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     1 Corinthians  5 - 8


1 Corinthians 5

Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church

1 Corinthians 5 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”


1 Corinthians 6

Lawsuits Against Believers

1 Corinthians 6 1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Flee Sexual Immorality

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


1 Corinthians 7

Principles for Marriage

1 Corinthians 7 1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Live as You Are Called

17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

The Unmarried and the Widowed

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.


1 Corinthians 8

Food Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8 1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

The Reformation Study Bible



What I'm Reading

Historic Heresies Related to the Nature of Jesus

By J. Warner Wallace 11/27/2017

     Over the centuries, believers have sometimes struggled to understand the nature of God and the great mystery of Jesus. The Bible describes Jesus as having the nature and power of God, and the Gospel of John tells us that He existed before the universe began (He was, in fact, the creator of the universe). At the same time, the Bible teaches Jesus was fully human and died on the cross. Efforts to reconcile the Divine and human nature of Jesus have resulted in a number of classic and historic misinterpretations:

     Adoptionism (2nd Century) | This heresy denies the pre-existence of Christ and therefore denies His Deity. It taught Jesus was simply a man who was tested by God and after passing the test was given supernatural powers and adopted as a son (this occurred at His baptism). Jesus was then rewarded for all He did (and for His perfect character) with His own resurrection and adoption into the Godhead.

     Leader(s) in the Heresy: Theodotus of Byzantium

     Corrector(s) of the Heresy: Pope Victor (190-198AD)

     Docetism (2nd Century)

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J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:

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.

7 Common Myths about Old-Earth Creationism

By Kenneth Samples 1/26/16

     Sometimes being an apologist isn’t just about defending the faith to unbelievers; sometimes it also includes explaining our doctrinal positions to other Christians. When I was homeschooling our children, church friends would often express concern over our family’s belief that the earth was billions—not thousands—of years old. Many had heard some fairly alarming assertions about Hugh Ross, my employer, advocating fallacious views of the Bible. I want to help people differentiate between rumors and facts about old-earth creationists’ beliefs. So, instead of avoiding conversations that might spark an old-earth versus young-earth debate, I’ve learned how to offer quick but gracious answers to the questions raised by our Christian friends.

     1. Do old-earth creationists teach theistic evolution (supernaturally directed Darwinism)?

     Believers frequently conflate old-earth creationism with Darwinian evolution; this is especially evident in the creation-science curricula used by many homeschoolers. I like to make the point that the RTB scholar team has been on the frontiers of making the biblical and scientific case against Darwinism for three decades.

     2. Does acceptance of the big bang deny God’s miraculous creation of the universe and its celestial bodies?

     There is a widespread misconception among Christians that big bang cosmology is some kind of “kissing cousin” to naturalism and Darwinian evolution. The reality is: teaching that the universe has a beginning—which is precisely what big bang cosmology does—is not only consistent with Scripture, it greatly limits the time window allowed for natural process evolution to operate. Again, RTB’s scholars have, for 30 years, actively communicated the most compelling evidences for God’s miraculous intervention throughout the history of the universe.

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

How a Christian Worldview Influenced America’s Founding Fathers

By Kenneth Samples 7/26/16

     It might be fair to say that most Americans tend to take our freedom for granted. We forget that our freedom was hard-won and is not guaranteed. In fact, the liberties we cherish are privileges not many societies enjoy. Tyranny, in its many guises, is the historical norm. In truth, we do have an extraordinary amount of freedom in the United States, and there are profound reasons for that stemming directly from our Christian heritage.

     As the founding fathers set up a new government, they started from what scholars consider a Reformed Christian worldview. Of the 54 signers of the Declaration, 29 were ordained ministers, and most of the others were deeply religious men. The idea that the majority of the founders were deist is an exaggeration passed on over time, as only a handful might be claimed as such, and even this is difficult to verify by our understanding of the term.

     The founding fathers’ Christian worldview was “the single greatest influence on the content and interpretation of America’s foremost founding documents: The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution (1787), and the Bill of Rights (1789).”1

     The biblical worldview can be summed up in three words: creation, fall, redemption. These three words birthed the equality of all humanity before God (creation), human nature as evil (fall), and the inherent value of the individual (redemption). These ideas lay at the root of the formation of modern democracy everywhere, most especially in America.

     1. Equality of All Humanity before God | The Christian notion of equality says that people are equal because (1) God made humanity in His image; and (2) He loved us enough to have sacrificed His Son for each of us. Rather than being based on abilities, appearance (race, ethnicity, sex), achievements, or social position, a person’s worth is inherent. We are equal simply because God values us equally. Human worth is God dependent and God ordained; human assessment is irrelevant. The founding fathers recognized this view of humanity in the Declaration of Independence’s famous opening statements:

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.


Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Is Spiritual Truth a Matter of Opinion?

By Natasha Crain 4/12/2016

     You said: I myself am not an atheist. If I have to put a label on myself, I would choose agnostic theist. I believe in God or a higher power, but I don’t have an absolute certainty of his or her nature.

     From what you’re saying here, it sounds like you are “agnostic” about what kind of God or higher power exists because you haven’t found anything pointing to that Being’s nature with absolute certainty. However, it’s important that we’re honest with ourselves about this desire for absolute certainty. There’s pretty much nothing in life we know with “absolute certainty.” For example, do you know with absolute certainty that you are a real person and that everything you experience is not just an illusion? No, but you have good reason to believe you really exist and you live accordingly. We claim to know things all the time that we can’t be absolutely certain about. When the preponderance of evidence points toward something being true, we go ahead and say we know it.

     The question I would leave you to consider, therefore, is this: If you discovered that a preponderance of evidence pointed to a specific religion being the one true revelation of God to humans, would you accept it as truth? Or do you require a level of certainty that you don’t require of anything else in your life?

     If you require a unique level of certainty in spiritual matters, then I would suggest perhaps you don’t want to find truth. If you are open to considering the weight of the evidence for the possible objective truth of a specific religion, then I would invite you to begin that investigation in earnest. If you would like to learn about the evidence for Christianity specifically, I will recommend a great starting book at the end of this letter.

     You said: My belief is rational to certain extent. The rest is on faith. However, unlike Christians, my spiritual path is highly personal and subjective.

     It sounds as though you are suggesting that a highly personal and subjective spiritual path is a better way than an objective one, such as in Christianity. However, it’s important to realize (if that’s indeed what you are implying) that by claiming this, YOU are making an objective statement–that a highly personal and subjective spiritual path is best for everyone! That’s a contradiction.

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     Natasha Crain : Before we had kids, I went back to school and got an MBA in marketing and statistics at UCLA. I worked my way up the corporate marketing ladder for several years and was an adjunct university market research professor on the side.

Natasha Crain Books:

TULIP and The Doctrines of Grace

By Steven J. Lawson 11/29/2017

     The central truth of God’s saving grace is succinctly stated in the assertion, “Salvation is of the Lord.” This strong declaration means that every aspect of man’s salvation is from God and is entirely dependent upon God. The only contribution that we make is the sin that was laid upon Jesus Christ at the cross. The Apostle Paul affirmed this when he wrote, “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). This is to say, salvation is God determined, God purchased, God applied, and God secured. From start to finish, salvation is of the Lord alone.

     This truth is best summarized in the doctrines of grace, which are total depravity, unconditional election, definite atonement, effectual calling, and preserving grace. These truths present the triune God as the author of our salvation from beginning to end. Each member of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit—has a part to play in redemption, and they work together as one God to rescue those perishing under divine wrath. In perfect unity, the three divine persons do the work that hellbound sinners, utterly unable to save themselves, cannot do.

     Total Depravity

     The first man, Adam, sinned, and his transgression and guilt were immediately imputed to all mankind (Christ excepted). By this one act of disobedience, he became morally polluted in every part of his being—mind, affections, body, and will. By this sin, death entered the world, and Adam’s fellowship with God was broken.

     Adam’s guilt and corruption were transmitted to his natural offspring at the moment of conception. In turn, each of his children’s children inherited this same radical fallenness. Subsequently, it has been passed down to each generation to the present day. Adam’s perverse nature has spread to the whole of every person. Apart from grace, our minds are darkened by sin, unable to understand the truth. Our hearts are defiled, unable to love the truth. Our bodies are dying, progressing to physical death. Our wills are dead, unable to choose the good. Moral inability to please God plagues every person from their entrance into the world. In their unregenerate state, no one seeks after God. No one is capable of doing good. All are under the curse of the law, which is eternal death.

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     Per Amazon | Dr. Steven J. Lawson is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about a new reformation in the church. He is a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries, director of the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master's Seminary, and a visiting professor in the Doctor of Ministry program at the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies.

     Steven Lawson  |  Go to Books Page

How God Calls Failures Like Us to Be a Blessing

By Silverio Gonzalez 11/29/2017

     And YHWH said to Abraham, get yourself up and go from your land, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation; and I will bless you; and I will make your name great. And be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you; whereas the one who belittles you, I will curse; and in you will be blessed all the kinship groups on the earth. And Abram went just as YHWH said to him.—Genesis 12:1-4, Christopher J. H. Wright in The Mission of God, 200, emphasis added

     When God called Abraham, God made a promise to bless him, but he also called Abraham to obedience. As Christopher Wright shows, the call to obedience was a call to be a blessing. In many ways the story of Abraham, like the story of Israel, like the story of the church, is a story of God’s blessing and humanity’s failure to be a blessing to the surrounding people.

