaac, he says still more expressly, that many hold a place in the Church to whom the inheritance does not belong, because they were not the offspring of a free parent. From this he proceeds to draw a contrast between two Jerusalems, because as the Law was given on Mount Sinai, but the Gospel proceeded from Jerusalem, so many who were born and brought up in servitude confidently boast that they are the sons of God and of the Church; nay, while they are themselves degenerate, proudly despise the genuine sons of God. Let us also, in like manner, when we hear that it was once declared from heaven, "Cast out the bondmaid and her son," trust to this inviolable decree, and boldly despise their unmeaning boasts. For if they plume themselves on external profession, Ishmael also was circumcised: if they found on antiquity, he was the first-born: and yet we see that he was rejected. If the reason is asked, Paul assigns it (Rom. 9:6), that those only are accounted sons who are born of the pure and legitimate seed of doctrine. On this ground God declares that he was not astricted to impious priests, though he had made a covenant with their father Levi, to be their angel, or interpreter (Mal. 2:4); nay, he retorts the false boast by which they were wont to rise against the Prophets--namely, that the dignity of the priesthood was to be held in singular estimation. This he himself willingly admits: and he disputes with them, on the ground that he is ready to fulfil the covenant, while they, by not fulfilling it on their part, deserve to be rejected. Here, then, is the value of succession when not conjoined with imitation and corresponding conduct: posterity, as soon as they are convicted of having revolted from their origin, are deprived of all honour; unless, indeed, we are prepared to say, that because Caiaphas succeeded many pious priests (nay, the series from Aaron to him was continuous), that accursed assembly deserved the name of Church. Even in earthly governments, no one would bear to see the tyranny of Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, and the like, described as the true condition of a republic, because they succeeded such men as Brutus, Scipio, and Camillus.  That in the government of the Church especially, nothing is more absurd than to disregard doctrine, and place succession in persons. Nor, indeed, was anything farther from the intention of the holy teachers, whom they falsely obtrude upon us, than to maintain distinctly that churches exist, as by hereditary right, wherever bishops have been uniformly succeeded by bishops. But while it was without controversy that no change had been made in doctrine from the beginning down to their day, they assumed it to be a sufficient refutation of all their errors, that they were opposed to the doctrine maintained constantly, and with unanimous consent, even by the apostles themselves. They have, therefore, no longer any ground for proceeding to make a gloss of the name of the Church, which we regard with due reverence; but when we come to definition, not only (to use the common expression) does the water adhere to them, but they stick in their own mire, because they substitute a vile prostitute for the sacred spouse of Christ. That the substitution may not deceive us, let us, among other admonitions, attend to the following from Augustine. Speaking of the Church, he says, "She herself is sometimes obscured, and, as it were, beclouded by a multitude of scandals; sometimes, in a time of tranquillity, she appears quiet and free; sometimes she is covered and tossed by the billows of tribulation and trial."--(August. ad Vincent. Epist. 48). As instances, he mentions that the strongest pillars of the Church often bravely endured exile for the faith, or lay hid throughout the world.
4. In this way the Romanists assail us in the present day, and terrify the unskilful with the name of Church, while they are the deadly adversaries of Christ. Therefore, although they exhibit a temple, a priesthood, and other similar masks, the empty glare by which they dazzle the eyes of the simple should not move us in the least to admit that there is a Church where the word of God appears not. The Lord furnished us with an unfailing test when he said, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:37). Again, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." A little before he had said, when the shepherd "putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:14, 4, 5). Why then do we, of our own accord, form so infatuated an estimate of the Church, since Christ has designated it by a sign in which is nothing in the least degree equivocal, a sign which is everywhere seen, the existence of which infallibly proves the existence of the Church, while its absence proves the absence of everything that properly bears the name of Church? Paul declares that the Church is not founded either upon the judgments of men or the priesthood, but upon the doctrine of the Apostles and Prophets (Eph. 2:20). Nay, Jerusalem is to be distinguished from Babylon, the Church of Christ from a conspiracy of Satan, by the discriminating test which our Saviour has applied to them, "He that is of God, heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (John 8:47). In short, since the Church is the kingdom of Christ, and he reigns only by his word, can there be any doubt as to the falsehood of those statements by which the kingdom of Christ is represented without his sceptre, in other words, without his sacred word?
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
1/1/2009 Resolved to Live and Die
My wife’s father, my father by marriage, has served in law enforcement four decades. Having served as an FBI-trained sheriff’s detective in south Florida for many years, he came to be known as “smiling Jack” on account of the fact that he smiled every time he made an arrest of a suspected criminal. As a life-long police officer who enjoys arresting criminals, a father of seven (two sons and five daughters), and one who has been known to clean his pistol when potential male suitors come to the house, he is not the kind of fellow that one trifles with. So, nearly ten years ago when I asked for his oldest daughter’s hand in marriage, needless to say, I was nervous. When I popped the question to him, he was gracious but direct when he asked me if am willing to die for her. I quickly responded, “Yes, sir.” Six months later he placed his oldest daughter’s hand in mine.
