John 16John 16 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
The Work of the Holy Spirit“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
I Have Overcome the World25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The High Priestly PrayerJohn 17 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Betrayal and Arrest of JesusJohn 18 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Jesus Faces Annas and Caiaphas12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.
Peter Denies Jesus15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter Denies Jesus Again25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
Jesus Before Pilate28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
My Kingdom Is Not of This World33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospels Attributed to Matthias?
By J. Warner Wallace 11/8/2017
The New Testament describes the Apostle Matthias as the man who joined the remaining eleven apostles and replaced Judas after Judas committed suicide. In Acts 1:21-22, Matthias is described as “one of the men who have accompanied (the disciples) during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among (them), beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from (them).” If this is true, Matthias would have been an eyewitness to the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. History records at least one ancient text attributed to Matthias, but is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Matthias? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The ancient texts attributed to Matthias were written too late in history to have been written by the man we know as Matthias, and like other late non-canonical texts, these errant document were rejected by the leaders in the early Church. In spite of this, the manuscripts we are about to examine still contain small nuggets of truth related to Jesus. Although they are legendary fabrications written by authors who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of their religious communities, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from these late texts:
The Traditions of Matthias (110-160AD) | The Traditions of Matthias is described by Clement of Alexandria in a letter (Miscellanies written in 210AD) and many scholars suspect that it is the same text known as the Gospel of Matthias and mentioned by Origen, Eusebius, Ambrose, and Jerome. While the manuscript is lost, there are still three small quotes from Clement’s letter that are available to us. The text may have contained a narrative of Jesus’ life along with teachings, but it is difficult to know from what little we have today.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | Scholars believe that The Traditions of Matthias was written far too late to have been penned by the Matthias mentioned in the Book of Acts. From the few passages available to us in Clement’s letter, it is apparent that it was used by Gnostic believers such as the Basilideans. According to Hippolytus, the leader of the group, Basilides, learned “secret words” from Matthias that had supposedly been passed down to him from Jesus himself. This is consistent with how early Church leaders described The Gospel of Matthias. Eusebius lists The Gospel of Matthias with the Gospels of Thomas and Peter as heretical works known to the early Church. The Gospel of Matthias is also listed as heretical in the Decretum Gelasianum, the Catalogue of the Sixty Canonical Books, and in a list of false books that were used by Nazarene Christians.
How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | With so little available to us, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, but the quotes do seem to affirm that Jesus was a wise teacher known commonly as the “Word”, “Lord” and “Savior”, who selected (found) those who were previously lost from God and taught a moral code of conduct that his disciples sought to embrace.
Where (and Why) Does It Differ from the Reliable Accounts? | The author of Matthias (presumably the Apostle Matthew), describes a moral ethic that considers the world to be evil, sinful and filled with pleasures of the flesh that are to be rejected. The text also appears to place an extraordinary high value on the acquisition of knowledge as way to “increase the soul”. This is to be expected if, in fact, this text is a late creation of a Gnostic sect. Clement affirms this in describing its use by Marcion, Valentinus and Basilides.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Bourne Again Our Relentless Search for Identity
By J.A. Medders 7/28/2016
What comes to mind when you think about yourself is one of the most important things about you. In particular, what comes to your mind when you think about who you are in Christ is of greater importance.
As a pastor, I’ve found that most problems are traceable to uncertainty about our identity. We have forgotten who we are in Christ (2 Peter 1:9). When we forget our identity, like Jason Bourne, we should be relentless until we know it again.
Bourne, one of the great action heroes of our day, is a highly trained agent — to understate it — capable of winning a fight with nothing more than a rolled up magazine or a ballpoint pen. He is armed with unrivaled skill and know-how for every situation he faces.
In the first Bourne film, he wakes up from a failed mission, not remembering who he is, but quickly realizing all he is capable of doing. Bourne is determined to find out who he is. He doesn’t seem to care that he can do things James Bond only dreams of doing; he wants to know who he is.
Identity Comes Before Activity | Herein lies the parable for the Christian life: we are often more drawn to what we can do for Jesus, rather than who we are in Jesus.
True Leadership Is Sacrifice, Not Privilege
By David Mathis 11/10/2016
It is one of the filthiest lies Satan whispers in the ear of our comfortable and entitled generation.
From before we can even remember, we have been indoctrinated, at nearly every turn, with the idea that being “a leader” means getting the gold star. Leadership is a form of recognition, a kind of accomplishment, the path to privilege. Being declared a leader is like winning an award or being identified among the gifted.
Leadership is a form of success. And since you can do whatever you dream, and can achieve whatever you set your mind to, you too can be a leader — at home, at work, in the community, in the church. Why would you settle for anything less? Leadership means privilege, and no generation has considered itself more entitled to privilege than ours.
The Lie About Leadership | The world’s spin on leadership is in the air of our society, felt in the subtext of our adolescence, and reinforced in our public elections. We are swimming in it everywhere we turn. Why follow when you can lead? Why contribute to the glory of another when you can be the chief beneficiary instead?
As novel and inspiriting as it may seem, it’s a very old deception. From the garden, to the history of Israel, to the Middle Ages, to our innate notions about leadership today, the natural, human, sinful way to think about leadership is to be king of the hill. To view leadership as the ascent to honor and privilege, rather than the descent to attend to the needs of others.
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.
4 Unexpected ways to address a suffering marriage
By Professor Khaldoun A. Sweis
So my wife and I get into it! What a surprise. Early on in our marriage, I did what any insane, first-year married man would do, I took her to marriage counseling to fix her. What happened next, was not what I expected.
The marriage counselor told me that it was a good thing we were fighting; in fact, it was the couples who did not fight that he was most concerned about. He turned on me to get my act together as the leader and father I should be. And a great deal of what he said was right, even though it was hard to swallow it.
They say that there are three rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering… | All joking aside, marriage is a gift of God and a reflection of his very image. When your marriage is suffering, what are some simple ways, (and it is never that simple) to deal with it?
First, we are not created to be alone. | Other people make us who we are and even don’t want to be. The company we keep does make a difference on the life we live. There is no psychologist who would disagree with this theory. We are not made to be alone. In fact, as Jim Rohin said, you are “the average of the five people you most spend most time with!” That does not mean you have to get married. No it is better to remain miserable single than miserable married! 🙂 Again, Im joking. Jesus never married and he was as complete as you can be as a human being. So getting married is not the be all of life. But it is important and a blessing if you take that journey. If you are married or single, being alone is not a good thing, check out Genesis 2:18 where God says this about Adam.
(Ge 2:18) 18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ESV
Did you know that even God was never alone? Before he created everything, God, was and is a community in unity in the blessed external Trinity. | So, if your marriage is suffering, and you feel alone in it, stop doing it alone. Find people who are doing it right, get close to them and start to make some changes.
Khaldoun is the father of two amazing children and the husband of one beautiful wife! In his spare time, he is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Olive-Harvey College and tutor of Philosophy of Religion at Oxford University. Jordanian Arab-Christian philosopher Dr. Khaldoun Sweis is a respected professor, acclaimed author, and lecturer, who has a global perspective on major philosophical issues of our time. Dr. Sweis has made it his mission to spread hope through faith helping his audiences to overcome pain and suffering.
Love Her More and Love Her Less
By John Piper 5/29/1995
For Karsten Luke Piper At His Wedding to Rochelle Ann Orvis May 29, 1995 The God whom we have loved, and in
Whom we have lived, and who has been
Our Rock these twenty-two good years
With you, now bids us, with sweet tears,
To let you go: "A man shall leave
His father and his mother, cleave
Henceforth unto his wife, and be
One unashaméd flesh and free."
This is the word of God today,
And we are happy to obey.
For God has given you a bride
Who answers every prayer we've cried
For over twenty years, our claim
For you, before we knew her name.
And now you ask that I should write
A poem - a risky thing, in light
Of what you know: that I am more
The preacher than the poet or
The artist. I am honored by
Your bravery, and I comply.
I do not grudge these sweet confines
Of rhyming pairs and metered lines.
They are old friends. They like it when
I bid them help me once again
To gather feelings into form
And keep them durable and warm.
And so we met in recent days,
And made the flood of love and praise
And counsel from a father's heart
To flow within the banks of art.
Here is a portion of the stream,
My son: a sermon poem. It's theme:
A double rule of love that shocks;
A doctrine in a paradox:
If you now aim your wife to bless,
Then love her more and love her less.
The God whom we have loved, and in
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 3/26/2018
The coming of the Holy Spirit, the “Counselor” or Paraclete, is dependent on Jesus’ “going away,” i.e., his death by crucifixion, subsequent resurrection, and exaltation (John 16:7; cf. 7:37-39). This raises important questions about the relationship between the Spirit’s role under the old covenant, before the cross, and his role this side of it. That is worthy of careful probing. Here, however, John’s emphasis on the Spirit’s work must be made clear.