     In our day to day work and life, God wants us to be a blessing even where it’s hard. He wants fathers to be a blessing to their wives and children. He wants mothers to be a blessing in their work place and among their friends. He wants older men to be a blessing to younger men, older women to younger women, men to women, and rich to poor. God wants us to see our entire lives defined by his call to be a blessing.

     To be a blessing sums up what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 5:43–45; Matt. 15:1–9;). To be a blessing is at the essence of any morality that Christians should strive to achieve. It’s the kind of morality or holiness or ethics that matters to the people around us. God doesn’t want us to fix the world; he wants us to be a blessing to the world.

     It’s hard to be a blessing to friends and family, people who know us too well. It’s hard to be a blessing to strangers, people who don’t know us at all. It’s even harder to take the call of God where it hurts, to be a blessing to people who hate you and seek to harm you, but in the book of Romans, Paul draws upon the language of God’s call to Abraham and applies it to every Christian in the most challenging experiences of life. He says,

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     Silverio Gonzalez is a member at Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Temecula, CA, with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a Master of Divinity. He is a thinker, book reader, coffee drinker, and post-1950’s jazz aficionado. He likes words, people, and conversation, and spends most of his free time learning the new art of fatherhood.

Advice for the Discouraged Apologist

By Nathan Liddell 11/22/2017

     Apologetics is the hardest and most interesting thing I’ve ever tried to do (besides marriage, parenting, some friendships, dog-training, and Boolean Logic). I love apologetics and I hate failing. Sadly, these two things go together for me more often than I would...

     I have preached for 18 years. Doing Apologetics is harder than preaching. It is so much harder to make a case for how you know that you know what you know than it is just to preach what you know. If you don’t believe me, try.

     So, maybe you’re an aspiring C.S. Lewis. You’ve gotten a few great books under your belt. Perhaps you’re taking courses, blogging, battling in the comments on Facebook and YouTube, or even presenting. Just know, you’re going to crash and burn sometimes. Ok — many times. You’re going to study with the person for whom no amount of evidence is sufficient and you’re going to think it is your fault that you can’t convince them. You’re going to meet the argument you don’t have an answer for. You’re going to get lost in the weeds of religious epistemology. You’re even going to revisit the doubts that put you on your path to being an apologist.

     But, don’t quit! You must never quit. Peter didn’t say make a defense unless you fail and get discouraged. Peter said, always be prepared to make a defense (1 Peter 3:15). So, I want to pass along to you some encouraging advice that isn’t mine, but that has been very helpful to me. It comes from a guy named William Lane Craig — some of you may have heard of him. (read with heavy sarcasm)

     At the close of Part 1 of his book, Reasonable Faith, Dr. Craig offers these two pieces of advice for the discouraged apologist:

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     Nathan Liddell was born and raised in the South—Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee—but now calls Aurora, Colorado home. He is an enthusiastic fly-fisherman, reader of Hemingway, C.S. Lewis, and Chaim Potok, student of languages—German especially, Premier League Soccer fan, and apologist. He holds a Bachelors of Biblical Studies from the Memphis School of Preaching and will soon be completing a Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies with focuses in German and Philosophy from the University of Memphis. His areas of particular interest are Philosophy of Religion, Meta-ethics, and Physicalism and Philosophy of Mind. Nathan has been preaching for 18 years and has served as the pulpit minister with the East Alameda church of Christ for the last eleven years. His life is blessed by his sweet wife Mandy, his wonderful daughter Mia, and their cats and dogs.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     9. After such a figment is formed, adoration forthwith ensues: for when once men imagined that they beheld God in images, they also worshipped him as being there. At length their eyes and minds becoming wholly engrossed by them, they began to grow more and more brutish, gazing and wondering as if some divinity were actually before them. It hence appears that men do not fall away to the worship of images until they have imbibed some idea of a grosser description: not that they actually believe them to be gods, but that the power of divinity somehow or other resides in them. Therefore, whether it be God or a creature that is imaged, the moment you fall prostrate before it in veneration, you are so far fascinated by superstition. For this reason, the Lord not only forbade the erection of statues to himself, but also the consecration of titles and stones which might be set up for adoration. For the same reason, also, the second commandment has an additional part concerning adoration. For as soon as a visible form is given to God, his power also is supposed to be annexed to it. So stupid are men, that wherever they figure God, there they fix him, and by necessary consequence proceed to adore him. It makes no difference whether they worship the idol simply, or God in the idol; it is always idolatry when divine honours are paid to an idol, be the colour what it may. And because God wills not to be worshipped superstitiously whatever is bestowed upon idols is so much robbed from him.

     Let those attend to this who set about hunting for miserable pretexts in defence of the execrable idolatry in which for many past ages true religion has been buried and sunk. It is said that the images are not accounted gods. Nor were the Jews so utterly thoughtless as not to remember that there was a God whose hand led them out of Egypt before they made the calf. Indeed, Aaron saying, that these were the gods which had brought them out of Egypt, they intimated, in no ambiguous terms, that they wished to retain God, their deliverer, provided they saw him going before them in the calf. Nor are the heathen to be deemed to have been so stupid as not to understand that God was something else than wood and stone. For they changed the images at pleasure, but always retained the same gods in their minds; [84] besides, they daily consecrated new images without thinking they were making new gods. Read the excuses which Augustine tells us were employed by the idolaters of his time (August. in Ps. 113). The vulgar, when accused, replied that they did not worship the visible object, but the Deity which dwelt in it invisibly. Those, again, who had what he calls a more refined religion, said, that they neither worshipped the image, nor any inhabiting Deity, but by means of the corporeal image beheld a symbol of that which it was their duty to worship. What then? All idolaters whether Jewish or Gentile, were actuated in the very way which has been described. Not contented with spiritual understanding, they thought that images would give them a surer and nearer impression. When once this preposterous representation of God was adopted, there was no limit until, deluded every now and then by new impostures, they came to think that God exerted his power in images. [85] Still the Jews were persuaded, that under such images they worshipped the eternal God, the one true Lord of heaven and earth; and the Gentiles, also, in worshipping their own false gods, supposed them to dwell in heaven.

     10. It is an impudent falsehood to deny that the thing which was thus anciently done is also done in our day. For why do men prostrate themselves before images? Why, when in the act of praying, do they turn towards them as to the ears of God? It is indeed true, as Augustine says (in Ps. 113), that no person thus prays or worships, looking at an image, without being impressed with the idea that he is heard by it, or without hoping that what he wishes will be performed by it. Why are such distinctions made between different images of the same God, that while one is passed by, or receives only common honour, another is worshipped with the highest solemnities? Why do they fatigue themselves with votive pilgrimages to images while they have many similar ones at home? [86] Why at the present time do they fight for them to blood and slaughter, as for their altars and hearths, showing more willingness to part with the one God than with their idols? And yet I am not now detailing the gross errors of the vulgar--errors almost infinite in number, and in possession of almost all hearts. I am only referring to what those profess who are most desirous to clear themselves of idolatry. They say, we do not call them our gods. Nor did either the Jews or Gentiles of old so call them; and yet the prophets never ceased to charge them with their adulteries with wood and stone for the very acts which are daily done by those who would be deemed Christians, namely, for worshipping God carnally in wood and stone.

     11. I am not ignorant, however, and I have no wish to disguise the fact, that they endeavour to evade the charge by means of a more subtle distinction, which shall afterwards be fully considered (see infra, s. 16, and chap. 12 s. 2). The worship which they pay to their images they cloak with the name of eidolodulei'a (idolodulia), and deny to be eidololatrei'a (idolatria). So they speaks holding that the worship which they call dulia may, without insult to God, be paid to statues and pictures. Hence, they think themselves blameless if they are only the servants, and not the worshippers, of idols; as if it were not a lighter matter to worship than to serve. And yet, while they take refuge in a Greek term, they very childishly contradict themselves. For the Greek word latreu'ein having no other meaning than to worship, what they say is just the same as if they were to confess that they worship their images without worshipping them. They cannot object that I am quibbling upon words. The fact is, that they only betray their ignorance while they attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the simple. But how eloquent soever they may be, they will never prove by their eloquence that one and the same thing makes two. Let them show how the things differ if they would be thought different from ancient idolaters. For as a murderer or an adulterer will not escape conviction by giving some adventitious name to his crime, so it is absurd for them to expect that the subtle device of a name will exculpate them, if they, in fact, differ in nothing from idolaters whom they themselves are forced to condemn. But so far are they from proving that their case is different, that the source of the whole evil consists in a preposterous rivalship with them, while they with their minds devise, and with their hands execute, symbolical shapes of God.