I soon discovered that saying I would die for my wife is one thing, whereas actually living for her each and every day is a far greater responsibility. As her husband, I have made a covenant with her, before the face of God and in the presence of witnesses, that I would live for her every day till death us do part. Of course, that is precisely what the Lord commands when He admonishes husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). In His incarnation, the Son of God took on flesh and lived among us and for us each and every day, not to be served but to serve and to die for us (Mark 10:45). Having fulfilled the Trinitarian resolution of the covenant of redemption, our Lord endured the cross, despising its shame, so that we might have life abundant, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14), resolved to love the Lord with our whole being, living sacrificially for Him and dying to self before His face and for His glory.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
Midnight, May 14, 1948, the State of Israel came into being and was immediately recognized by the United States and the Soviet Union. A homeland for the thousands of Jews who were persecuted and displaced during World War II, it was attacked the next day by the Transjordanian Army, the Arab Legion, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Against all odds, Israel survived. In November of 1948, President Harry S. Truman wrote to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel: "I want to tell you how happy and impressed I have been at the remarkable progress made by the new State of Israel."
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
It is easy to understand God
as long as you don't try to explain him.
--- Joseph Joubert
Reaching Higher and Deeper: Workbook for Healing Research, Volume 3 - Personal Spirituality: Science, Spirit & the Eternal Soul
Some of God's greatest gifts
are unanswered prayers.
--- Garth Brooks
When God Answers Prayer
Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering it over and applying it to our hearts.
--- George Mueller
Works of George Müller
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.
--- Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
... from here, there and everywhere
Thomas A Kempis
Book Four - An Invitation To Holy Communion
The Sixth Chapter / An Inquiry On The Proper
Thing To Do Before Communion
WHEN I consider Your dignity, O Lord, and my own meanness, I become very much frightened and confused. For if I do not receive, I fly from Life, and if I intrude unworthily, I incur Your displeasure. What, then, shall I do, my God, my Helper and Adviser in necessity? Teach me the right way. Place before me some short exercise suitable for Holy Communion, for it is good to know in what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly and fervently for You, to receive Your Sacrament for the good of my soul, or even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice.
The Imitation Of Christ
Practical religion. The Christian life
And then finally, the life of the branch is a life of absolute surrender.
This word, absolute surrender, is a great and solemn word, and I believe we do not understand its meaning. But yet the little branch preaches it.
"Have you anything to do, little branch, besides bearing grapes?"
"Are you fit for nothing?"
Fit for nothing! The Bible says that a bit of vine cannot even be used as a pen; it is fit for nothing but to be burned.
"And now, what do you understand, little branch, about your relationship to the vine?"
"My relationship is just this: I am utterly given up to the vine, and the vine can give me as much or as little sap as it chooses. Here I am at its disposal and the vine can do with me what it likes."
Oh, friends, we need this absolute surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. The more I speak, the more I feel that this is one of the most difficult points to make clear, and one of the most important and needful points to explain--what this absolute surrender is. It is often an easy thing for a man or a number of men to come out and offer themselves up to God for entire consecration, and to say: "Lord, it is my desire to give up myself entirely to Thee." That is of great value, and often brings very rich blessing. But the one question I ought to study quietly is What is meant by absolute surrender?
It means that, as literally as Christ was given up entirely to God, I am given up entirely to Christ. Is that too strong? Some think so. Some think that never can be; that just as entirely and absolutely as Christ gave up His life to do nothing but seek the Father's pleasure, and depend on the Father absolutely and entirely, I am to do nothing but to seek the pleasure of Christ. But that is actually true. Christ Jesus came to breathe His own Spirit into us, to make us find our very highest happiness in living entirely for God, just as He did. Oh, beloved brethren, if that is the case, then I ought to say:
"Yes, as true as it is of that little branch of the vine, so true, by God's grace, I would have it to be of me. I would live day by day that Christ may be able to do with me what He will."
Ah! here comes the terrible mistake that lies at the bottom of so much of our own religion. A man thinks:
"I have my business and family duties, and my relationships as a citizen, and all this I cannot change. And now alongside all this I am to take in religion and the service of God, as something that will keep me from sin. God help me to perform my duties properly!"
This is not right. When Christ came, He came and bought the sinner with His blood. If there was a slave market here and I were to buy a slave, I should take that slave away to my own house from his old surroundings, and he would live at my house as my personal property, and I could order him about all the day. And if he were a faithful slave, he would live as having no will and no interests of his own, his one care being to promote the well-being and honor of his master. And in like manner I, who have been bought with the blood of Christ, have been bought to live every day with the one thought--How can I please my Master?
Oh, we find the Christian life so difficult because we seek for God's blessing while we live in our own will. We should be glad to live the Christian life according to our own liking. We make our own plans and choose our own work, and then we ask the Lord Jesus to come in and take care that sin shall not conquer us too much, and that we shall not go too far wrong; we ask Him to come in and give us so much of His blessing. But our relationship to Jesus ought to be such that we are entirely at His disposal, and every day come to Him humbly and straightforwardly and say:
"Lord, is there anything in me that is not according to Thy will, that has not been ordered by Thee, or that is not entirely given up to Thee?"
Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
by D.H. Stern
31 White hair is a crown of honor
obtained by righteous living.
32 He who controls his temper is better than a war hero,
he who rules his spirit better than he who captures a city.