At the end of John 15, the Counselor, we are told, will bear witness to Jesus, and to this task to which the disciples of Jesus will lend their voices (15:26-27). The prime witness falls to the Spirit. In John 16:8-11, the Counselor convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He does so because Jesus is returning to the Father and no longer exercises the role of convicting people himself.
If the Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus in 16:8-11, in 16:12-15 he brings glory to Jesus by unpacking Christ to those who attended the Last Supper (the “you” in v. 12 cannot easily be taken in any other way, and controls the other instances of “you” in the rest of the paragraph; cf. also 14:26). As Jesus is not independent of his Father, but speaks only what the Father gives him to say (5:16-30), so the Spirit is not independent of the Father and the Son: “He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears” (16:13). His focus is Jesus: “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (16:14). And of course, even here what belongs to Jesus comes from the Father: “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you” (16:15).
The reason why Jesus himself has not unpacked everything about himself and his mission to the disciples is that they are not yet ready to bear it (16:12). Even this late in their discipleship, they cannot quite integrate in their own minds the notion of a King-Messiah and the notion of a Suffering Messiah. Until that point is firmly nailed down, the way they read their Scriptures — what we call the Old Testament — will be so skewed by political and royal aspirations that they are not going to get it right.
How much of the Spirit’s work focuses on Jesus Christ — bearing witness to him, continuing certain aspects of his ministry, unpacking his significance!
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 | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 3/27/2018
John 17 is constantly cited in ecumenical circles. Jesus prays for “those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… to let the world know that you sent me” (17:20-23). The implication is that by supporting the ecumenical movement wholeheartedly one is bringing to pass the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer.
It is an important prayer. But note what else he prays for in this chapter:
(1) Jesus prays that God will protect his first disciples from “the evil one,” especially now that he himself is being removed from the scene (17:11, 15). Perhaps he is especially thinking of the terrible blows to their faith as their Master is crucified and buried.
(2) Jesus prays that his disciples will be sanctified by the truth — understanding well that God’s word is truth, and that the very purpose of his own sanctification (i.e., he “sanctifies” himself — sets himself apart for his Father’s holy purposes — by obeying his Father and going to the cross) is that they may be sanctified (17:17-18).
(3) Jesus prays that both these first disciples and those who will ultimately believe through their message will be “in us [i.e., ‘in’ the Father and the Son] so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (17:21).
(4) Jesus declares he wants all those the Father has given him to be where he is, and finally to see his glory, the very glory the Father gave him because the Father loved him from “before the creation of the world” (17:24).
In addition, of course, Jesus prays that his disciples may all be one. It would be nice if all those who emphasize this petition emphasized the other petitions no less — or, for that matter, that all those who emphasize, say, the second petition in the list above also emphasized the prayer for unity.
The question to ask, however, is whether Jesus’ prayers are answered. Does not Jesus elsewhere attest that he knows full well that the Father always “hears” him (11:42)? Certainly the Father protected all of the earliest disciples, except, of course, for Judas Iscariot, whom even Jesus in his prayer acknowledges is “doomed to destruction” (17:12). The other petitions are likewise being answered, and will be finally answered at the consummation. This is true also of Jesus’ prayer for unity: real Christians attest a profound unity, a real unity, regardless of hierarchical structures and often in defiance of ecumenical initiatives, in answer to Jesus’ prayer. This often attracts others to the Gospel. We must hunger and strive for the fulfillment of all of Jesus’ petitions.
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 | Go to Books Page
America Has Received a Reprieve
By Paul A Carter 11/9/2016
Yesterday’s presidential election result surprised most of us. Conservatives like myself held out little hope that we could avoid another four to eight years of rule by progressives. The last eight years have seen a tremendous amount of change, most of it for the worse. America has become more divided and lawless, led into this predicament by a president who had promised to help unite us. He had campaigned for hope and change, yet left many of us hoping for a change.
Over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that abortion should be legal. Just last year, another Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals should be allowed to marry one another. Make no mistake – God is angry with the people of America because of these and other sins.
Judgment Coming? | Seeing the moral decay of America not only continue but pick up speed, many thoughtful Christians had concluded that God was in the process of withdrawing his Spirit from America in judgment. Many were even wondering whether the end times were approaching. Perhaps these things are indeed taking place but many Christians have been praying that God would forgive this nation’s sins and heal our land, as the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14,
(2 Ch 7:14) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ESV
I believe that God has answered us by stirring up His people to pray, take action, and vote. In this manner, Hillary Clinton was kept from again taking up residence in the White House with her husband, Bill. Those of us who recall Bill’s years as president think first of his sexual misconduct and impeachment, not of anything positive that he may have accomplished. In the years following Bill’s exit from the presidency, he and Hillary have become ever more lawless and corrupt. It is astonishing to me that Hillary was even allowed to run for office, given her blatant disregard for the law.
A Reprieve | Signing the ConstitutionI believe that the defeat of Hillary Clinton is evidence that we have been granted a temporary reprieve from God’s judgment. We have been rescued from continuing rule by those who care nothing for God, the law, or the Constitution. Let’s first thank God for His mercy, then turn to the task of praying for Donald Trump, as well as all of our country’s newly-elected leadership. We have been given a reprieve – let’s use it well and do all that we can to turn this country around.
Paul A. Carter is, first and foremost, a follower of Christ. A husband and father, Paul cares deeply about his family. He, along with his wife Sandra, started the Norman, Oklahoma chapter of Reasons to Believe in 2014, which he serves as the chapter president. Paul is a career software developer but has recently transitioned into an analysis role. His interests include the relationship between science and the Christian faith, cosmology, astronomy, reading, and playing the flugelhorn. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent anyone else, including Reasons to Believe.
By Ryan Nicholson 11/9/2017
Guilty as charged! When it started I don’t remember exactly, but it crept in slowly, like the evening shadows that change the day to night. 16 years ago my wife and I started our journey together. Our dreams were small. Find a good job, buy a house, and start a family. We were young and full of hope and gratitude: hope for a brighter future and grateful for what we had.
The rat race had begun! Our humble beginnings turned quickly into obligation and responsibility. The daily grind of trying to make a name for ourselves began to take its toll. The hope we had just a few years earlier turned into hoping we’d have enough money in the bank to pay the rent, put food on the table, and survive. And our gratitude changed into being grateful I had a day off. I’d seen my father go through it, leave before the sun came up, and come home as it was setting. Now here I was doing the same thing. The torch had been passed, and I was losing site of where I was supposed to go with it.
I began to feel I was better than the job I was doing, so I was going to do something about it. I was going back to school to get my degree. I was in my late 20’s and about to show the world that I wasn’t going to settle for good enough. I was going to become somebody. I enrolled at a university and was on my way to getting my Bachelor’s degree.
The day I graduated was met with a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of “now what?” I just graduated with a four-year degree and a mountain of debt. We just bought our first house, and on the outside it looked like we were on our way, but in this show that was supposed to be about me, I was still sensing something missing. I didn’t get it. I was a Christian, put my faith in God, loved my family, and worked hard to provide. Why was I not feeling successful?
The more I focused on why I wasn’t living up to what my potential was, the more depressed I became. Surely God put me on this earth for a reason. As I mentioned before, I was guilty as charged. I was so focused on what I wanted, I forgot what I had.
Flash forward a couple years, my wife and I had been married for 13 years, we had an 11 year old daughter, a house, two cars, and good paying jobs. We had reached a somewhat comfortable place in our lives financially, but God had a different plan. My quest for a purpose filled life had led me to being ungrateful. I didn’t appreciate the things God had given me, so He took me back to day one.
The birth of our twins forced us to relook at a lot of things. My wife all but quit her job, so she could watch them during the week. The financial strain became evident immediately. My job where I felt I gave so much of my time was getting cheap and decided not to give me my annual raise. My beloved car broke down, and I was forced to buy a cheap beater to get me to and from work. Ever take candy from a child? That was my reaction exactly.
Yes, I loved my children very much, but as the provider of my household, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of failure. Coming home after a 12 hour day to an empty refrigerator and bare cupboards is a humbling place to be. Not to mention the final notices that began to pile up. But that is right where God needed me to be. On my knees and looking up to Him. I started this journey with hope and gratitude. Now all I had was a deep felt prayer for help.
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
God has a way of getting your attention, but it is never how one would expect. Like he did with Elijah, he didn’t gain my attention through an earthquake, although the earth was clearly shaking. He didn’t do it with a fire, albeit my world seemed on fire. He did it through a still small voice.
I turned on the TV one evening to listen to the tragic news of a young boy who had been abused by his mother’s boyfriend. The details were too graphic to share, but it cost him his life. My heart broke. This beautiful young boy had been abused for years. Here was a little six year old, who never new love, died afraid and alone. And here was I, feeling sorry for myself because my life was financially difficult. Oh! That still small voice pierced like a knife. All I could utter was, “forgive me father for my ungratefulness.” If the biggest problem in my life is I didn’t like my job, and was behind on some bills, then I had a lot to be thankful for.