     12. I am not, however, so superstitious as to think that all visible representations of every kind are unlawful. But as sculpture and painting are gifts of God, what I insist for is, that both shall be used purely and lawfully,--that gifts which the Lord has bestowed upon us, for his glory and our good, shall not be preposterously abused, nay, shall not be perverted to our destruction. We think it unlawful to give a visible shape to God, because God himself has forbidden it, and because it cannot be done without, in some degree, tarnishing his glory. And lest any should think that we are singular in this opinion, those acquainted with the productions of sound divines will find that they have always disapproved of it. If it be unlawful to make any corporeal representation of God, still more unlawful must it be to worship such a representation instead of God, or to worship God in it. The only things, therefore, which ought to be painted or sculptured, are things which can be presented to the eye; the majesty of God, which is far beyond the reach of any eye, must not be dishonored by unbecoming representations. Visible representations are of two classes--viz. historical, which give a representation of events, and pictorial, which merely exhibit bodily shapes and figures. The former are of some use for instruction or admonition. The latter, so far as I can see, are only fitted for amusement. And yet it is certain, that the latter are almost the only kind which have hitherto been exhibited in churches. Hence we may infer, that the exhibition was not the result of judicious selection, but of a foolish and inconsiderate longing. I say nothing as to the improper and unbecoming form in which they are presented, or the wanton license in which sculptors and painters have here indulged (a point to which I alluded a little ago, supra, s. 7). I only say, that though they were otherwise faultless, they could not be of any utility in teaching.

     13. But, without reference to the above distinction, let us here consider, whether it is expedient that churches should contain representations of any kind, whether of events or human forms. First, then, if we attach any weight to the authority of the ancient Church, let us remember, that for five hundred years, during which religion was in a more prosperous condition, and a purer doctrine flourished, Christian churches were completely free from visible representations (see Preface, and Book 4, c. 9 s. 9). Hence their first admission as an ornament to churches took place after the purity of the ministry had somewhat degenerated. I will not dispute as to the rationality of the grounds on which the first introduction of them proceeded, but if you compare the two periods, you will find that the latter had greatly declined from the purity of the times when images were unknown. What then? Are we to suppose that those holy fathers, if they had judged the thing to be useful and salutary, would have allowed the Church to be so long without it? Undoubtedly, because they saw very little or no advantage, and the greatest danger in it, they rather rejected it intentionally and on rational grounds, than omitted it through ignorance or carelessness. This is clearly attested by Augustine in these words (Ep. 49. See also De Civit. Dei, lib 4 c. 31) "When images are thus placed aloft in seats of honour, to be beheld by those who are praying or sacrificing, though they have neither sense nor life, yet from appearing as if they had both, they affect weak minds just as if they lived and breathed," &c. And again, in another passage (in Ps. 112) he says, "The effect produced, and in a manner extorted, by the bodily shape, is, that the mind, being itself in a body, imagines that a body which is so like its oven must be similarly affected," &c. A little farther on he says, "Images are more capable of giving a wrong bent to an unhappy soul, from having mouth, eyes, ears, and feet, than of correcting it, as they neither speak, nor see, nor hear, nor walk." This undoubtedly is the reason why John (1 John 5:21) enjoins us to beware, not only of the worship of idols, but also of idols themselves. And from the fearful infatuation under which the world has hitherto laboured, almost to the entire destruction of piety, we know too well from experience that the moment images appear in churches, idolatry has as it were raised its banner; because the folly of manhood cannot moderate itself, but forthwith falls away to superstitious worship. Even were the danger less imminent, still, when I consider the proper end for which churches are erected, it appears to me more unbecoming their sacredness than I well can tell, to admit any other images than those living symbols which the Lord has consecrated by his own word: I mean Baptism and the Lord's Supper, with the other ceremonies. By these our eyes ought to be more steadily fixed, and more vividly impressed, than to require the aid of any images which the wit of man may devise. Such, then, is the incomparable blessing of images--a blessing, the want of which, if we believe the Papists, cannot possibly be compensated! [87]

     14. Enough, I believe, would have been said on this subject, were I not in a manner arrested by the Council of Nice; not the celebrated Council which Constantine the Great assembled, but one which was held eight hundred years ago by the orders and under the auspices of the Empress Irene. [88] This Council decreed not only that images were to be used in churches, but also that they were to be worshipped. Every thing, therefore, that I have said, is in danger of suffering great prejudice from the authority of this Synod. To confess the truth, however, I am not so much moved by this consideration, as by a wish to make my readers aware of the lengths to which the infatuation has been carried by those who had a greater fondness for images than became Christians. But let us first dispose of this matter. Those who defend the use of images appeal to that Synod for support. But there is a refutation extant which bears the name of Charlemagne, and which is proved by its style to be a production of that period. It gives the opinions delivered by the bishops who were present, and the arguments by which they supported them. John, deputy of the Eastern Churches, said, "God created man in his own image," and thence inferred that images ought to be used. He also thought there was a recommendation of images in the following passage, "Show me thy face, for it is beautiful." Another, in order to prove that images ought to be placed on altars, quoted the passage, "No man, when he has lighted a candle, putteth it under a bushel." Another, to show the utility of looking at images, quoted a verse of the Psalms "The light of thy countenance, O Lord, has shone upon us." Another laid hold of this similitude: As the Patriarchs used the sacrifices of the Gentiles, so ought Christians to use the images of saints instead of the idols of the Gentiles. They also twisted to the same effect the words, "Lord, I have loved the beauty of thy house." But the most ingenious interpretation was the following, "As we have heard, so also have we seen;" therefore, God is known not merely by the hearing of the word, but also by the seeing of images. Bishop Theodore was equally acute: "God," says he, "is to be admired in his saints;" and it is elsewhere said, "To the saints who are on earth;" therefore this must refer to images. In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them.

     15. When they treat of adoration, great stress is laid on the worship of Pharaoh, the staff of Joseph, and the inscription which Jacob set up. In this last case they not only pervert the meaning of Scripture, but quote what is nowhere to be found. Then the passages, "Worship at his footstool"--"Worship in his holy mountain"--"The rulers of the people will worship before thy face," seem to them very solid and apposite proofs. Were one, with the view of turning the defenders of images into ridicule, to put words into their mouths, could they be made to utter greater and grosser absurdities? But to put an end to all doubt on the subject of images, Theodosius Bishop of Mira confirms the propriety of worshipping them by the dreams of his archdeacon, which he adduces with as much gravity as if he were in possession of a response from heaven. Let the patrons of images now go and urge us with the decree of this Synod, as if the venerable Fathers did not bring themselves into utter discredit by handling Scripture so childishly, or wresting it so shamefully and profanely.

     16. I come now to monstrous impieties, which it is strange they ventured to utter, and twice strange that all men did not protest against with the utmost detestation. [89] It is right to expose this frantic and flagitious extravagance, and thereby deprive the worship of images of that gloss of antiquity in which Papists seek to deck it. Theodosius Bishop of Amora fires oft an anathema at all who object to the worship of images. Another attributes all the calamities of Greece and the East to the crime of not having worshipped them. Of what punishment then are the Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs worthy, in whose day no images existed? They afterwards add, that if the statue of the Emperor is met with odours and incense, much more are the images of saints entitled to the honour. Constantius, Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, professes to embrace images with reverence, and declares that he will pay them the respect which is due to the ever blessed Trinity: every person refusing to do the same thing he anathematises and classes with Marcionites and Manichees. Lest you should think this the private opinion of an individual, they all assent. Nay, John the Eastern legate, carried still farther by his zeal, declares it would be better to allow a city to be filled with brothels than be denied the worship of images. At last it is resolved with one consent that the Samaritans are the worst of all heretics, and that the enemies of images are worse than the Samaritans. But that the play may not pass off without the accustomed Plaudite, the whole thus concludes, "Rejoice and exult, ye who, having the image of Christ, offer sacrifice to it." Where is now the distinction of latria and dulia with which they would throw dust in all eyes, human and divine? The Council unreservedly relies as much on images as on the living God. [90]

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     [78] 80 The French adds, "voire jusques aux oignons et porreaux;"--they have gone even to onions and leeks.

     [79] Calvin translates the words of the Psalmist as an imprecation, "Similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea;"--Let those who make them be like unto them.

     [80] See Gregory, Ep. ad Serenum Massiliens, Ep. 109. lib. 7; and Ep. 9 lib. 9; images, rather accuses it.

     [81] The French adds, "deux des plus anciens Docteurs de l'Eglise;"--two of the most ancient Doctors of the Church.

     [82] Lact. Inst. Div. lib. 1 c. 15; Euseb. Præf. Evang. lib. 3 c. 3, 4; also August. De Civitate Dei, lib. 4 c. 9, 31.

     [83] The French is "Pourceque la gloire de sa Divinite est vilipendée en une chose si sotte et lourde comme est un marmouset;"--because the glory of his Divinity is degraded into an object so silly and stupid as a marmoset.

     [84] The French is "Neantmoins ils ne disoyent point pour cela au'un Dieu fut divisé;"--nevertheless, they did not therefore say that the unity of God was divided.

     [85] French, "Ne vouloit monstrer sa vertu que sous les images;"--would only show his power under the form of images.

     [86] The two last sentences in French are, "Car laissans là un crucifix, ou une image de leur nostre-dame, ou n'en tenans point grand comte, ils mettent leur devotion à un autre. Pourquoy est-ce qu'ils trotent si loin en pelerinage pour voir un marmouset, duquel ils ont le semblable à leur porte?"--For there passing by a crucifix, or an image of what they call "Our Lady," or making no great account of them, they pay their devotion to another. Why is it that they trot so far on a pilgrimage to see a marmoset, when they have one like it at their door?

     [87] The French is "qu'il n'y ait nulle recompense qui vaille un marmouset guignant à travers et faisant la mine tortue;"--that no compensation can equal the value of a marmoset looking askance and twisting its face.

     [88] 90 The French is "une mechante Proserpine nommée Irene;"--a wicked Proserpine named Irene.