33 One can cast lots into one’s lap,
but the decision comes from ADONAI.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The habit of enjoying the disagreeable
That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. --- 2 Cor. 4:10.
We have to form habits to express what God’s grace has done in us. It is not a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved in order to manifest the life of the Son of God in our mortal flesh, and it is the disagreeable things which make us exhibit whether or not we are manifesting His life. Do I manifest the essential sweetness of the Son of God, or the essential irritation of ‘myself’ apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy the disagreeable is the keen enthusiasm of letting the life of the Son of God manifest itself in me. No matter how disagreeable a thing may be, say—“Lord, I am delighted to obey Thee in this matter,” and instantly the Son of God will press to the front, and there will be manifested in my human life that which glorifies Jesus.
There must be no debate. The moment you obey the light, the Son of God presses through you in that particular; but if you debate you grieve the Spirit of God. You must keep yourself fit to let the life of the Son of God be manifested, and you cannot keep yourself fit if you give way to self-pity. Our circumstances are the means of manifesting how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is. The thing that ought to make the heart beat is a new way of manifesting the Son of God. It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable by God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is amply sufficient.
Keep your soul fit to manifest the life of the Son of God. Never live on memories; let the word of God be always living and active in you.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
(My chief aim is to make a poem. You make
it for yourself firstly, and then if other people
want to join in then there we are. )"
It was a time when wise men
Were not silent, but stifled
By vast noise. They took refuge
In books that were not read.
Two counsellors had the ear
Of the public. One cried 'Buy'
Day and night, and the other,
More plausibly, 'Sell your repose.'
Collected Poems 1945-1990 (Phoenix Press)
Bava Batra 20b, 21a
We usually think of great philanthropists as the most generous people in the world. A wealthy person who endows an entire university, a medical school, or a library is to be praised for generosity—and there is no argument with this. Yet, Rabbi Elazar is proposing that one who causes others to do is even greater than one who does. This means that the fundraiser who secured the grant deserves more credit than the actual donor. The financial advisor who counseled that the rich, childless widow leave her assets to the local library is greater, in certain respects, than the benefactor. The savvy clergyperson who suggested that the wealthy congregant would be best remembered through a chair at the seminary can find comfort in the words of Rabbi Elazar. Each of these advisors is even greater than the contributor, for each caused others to act.
We can take this one step further, for Rabbi Elazar's words refer not only to financial giving and acting. We may not notice the biology teacher who encouraged that special student, pushing him to work hard and giving him the confidence to go on in science. We should, however, notice and praise that teacher for ultimately causing the student to make a great medical discovery. The English professor who spent time with a struggling author, helping her years later to have the ability to write a famous novel, should get some of the fame associated with the novel. The high school coach whose protégé becomes a well-known sports star may be mentioned rarely in the athlete's biography, but deserves a large share of the accolades.
Many a time, we are disheartened that the rich and famous get all the credit, that the tedious, not so glorious work of the common folk goes unnoticed. This type of effort is cited less often in the newspapers and in Nobel Prizes. Nonetheless, Rabbi Elazar's words, exaggerated as they might be, remind us that the successes of great people would be impossible without the behind-the-scenes work of others. Rabbi Elazar's teaching should give encouragement to those of us who don't win prizes or garner headlines but who nonetheless cause others to do great things.
Jealousy among teachers will increase wisdom.
Text / Mishnah (2:2) [If one opens] a shop in the courtyard: One may object and say to him: "I cannot sleep because of the noise of those coming and going." But he can make utensils and sell them in the marketplace, and one cannot object and say: "I cannot sleep because of the noise of the hammer, the millstone or the children."
Gemara: Come and hear: If two live in a courtyard and one wants to become a physician, an artisan, a weaver or a teacher of children, the others can prevent him. But this deals with non-Jewish children! Come and hear: He who has a place for rent in the courtyard should not rent it to a physician, an artisan, a weaver, a Jewish teacher or a non-Jewish teacher. This is the case we are dealing with: A town teacher. Rava said: "Given the ruling of Yehoshua ben Gamla, we do not send students from town to town, but we do send them from synagogue to synagogue. If there is a river in between, we do not send them; if there is a bridge, we send them, but not if it is only a board." Rava also said: "The number of schoolchildren for one teacher is twenty-five. If there are fifty, we appoint two. If there are forty, we appoint an assistant, at the expense of the town." Rava also said: "If there is a teacher who gets them to study and one who gets them to study better, we do not replace him lest he get discouraged." Rav Dimi from Nehardea said: "He will get them to study even more, for jealousy among teachers will increase wisdom."
Context / Is it possible that two seemingly contradictory sources are both correct and accurate teachings? For example, in this Gemara, one source says that others cannot prevent a person from teaching in their courtyard, while a second source holds that one should not rent to a teacher! How can this be? In reality, these may be independent oral teachings that were handed down via different traditions. They may, in fact, contradict each other. However, the talmudic mind would prefer to accept both teachings as genuine. This is where the expression "This is the case we are dealing with" becomes a useful tool. By limiting the situation the contradiction is eliminated. We only thought that these texts were contradictory, that one text says "One cannot object to a teacher in the courtyard" while another says the opposite: "Do not rent a room facing the courtyard to a teacher." In reality, there is no such contradiction at all, since the specific case we are dealing with, as the later Rabbis interpret it, is only that of a town teacher. An ordinary teacher would have little traffic in and out, while the master teacher of the area would have many more students each day. Therefore, we may refuse renting to such an individual.