I asked forgiveness for confusing success and significance. Success can’t be left behind after you pass, but significance lasts long after your life ends. I am significant to my wife, who has stood by me almost half my life. I am significant to my children who need a father to raise and guide them into what God has called them to be. I am significant to my friends and family, but most importantly, I am significant because God loves me. He didn’t send his Son to die because we were successful. He sent his son to die because we were significant.
But the message of significance wasn’t over. Hearing such tragic news lingers and burdens the soul. Two days after hearing the tragic news, I stood in line at a convenience store waiting to pay for my drink. Ahead of me, a father stood with his two sons. The oldest was about eight or nine, and the younger one was being held in his father’s arms. I could just see the back of the younger ones head as he rested it on his father’s shoulder. He was probably around two-years old; the same age as my twins. As he picked up his head, I noticed his eyes were sunk deep into his skull. This young boy was blind, yet he was content in his father’s arms. His life would be full of challenges, but as long as he clung to his father, his sight didn’t matter.
God used a blind child to help me see that day. To see the folly of my ways, and how truly self centered I had become. Society will have you believe you are the master of your destiny, that you need to build your own brand, and you need to be financially independent to be truly successful. But success doesn’t breed joy. Knowing you are significant to the God who made you will breed an unexplainable contentment like a blind child content in his father’s arms, fully trusting his father has his best interest in mind.
The Bible tells us, ““God chose the lowly things of this world…” God wasn’t in the mighty wind, the earthquake, or the fire. But he was in the whisper. So, don’t seek after life’s big events to be considered successful. Seek the still small voice that made you significant.
Ryan Nicholson is a follower of Jesus Christ and is married to Crystal. They have three children; Autumn, Connor and Heidi and Aubrey is on the way. Ryan is a District Manager for Pepsico. His other articles can be found on:
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 119119 TSADHE
119:137 Righteous are you, O LORD,
and right are your rules.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
140 Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.
The Christian Life as Pilgrimage
By Derek W.H. Thomas 3/01/2016
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather.
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
All Christians are pilgrims heading to the celestial city. Bunyan was simply reflecting the Bible that he loved. Scripture affirms that Christians are pilgrims. In the paradigmatic covenant made with our father Abraham, God promised him Canaan as “the land of your sojournings” (Gen. 17:8). And in the New Testament, Peter reflects the same idea when he describes his readers as “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1; cf. 1:17, “the time of your exile”). Similarly, in reviewing the faithful believers of Old Testament history, the author of Hebrews refers to them as “strangers and exiles” (Heb. 11:13).
The Christian life is a road trip, a journey of the most exhilarating kind. It has a starting point and a terminus. It is a metaphor of movement. Christians do not stay in one place too long, for they are set for another location. Early Christians were referred to as the followers of “the Way”—a reflection that they seemed determined to follow a different path (Acts 9:2; 24:14).
Several issues arise. First, there is the idea of an adventure. Yes, adventure. If Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit initially shunned adventure because it upset the equilibrium of his routine way of life in the Shire, he would later record his extraordinary journey in a breathless tale bearing the subtitle There and Back Again.
Christians explore a somewhat different journey—Here to There, perhaps. But it is nevertheless a journey equally as exciting, fraught with tales of valor and danger. There is something exciting about the Christian life. New glimpses of God’s provision, intervention, and rescue await at every turn. We have no idea what a day may bring forth (Prov. 27:1), but we may be assured that nothing happens without our heavenly Father willing it to happen. We are called to follow our Master wherever He leads us—in green pastures beside still waters, as well as in the presence of enemies and a valley of shadow and death (Ps. 23).
My friend and predecessor at the church I now serve, a name familiar enough to readers of Tabletalk, Sinclair Ferguson, often ended his sermons with an exclamatory “Isn’t it wonderful to be a Christian!” Yes, it is a thing of great wonder, an exciting adventure every second of the way.
Second, pilgrimage is evocative of the transitory nature of this life. “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). “The things that are seen are transient” (2 Cor. 4:18). What does it mean to refer to this life as “transient”? The answer lies in the tension evoked in the New Testament between the “now” and the “not yet.” Christians are those upon whom “the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Something of the world to come has already perforated our spacetime existence and has claimed us as citizens of another realm (Phil. 3:20).
This perspective raises fundamental tensions. In one sense, we live here with a variety of responsibilities as citizens of this world. The reclusive life of withdrawal and abstinence is not a biblical worldview. This bizarre view of life is caricatured in Simeon Stylites the Elder, a man who climbed a pole in Syria in AD 423 and remained there for thirty-seven years until he died. This is a denial of Christianity, not its affirmation. Christians get involved in society. Christians reshape society. They are lights in dark places. A new affection has overtaken Christians that makes everything else seem paltry and trite. In the words of Thomas Chalmers, the Christian life is ignited by the “expulsive power of a new affection.”
A third aspect of pilgrimage is a sense of direction, a goal, an end point. The journey has a destination. Christianity provides a shalom, a sense of wholeness and completeness. Christians know who they are and where they are going. Aimlessness and drift characterize so much of life without the embrace of Christ.
Christians “look” for “things unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18, where the Greek verb “to look” suggests an intense, steady gaze). It sounds like a paradox: we look for something that cannot be seen. Glory awaits, and Christian pilgrims maintain a steady but determined discipline of facing forward. What lies ahead fills our vision and keeps us expectant. What awaits steady pilgrims surpasses expectation and defies explanation.
“Onward and upward! To Narnia and the North!” is a statement in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia tale The Horse and His Boy. All pilgrims of the cross agree: onward and upward!
Derek W.H. Thomas is senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He is also editorial director of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and editor of its e-zine, Reformation21. Dr. Thomas is originally from Wales, and he holds a PhD from the University of Wales.
Derek Thomas Books:
Derek Thomas Books | Go to Books Page
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563This battle is described as a most awful sight. The extent of the plain was one continued scene of disorder. The imperial army fled towards the confines of Moravia, the Taborites, without intermission, galling their rear. The river Igla, then frozen opposed their flight. The enemy pressing furiously, many of the infantry and in a manner the whole body of the cavalry, attempted the river. The ice gave way, and not fewer than two thousand were swallowed up in the water. Zisca now returned to Tabor, laden with all the spoils and trophies which the most complete victory could give.
Zisca now began again to pay attention to the Reformation; he forbid all the prayers for the dead, images, sacerdotal vestments, fasts, and festivals. Priests were to be preferred according to their merits, and no one to be persecuted for religious opinions. In everything Zisca consulted the liberal minded, and did nothing without general concurrence. An alarming disagreement now arose at Prague between the magistrates who were Calixtans, or receivers of the Sacraments in both kinds, and the Taborites, nine of the chiefs of whom were privately arraigned, and put to death. The populace, enraged, sacrificed the magistrates, and the affair terminated without any particular consequence. The Calixtans having sunk into contempt, Zisca was solicited to assume the crown of Bohemia; but this he nobly refused, and prepared for the next campaign, in which Sigismond resolved to make his last effort. While the marquis of Misnia penetrated into Upper Saxony, the emperor proposed to enter Moravia, on the side of Hungary. Before the marquis had taken the field, Zisca sat down before the strong town of Aussig, situated on the Elbe. The marquis flew to its relief with a superior army, and, after an obstinate engagement, was totally defeated and Aussig capitulated. Zisca then went to the assistance of Procop, a young general whom he had appointed to keep Sigismond in check, and whom he compelled to abandon the siege of Pernitz, after laying eight weeks before it.
Zisca, willing to give his troops some respite from fatigue, now entered Prague, hoping his presence would quell any uneasiness that might remain after the late disturbance: but he was suddenly attacked by the people; and he and his troop having beaten off the citizens, effected a retreat to his army, whom he acquainted with the treacherous conduct of the Calixtans. Every effort of address was necessary to appease their vengeful animosity, and at night, in a private interview between Roquesan, an ecclesiastic of great eminence in Prague, and Zisca, the latter became reconciled, and the intended hostilities were done away.
Mutually tired of the war, Sigismond sent to Zisca, requesting him to sheath his sword, and name his conditions. A place of congress being appointed, Zisca, with his chief officers, set out to meet the emperor. Compelled to pass through a part of the country where the plague raged, he was seized with it at the castle of Briscaw, and departed this life, October 6, 1424. Like Moses, he died in view of the completion of his labors, and was buried in the great Church of Czaslow, in Bohemia, where a monument is erected to his memory, with this inscription on it-"Here lies John Zisca, who, having defended his country against the encroachments of papal tyranny, rests in this hallowed place, in despite of the pope."
After the death of Zisca, Procop was defeated, and fell with the liberties of his country.
After the death of Huss and Jerome, the pope, in conjunction with the Council of Constance, ordered the Roman clergy everywhere to excommunicate such as adopted their opinions, or commiserated their fate.