     [89] The French adds, "et qu'il ne se soit trouvé gens qui leur crachassent au visage;"--and that people were not found to spit in their face.

     [90] See Calvin, De Vitandis Superstitionibus, where also see Resp. Pastorum, Tigurin. adver. Nicidenitas. See also Calvin, De Fugiendis Illicitis Sacris.

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

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 133

When Brothers Dwell In Unity
133 A Song Of Ascents. Of David.

133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

ESV Study Bible

Fox's Book Of Martyrs

By John Foxe 1563

Flagellations by Bonner

     When this Catholic hyena found that neither persuasions, threats, nor imprisonment, could produce any alteration in the mind of a youth named Thomas Hinshaw, he sent him to Fulham, and during the first night set him in the stocks, with no other allowance than bread and water. The following morning he came to see if this punishment had worked any change in his mind, and finding none, he sent Dr. Harpsfield, his archdeacon, to converse with him. The doctor was soon out f humor at his replies, called him peevish boy, and asked him if he thought he went about to damn his soul? "I am persuaded," said Thomas, "that you labor to promote the dark kingdom of the devil, not for the love of the truth." These words the doctor conveyed to the bishop, who, in a passion that almost prevented articulation, came to Thomas, and said, "Dost thou answer my archdeacon thus, thou naughty boy? But I'll soon handle thee well enough for it, be assured!" Two willow twigs were then brought him, and causing the unresisting youth to kneel against a long bench, in an arbor in his garden, he scourged him until he was compelled to cease for want of breath and fatigue. One of the rods was worn quite away. Many other conflicts did Hinsaw undergo from the bishop; who, at length, to remove him effectually, procured false witnesses to lay articles against him, all of which the young man denied, and, in short, refused to answer any interrogatories administered to him. A fortnight after this, the young man was attacked by a burning ague, and at the request of his master. Mr. Pugson, of St. Paul's church-yard, he was removed, the bishop not doubting that he had given him his death in the natural way; he however remained ill above a year, and in the mean time Queen Mary died, by which act of providence he escaped Bonner's rage.

     John Willes was another faithful person, on whom the scourging hand of Bonner fell. He was the brother of Richard Willes, before mentioned, burnt at Brentford. Hinshaw and Willes were confined in Bonner's coal house together, and afterward removed to Fulham, where he and Hinshaw remained during eight or ten days, in the stocks. Bonner's persecuting spirit betrayed itself in his treatment of Willes during his examinations, often striking him on the head with a stick, seizing him by the ears, and filliping him under the chin, saying he held down his head like a thief. This producing no signs of recantation, he took him into his orchard, and in a small arbor there he flogged him first with a willow rod, and then with birch, until he was exhausted. This cruel ferocity arose from the answer of the poor sufferer, who, upon being asked how long it was since he had crept to the cross, replied, 'Not since he had come to years of discretion, nor would he, though he should be torn to pieces by wild horses.' Bonner then bade him make the sign of the cross on his forehead, which he refused to do, and thus was led to the orchard.

     One day, when in the stocks, Bonner asked him how he liked his lodging and fare. "Well enough," said Willes, "might I have a little straw to sit or lie upon." Just at this time came in Willes' wife, then largely pregnant, and entreated the bishop for her husband, boldly declaring that she would be delivered in the house, if he were not suffered to go with her. To get rid of the good wife's importunity, and the trouble of a lying-in woman in his palace, he bade Willes make the sign of the cross, and say, In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen. Willes omitted the sign, and repeated the words, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." Bonner would have the words repeated in Latin, to which Willes made no objection, knowing the meaning of the words. He was then permitted to go home with his wife, his kinsman Robert Rouze being charged to bring him to St. Paul's the next day, whither he himself went, and subscribing to a Latin instrument of little importance, was liberated. This is the last of the twenty-two taken at Islington.

Rev. Richard Yeoman

     This devout aged person was curate to Dr. Taylor, at Hadley, and eminently qualified for his sacred function. Dr. Taylor left him the curacy at his departure, but no sooner had Mr. Newall gotten the benefice, than he removed Mr. Yeoman, and substituted a Romish priest. After this he wandered from place to place, exhorting all men to stand faithfully to God's Word, earnestly to give themselves unto prayer, with patience to bear the cross now laid upon them for their trial, with boldness to confess the truth before their adversaries, and with an undoubted hope to wait for the crown and reward of eternal felicity. But when he perceived his adversaries lay wait for him, he went into Kent, and with a little packet of laces, pins, points, etc., he travelled from village to village, selling such things, and in this manner subsisted himself, his wife, and children.

     At last Justice Moile, of Kent, took Mr. Yeoman, and set him in the stocks a day and a night; but, having no evident matter to charge him with, he let him go again. Coming secretly again to Hadley, he tarried with his poor wife, who kept him privately, in a chamber of the town house, commonly called the Guildhall, more than a year. During this time the good old father abode in a chamber locked up all the day, spending his time in devout prayer, in reading the Scriptures, and in carding the wool which his wife spun. His wife also begged bread for herself and her children, by which precarious means they supported themselves. Thus the saints of God sustained hunger and misery, while the prophets of Baal lived in festivity, and were costily pampered at Jezebel's table.

     Information being at length given to Newall, that Yeoman was secreted by his wife, he came, attended by the constables, and broke into the room where the object of his search lay in bed with his wife. He reproached the poor woman with being a whore, and would have indecently pulled the clothes off, but Yeoman resisted both this act of violence and the attack upon his wife's character, adding that he defied the pope and popery. He was then taken out, and set in stocks until day.

     In the cage also with him was an old man, named John Dale, who had sat there three or four days, for exhorting the people during the time service was performing by Newall and his curate. His words were, "O miserable and blind guides, will ye ever be blind leaders of the blind? Will ye never amend? Will ye never see the truth of God's Word? Will neither God's threats nor promises enter into your hearts? Will the blood of the martyrs nothing mollify your stony stomachs? O obdurate, hard-hearted, perverse, and crooked generation! to whom nothing can do good."

     These words he spake in fervency of spirit agains tthe superstitious religion of Rome; wherefore Newall caused him forthwith to be attached, and set in the stocks in a cage, where he was kept until Sir Henry Doile, a justice, came to Hadley.

     When Yeoman was taken, the parson called earnestly upon Sir Henry Doile to send them both to prison. Sir Henry Doile as earnestly entreated the parson to consider the age of the men, and their mean condition; they were neither persons of note nor preachers; wherefore he proposed to let them be punished a day or two and to dismiss them, at least John Dale, who was no priest, and therefore, as he had so long sat in the cage, he thought it punishment enough for this time. When the parson heard this, he was exceedingly mad, and in a great rage called them pestilent heretics, unfit to live in the commonwealth of Christians.

     Sir Henry, fearing to appear too merciful, Yeoman and Dale were pinioned, bound like thieves with their legs under the horses' bellies, and carried to Bury jail, where they were laid in irons; and because they continually rebuked popery, they were carried into the lowest dungeon, where John Dale, through the jail-sickness and evil-keeping, died soon after: his body was thrown out, and buried in the fields. He was a man of sixty-six years of age, a weaver by occupation, well learned in the holy Scriptures, steadfast in his confession of the true doctrines of Christ as set forth in King Edward's time; for which he joyfully suffered prison and chains, and from this worldly dungeon he departed in Christ to eternal glory, and the blessed paradise of everlasting felicity.

     After Dale's death, Yeoman was removed to Norwich prison, where, after strait and evil keeping, he was examined upon his faith and religion, and required to submit himself to his holy father the pope. "I defy him, (quoth he), and all his detestable abomination: I will in no wise have to do with him." The chief articles objected to him, were his marriage and the Mass sacrifice. Finding he continued steadfast in the truth, he was condemned, degraded, and not only burnt, but most cruelly tormented in the fire. Thus he ended this poor and miserable life, and entered into that blessed bosom of Abraham, enjoying with Lazarus that rest which God has prepared for His elect.

Thomas Benbridge

     Mr. Benbridge was a single gentleman, in the diocese of Winchester. He might have lived a gentleman's life, in the wealthy possessions of this world; but he chose rather to enter through the strait gate of persecution to the heavenly possession of life in the Lord's Kingdom, than to enjoy present pleasure with disquietude of conscience. Manfully standing against the papists for the defence of the sincere doctrine of Christ's Gospel, he was apprehended as an adversary to the Romish religion, and led for examination before the bishop of Winchester, where he underwent several conflicts for the truth against the bishop and his colleague; for which he was condemned, and some time after brought to the place of martyrdom by Sir Richard Pecksal, sheriff.

     When standing at the stake he began to untie his points, and to prepare himself; then he gave his gown to the keeper, by way of fee. His jerkin was trimmed with gold lace, which he gave to Sir Richard Pecksal, the high sheriff. His cap of velvet he took from his head, and threw away. Then, lifting his mind to the Lord, he engaged in prayer.

     When fastened to the stake, Dr. Seaton begged him to recant, and he should have his pardon; but when he saw that nothing availed, he told the people not to pray for him unless he would recant, no more than they would pray for a dog.

     Mr. Benbridge, standing at the stake with his hands together in suchj a manner as the priest holds his hands in his Memento, Dr. Seaton came to him again, and exhorted him to recant, to whom he said, "Away, Babylon, away!" One that stood by said, "Sir, cut his tongue out"; another, a temporal man, railed at him worse than Dr. Seaton had done.