This chapter of Bava Batra deals with laws of the free marketplace. Talmudic law controls territorial rights based on established claims: One may not simply open a new store, set up a craft shop, or operate any other kind of business just anywhere because a new craftsperson may put a veteran out of business. In addition, there are rules and regulations intended to protect the community. A tannery smells; a new dovecote may steal the doves from adjoining nests.
Thus, our Mishnah teaches that one who sets up a shop in a common courtyard can be stopped because the comings and goings of customers will disturb the neighbors. The Gemara reiterates this concept with examples from an outside source, and it is the example of the "town teacher" who would apparently have many students coming and going that becomes the focus of the discussion.
Rava credits Yehoshua ben Gamla with requiring each town to appoint a local professional teacher at the town's expense. Until this time, teaching children had been seen as the father's responsibility. What, then, constitutes a "school district"? How far do we send a child to study? And how many students can one teacher handle? Rava passes down a tradition that the acceptable ratio is twenty-five students per teacher.
This leads Rava to comment on teachers' qualifications. What if a better teacher can be found? Should we replace the first teacher who does not motivate the students as well? There are two opinions. Rava holds that replacing this teacher might demoralize him. This group of students might be helped, but the teaching profession—and, more important, the study of Torah—will be harmed in the process. Rav Dimi, however, holds to the contrary. He feels that competition is good. The jealousy that a teacher feels towards a colleague who teaches better will not be demoralizing but will serve as motivation to excel.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Demand for a King: 1 Samuel 8 / In Samuel's old age the people of Israel demanded a king. In part this was motivated by the fact that Samuel's sons were not like him. And Samuel took the request as a personal affront.
However, there were deeper motives. The people asked for a king so that "we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8:20). As God pointed out, this was an overt rejection not of Samuel but of the Lord Himself!
After all, it was God who had brought them out of Egypt. It was God who had given them victory at Mizpah. To ask for a human ruler showed an unwillingness to continue to rely on the Lord.
Samuel was displeased, and listed all the drawbacks to having a human ruler (1 Samuel 8:11–18). But Israel insisted, and God told Samuel to listen to them, and to give Israel a king.
The story of Saul is a tragic one, yet one filled with important spiritual lessons. Young Saul was an attractive personality. But under the pressures of leadership he showed fatal flaws.
Saul's story is designed not to frighten us, as if we were like him. It is in Scripture to encourage us, for unlike Saul we will maintain a trust in God that enables us to triumph where he failed.
King. The Hebrew word is melek. It is often translated "governor" or "chief" or "prince" as well as king. It indicates a person with civil authority. In biblical times this person had responsibility for all the functions of government—legislative, executive, and judicial. Israel's kings, however, were to be subject to God's Law personally, and to rule in harmony with that Law. Sacred history shows the powerful moral influence of both good and evil kings on the nations of Israel and Judah.
Foolish. Samuel told Saul at one point that a decision he made to offer sacrifice to the Lord was "foolish." The word does not indicate a lack of intelligence, but a lack of moral and spiritual insight. The fool is impetuous, tends to rebellion, and insists on his or her own way. Only a growing relationship with the Lord and submission to Him can free us from the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of everyone—even children (Proverbs 22:15). No wonder that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7).
The Monarchy / Old Testament government. God's Old Testament people lived under two basic forms of national government. The first form was a theocracy. That is, God Himself served as Israel's King and Ruler. God gave His people a Law to live by (as legislator). God led His people in battle, often intervening miraculously to ensure victory when they trusted in Him (as chief executive). God made every individual and community responsible to hold each other accountable to perform the moral, social, and religious obligations set out in the Law (as judge). This understanding of the invisible God directly ruling His people was expressed by Samuel, who was shocked and outraged when the people demanded a human king. Samuel recalled the Israelites' reaction when they saw an enemy move against them: "You said to me, 'No, we want a king to rule over us'—even though the Lord your God was your King" (1 Samuel 12:12).
We might tend to excuse this demand for a visible leader to combat all too visible enemies, if it were not for history. For God, as King, had given His people human leaders. God had appointed Moses and Aaron, who brought this people's forefathers out of Egypt (1 Samuel 12:6–7). Later, in the land, Israel had suffered oppression from human enemies. But oppression had come only when the people turned away from God. When Israel turned back to God, the Lord sent the leaders known as Judges: people like Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, and Samuel (1 Samuel 12:9–11). Through leaders like these, God won military victories for His people. The Judges were charismatic leaders sent by God as an expression of the Lord's own kingship over Israel. They did not represent establishment of a different form of government.
But establishment of a monarchy does represent initiation of a different form of government. The human leaders to whom Israel would owe allegiance would, like the leaders of pagan nations around them, hold office not by virtue of God's call but by virtue of birth. Kings would pass the right to rule on to their children, with no consideration of ability or of moral character.
Israel's foolishness. When in Samuel's day the people of Israel called for a king, they performed a foolish act. That is, they showed a tragic lack of spiritual understanding.