These orders occasioned great contentions between the papists and reformed Bohemians, which was the cause of a violent persecution against the latter. At Prague, the persecution was extremely severe, until, at length, the reformed being driven to desperation, armed themselves, attacked the senate-house, and threw twelve senators, with the speaker, out of the senate-house windows, whose bodies fell upon spears, which were held up by others of the reformed in the street, to receive them.
Being informed of these proceedings, the pope came to Florence, and publicly excommunicated the reformed Bohemians, exciting the emperor of Germany, and all kings, princes, dukes, etc., to take up arms, in order to extirpate the whole race; and promising, by way of encouragement, full remission of all sins whatever, to the most wicked person, if he did but kill one Bohemian Protestant.
This occasioned a bloody war; for several popish princes undertook the extirpation, or at least expulsion, of the proscribed people; and the Bohemians, arming themselves, prepared to repel force by force, in the most vigorous and effectual manner. The popish army prevailing against the Protestant forces at the battle of Cuttenburgh, the prisoners of the reformed were taken to three deep mines near that town, and several hundreds were cruelly thrown into each, where they miserably perished.
A merchant of Prague, going to Breslau, in Silesia, happened to lodge in the same inn with several priests. Entering into conversation upon the subject of religious controversy, he passed many encomiums upon the martyred John Huss, and his doctrines. The priests taking umbrage at this, laid an information against him the next morning, and he was committed to prison as a heretic. Many endeavors were used to persuade him to embrace the Roman Catholic faith, but he remained steadfast to the pure doctrines of the reformed Church. Soon after his imprisonment, a student of the university was committed to the same jail; when, being permitted to converse with the merchant, they mutually comforted each other. On the day appointed for execution, when the jailer began to fasten ropes to their feet, by which they were to be dragged through the streets, the student appeared quite terrified, and offered to abjure his faith, and turn Roman Catholic if he might be saved. The offer was accepted, his abjuration was taken by a priest, and he was set at liberty. A priest applying to the merchant to follow the example of the student, he nobly said, "Lose no time in hopes of my recantation, your expectations will be vain; I sincerely pity that poor wretch, who has miserably sacrificed his soul for a few more uncertain years of a troublesome life; and, so far from having the least idea of following his example, I glory in the very thoughts of dying for the sake of Christ." On hearing these words, the priest ordered the executioner to proceed, and the merchant being drawn through the city was brought to the place of execution, and there burnt.
Pichel, a bigoted popish magistrate, apprehended twenty-four Protestants, among whom was his daughter's husband. As they all owned they were of the reformed religion, he indiscriminately condemned them to be drowned in the river Abbis. On the day appointed for the execution, a great concourse of people attended, among whom was Pichel's daughter. This worthy wife threw herself at her father's feet, bedewed them with tears, and in the most pathetic manner, implored him to commisserate her sorrow, and pardon her husband. The obdurate magistrate sternly replied, "Intercede not for him, child, he is a heretic, a vile heretic." To which she nobly answered, "Whatever his faults may be, or however his opinions may differ from yours, he is still my husband, a name which, at a time like this, should alone employ my whole consideration." Pichel flew into a violent passion and said, "You are mad! cannot you, after the death of this, have a much worthier husband?" "No, sir, (replied she) my affections are fixed upon this, and death itself shall not dissolve my marriage vow." Pichel, however, continued inflexible, and ordered the prisoners to be tied with their hands and feet behind them, and in that manner be thrown into the river. As soon as this was put into execution, the young lady watched her opportunity, leaped into the waves, and embracing the body of her husband, both sank together into one watery grave. An uncommon instance of conjugal love in a wife, and of an inviolable attachment to, and personal affection for, her husband.
The emperor Ferdinand, whose hatred to the Bohemian Protestants was without bounds, not thinking he had sufficiently oppressed them, instituted a high court of reformers, upon the plan of the Inquisition, with this difference, that the reformers were to remove from place to place, and always to be attended by a body of troops.
These reformers consisted chiefly of Jesuits, and from their decision, there was no appeal, by which it may be easily conjectured, that it was a dreadful tribunal indeed.
This bloody court, attended by a body of troops, made the tour of Bohemia, in which they seldom examined or saw a prisoner, suffering the soldiers to murder the Protestants as they pleased, and then to make a report of the matter to them afterward.
The first victim of their cruelty was an aged minister, whom they killed as he lay sick in his bed; the next day they robbed and murdered another, and soon after shot a third, as he was preaching in his pulpit.
A nobleman and clergyman, who resided in a Protestant village, hearing of the approach of the high court of reformers and the troops, fled from the place, and secreted themselves. The soldiers, however, on their arrival, seized upon a schoolmaster, asked him where the lord of that place and the minister were concealed, and where they had hidden their treasures. The schoolmaster replied that he could not answer either of the questions. They then stripped him naked, bound him with cords, and beat him most unmercifully with cudgels. This cruelty not extorting any confession from him, they scorched him in various parts of his body; when, to gain a respite from his torments, he promised to show them where the treasures were hid. The soldiers gave ear to this with pleasure, and the schoolmaster led them to a ditch full of stones, saying, "Beneath these stones are the treasures ye seek for." Eager after money, they went to work, and soon removed those stones, but not finding what they sought after, they beat the schoolmaster to death, buried him in the ditch, and covered him with the very stones he had made them remove.
Some of the soldiers ravished the daughters of a worthy Protestant before his face, and then tortured him to death. A minister and his wife they tied back to back and burnt. Another minister they hung upon a cross beam, and making a fire under him, broiled him to death. A gentleman they hacked into small pieces, and they filled a young man's mouth with gunpowder, and setting fire to it, blew his head to pieces.
As their principal rage was directed against the clergy, they took a pious Protestant minister, and tormenting him daily for a month together, in the following manner, making their cruelty regular, systematic, and progressive.
They placed him amidst them, and made him the subject of their derision and mockery, during a whole day's entertainment, trying to exhaust his patience, but in vain, for he bore the whole with true Christian fortitude. They spit in his face, pulled his nose, and pinched him in most parts of his body. He was hunted like a wild beast, until ready to expire with fatigue. They made him run the gauntlet between two ranks of them, each striking him with a twig. He was beat with their fists. He was beat with ropes. They scourged him with wires. He was beat with cudgels. They tied him up by the heels with his head downwards, until the blood started out of his nose, mouth, etc. They hung him by the right arm until it was dislocated, and then had it set again. The same was repeated with his left arm. Burning papers dipped in oil were placed between his fingers and toes. His flesh was torn with red-hot pincers. He was put to the rack. They pulled off the nails of his right hand. The same repeated with his left hand. He was bastinadoed on his feet. A slit was made in his right ear. The same repeated on his left ear. His nose was slit. They whipped him through the town upon an ass. They made several incisions in his flesh. They pulled off the toe nails of his right foot. The same they repeated with his left foot. He was tied up by the loins, and suspended for a considerable time. The teeth of his upper jaw were pulled out. The same was repeated with his lower jaw. Boiling lead was poured upon his fingers. The same was repeated with his toes. A knotted cord was twisted about his forehead in such a manner as to force out his eyes.
During the whole of these horrid cruelties, particular care was taken that his wounds should not mortify, and not to injure him mortally until the last day, when the forcing out of his eyes proved his death.
Innumerable were the other murders and depredations committed by those unfeeling brutes, and shocking to humanity were the cruelties which they inflicted on the poor Bohemian Protestants. The winter being far advanced, however, the high court of reformers, with their infernal band of military ruffians, thought proper to return to Prague; but on their way, meeting with a Protestant pastor, they could not resist the temptation of feasting their barbarous eyes with a new kind of cruelty, which had just suggested itself to the diabolical imagination of one of the soldiers. This was to strip the minister naked, and alternately to cover him with ice and burning coals. This novel mode of tormenting a fellow creature was immediately put into practice, and the unhappy victim expired beneath the torments, which seemed to delight his inhuman persecutors.
A secret order was soon after issued by the emperor, for apprehending all noblemen and gentlemen, who had been principally concerned in supporting the Protestant cause, and in nominating Frederic elector Palatine of the Rhine, to be king of Bohemia. These, to the number of fifty, were apprehended in one night, and at one hour, and brought from the places where they were taken, to the castle of Prague, and the estates of those who were absent from the kingdom were confiscated, themselves were made outlaws, and their names fixed upon a gallows, as marks of public ignominy.
The high court of reformers then proceeded to try the fifty, who had been apprehended, and two apostate Protestants were appointed to examine them. These examinants asked a great number of unnecessary and impertinent questions, which so exasperated one of the noblemen, who was naturally of a warm temper, that he exclaimed, opening his breast at the same time, "Cut here, search my heart, you shall find nothing but the love of religion and liberty; those were the motives for which I drew my sword, and for those I am willing to suffer death."