     When they saw he would not yield, they bade the tormentors to light the pile, before he was in any way covered with fagots. The fire first took away a piece of his beard, at which he did not shrink. Then it came on the other side and took his legs, and the nether stockings of his hose being leather, they made the fire pierce the sharper, so that the intolerable heat made him exclaim, "I recant!" and suddenly he trust the fire from him. Two or three of his friends being by, wished to save him; they stepped to the fire to help remove it, for which kindness they were sent to jail. The sheriff also of his own authority took him from the stake, and remitted him to prison, for which he was sent to the Fleet, and lay there sometime. Before, however, he was taken from the stake, Dr. Seaton wrote articles for him to subscribe to. To these Mr. Benbridge made so many objections that Dr. Seaton ordered them to set fire again to the pile. Then with much pain and grief of heart he subscribed to them upon a man's back.

     This done, his gown was given him again, and he was led to prison. While there, he wrote a letter to Dr. Seaton, recanting those words he had spoken at the stake, and the articles which he had subscribed, for he was grieved that he had ever signed them. The same day se'night he was again brought to the stake, where the vile tormentors rather broiled than burnt him. The Lord give his enemies repentance!


Foxe's Book of Martyrs


  • Deep-Seated Corruption
  • Woe to That Man
  • He Will Judge the World


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The answer’s on the way!
     11/30/2017    Bob Gass

     ‘Shunem, where [there] was a great woman.’

(2 Ki 4:8) 8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. ESV

     The Bible refers to this woman as ‘a great woman’. That’s because she had a ‘great’ strategy for her life! She prepared a bedroom in her house for Elisha the prophet to use when he passed through town. As a result she got her heart’s desire: a baby boy. And later when her son died suddenly, God used Elisha to raise him from the dead. Notice three things in this woman’s story: 1) She made room for God. 2) Her dream came to pass. 3) When her dream died, God brought it back to life (see vv. 36-37). When her son died, the neighbours probably told her, ‘It’s over. Go ahead and bury him.’ But she refused to accept the opinions of unbelieving people or discuss her situation with those who were unqualified to help. Be careful who you open up to in a crisis! Make sure they know God, and that their words line up with His. This woman believed that if God started it, He could finish it. If He made it, He could fix it. The Bible tells us Elisha stretched out his body on top of the dead boy, and he got warm. But this boy needed more than warmth – he needed life. So Elisha stretched out on top of him again, and he became fully alive. There’s a lesson here for you. No matter how bad things look, stay on top of the situation by believing God. Walk the floor and pray all night if you have to, but keep standing on His Word. Your dream may not yet be fully alive, but it’s getting warm. Things are improving…God is moving…the answer’s on the way!

Hosea 1-4
1 John 4

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country” was his first popular story, written while in San Francisco. He then sailed to Palestine and wrote Innocents Abroad. While on this trip, he saw the picture of his friend’s sister, Olivia, and fell in love. Immediately upon his return, he met and married her, and, under her encouragement, his writing greatly improved. His name was Mark Twain, born this day, November 30, 1835. Regarding the Holy Land, Mark Twain wrote: “Our Saviour… spent His life, preaching His Gospel, and performing His miracles, within a compass no larger than an ordinary county of the United States.”

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God


     Before going any further, I want to make two purely practical points.

     1. These lavish promises are the worst possible place at which to begin Christian instruction in dealing with a child or a Pagan. You remember what happened when the Widow started Huck Finn off with the idea he could get what he wanted by praying for it. He tried the experiment and then, not unnaturally, never gave Christianity a second thought; we had better not talk about the view of prayer embodied in Mark XI:24 as “naïf” or "elementary." If that passage contains a truth, it is a truth for very advanced pupils indeed. I don't think it is "addressed to our condition" (yours and mine) at all. It is a coping-stone, not a foundation. For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait.

     2. We must not encourage in ourselves or others any tendency to work up a subjective state which, if we succeeded, we should describe as "faith," with the idea that this will somehow insure the granting of our prayer. We have probably all done this as children. But the state of mind which desperate desire working on a strong imagination can manufacture is not faith in the Christian sense. It is a feat of psychological gymnastics.

     It seems to me we must conclude that such promises about prayer with faith refer to a degree or kind of faith which most believers never experience. A far inferior degree is, I hope, acceptable to God. Even the kind that says ''Help thou my unbelief" may make way for a miracle. Again, the absence of such faith as insures the granting of the prayer is not even necessarily a sin; for Our Lord had no such assurance when He prayed in Gethsemane.

     How or why does such faith occur sometimes, but not always, even in the perfect petitioner? We, or I, can only guess. My own idea is that it occurs only when the one who prays does so as God's fellow-worker, demanding what is needed for the joint work. It is the prophet's, the apostle's, the missionary's, the healer's prayer that is made with this confidence and finds the confidence justified by the event. The difference, we are told, between a servant and a friend is that a servant is not in his master's secrets. For him, "orders are orders." He has only his own surmises as to the plans he helps to execute. But the fellow-worker, the companion or (dare we say?) the colleague of God is so united with Him at certain moments that something of the divine foreknowledge enters his mind. Hence his faith is the "evidence"-that is, the evidentness, the obviousness-of things not seen.

     As the friend is above the servant, the servant is above the suitor, the man praying on his own behalf. It is no sin to be a suitor. Our Lord descends into the humiliation of being a suitor, of praying on His own behalf, in Gethsemane. But when He does so the certitude about His Father's will is apparently withdrawn.

     After that it would be no true faith-it would be idle presumption-for us, who are habitually suitors and do not often rise to the level of servants, to imagine that we shall have any assurance which is not an illusion-or correct only by accident-about the event of our prayers. Our struggle is-isn’t it-to achieve and retain faith on a lower level. To believe that, whether He can grant them or not, God will listen to our prayers, will take them into account. Even to go on believing that there is a Listener at all. For as the situation grows more and more desperate, the grisly fears intrude. Are we only talking to ourselves in an empty universe? The silence is often so emphatic. And we have prayed so much already.

     What do you think about these things? I have offered only guesses.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Quakers almost as good as colored.
They call themselves friends
and you can trust them every time.
--- Harriet Tubman


Our love to God is measured
by our everyday fellowship
with others and the love it displays.
--- Andrew Murray


Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years.
--- Charles H. Spurgeon     ISBN-13: 978-0785209263


Hard reality has a way of cramping your style.
--- Daniel Dennett


... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 29:20
     by D.H. Stern

20     Do you see someone too anxious to speak?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
More from Micah
     What will Messiah do?

     The Messiah (Micah 5:2–15). At this point Micah introduced the Messiah — the promised One on whose coming all the plans and purposes of God hinge. He would be born as a man in Bethlehem (v. 2), even though His “goings have been … from everlasting” (KJV). When Messiah comes, He will shepherd His people, deliver the scattered remnant, destroy Israel’s enemies, and change the heart of God’s people to root out all that has been associated with their sin.

The Teacher's Commentary

     Remember when Jesus got up in the synagogue in his home town, (Luke 4) read Isaiah 61 and sat down? He told the people that scripture was fulfilled. In other words, right then and there he said that he was the Messiah. He then goes on to say who he came for.

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                By the grace of God I am what I am

     His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.
--- 1 Cor. 15:10.

     The way we continually talk about our own inability is an insult to the Creator. The deploring of our own incompetence is a slander against God for having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining in the sight of God the things that sound humble before men, and you will be amazed at how staggeringly impertinent they are. ‘Oh, I shouldn’t like to say I am sanctified; I’m not a saint.’ Say that before God; and it means—‘No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are chances I have not had; so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.’ That may sound wonderfully humble before men, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.

     Again, the things that sound humble before God may sound the opposite before men. To say—‘Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,’ is in the sight of God the acme of humility, it means you have so completely abandoned yourself to God that you know He is true. Never bother your head as to whether what you say sounds humble before men or not, but always be humble before God, and let Him be all in all.

     There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purpose, and yours may be that life.

My Utmost for His Highest

Probing
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


                Probing

     No one would know you had lived,
  but for my discovery
  of the anonymous undulation
  of your grave, like the early swelling
  of the belly of a woman
  who is with child. And if I entered
  it now, I would find your bones
  huddled together, but without
  flesh, their ruined architecture
  a reproach, the skull luminous
  but not with thought.

Would it help us to learn
  what you were called in your forgotten
  language? Are not our jaws
  frail for the sustaining of the consonants'
  weight? Yet they were balanced
  on tongues like ours, echoed
  in the ears' passages, in intervals when
  the volcano was silent. How
  tenderly did the woman handle
  them, as she leaned her haired body
  to yours? Where are the instruments
  of your music, the pipe of hazel, the
  bull's horn, the interpreters
  of your loneliness
  on this ferocious planet?

We are domesticating
  it slowly; but at times it rises
  against us, so that we see again
  the primeval shadows you built
  your fire amongst. We are cleverer
  than you; our nightmares
  are intellectual. But we never awaken
  from the compulsiveness of the mind's
  stare into the lenses' furious interiors.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

5 / MORALITY & THE PASSIONATE LOVE FOR GOD
     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     This ultimate perfection, however, pertains to you alone, no one else being associated in it with you in any way: “Let them be only your own, and so on.” Therefore you ought to desire to achieve this thing, which will remain permanently with you, and not weary and trouble yourself for the sake of others, O you who neglect your own soul so that its whiteness has turned into blackness through the corporeal faculties having gained dominion over it—as is said in the beginning of the poetic parables that have been coined for these notions; it says: “My mother’s sons were incensed against me; they made me keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept.” It says on this very same subject: “Lest you give your vigor to others, and your years to the cruel.”