First of all, Israel's call for a king was in fact a rejection of God's traditional role in her national life.
The desire of the people was for a king so that "we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8:20). Yet God had called Israel different from all other nations. As Moses had said, "What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?" (Deuteronomy 4:7) It was Israel's direct relationship with the God of heaven that set her apart. In calling for a king, Israel in effect rejected God's direct rule, and denied her unique heritage.
Second, Israel's call for a king disregarded a basic aspect of covenant relationship with God. God had committed Himself to bless His people when they lived in harmony with His Law. God had said, "Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess" (Deuteronomy 5:33). This basic element of covenant relationship was unaffected by the introduction of a king.
Whatever the form of government, God's people would only know blessing when they obeyed!
When the monarchy was instituted, Samuel reminded Israel of this fact. "If you fear the Lord and serve and obey Him and do not rebel against His commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against His commands, His hand will be against you" (1 Samuel 12:14–15). The form of government made no basic difference. Blessing could come only as a result of obedience of the whole people to the Lord.
Third, with a king as the visible head of the nation, many would begin to rely on him rather than on God. Reliance would shift from God to the standing army and the fortifications the king would build. Erosion of reliance on God alone became a real and present danger.
Fourth, institution of the monarchy introduced unnecessary danger. Power and influence were focused in a human leader; a single individual who in turn could influence the nation. An evil king with the power of life and death over his people could make wickedness appear to pay as he rewarded those who were loyal to him rather than to God. Just such a danger exists any time that people must live with divided loyalties.
Moses had foretold a day when the people would demand a king, and the Law established requirements designed to minimize the dangers. He said: "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, 'Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,' be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, 'You are not to go back that way again.' He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
"When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel" (Deuteronomy 17:14–20).
Israel's king was to subject himself to the King of kings. A king who would not be subject to God could and would bring disaster on the nation.
The coming king. The motives of the people of Israel in demanding a king were wrong. And they lacked the spiritual insight to see the implications of their request. Yet God granted it. Why?
At least two reasons can be suggested. The first reason is found in the fact that the three major institutions in Old Testament life each speak of Jesus. The priesthood was established to offer the sacrifices that affirmed and maintained relationship between God and sinful human beings. Jesus, as our High Priest, offered His own blood in history's ultimate sacrifice, making us forever acceptable to God. The prophet was established in Israel as God's spokesman, communicating His message to His people in time of need. Jesus is "the Prophet" spoken of in Deuteronomy 18, whose message both fulfills and supercedes that given by Moses. And the king was established in Israel as a ruler. Jesus is our present and coming King, who will surely establish His personal rule over this earth as well as the universe at large.
For us to understand the ministry of Jesus we need to sense the historic meaning of the priest, the prophet, and the king in Israel. Each of these offices was designed to help us grasp more of the role of Jesus in God's plan, and in our lives.
For this reason, then, that we might grasp the central role God intends for Jesus, it was necessary that Israel establish a monarchy and live under kings.
But there may be another, more subtle reason, that also points us to Jesus.
Throughout history human beings have assumed that if only a society might devise the right form of government, that society would become just and the people would enjoy the blessings of harmony and peace. Plato imagined his republic, and philosophers and dreamers since then have devised various plans for their utopias. But the Bible insists that our problems are not rooted in our forms of government, but in ourselves. Sin corrupts us all, and because of sin no form of human government can promise justice or peace.br />
Yet human beings continue to dream. And the Bible continues to testify that this dream is false! Israel sinned under Moses, the man of God. Israel sinned under the theocracy. Israel sinned under the monarchy. Israel sinned under Governor Nehemiah. Israel sinned as Rome's client state. And when Jesus returns, a world under Jesus' direct and righteous rule will again choose to follow Satan and rebel (Revelation 20:1–10).
In essence, history's many forms of government continually demonstrate that the problem with human society is not political, but personal. We do not need some new, inventive form of government to make us good. We need Jesus. We need the forgiveness of our sins, and an obedience to God that is expressed in a life of love for others.
God's willingness to let His people try different forms of government was at least in part intended to help them learn from their failures to turn away from man to find forgiveness in Him.
The Teacher's Commentary
Judaism in the Land of Israel
Throughout early Judaism, interpretation of older scriptures was an important exercise. This is evident in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Daniel 9) and outside it. Among the most interesting examples are a series of commentaries found at Qumran. These pesharim or interpretations offer comments on scriptural prophetic texts; they cite a passage and then explain it before proceeding to the next passage in the book (occasionally more than one book is involved). The best-preserved examples are the commentaries on Nahum (4Q169) and Habakkuk (1QpHab); altogether seventeen copies of pesharim have been identified (1QpHab; 1Q14–16; 4Q161–71, 173), treating Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and several Psalms. These lemmatized commentaries allow the reader to see how the Qumran community understood the ancient prophecies to be coming true in their own day; they also disclose some information about that time and important characters in their world. Other types of commentaries are not tied to particular texts but are more thematic and thus treat texts from various places in the scriptures. Among them are the Florilegium (4Q174) and the Melchizedek text (11Q13).