As none of the prisoners would change their religion, or acknowledge they had been in error, they were all pronounced guilty; but the sentence was referred to the emperor. When that monarch had read their names, and an account of the respective accusations against them, he passed judgment on all, but in a different manner, as his sentences were of four kinds, viz. death, banishment, imprisonment for life, and imprisonment during pleasure.
Twenty being ordered for execution, were informed they might send for Jesuits, monks, or friars, to prepare for the awful change they were to undergo; but that no Protestants should be permitted to come near them. This proposal they rejected, and strove all they could to comfort and cheer each other upon the solemn occasion.
On the morning of the day appointed for the execution, a cannon was fired as a signal to bring the prisoners from the castle to the principal market place, in which scaffolds were erected, and a body of troops were drawn up to attend the tragic scene.
The prisoners left the castle with as much cheerfulness as if they had been going to an agreeable entertainment, instead of a violent death.
Exclusive of soldiers, Jesuits, priests, executioners, attendants, etc., a prodigious concourse of people attended, to see the exit of these devoted martyrs, who were executed in the following order.
Lord Schilik was about fifty years of age, and was possessed of great natural and acquired abilities. When he was told he was to be quartered, and his parts scattered in different places, he smiled with great serenity, saying, "The loss of a sepulchre is but a trifling consideration." A gentleman who stood by, crying, "Courage, my lord!" he replied, "I have God's favor, which is sufficient to inspire any one with courage: the fear of death does not trouble me; formerly I have faced him in fields of battle to oppose Antichrist; and now dare face him on a scaffold, for the sake of Christ." Having said a short prayer, he told the executioner he was ready. He cut off his right hand and his head, and then quartered him. His hand and his head were placed upon the high tower of Prague, and his quarters distributed in different parts of the city.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Overcoming your fears (1)
(Nov 11) Bob Gass
‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.’
(Job 11:18) 18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. ESV
Famous people throughout history have suffered from phobias. Napoleon was crippled by ailurophobia, an irrational fear of cats. Queen Elizabeth I was terrorised by anthophobia, an abnormal fear of flowers (she particularly feared roses). Billionaire Howard Hughes was practically incapacitated by mysophobia, a pathological fear of germs. Edgar Allen Poe and Harry Houdini suffered from claustrophobia. Even the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, grappled with agoraphobia, a fear of crowds and public places. The trouble is that many of us deny dealing with any kind of overwhelming fear, and rarely consider it a serious problem. But the fact remains that our fears hinder us on our journey towards change, and unless we face them we’ll never reach our God-given potential. Maybe you don’t view the thing that’s bothering you as a fear at all. It could be a feeling or situation you habitually avoid, or leave to others to handle. Whatever it is, the only way to overcome it is to call it what it is, confront it, draw on God’s strength, and make a decision to change. And today He offers you His strength to do it. Here’s a promise you can stand on: ‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and…rest in safety.’ Where does that promise originate? The Bible – God’s infallible Word! And here’s another ‘fear not’ promise: ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV).
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in the year 1918, World War I ended. Celebrated as Armistice Day, it was changed to Veterans Day after World War II. In 1921, President Warren Harding had the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France buried in Arlington Cemetery. He requested that: “All… citizens… indulge in a period of silent thanks to God for these… valorous lives and of supplication for His Divine mercy… on our beloved country.” Inscribed on the Tomb are the words: “Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”American Minute
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Even an intimate human friend is ill-used if we talk to him about one thing while our mind is really on another, and even a human friend will soon become aware when we are doing so. You yourself came to see me a few years ago when the great blow had fallen upon me. I tried to talk to you as if nothing were wrong. You saw through it in five minutes. Then I confessed. And you said things which made me ashamed of my attempt at concealment.
It may well be that the desire can be laid before God only as a sin to be repented; but one of the best ways of learning this is to lay it before God. Your problem, however, was not about sinful desires in that sense; rather, about desires, intrinsically innocent and sinning, if at all, only by being stronger than the triviality of their object warrants. I have no doubt at all that if they are the subject of our thoughts they must be the subject of our prayers-whether in penitence or in petition or in a little of both: penitence for the excess, yet petition for the thing we desire.
If one forcibly excludes them, don't they wreck all the rest of our prayers? If we lay all the cards on the table, God will help us to moderate the excesses. But the pressure of things we are trying to keep out of our mind is a hopeless distraction. As someone said, "No noise is so emphatic as one you are trying not to listen to."
The ordinate frame of mind is one of the blessings we must pray for, not a fancy-dress we must put on when we pray.
And perhaps, as those who do not tum to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask Him for childish things will have less readiness to ask Him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded. I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than of God's.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
God writes the new name on those places
only in our lives
where He has erased
the pride and self-sufficiency and self-interest.
--- Oswald Chambers
No matter what the circumstances, we Christians should keep our heads. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. It is a dismal thing to see a son of heaven cringe in terror before the sons of earth.
--- A.W. Tozer
Do not go where the path may lead instead go where there is no path and leave a trail.
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
What could be more repellent than to suffer the limitation of others as a desperat alternative to gazing singly at our own?
-- Alain de Botton
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
flee to a pit; give him no support.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
The supreme climb
Take now thy son … --- Genesis 22:2.
God’s command is—Take now, not presently. It is extraordinary how we debate! We know a thing is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it at once. To climb to the height God shows can never be done presently, it must be done now. The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.
“And Abraham rose up early in the Morning, … and went unto the place of which God had told him” (v. 3). The wonderful simplicity of Abraham! When God spoke, he did not confer with flesh and blood. Beware when you want to confer with flesh and blood, i.e., your own sympathies, your own insight, anything that is not based on your personal relationship to God. These are the things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.
Abraham did not choose the sacrifice. Always guard against self-chosen service for God; self-sacrifice may be a disease. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom. God chose the crucible for Abraham, and Abraham made no demur; he went steadily through. If you are not living in touch with Him, it is easy to pass a crude verdict on God. You must go through the crucible before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because in the crucible you learn to know God better. God is working for His highest ends until His purpose and man’s purpose become one.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Will they say on some future
occasion, looking over the flogged acres
of ploughland: This was Prytherch country?
Nothing to show for it now: hedges
uprooted, walls gone, a mobile people
hurrying to and fro on their fast
tractors ; a forest of aerials
as though an invading fleet invisibly
had come to anchor among these
financed hills. They copy the image
of themselves projected on their smooth
screens to the accompaniment of inane
music. They give grins and smiles
back in return for the money that is
spent on them. But where is the face
with the crazed eyes that through the unseen
drizzle of its tears looked out
on this land and found no beauty
in it, but accepted it, as a man
will who has needs in him that only
bare ground, black thorns and the sky's
emptiness can fulfil?
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Even the universal acceptance of Judaism by the nations of the world is not described by Maimonides as being the result of a miraculous act of God. From the perspective of the medieval world, the universal triumph of Judaism was not so inconceivable an occurrence as it would be today. Christianity and Islam had spread the teachings of the Bible, so that all that was necessary was the correction of the false claim that Judaism had been superseded by the Christian and Islamic revelations. For a thinker, living in a political reality permeated by biblical categories, it was not inconceivable to expect an ideological change among all believers. Once they witnessed the national rebirth of Israel, the claim that Israel was the rejected people of God would be proven false.
The foregoing examples from the Mishneh Torah illustrate Maimonides’ attempt to provide a method of translating the religious passion of immediacy (which is nurtured by belief in the power of the divine will to affect history), in a way which could be understood within the horizontal framework of being. Prophetic descriptions of God’s direct relationship with history can be understood, according to Maimonides, within the context of causality:
It is very clear that everything that is produced in time must necessarily have a proximate cause which has produced it. In its turn, that cause has a cause and so forth till finally one comes to the First Cause of all things, I mean God’s will and free choice. For this reason all those intermediate causes are sometimes omitted in the dicta of the Prophets, and an individual act produced in time is ascribed to God, it being said that He, may He be exalted, has done it. All this is known. We and other men from among those who study true reality have spoken about it, and this is the opinion of all the people adhering to our Law.
Maimonides’ understanding of divine action presupposes one’s ability to recognize how the horizontal world of cause and effect, within the structure of both human and natural history, points ultimately to God. To retain religious immediacy from the perspective of philosophy, one must go beyond proximate causal explanations of phenomena to discover the ultimate causal source in God.
If human behavior is explained in terms of human reason, and we ignore the fact that the human intellect has its source in the active intellect which, in turn, has its ultimate source in God, then God is not recognized as the guide when man reflects:
In the same way the remaining portion of this verse, “In Your light do we see light,” has the selfsame meaning—namely, that through the overflow of the intellect that has overflowed from You, we intellectually cognize, and consequently we receive correct guidance, we draw inferences, and we apprehend the intellect. Understand this.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. --- Hebrews 10:32.