     Maimonides’ understanding of
Jeremiah’s statement appears to support placing his first evaluation of morality within the context of guiding an individual away from what people ordinarily consider to be valuable:

     Consider how he mentioned them according to the order given them in the opinion of the multitude. For the greatest perfection in their opinion is that of “the rich man in his riches,” below him “the mighty man in his might,” and below him “the wise man in his wisdom.” [By the expression “the wise man in his wisdom,”] he means him who possesses the moral virtues; for such an individual is also held in high esteem by the multitude, to whom the discourse in question is addressed.

     Although the multitude lacks an appreciation for theoretical knowledge of God it is still able to value moral virtue. Men who value possessions and physical strength also can understand the social value of morality.

     However, once one has acquired knowledge of God, morality assumes a different meaning:

     It is clear that the perfection of man that may truly be gloried in is the one acquired by him who has achieved, in a measure corresponding to his capacity, apprehension of Him, may He be exalted, and who knows His providence extending over His creatures as manifested in the act of bringing them into being and in their governance as it is. The way of life of such an individual, after he has achieved this apprehension, will always have in view lovingkindness, righteousness, and judgment, through assimilation to His actions, may He be exalted, just as we have explained several times in this treatise.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

The Renewal Of Israel
     Richard S. Adams


                Ezekiel 36:1-8

     I am amazed that so many historical, archaeological and theological scholars who know much of the history of the Biblical region are not more passionate about the incredible miracles that have taken place there. How can one look at these verses and Israel today and not be dumbfounded? Despite the question of authorship, intended audience, dating, etc., there are just so many things written in the Old Testament that have come to pass. Am I reading into the text when I read these passages of restoration? Consider Israel’s complete desolation and destruction and then look at Israel today! What are the odds of this happening? Shouldn’t math scholars especially stop and pause? If people who do not believe in the Bible were asked about Israel becoming a nation in 1948 what would they say? If they were asked the odds of that desolate desert blooming with flowers and trees, what would they say?

      You might ask then, "Why aren't more Jewish people orthodox? Well, first of all, did you know most, not 51%, but over 90% of Jewish people do not read the Old Testament? There are probably more people who study the Talmud, how to interpret the 613 ways to live before the Lord, then those who read the Torah. I always assumed every Jewish person could sit me down and teach me the Old Testament, but it just isn’t so. Most do not know what their Torah and their prophets (God) said to them. All they know about Jesus is that they are Jewish ... so Jesus is not for them. The people who claim to believe in Jesus have historically persecuted them. From the time they are children their parents probably warn them to be careful of the goyim.

     Another incredible miracle is the depth of their spiritual blindness. The church, my church, has done plenty to make their blindness a logical result of how they have been treated. What have we done to the apple of God’s eye and what are we doing now? Come on, is sending money the answer God expects?

     Maybe the first thing we should do is learn who these people are. Their history covers thousands of years, not hundreds like ours. You might also want to read how Jewish money helped our country in its infancy.

     You don’t have to jump into Jacob Neusner or Sanders, you can start with Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin R. Wilson. This is an easy read and it will pique your interest. Pay attention to footnotes and you will always have plenty to read.

     

Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2008, on staff at Portland Seminary since 2009.

Articles

Take Heart
     November 30



     “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah … has triumphed.…” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.
--- Revelation 5:5–6.

     By your being united to Christ, you will have a more glorious union with and enjoyment of God the Father than otherwise could be.   The Excellency of Christ   For by this the saints’ relation to God becomes much nearer; they are the children of God in a higher manner than otherwise could be. For, being members of God’s own Son, they are partakers of his relationship to the Father: they are not only children of God by regeneration, but by communion in the sonship of the eternal Son. The church is the daughter of God not only as he has begotten her by his word and Spirit, but as she is the spouse of his eternal Son.

     So we, as members of the Son, are partakers in our share of the Father’s love of the Son and pleasure in him: “You… have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). So we will take part in the Son’s enjoyment of God and have his joy fulfilled in us. And by this means we will come to a higher, more intimate, and full enjoyment of God than otherwise could have been. For there is doubtless an infinite intimacy between the Father and the Son, which is expressed as his being “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18 KJV). And saints being in him will take part with him in it and of the blessedness of it.

     And by our redemption we are brought to an immensely more exalted kind of union with God and enjoyment of him, both the Father and the Son, than otherwise could have been. For Christ being united to the human nature, we have the advantage of a more free and full enjoyment of him than we could have had if he had remained only in the divine nature. So we, being united to a divine person, as his members, can have a more intimate union and communion with God the Father, who is only in the divine nature, than otherwise could be. Christ, by taking our nature on him, descends from the infinite distance and height above us and is brought near us, so we have the advantage of fully enjoying him. And, on the other hand, we, by being in Christ ascend up to God through the infinite distance and have the advantage of fully enjoying him also.

     This was the design of Christ, that he and his Father and his people might all be united. Christ has brought it to pass that those whom the Father has given him would be brought into the household of God, that he and his Father and his people should be as one family—that the church would be admitted into the society of the blessed Trinity.

--- Jonathan Edwards

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

On This Day   November 30
     Forlorn Hope


     John Clough was called to the harvest field while working in one. He had grown up without religious inclinations, and in college seemed resistant to evangelistic efforts by friends. His roommate tried to read the Bible and pray with him each Evening, but John, growing exasperated, drew a chalk line down the middle of the room, forbidding prayer or Scripture on his side of the line.

     But the Holy Spirit worked on his heart, and one Evening, unable to study and overwhelmed with his need, he crossed the line and knelt by his roommate. Shortly after, hearing a missionary sermon, John wondered if God would have him overseas, and he applied. He was atop a four-horse reaper breaking off grain when a farmhand approached him with a letter from Boston. Clough wiped away his sweat and tore open the news from the Baptist Foreign Mission Board. “What do you know!” he shouted. “They want me to go to India as a missionary!”

     Missions officials wanted to send him to “Forlorn Hope”—Telugu, India—where 17 years of painful, plodding effort had produced no apparent results. On November 30, 1864 Clough and his wife sailed from Boston on a tiny ship, hardly seaworthy, called the James Guthrie. It rolled and pitched its way across the ocean, finally limping into India the following April. John, leaping into service, was immediately confronted with a dilemma. The higher caste of Indians refused to attend church with the lower caste and outcasts. Praying for wisdom, Clough randomly opened his Bible and read in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 of God choosing the lowly. Across the room at the same moment, his wife randomly opened her Bible to the same place. Clough, amazed, took it as divine guidance. He announced that all were welcome in his church, that he would not accept a segregated congregation.

     He started preaching, and conversions multiplied. Fifteen months later two Indian preachers stood in a river and began baptizing the converts. When they grew weary, other preachers relieved them. By five o’clock 2,222 had been baptized, and the baptisms continued for two more days.

     My friends, if you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you won’t treat some people better than others. … God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him.
--- James 2:1,5.

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

Advent Week One - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     God Is In The Manger (Day 4)


     When the old Christendom spoke of the com­ing again of the Lord Jesus, it always thought first of all of a great day of judgment. And as un­Christmas-like as this idea may appear to us, it comes from early Christianity and must be taken with utter seriousness.... The coming of God is truly not only a joyous message, but is, first, frightful news for any­one who has a conscience. And only when we have felt the frightfulness of the matter can we know the incomparable favor. God comes in the midst of evil, in the midst of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And in judging it, he loves us, he puri­fies us, he sanctifies us, he comes to us with his grace and love. He makes us happy as only children can be happy.

     We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God's coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God's coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us.'

     Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
     The Coming of Jesus in Our Midst

     Go to  
Luke 2:8-14   Click Here

God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 30

     “And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.” --- 2 Chronicles 25:9.

     A very important question this seemed to be to the king of Judah, and possibly it is of even more weight with the tried and tempted O Christian. To lose money is at no times pleasant, and when principle involves it, the flesh is not always ready to make the sacrifice. “Why lose that which may be so usefully employed? May not the truth itself be bought too dear? What shall we do without it? Remember the children, and our small income!” All these things and a thousand more would tempt the Christian to put forth his hand to unrighteous gain, or stay himself from carrying out his conscientious convictions, when they involve serious loss. All men cannot view these matters in the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the doctrine of “we must live” has quite sufficient weight.

     The Lord is able to give thee much more than this is a very satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds the purse-strings, and what we lose for his sake he can repay a thousand-fold. It is ours to obey his will, and we may rest assured that he will provide for us. The Lord will be no man’s debtor at the last. Saints know that a grain of heart’s-ease is of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. God’s smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart; his frown and a palace would be hell to a gracious spirit. Let the worst come to the worst, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even now, the Lord maketh the meek to inherit the earth, and no good thing doth he withhold from them that walk uprightly.


          Evening - November 30

     “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.” --- Revelation 12:7.