Scriptural interpretation may be the rubric under which to survey a set of works called by scholars Rewritten Bible or, better, Rewritten Scriptures. These texts take the contents of an older scriptural work, in whole or in part, and re-present them. At times the representation is so close to the original that the difference is practically negligible (Reworked Pentateuch from Qumran is an example), while in others there is a wide difference (such as in the Book of the Watchers [1 Enoch 1–36]). The representation can accomplish several goals, such as clarifying obscure passages, adding to or subtracting from the older text in various ways to communicate the old message in a new form. Familiar examples that fall into this broad and diverse category are parts of 1 Enoch, the Aramaic Levi Document, the Genesis Apocryphon, the Book of Jubilees, and the Temple Scroll. 1 Enoch 1–36 (the Book of the Watchers) in part treats passages about Enoch and the immediate pre-flood period in Genesis 5–6 but expands considerably through an elaborate story of angels who descend, marry women, and have gigantic children whose misdeeds, with the illicit teachings of the angels, cause the flood. Enoch is presented as a mediator between God and the sinful angels and also as a traveling companion of angels on a tour of the world. The Aramaic Levi Document takes the rather problematic scriptural character Levi and greatly exalts him as a divinely appointed priest, the ancestor of a priesthood, and the recipient of revelations. The Aramaic Genesis Apocryphon offers stories from the early chapters of Genesis until chap. 15 (where the manuscript breaks off). The book of Jubilees more closely adheres to its scriptural base as it retells the stories from Genesis 1 to Exodus 24, all of which was revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It packages them in its theologically eloquent chronology of fifty jubilee units and emphasizes the one, frequently renewed covenant between God and the chosen line, the importance of separating from the nations, the need to keep the Sabbath properly, and the significance of following the correct calendar of 364 days in a year. The Temple Scroll is a rewriting of the remaining parts of the Pentateuch (beginning with Exodus 24), while the Reworked Pentateuch is at times classified as scriptural and at times as Reworked Scripture.
Also within the area of scriptural interpretation are targums, Aramaic translations and interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures. Although the major targums (Onqelos and Jonathan) date from much later times, the presence of Aramaic renderings of Job (4Q157; 11Q10) and apparently Leviticus (4Q156) at Qumran illustrate that this type of exercise has ancient roots.
The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. --- Matthew 9:36.
Every leader reveals the gift of constructive imagination. ( The Return of the Angels : Sunday evenings in a Glasgow Pulpit ) A great bridge is a work of imagination just as certainly as a great poem. To the building up of our modern civilization there has gone far more than intellect and will; there has gone at every step of the advance what we describe as imaginative power.
But imagination is more than that; it is also a religious power of the highest order.
Ours is a historical religion. That is the strength and that is the glory of it. It is not begotten of abstraction; it is born of a historic revelation. Anything, then, that takes these facts of history and brings them near us and makes them real and living is doing a mighty service to the faith. That is just what imagination does. It answers the heart cry, “Sir,… we would like to see Jesus” (John 12:21). It takes us to Calvary and to Gethsemane and, withdrawing the veil, it says, “Here is the man!” (19:5). And so our faith is strengthened and refreshed because the past, in which our faith is rooted, leaps up in life, like the bones of Elisha’s vision, under the power of imagination.
Then again, imagination is a religious power because there are few powers so helpful to compassion as the power of the imagination. We commonly assign many faults to lack of love, while all the time it is not lack of love, it is lack of imagination that creates them. A vast deal of people’s callousness and cruelty and of their severe or unkindly judgment does not arise so much from lack of heart as from failure to understand imaginatively. A person who has no imagination is certain to be tactless. A person who has no imagination is an unsympathetic person. For at the back of sympathy and tact there is the power to grasp another’s situation; the faculty that can realize another’s thought or another’s burden. Now it is not love that realizes that. Love’s work begins when it is realized. The power that helps us to share another’s feelings is largely the imaginative power. Hence every dramatist and every novelist who reaches and reveals us to ourselves is someone preeminently of imagination. And if at the back of all the truest sympathy there lies the power of the imagination, you see, do you not? how the imagination is a religious power of the highest order.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
A Light to the Gentiles May 14
John Berridge expected to follow his father into livestock, but he could never learn the ropes. His frustrated dad finally said, “John, I find you cannot form any idea of the price of cattle, and I shall have to send you to college to be a light to the Gentiles.” Thus John went to Cambridge, then entered church work, but without personally experiencing the Gospel.
His preaching was striking, his life upright, his energy boundless, his ministry worthless. His message, devoid of the death and resurrection of Christ, was like a solar system without the sun. For years he thrashed around brilliantly, but fruitlessly.
In 1755 he became vicar in out-of-the-way Everton, and there at age 42 he finally agonized about his own soul. “Lord,” he began crying, “if I am right, keep me so; if I am not right, make me so, and lead me to the knowledge of the truth in Jesus.” One Morning sitting before an open Bible these words flashed to mind: “Cease from thine own works; only believe.” He immediately started preaching salvation by grace through faith alone. Soon one of his parishioners visited him. “Why, Sarah,” he said, “What is the matter?”