It may be we have been groping in the darkness, not seeing clearly what our duty was. The Weaving of Glory And choice was difficult, so much depended on it—there was so much to win, so much to lose. And then it may be in one radiant hour, never to be forgotten throughout the years, we heard, as it were, a voice behind us saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Perhaps by some word from friendly lips or by some providence or disappointment, clear as the sun shining in midheavens we saw what for us must be the path of duty. Such hours of high and resolute decision are among the greatest hours of human life. There is not a power or faculty we have that is not illuminated by the glory of them. And yet the struggle and torment that preceded them, when we were stumbling and groping toward decision, may not be half so terrible and searching as the struggle and the strain that follow after. Never do things renounced appeal to us so sweetly and so subtly and so secretly as in the season when we have turned our backs on them and set our faces bravely to the morn. The most difficult task in life is not to win. The most difficult task is to keep what we have won—never to falter, when the shadows deepen, from the verdict of our high and radiant hours; never to go back on our decisions; never to listen again to any voices that in our worthiest and purest moments we knew to be the voices of the Enemy. That is the reason why great decisions ought to be reinforced by prayer. There is no weapon on earth like prayer for helping us to keep what we have won. For prayer unites us to the living Christ and touches the vilest of us with the touch of heaven and brings to our aid that power of perfect living which was witnessed long ago in Galilee. In the gloomiest day you may lift your heart up and draw for your need out of the grace of Jesus. And so the highest comes back to us once more, and we see it and love it again, for all our faltering.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Thomas Hemerken, better known as Thomas of Kempen (Kempen being a German village 40 miles from Cologne), or Thomas à Kempis, wrote the most famous devotional book in Christian history.
He was born about 1380, and his parents, though poor, managed to send him to Holland to be educated by the Brethren of the Common Life. The Brethren emphasized spiritual conversion, practical holiness, and meditation on Christ. These teachings hit a chord with the young student, and he became a deeply pondering disciple of the Lord Jesus. In 1399 Thomas, about 20, entered the Augustinian convent of Mount Saint Agues, near Zwolle, Holland, and this became his home the rest of his life. There he preached, copied manuscripts, dispensed spiritual counsel, and wrote books until his death at age 90. A monument was dedicated to his memory at St. Michael’s Church in Zwolle on November 11, 1897.
Though Thomas’s life was a quiet one, its echoes reverberate through history. His best-known work is The Imitation of Christ, originally a series of four books published anonymously (causing years of speculation about its author). The Imitation was widely popular, embraced by both Protestants and Catholics, and it reached its ninety-ninth printing by the end of the fifteenth century. Today, it is known as one of the greatest devotional classics of all time. In terms of circulation, it has reportedly been more widely distributed than any book in church history besides the Bible. Readers are challenged to deny themselves, embrace humility, and love God. Here is a sample:
Strive to turn your heart from loving things that are seen, and to set it upon things that are not seen. … How much better is a lowly peasant who serves God than a proud philosopher who watches the stars and neglects knowing himself. … We must not trust every word of others or feeling within ourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, whether it be of God. The more humble a man is in himself, and the more obedient toward God, the wiser will he be in all things, and the more shall his soul be at peace.
You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God’s right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth. You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God.
--- Colossians 3:1-3.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - November 11
“Underneath are the everlasting arms.” --- Deuteronomy 33:27.
God—the eternal God—is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost”; and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”—they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing.
This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”—arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.”
Evening - November 11
“He shall choose our inheritance for us.” --- Psalm 47:4.
Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!
“Trials must and will befall—
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me.”
Morning and Evening
SING PRAISE TO GOD WHO REIGNS ABOVE
Johann J. Schutz, 1640–1690
Translated by Frances E. Cox, 1812–1897
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. (Psalm 97:1)
Following the Protestant Reformation, which was climaxed by Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses at the Cathedral of Wittenberg in 1517, Lutheranism became the dominant religious force in Germany and throughout much of Europe. In the 17th century, there was an important renewal movement within the Lutheran Church known as Pietism. The leader of this spiritual movement was a Lutheran pastor in Frankfort, Germany, Philip J. Spener (1635–1705). Mainly through small cell prayer and Bible study groups, he sought to influence nominal church people who had become accustomed to the dead orthodoxy that had overtaken the church. Spener taught them the meaning of inner personal faith in Christ and the demands that such faith makes upon the believer for holy Christian living.
One of the important characteristics of the 17th century Pietistic Movement was the involvement of laymen in the church. Many of the hymn writers and important voices in the church at this time were the lay people from all walks of life. Such was the case with Johann J. Schutz, an authority in civil and canon law, living in Frankfort, Germany. He was closely allied with Philip Spener and the practice of the Pietists in establishing small cell groups within the church. Schutz wrote a number of religious publications as well as five hymns. This is his only hymn still in use.
As is true with any spiritual renewal, the Pietist Movement give birth to a great revival of hymnody throughout Germany.
Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation, the God of pow’r, the God of love, the God of our salvation; with healing balm my soul He fills, and ev’ry faithless murmur stills: To God all praise and glory!
The Lord is never far away, but, thru all grief distressing, an ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing; as with a mother’s tender hand He leads His own, His chosen band: To God all praise and glory!
Thus all my toilsome way along I sing aloud Thy praises, that men may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises; be joyful in the Lord, my heart! Both soul and body bear your part: To God all praise and glory!
For Today: 1 Chronicles 16:25–36; Psalm 97:1, 6; 139:7; Isaiah 12:2–5; Hebrews 13:15
Raise your voice in praise to the omnipotent God of all creation; yet He is the One who has promised never to be far away and to be your “ever present help and stay.” Allow this musical expression to help ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
DISCOURSE XI - ON THE HOLINESS OF GOD
THIS verse is one of the loftiest descriptions of the majesty and excellency of God in the whole Scripture. It is a part of Moses’ Επινίχ ιον, or “triumphant song,” after a great and real, and a typical victory; in the womb of which all the deliverances of the church were couched. It is the first song upon holy record, and it consists of gratulatory and prophetic matter; it casts a look backward to what God did for them in their deliverance from Egypt; and a look forward to what God shall do for the church in future ages. That deliverance was but a rough draught of something more excellent to be wrought towards the closing up of the world; when his plagues shall be poured out upon the anti-christian powers, which should revive the same song of Moses in the church, as fitted so many ages before for such a scene of affairs (Rev. 15:2, 3). It is observed, therefore, that many words in this song are put in the future tense, noting a time to come; and the very first word, ver. 1, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song;” ירשׁי , shall sing; implying, that it was composed and calculated for the celebrating some greater action of God’s, which was to be wrought in the world. Upon this account, some of the Jewish rabbins, from the consideration of this remark, asserted the doctrine of the resurrection to be meant in this place; that Moses and those Israelites should rise again to sing the same song, for some greater miracles God should work, and greater triumphs he should bring forth, exceeding those wonders at their deliverance from Egypt.
It consists of, 1. A preface (ver. 1); “I will sing unto the Lord.” 2. An historical narration of matter of fact (ver. 3, 4), “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the Red Sea;” which he solely ascribes to God (ver. 6), “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy;” which he doth prophetically, as respecting something to be done in after- times; or further for the completing of that deliverance; or, as others think, respecting their entering into Canaan; for the words, in these two verses, are put in the future tense. The manner of the deliverance is described (ver. 8); “The floods stood up right as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.” In the 9th. verse, he magnifies the victory from the vain glory and security of the enemy; “The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil,” &c. And ver. 16, 17, He prophetically describes the fruit of this victory, in the influence it shall have upon those nations, by whose confines they were to travel to the promised land; “Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thy arm they shall be as still as a stone, till thy people pass over which thou hast purchased.” The phrase of this and the 17th and 18th verses, seems to be more magnificent than to design only the bringing the Israelites to the earthly Canaan; but seems to respect the gathering his redeemed ones together, to place them in the spiritual sanctuary’ which he had established, wherein the Lord should reign forever and ever, without any enemies to disturb his royalty; “The Lord shall reign forever and ever” (18th). The prophet, in the midst of his historical narrative, seems to be in an ecstasy, and breaks out in a stately exaltation of God in the text.
Who is thee unto thee, O Lard, among the gods? &c. Interrogations are, in Scripture, the strongest affirmations or negations; it is here a strong affirmation of the incomparableness of God, and a strong denial of the worthiness of all creatures to be partners with him in the degrees of his excellency; it is a preference of God before all creatures in holiness, to which the purity of creatures is but a shadow in desert of reverence and veneration, he being “fearful in praises.” The angels cover their faces when they adore him in his particular perfections.
Amongst the gods. Among the idols of the nations, say some; others say, it is not to be found that the Heathen idols are ever dignified with the title of “strong or mighty,” as the word translated gods, doth import; and therefore understand it of the angels, or other potentates of the world; or rather inclusively, of all that are noted for, or can lay claim to, the title of strength and might upon the earth or in heaven. God is so great and majestic, that no creature can share with him in his praise.