     War always will rage between the two great sovereignties until one or other be crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. Michael will always fight; his holy soul is vexed with sin, and will not endure it. Jesus will always be the dragon’s foe, and that not in a quiet sense, but actively, vigorously, with full determination to exterminate evil. All his servants, whether angels in heaven or messengers on earth, will and must fight; they are born to be warriors—at the cross they enter into covenant never to make truce with evil; they are a warlike company, firm in defence and fierce in attack. The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord is daily, with all his heart, and soul, and strength, to fight against the dragon.

     The dragon and his angels will not decline the affray; they are incessant in their onslaughts, sparing no weapon, fair or foul. We are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition: the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed by the myrmidons of hell. The church may become slothful, but not so her great antagonist; his restless spirit never suffers the war to pause; he hates the woman’s seed, and would fain devour the church if he could. The servants of Satan partake much of the old dragon’s energy, and are usually an active race. War rages all around, and to dream of peace is dangerous and futile.

     Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and for ever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords to-night, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     November 30

          TO GOD BE THE GLORY

     Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915

     So that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Romans 15:6

     The aim and final reason for all music should be nothing else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit.
--- J. S. Bach

     To give glory to God should be the greatest desire of every Christian. Not only should this be the supreme goal for our individual lives, but it should also be true whenever we gather in our local churches. “In the presence of the congregation I will sing Your praises” (Hebrews 2:12). We must always be alert in recognizing God’s leading in our midst and in acknowledging His hand of blessing upon our corporate endeavors—the “great things He hath taught us and the great things He hath done.” Without this sensitive awareness and gratitude, churches, like individuals, can easily lose the focus of their mission and develop a false sense of self-worth and sufficiency.

     This fine Gospel hymn first appeared in a Sunday school collection, Brightest and Best, compiled by William Doane and Robert Lowry in 1875. In 1952 the Billy Graham Crusade Team went to England, where they first made extensive use of the hymn in their meetings. It was an immediate success. Upon their return to the United States, they found the same enthusiastic response by American audiences. It has been a favorite hymn ever since.

     “To God Be the Glory” differs from most of the hymns written by Fanny Crosby in that it is a more objective praise of God rather than the typical subjective testimony or Christian experience type of song. It is a fine blend of the characteristics of both the hymn and the Gospel song.

     To God be the glory—great things He hath done! So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin and opened the Lifegate that all may go in.
     O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood! To ev’ry believer the promise of God; the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
     Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son; but purer and higher and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
     Chorus: Praise the lord, Praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice! O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory—great things He hath done.


     For Today: Psalm 29:2; Romans 11:36; Galatians 1:4, 5; Ephesians 3:21

     Reflect seriously on whether God’s glory is really the desire of your life. Also, give Him a testimony of praise for His blessings upon your local church. ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

     1. It is his goodness to pitch upon mean and despicable men in the eye of the world; to call this poor publican, and overlook that proud Pharisee, this man that sits upon a dunghill, and neglect him that glisters in his purple. His majesty is not enticed by the lofty titles of men, nor, which is more worth, by the learning and knowledge of men. “Not many wise, not many mighty,” not many doctors, not many lords, though some of them; but his goodness condescends to the “base things” of the world, and things which are “despised” (1 Cor. 1:26–28). “The poor receive the gospel” (Matt. 11:5), when those that are more acute, and furnished with a more apprehensive reason, are not touched by it.

     2. The worst men. He seizeth sometimes upon men most soiled, and neglects others that seem more clean and less polluted. He turns men in their course in sin, that, by their infernal practices, have seemed to have gone to school to hell, and to have sucked in the sole instructions of the devil. He lays hold upon some when they are most under actual demerit, and snatches them as fire-brands out of the fire, as upon Paul when fullest of rage against him; and shoots a beam of grace, where nothing could be justly expected but a thunderbolt of wrath. It is his goodness to visit any, when they lie putrefying in their loathsome lusts; to draw near to them who have been guilty of the greatest contempt of God, and the light of nature; the murdering Manassehs, the persecuting Sauls, the Christ-crucifying Jews,—persons in whom lusts had had a peaceable possession and empire for many years.

     3. His goodness appears in converting men possessed with the greatest enmity against him, while he was dealing with them. All were in such a state, and framing contrivances against him, when Divine goodness knocked at the door (Col. 1:21). He looked after us when our backs were turned upon him, and sought us when we slighted him, and were a “gainsaying people” (Rom. 10:21); when we had shaken off his convictions, and contended with our Maker, and mustered up the powers of nature against the alarms of conscience; struggled like wild bulls in a net, and blunted those darts that stuck in our souls. Not a man that is turned to him, but had lifted up the heel against his gospel grace, as well as made light of his creating goodness. Yet it hath employed itself about such ungrateful wretches, to polish those knotty and rugged pieces for heaven; and so invincibly, that he would not have his goodness defeated by the fierceness and rebellion of the flesh. Though the thing was more difficult in itself (if anything may be said to have a difficulty to omnipotency) than to make a stone live, or to turn a straw into a marble pillar. The malice of the flesh makes a man more unfit for the one, than the nature of the straw unfits it for the other.

     4. His goodness appears in turning men, when they were pleased with their own misery, and unable to deliver themselves; when they preferred a hell before him, and were in love with their own vileness; when his call was our torment, and his neglect of us had been accounted our felicity. Was it not a mighty goodness to keep the light close to our eyes, when we endeavored to blow it out; and the corrosive near to our hearts, when we endeavored to tear it off, being more fond of our disease than the remedy? We should have been scalded to death with the Sodomite, had not God laid his good hand upon us, and drawn us from the approaching ruin we affected, and were loath to be freed from. And had we been displeased with our state, yet we had been as unable spiritually to raise ourselves from sin to grace, as to raise ourselves naturally from nothing to being. In this state we were when his goodness triumphed over us; when he put a hook into our nostrils, to turn us in order to our salvation; and drew us out of the pit which we had digged, when he might have left us to sink under the rigors of his justice we had merited. Now this goodness in conversion is greater than that in creation; as in creation there is nothing to oppose him, so there was nothing to disoblige him; creation was terminated to the good of a mutable nature, and conversion tends to a supernatural good. God pronounced all creatures good at first, and man among the rest, but did not pronounce any of them, or man himself, his “portion,” his “inheritance,” his “segullah,” his “house,” his “diadem.” He speaks slightly of all those things which he made, the noblest heavens, as well as the lowest earth, in comparison of a true convert: “All those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been: but to this man will I look, to him that is of a contrite spirit” (Isa. 66:1, 2). It is more goodness to give the espousing grace of the covenant, than the completing glory of heaven; as it is more for a prince to marry a beggar, than only to bring her to live deliciously in his courts. All other benefits are of a meaner strain, if compared with this; there is little less of goodness in imparting the holiness of his nature, than imputing the righteousness of his Son.

     6th. The Divine goodness doth appear in answering prayers. He delights to be familiarly acquainted with his people, and to hear them call upon him. He indulgeth them a free access to him, and delights in every address of an “upright man” (Prov. 15:8). The wonderful efficacy of prayer depends not upon the nature of our petitions or the temper of our soul, but the goodness of God to whom we address. Christ establisheth it upon this bottom: when he exhorts to ask in his name, he tells them the spring of all their grants is the Father’s love: “I say not, I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you” (John 16:26, 27). And since it is of itself incredible, that a Majesty, exalted above the cherubims, should stoop so low as to give a miserable and rebellious creature admittance to him, and afford him a gracious hearing, and a quick supply, Christ ushers in the promise of answering prayer with a note of great assurance: “I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you” (Luke 11:9, 10). I, that know the mind of my Father, and his good disposition, assure you your prayer shall not be in vain. Perhaps you will not be so ready of yourselves to imagine so great a liberality; but take it upon my word, it is true, and so you will find it. And his bounty travels, as it were, in birth, to give the greatest blessings, upon our asking, rather than the smallest: “your heavenly Father shall give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him” (ver. 13): which in Matt. 7:11, is called, “good things.” Of all the good and rich things Divine goodness hath in his treasury, he delights to give the best upon asking, because God doth act so as to manifest the greatness of his bounty and magnificence to men; and, therefore, is delighted when men, by their petitioning him, own such a liberal disposition in him, and put him upon the manifesting it. He would rather you should ask the greatest things heaven can afford, than the trifles of this world; because his bounty is not discovered in meaner gifts: he loves to have an opportunity to manifest his affection above the liberality and tenderness of worldly fathers. He doth more wait to give in a way of grace, than we to beg; and, “therefore, will the Lord wait, that be may be gracious unto you” (Isa. 30:18). He stands expecting your suits, and employs his wisdom in pitching upon the fittest seasons, when the manifestation of his goodness may be most gracious in itself, and the mercy you want most welcome to you; as it follows, “for the Lord is a God of judgment.” He chooseth the time wherein his doles may be most acceptable to his suppliants; “In an acceptable time have I heard thee” (Isa. 49:8). He often opens his hand while we are opening our lips, and his blessings meet our petitions at the first setting out upon their journey to heaven: “While they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24). How often do we hear a secret voice within us, while we are praying, saying, “Your prayer is granted;” as well as hear a voice behind us, while we are erring, saying, “This is the way, walk in it!” And his liberality exceeds often our desires, as well as our deserts; and gives out more than we had the wisdom or confidence to ask. The apostle intimates it in that doxology, “Unto Him who is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). This power would not have been so strong an argument of comfort, if it were never put in practice: he is more liberal than his creatures are craving. Abraham petitioned for the life of Ishmael, and God promiseth him the “birth of Isaac” (Gen. 17:18, 19). Isaac asks for a “child,” and God gives him “two” (Gen. 25:21, 22). Jacob desires “food” to eat, and “raiment” to put on; God confines not his bounty within the narrow limits of his petition, but instead of a “staff,” wherewith he passed Jordan, makes him repass it with “two bands” (Gen. 28:20). David asked life of God, and he gave him “life,” and a “crown” to boot (Psalm 21:2–5). The Israelites would have been contented with a free life in Egypt; they only cried to have their chains struck off; God gave them that, and adopts them to be his “peculiar people,” and raises them into a famous state. It is a wonder that God should condescend so much, that he should hear prayers so weak, so cold, so wandering, and gather up our sincere petitions from the dung of our distractions and diffidence. David vents his astonishment at it; “Blessed be God, for he hath shown me marvellous kindness. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless, thou heardest the voice of my supplication” (Psalm 31:21, 22). How do we wonder at the goodness of a petty man, in granting our desires; how much more should we at the humility and goodness of the most sovereign Majesty of heaven and earth!