“I don’t know,” said the woman. “Those new RS Thomas! I find we are all lost now. I can neither eat, drink, nor sleep. I don’t know what will become of me.” Others echoed the same cry. Berridge’s church soon swelled with villagers giving their lives to Christ. People flocked from all parts, and the buildings proved too small. On May 14, 1759 Berridge began preaching outdoors. “On Monday,” he wrote, “we called at a farmhouse. After dinner I went into the yard, and seeing nearly 150 people, I called for a table and preached for the first time in the open air. We then went to Meldred, where I preached in a field to about 4,000 people.”
His remaining 30 years found him preaching the Gospel in season and out, indoors and out. He never married, always resided alone, and remained in rural parishes until his death at age 77 in 1793. He was the Whitefield of the English countryside.
God treated me with kindness. His power worked in me, and it became my job to spread the good news. I am the least important of all God’s people. But God was kind and chose me to tell the Gentiles that because of Christ there are blessings that cannot be measured.
--- Ephesians 3:7,8.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - May 14
“Joint heirs with Christ.”
The boundless realms of his Father’s universe are Christ’s by prescriptive right. As “heir of all things,” he is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and he has admitted us to claim the whole as ours, by virtue of that deed of joint-heir-ship which the Lord hath ratified with his chosen people. The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory, are, by our blessed Lord, made over to us for our everlasting possession. All that he has he shares with his people. The crown royal he has placed upon the head of his Church, appointing her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned himself that we might have a coronation of glory; he would not sit upon his own throne until he had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by his blood. Crown the head and the whole body shares the honour. Behold here the reward of every Christian conqueror! Christ’s throne, crown, sceptre, palace, treasure, robes, heritage, are yours. Far superior to the jealousy, selfishness, and greed, which admit of no participation of their advantages, Christ deems his happiness completed by his people sharing it. “The glory which thou gavest me have I given them.” “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The smiles of his Father are all the sweeter to him, because his people share them. The honours of his kingdom are more pleasing, because his people appear with him in glory. More valuable to him are his conquests, since they have taught his people to overcome. He delights in his throne, because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in his royal robes, since over them his skirts are spread. He delights the more in his joy, because he calls them to enter into it.
Evening - May 14
“He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.”
Who is he of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Why doth he carry the lambs in his bosom? Because He hath a tender heart, and any weakness at once melts his heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of his flock draw forth his compassion. It is his office, as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, he purchased them with blood, they are his property: he must and will care for that which cost him so dear. Then he is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant engagements not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of his glory and reward.
But how may we understand the expression, “He will carry them”? Sometimes he carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them. Often they are “carried” by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know. Frequently he “carries” them by giving them a very simple faith, which takes the promise just as it stands, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus. The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.
“He carries the lambs in his bosom.” Here is boundless affection. Would he put them in his bosom if he did not love them much? Here is tender nearness: so near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer. Here is hallowed familiarity: there are precious love-passages between Christ and his weak ones. Here is perfect safety: in his bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort. Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!
Morning and Evening
HARK! TEN THOUSAND HARPS AND VOICES
Thomas Kelly, 1769–1854
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” (Revelation 5:11, 12)
As Christians we often reflect about anticipated sights of heaven—golden streets, jasper walls, crystal seas, jeweled crowns … but what about the sounds of heaven? From what we can learn from the Bible, heaven is a place of loud, inspiring sounds and much music.
The author of this hymn text, Thomas Kelly, saw with the eye of imagination the thrilling scene in heaven when the thousands upon thousands of angels give praise to Christ for His victorious mission to earth to accomplish man’s redemption. And the thrilling truth is that someday we redeemed mortals will join that heavenly chorus. Throughout the ages our main occupation will be singing and playing our “glories to the King!” Alleluia!
This is another triumphant ascension hymn from the pen of Thomas Kelly, one of Ireland’s finest evangelical preachers and spiritual poets of the 19th century. The hymn first appeared in one of Kelly’s collections of hymns published in 1806. It was originally titled “Let All the Angels of God Worship Him.”
Hark! ten thousand harps and voices sound the note of praise above; Jesus reigns and heav’n rejoices; Jesus reigns, the God of love. See, He sits on yonder throne: Jesus rules the world alone.
Sing how Jesus came from heaven, how He bore the cross below, how all pow’r to Him is given, how He reigns in glory now. ’Tis a great and endless theme—O, ’tis sweet to sing of Him.
King of glory, reign forever! Thine an everlasting crown. Nothing from Thy love shall sever those whom Thou hast made Thine own: Happy objects of Thy grace, destined to behold Thy face.
Savior, hasten Thine appearing; bring, O bring the glorious day, when, the awful summons hearing, heav’n and earth shall pass away. Then with golden harps we’ll sing, “Glory, glory to our King!”
Refrain: alleluia! alleluia! Alleluia! A-men.
For Today: Isaiah 60:19; Romans 8:35–39; Hebrews 1:6; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 22:3–5.
Ponder anew the sights and sounds of heaven. Let your heart rejoice that you will be a part of that great eternal scene. Begin preparing now with these notes of praise ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. XXIV. — “WHO (you say) will endeavour to amend his life?” — I answer, No man! no man can! For your self-amenders without the Spirit, God regardeth not, for they are hypocrites. But the Elect, and those that fear God, will be amended by the Holy Spirit; the rest will perish unamended. Nor does Augustine say, that the works of none, nor that the works of all are crowned, but the works of some. Therefore, there will be some, who shall amend their lives.