Fearful in praises. Various are the interpretations of this passage to be “reverenced in praises;” his praise ought to be celebrated with a religious fear. Fear is the product of his mercy as well as his justice; “He hath forgiveness that he may be feared” (Psalm 130:4). Or, “fearful in praises;” whom none can praise without amazement at the considerations of his works. None can truly praise him without being affected with astonishment at his greatness. Or, “fearful in praises;” whom no mortal can sufficiently praise, since he is above all praise. Whatsoever a human tongue can speak, or an angelical understanding think of the excellency of his nature and the greatness of his works, falls short of the vastness of the Divine perfection. A creature’s praises of God are as much below the transcendent eminency of God, as the meanness of a creature’s being is below the eternal fulness of the Creator. Or, rather, “fearful,” or terrible, “in praises;” that is, in the matter of thy praise: and the learned Rivet concurs with me in this sense. The works of God, celebrated in this song, were terrible; it was the miraculous overthrow of the strength and flower of a mighty nation; his judgments were severe, as well as his mercy was seasonable. The word נורא signifies glorious and illustrious, as well as terrible and fearful. No man can hear the praise of thy name, for those great judicial acts, without some astonishment at thy justice, the stream, and thy holiness, the spring of those mighty works. This seems to be the sense of the following words, “doing wonders:” fearful in the matter of thy praise; they being wonders which thou hast done among us and for us.
Doing wonders. Congealing the waters by a wind, to make them stand like walls for the rescue of the Israelites; and melting them by a wind, for the overthrow of the Egyptians, are prodigies that challenge the greatest adorations of that mercy which delivered the one, and that justice which punished the other; and of the arm of that power whereby he effected both his gracious and righteous purposes. Whence observe, that the judgments of God upon his enemies, as well as his mercies to his people, are matters of praise. The perfections of God appear in both. Justice and mercy are so linked together in his acts of providence, that the one cannot be forgotten whilst the other is acknowledged. He is never so terrible as in the assemblies of his saints, and the deliverance of them (Psalm 89:7). As the creation was erected by him for his glory; so all the acts of his government are designed for the same end: and his creatures deny him his due, if they acknowledge not his excellency in whatsoever dreadful, as well as pleasing garbs, it appears in the world. His terror as well as his righteousness appears, when he is a God of salvation (Psalm 65:5). “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation.” But the expression I pitch upon in the text to handle, is glorious in holiness. He is magnified or honorable in holiness; so the word נאדר is translated (Isa. 42:21). “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” Thy holiness hath shone forth admirably in this last exploit, against the enemies and oppressors of thy people. The holiness of God is his glory, as his grace is his riches: holiness is his crown, and his mercy is his treasure. This is the blessedness and nobleness of his nature; it renders him glorious in himself, and glorious to his creatures, that understand any thing of this lovely perfection. Holiness is a glorious perfection belonging to the nature of God. Hence he is in Scripture styled often the Holy One, the Holy One of Jacob, the Holy One of Israel; and oftener entitled Holy, than Almighty, and set forth by this part of his dignity more than by any other. This is more affixed as an epithet to his name than any other: you never find it expressed, His mighty name, or his His wise name; but His great name, and most of all, His holy name. This is his greatest title of honor; in this doth the majesty and venerableness of his name appear. When the sinfulness of Sennacherib is aggravated, the Holy Ghost takes the rise from this attribute (2 Kings 19:22). “Thou hast lift up thine eyes on high, even against the Holy One of Israel;” not against the wise, mighty, &c., but against the Holy One of Israel, as that wherein the majesty of God was most illustrious. It is upon this account he is called light, as impurity is called darkness; both in this sense are opposed to one another: he is a pure and unmixed light, free from all blemish in his essence, nature, and operations.
1. Heathens have owned it. Proclus calls him, the undefiled Governor of the world. The poetical transformations of their false gods, and the extravagancies committed by them, was—in the account of the wisest of them—an unholy thing to report and hear. And some vindicate Epicurus from the atheism wherewith he was commonly charged; that he did not deny the being of God, but those adulterous and contentious deities the people worshipped, which were practices unworthy and unbecoming the nature of God. Hence they asserted, that virtue was an imitation of God, and a virtuous man bore a resemblance to God: if virtue were a copy from God, a greater holiness must be owned in the original. And when some of them were at a loss how to free God from being the author of sin in the world, they ascribe the birth of sin to matter, and run into an absurd opinion, fancying it to be uncreated, that thereby they might exempt God from all mixture of evil; so sacred with them was the conception of God, as a Holy God.
2. The absurdest heretics have owned it. The Maniches and Marchionites, that thought evil came by necessity, yet would salve God’s being the author of it, by asserting two distinct eternal principles, one the original of evil, as God was the fountain of good: so rooted was the notion of this Divine purity, that none would ever slander goodness itself with that which was so disparaging to it.
3. The nature of God cannot rationally be conceived without it. Though the power of God be the first rational conclusion, drawn from the sight of his works, wisdom the next, from the order and connexion of his works, purity must result from the beauty of his works: that God cannot be deformed by evil, who hath made every thing so beautiful in its time. The notion of a God cannot be entertained without separating from him whatsoever is impure and bespotting both in his essence and actions. Though we conceive him infinite in Majesty, infinite in essence, eternal in duration, mighty in power, and wise and immutable in his counsels; merciful in his proceedings with men, and whatsoever other perfections may dignify so sovereign a Being, yet if we conceive him destitute of this excellent perfection, and imagine him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make him but an infinite monster, and sully all those perfections we ascribed to him before; we rather own him a devil than a God. It is a contradiction to be God and to be darkness, or to have one mote of darkness mixed with his light. It is a less injury to him to deny his being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes him no god, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable god. Plutarch said not amiss, That he should count himself less injured by that man, that should deny that there was such a man as Plutarch, than by him that should affirm that there was such a one indeed, but he was a debauched fellow, a loose and vicious person. It is a less wrong to God to discard any acknowledgments of his being, and to count him nothing, than to believe him to exist, but imagine a base and unholy Deity. he that with, God is not holy, speaks much worse than he that saith, There is no God at all. Let these two things be considered.
I. If any, this attribute hath an excellency above his other perfections. There are some attributes of God we prefer, because of our interest in them, and the relation they bear to us: as we esteem his goodness before his power, and his mercy whereby he relieves us, before his justice whereby he punisheth us; as there are some we more delight in, because of the goodness we receive by them; so there are some that God delights to honor, because of their excellency.
1. None is sounded out so, loftily, with such solemnity, and so frequently by angels that stand before his throne, as this. Where do you find any other attribute trebled in the praises of it, as this (Isa. 6:3)? “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of is glory;” and (Rev. 4:8), “The four beasts rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,” &c. His power or sovreignty, as Lord of hosts, is but once mentioned, but with a ternal repetition of his holiness. Do you hear, in any angelical song, any other perfection of the Divine Nature thrice repeated? Where do we read of the crying out Eternal, eternal, eternal; or, Faithful, faithful, faithful, Lord God of Hosts? Whatsoever other attribute is left out, this God would have to fill the mouths of angels and blessed spirits for ever in heaven.
2. He singles it out to swear by (Psalm 89:35); “Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David:” and (Amos 4:2), “The Lord will swear by his holiness:” he twice swears by his holiness; once by his power (Isa. 62:8); once by all, when he swears by his name (Jer. 44:26). He lays here his holiness to pledge for the assurance of his promise, as the attribute most dear to him, most valued by him, as though no other could give an assurance parallel to it in this concern of an everlasting redemption which is there spoken of: he that swears, swears by a greater than himself; God having no greater than himself, swears by himself: and swearing here by his holiness, seems to equal that single one to all his other attributes, as if he were more concerned in the honor of it, than of all the rest. It is as if he should have said, Since I have not a more excellent perfection to swear by, than that of my holiness, I lay this to pawn for your security, and bind myself by that which I will never part with, were it possible for me to be stripped of all the rest. It is a tacit imprecation of himself, If I lie unto David, let me never be counted holy, or thought righteous enough to be trusted by angels or men. This attribute he makes most of.
3. It is his glory and beauty. Holiness is the honor of the creature; sanctification and honor are linked together (1 Thess. 4:4); much more is it the honor of God; it is the image of God in the creature (Eph. 4:24). When we take the picture of a man, we draw the most beautiful part, the face, which is a member of the greatest excellency. When God would be drawn to the life, as much as can be, in the spirit of his creatures, he is drawn in this attribute, as being the most beautiful perfection of God, and most valuable with him. Power is his hand and arm; omniscience, his eye; mercy, his bowels; eternity, his duration; his holiness is his beauty (2 Chron. 20:21); —“should praise the beauty of holiness.” In Psalm 27:4, David desires “to behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his holy temple;” that is, the holiness of God manifested in his hatred of sin in the daily sacrifices. Holiness was the beauty of the temple (Isa. 46:11); holy and beautiful house are joined together; much more the beauty of God that dwelt in the sanctuary. This renders him lovely to all his innocent creatures, though formidable to the guilty ones. A heathen philosopher could call it the beauty of the Divine essence, and say, that God was not so happy by an eternity of life, as by an excellency of virtue. And the angels’ song intimate it to be his glory (Isa. 6:3); “The whole earth is full of thy glory;” that is, of his holiness in his laws, and in his judgments against sin, that being the attribute applauded by them before.