“Who will believe (you say) that he is loved of God?” — I answer, no man will believe it! No man can! But the Elect shall believe it; the rest shall perish without believing it, filled with indignation and blaspheming, as you here describe them. Therefore, there will be some who shall believe it.
And as to your saying that — “by these doctrines the flood-gate of iniquity is thrown open unto men” — be it so. They pertain to that leprosy of evil to be borne, spoken of before. Nevertheless, by the same doctrines, there is thrown open to the Elect and to them that fear God, a gate unto righteousness, — an entrance into heaven — a way unto God! But if, according to your advice, we should refrain from these doctrines, and should hide from men this Word of God, so that each, deluded by a false persuasion of salvation, should never learn to fear God, and should never be humbled, in order that through this fear he might come to grace and love; then, indeed, we should shut up your flood-gate to purpose! For in the room of it, we should throw open to ourselves and to all, wide gates, nay, yawning chasms and sweeping tides, not only unto iniquity, but unto the depths of hell! Thus, we should not enter into Heaven ourselves, and them that were entering in we should hinder.
“What utility therefore (you say) is there in, or necessity for proclaiming such things openly, when so many evils seem likely to proceed therefrom?” —
I answer. It were enough to say — God has willed that they should be proclaimed openly: but the reason of the divine will is not to be inquired into, but simply to be adored, and the glory to be given unto God: who, since He alone is just and wise, doth evil to no one, and can do nothing rashly or inconsiderately, although it may appear far otherwise unto us. With this answer those that fear God are content. But that, from the abundance of answering matter which I have, I may say a little more than this, which might suffice; — there are two causes which require such things to be preached. The first is, the humbling of our pride, and the knowledge of the grace of God. The second is, Christian faith itself.
First, God has promised certainly His grace to the humbled: that is, to the self-deploring and despairing. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled, until he comes to know that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsel, endeavours, will, and works, and absolutely depending on the will, counsel, pleasure, and work of another, that is, of God only. For if, as long as he has any persuasion that he can do even the least thing himself towards his own salvation, he retain a confidence in himself and do not utterly despair in himself, so long he is not humbled before God; but he proposes to himself some place, some time, or some work, whereby he may at length attain unto salvation. But he who hesitates not to depend wholly upon the good-will of God, he totally despairs in himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such an one, is the nearest unto grace, that he might be saved.
These things, therefore, are openly proclaimed for the sake of the Elect: that, being by these means humbled and brought down to nothing, they might be saved. The rest resist this humiliation; nay, they condemn the teaching of self desperation; they wish to have left a little something that they may do themselves. These secretly remain proud, and adversaries to the grace of God. This, I say, is one reason — that those who fear God, being humbled, might know, call upon, and receive the grace of God.
The other reason is — that faith is, in things not seen. Therefore, that there might be room for faith, it is necessary that all those things which are believed should be hidden. But they are not hidden more deeply, than under the contrary of sight, sense, and experience. Thus, when God makes alive, He does it by killing; when He justifies, He does it by bringing in guilty: when He exalts to Heaven, He does it by bringing down to hell: as the Scripture saith, “The Lord killeth and maketh alive, He bringeth down to the grave and raiseth up,” (1 Sam. ii. 6.); concerning which, there is no need that I should here speak more at large, for those who read my writings, are well acquainted with these things. Thus He conceals His eternal mercy and loving-kindness behind His eternal wrath: His righteousness, behind apparent iniquity.
This is the highest degree of faith — to believe that He is merciful, who saves so few and damns so many; to believe Him just, who according to His own will, makes us necessarily damnable, that He may seem, as Erasmus says, ‘to delight in the torments of the miserable, and to be an object of hatred rather than of love.’ If, therefore, I could by any means comprehend how that same God can be merciful and just, who carries the appearance of so much wrath and iniquity, there would be no need of faith. But now, since that cannot be comprehended, there is room for exercising faith, while such things are preached and openly proclaimed: in the same manner as, while God kills, the faith of life is exercised in death. Suffice it to have said thus much upon your PREFACE.
In this way, we shall more rightly consult for the benefit of those who dispute upon these paradoxes, than according to your way: whereby, you wish to indulge their impiety by silence, and a refraining from saying any thing: which is to no profit whatever. For if you believe, or even suppose these things to be true, (seeing they are paradoxes of no small moment,) such is the insatiable desire of mortals to search into secret things, and the more so the more we desire to keep them secret, that, by this admonition of yours, you will absolutely make them public; for all will now much more desire to know whether these paradoxes be true or not: thus they will, by your contending zeal, be so roused to inquiry, that not one of us ever afforded such a handle for making them known, as you yourself have done by this over-religious and zealous admonition. You would have acted much more prudently, had you said nothing at all about being cautious in mentioning these paradoxes, if you wished to see your desire accomplished. But, since you do not directly deny that they are true, your aim is frustrated: they cannot be concealed: for, by their appearance of truth, they will draw all men to search into them. Therefore, either deny that they are true altogether, or else hold your own tongue first, if you wish others to hold theirs.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library