4. It is his very life. So it is called (Eph. 4:18), “Alienated from the life of God,” that is, from the holiness of God: speaking of the opposite to it, the uncleanness and profaneness of the Gentiles. We are only alienated from that which we are bound to imitate; but this is the perfection alway set out as the pattern of our actions, “Be ye holy, as I am holy;” no other is proposed as our copy; alienated from that purity of God, which is as much as his life, without which he could not live. If he were stripped of this, he would be a dead God, more than by the want of any other perfection. His swearing by it intimates as much; he swears often by his own life; “As I live, saith the Lord:” so he swears by his holiness, as if it were his life, and more his life than any other. Let me not live, or let me not be holy, are all one in his oath. His Deity could not outlive the life of his purity.
II. As it seems to challenge an excellency above all his other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest. As it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead. As his power is the strength of them, so his holiness is the beauty of them. As all would be weak, without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honor and their comfortable efficacy: as, at the same instant that the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the lustre of every grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendor of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice; his wisdom a holy wisdom; his arm of power a holy arm (Psalm 98:1); his truth or promise a holy promise (Psalm 105:42). Holy and true go hand in hand (Rev. 6:10). His name, which signifies all his attributes in conjunction, is holy (Psalm 103:1); yea, he is “righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17): it is the rule of all his acts, the source of all his punishments. If every attribute of the Deity were a distinct member, purity would be the form, the soul, the spirit to animate them. Without it, his patience would be an indulgence to sin, his mercy a fondness, his wrath a madness,. his power a tyranny, his wisdom an unworthy subtilty. It is this gives a decorum to all. His mercy is not exercised without it, since he pardons none but those that have an interest, by union, in the obedience of a Mediator, which was so delightful to his infinite purity. His justice, which guilty man is apt to tax with cruelty and violence in the exercise of it, is not acted out of the compass of this rule. In acts of man’s vindictive justice there is something of impurity, perturbation, passion, some mixture of cruelty; but none of these fall upon God in the severest acts of wrath. When God appears to Ezekiel, in the resemblance of fire, to signify his anger against the house of Judah for their idolatry, “from his loins downward” there was “the appearance of fire;” but, from the loins upward, “the appearance of brightness, as the color of amber” (Ezek. 8:2). His heart is clear in his most terrible acts of vengeance; it is a pure flame, wherewith he scorcheth and burns his enemies: he is holy in the most fiery appearance. This attribute, therefore, is nevcr so much applauded, as when his sword hath been drawn, and he hath manifested the greatest fierceness against his enemies. The magnificent and triumphant expression of it in the text, follows just upon God’s miraculous defeat and ruin of the Egyptian army: “The sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters:” then it follows, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, glorious in holiness?” And when it was so celebrated by the seraphims (Isa. 6:3), it was when the “posts moved, and the house was filled with smoke” (ver. 4), which are signs of anger (Psalm 18:7, 8). And when he was about to send Isaiah upon a message of spiritual and temporal judgments, that he would make the “heart of that people fat, and their ears heavy, and their eyes shut; waste their cities without inhabitant, and their houses without man, and make the land desolate” (ver. 9–12): and the angels which here applaud him for his holiness, are the executioners of his justice, and here called seraphims, from burning or fiery spirits, as being the ministers of his wrath. His justice is part of his holiness, whereby he doth reduce into order those things that are out of order. When he is consuming men by his fury, he doth not diminish, but manifest purity (Zeph. 3:5); “The just Lord is in the midst of her; he will do no iniquity.” Every action of his is free from all tincture of evil. It is also celebrated with praise, by the four beasts about his throne, when be appears in a covenant garb with a rainbow about his throne, and yet with thunderings and lightnings shot against his enemies (Rev. 4:8, compared with ver. 3, 5), to show that all his acts of mercy, as well as justice, are clear from any stain. This is the crown of all his attributes, the life of all his decrees, the brightness of all his actions: nothing is decreed by him, nothing is acted by him, but what is worthy of the dignity, and becoming the honor, of this attribute.
I. The nature of Divine holiness in general. The holiness of God negatively, is a perfect and unpolluted freedom from all evil. As we call gold pure that is not embased by any dross, and that garment clean that is free from any spot, so the nature of God is estranged from all shadow of evil, all imaginable contagion. Positively, It is the rectitude or integrity of the Divine nature, or that conformity of it, in affection and action, to the Divine will, as to his eternal law, whereby he works with a becomingness to his own excellency, and whereby he hath a delight and complacency in everything agreeable to his will, and an abhorrency of everything contrary thereunto. As there is no darkness in his understanding, so there is no spot in his will: as his mind is possessed with all truth, so there is no deviation in his will from it. He loves all truth and goodness; he hates all falsity and evil. In regard of his righteousness, he loves righteousness (Psalm 11:7); “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness,” and “hath no pleasure in wickedness” (Psalm 5:4). He values purity in his creatures, and detests all impurity, whether inward or outward. We may, indeed, distinguish the holiness of God from his righteousness in our conceptions: holiness is a perfection absolutely considered in the nature of God; righteousness, a perfection, as referred to others, in his actions towards them and upon them.
In particular, this property of the Divine nature is, 1. An essential and necessary perfection: he is essentially and necessarily holy. It is the essential glory of his nature: his holiness is as necessary as his being; as necessary as his omniscience: as he cannot but know what is right, so he cannot but do what is just. His understanding is not as created understanding, capable of ignorance as well as knowledge; so his will is not as created wills, capable of unrighteousness, as well as righteousness. There can be no contradiction or contrariety in the Divine nature, to know what is right, and to do what is wrong; if so, there would be a diminution of his blessedness, be would not be a God alway blessed, “blessed forever,” as he is (Rom. 9:5). He is as necessarily holy, as he is necessarily God; as necessarily without sin, as without change. As he was God from eternity, so he was holy from eternity. he was gracious, merciful , just in his own nature, and also holy; though no creature had been framed by him to exercise his grace, mercy, justice, or holiness upon. If God had not created a world, he had, in his own nature, been Almighty, and able to create a world. If there never had been anything but himself, yet he had been omniscient, knowing everything that was within the verge and compass of his infinite power; so he was pure in his own nature, though he never had brought forth any rational creature whereby to manifest this purity. These perfections are so necessary, that the nature of God could not subsist without them. And the acts of those, ad intra, or within himself, are necessary; for being omniscient in nature, there must be an act of knowledge of himself and his own nature. Being infinitely holy, an act of holiness in infinitely loving himself, must necessarily flow from this perfection. As the Divine will cannot but be perfect, so it cannot be wanting to render the highest love to itself, to its goodness, to the Divine nature, which is due to him. Indeed, the acts of those, ad extra, are not necessary, but upon a condition. To love righteousness, without himself, or to detect sin, or inflict punishment for the committing of it, could not have been, had there been no righteous creature for him to love, no sinning creature for him to loathe, and to exercise his justice upon, as the object of punishment. Some attributes require a condition to make the acts of them necessary; as it is at God’s liberty, whether he will create a rational creature, or no; but when he decrees to make either angel or man, it is necessary, from the perfection of his nature, to make them righteous. It is at God’s liberty whether he will speak to man, or no; but if he doth, it is impossible for him to speak that which is false, because of his infinite perfection of veracity. It is at his liberty whether he will permit a creature to sin; but if he sees good to suffer it, it is impossible, but that he should detest that creature that goes cross to his righteous nature. His holiness is not solely an act of his will, for then he might be unholy as well as holy; he might love iniquity and hate righteousness; he might then command that which is good, and afterwards command that which is bad and unworthy; for what is only an act of his will, and not belonging to his nature, is indifferent to him. As the positive law he gave to Adam, of not eating the forbidden fruit, was a pure act of his will, he might have given him liberty to eat of it, if he had pleased, as well as prohibited him. But what is moral and good in its own nature, is necessarily willed by God, and cannot be changed by him, because of the transcendent eminency of his nature, and righteousness of his will. As it is impossible for God to command his creature to hate him, or to dispense with a creature for not loving him,—for this would be to command a thing intrinsically evil, the highest ingratitude, the very spirit of all wickedness, which consists in the hating God,—yet, though God be thus necessarily holy, he is not so by a bare and simple necessity, as the sun shines, or the fire burns; but by a free necessity, not compelled thereunto, but inclined from the fulness of the perfection of his own nature and will; so as by no means he can be unholy, because he will not be unholy; it is against his nature to be so.
The Existence and Attributes of God
DISCOURSE XI - ON THE HOLINESS OF GODEXODUS 15:11.—Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?