     7th. The goodness of God is seen in bearing with the infirmities of his people, and accepting imperfect obedience. Though Asa had many blots in his escutcheon, yet they are overlooked, and this note set upon record by Divine goodness, that his heart was perfect towards the Lord all his days; “But the high places were not removed: nevertheless, Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days” (1 Kings 15:14). He takes notice of a sincere, though chequered obedience, to reward it, which could claim nothing but a slight from him, if he were extreme to mark what is done amiss. When there is not an opportunity to work, but only to will, he accepts the will, as if it had passed into work and act. He sees no iniquity in Jacob (Num. 23:21), i. e. He sees it not so as to cast off a respect to their persons, and the acceptance of their services: his omniscience knows their sins, but his goodness doth not reject their persons. He is of so good a disposition, that he delights in a weak obedience of his servants, not in the imperfection, but in the obedience (Psalm 37:23); “He delights in the way of a good man,” though he sometimes slips in it: he accepts a poor man’s pigeon, as well as a rich man’s ox: he hath a bottle for the tears, and a book for the “services of the upright,” as well as for the most perfect obedience of angels (Psalm 56:8): he preserves their tears, as if they were a rich and generous wine, as the vine-dresser doth the expressions of the grape.

     8th. The goodness of God is seen in afflictions and persecutions. If it be “good for us to be afflicted,” for which we have the psalmist’s vote (Psalm 119:71:), then goodness in God is the principal cause and orderer of the afflictions. It is his goodness to snatch away that whence we fetch supports for our security, and encouragements for our insolence against him: he takes away the thing which we have some value for, but such as his infinite wisdom sees inconsistent with our true happiness. It is no ill-will in the physician to take away the hurtful matter the patient loves, and prescribe bitter potions, to advance that health which the other impaired; nor any mark of unkindness in a friend, to wrest a sword out of a madman’s hand, wherewith he was about to stab himself, though it were beset with the most orient pearls. To prevent what is evil, is to do us the greatest good. It is a kindness to prevent a man from falling down a precipice, though it be with a violent blow, that lays him flat upon the ground at some distance from the edge of it. By afflictions he often snaps asunder those chains which fettered us, and quells those passions which ravaged us: he sharpens our faith, and quickens our prayers; he brings us in the secret chamber of our own heart, which we had little mind before to visit by a self-examination. It is such a goodness that he will vouchsafe to correct man in order to his eternal happiness, that Job makes it one part of his astonishment (Job 7:17); “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? that thou shouldest set thy heart upon him? and that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?” His strokes are often the magnifyings and exaltings of man. He sets his heart upon man, while he inflicts the smart of his rod: he shows thereby, what a high account he makes of him, and what a special affection he bears to him. When he might treat us with more severity after the breach of his covenant, and make his jealousy flame out against us in furious methods, he will not destroy his relation to us, and leave us to our own inclinations, but deal with us as a father with his children; and when he takes this course with us, it is when it cannot be avoided without our ruin: his goodness would not suffer him to do it, if our badness did not force him to it (Jer. 9:7), “I will melt them and try them, for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?” What other course can I take but this, according to the nature of man? The goldsmith hath no other way to separate the dross from the metal, but by melting it down. And when the impurities of his people necessitate him to this proceeding, “he sits as a refiner” (Matt. 3:3): he watches for the purifying the silver, not for his own profit as the goldsmith, but out of a care of them, and good will to them; as himself speaks (Isa. 48:10), “I have refined thee, but not with silver;” or, as some read it, “not for silver.” As when he scatters his people abroad for their sin, he will not leave them without his presence for their “sanctuary” (Ezek. 11:16): he would by his presence with them supply the place of ordinances, or be an ark to them in the midst of the deluge: his hand that struck them, is never without a goodness to comfort them and pity them. When Jacob was to go into Egypt, which was to prove a furnace of affliction to his offspring, God promises to go down with him, and to “bring him up again” (Gen. 46:4): a promise not only made to Jacob in his person, but to Jacob in his posterity. He returned not out of Egypt in his person, but as the father of a numerous posterity. He that would go down with their root, and afterwards bring up the branches, was certainly with them in all their oppressions: “I will go down with thee.” “Down,” saith one; what a word is that for a Deity! into Egypt, idolatrous Egypt; what a place is that for his holiness! Yet O, the goodness of God! He never thinks himself low enough to do his people good, nor any place too bad for his society with them. So when he had sent away into captivity the people of Israel by the hand of the Assyrian, his bowels yearn after them in their affliction (Isa. 52:4, 5); the Assyrian “oppressed them without cause,” i. e. without a just cause in the conqueror to inflict so great an evil upon them, but not without cause from God, whom they had provoked. “Now, therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord?” What do I here? I will not stay behind them. What do I longer here? for I will redeem again those jewels the enemy hath carried away. That chapter is a prophecy of redemption: God shows himself so good to his people in their persecutions, that he gives them occasion to glorify him in the very fires, as the Divine order is (Isa. 24:15), “Wherefore glorify the Lord in the fires.”

     9th. The goodness of God is seen in temptations. In those he takes occasion to show his care and watchfulness, as a father uses the distress of a child as an opportunity for manifesting the tenderness of his affection. God is at the beginning and end of every temptation; he measures out both the quality and quantity: he exposeth them not to temptation beyond the ability he had already granted them, or will at the time, or afterwards multiply in them. He hath promised his people that “the gate of hell shall not prevail against them” (1 Cor. 10:13): that “in all things” they shall be “more than conquerors through Him that loved them.” that the most raging malice of hell shall not wrest them out of his hands. His goodness is not less in performing than it was in promising and as the care of his providence extends to the least as well as the greatest, so the watchfulness of his goodness extends to us in the least as well as in the greatest temptations.

     1. The goodness of God appears in shortening temptations. None of them can go beyond their “appointed times” (Dan. 11:35): the strong blast Satan breathes cannot blow, nor the waves he raises rage one minute beyond the time God allows them; when they have done their work, and come to the period of their time, God speaks the word, and the wind and sea of hell must obey him, and retire into their dens. The more violent temptations are, the shorter time doth God allot to them. The assaults Christ had at the time of his death were of the most pressing and urging nature: the powers of darkness were all in arms against him; the reproaches and scorns put upon him, questioning his sonship, were very sharp; yet a little before his suffering he calls it but an hour (Luke 22:53), “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.” A short time that men and devils were combined against him; and the time of temptation that is to come upon all the world for their trial, is called but an “hour” (Rev. 3:10). In all such attempts, the greatness of the rage is a certain prognostic of the shortness of the season (Rev. 12:12).

     2. The goodness of God appears in strengthening his geople under temptations. If he doth not restrain the arm of Satan from striking, he gives us a sword to manage the combat, and a shield to bear off the blow (Eph. 6:16, 17). If he obscures his goodness in one part, he clears and brightens it in another: he either binds the strong man that he shall not stir, or gives us armor to render us victorious. If we fall, it is not for want of provision from him, but for want of our “putting on the armor of God” (Eph. 6:11, 13). When we have not a strength by nature, he gives it us by grace: he often quells those passions within which would join hands with, and second the temptation without. He either qualifies the temptation suitably to the force we have, or else supplies us with a new strength to mate the temptation he intends to let loose against us; he knows we are but dust, and his goodness will not have us unequally matched. The Jews that in Antiochus’ time were under great temptation to apostasy by reason of the violence of their persecutions, were, “out of weakness, made strong” for the combat (Heb. 11:34). The Spirit came more strongly upon Sampson when the Philistines most furiously and confidently assaulted him. His Spirit is sent to strengthen his people before the devil is permitted to tempt them (Matt. 4:2; “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit.” Then; When? When the Spirit had in an extraordinary manner descended upon him (Matt. 3:16), “then,” and not before. As the angels appeared to Christ, after his temptation, to minister to him, so they appeared to him before his passion, the time of the strongest powers of darkness, to strengthen him for it: he is so good, that when he knows our potsherd strength too weak, he furnisheth our recruits from his own omnipotence (Eph. 6:10); “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” He doth, as it were, breathe in something of is own almightiness, to assist us in our wrestling against principalities and powers, and make us capable to sustain the violent storms of the enemies.

     3. The goodness of God is seen in temptations, in giving great comforts in or after them. The Israelites had a more immediate provision of manna from heaven when they were in the wilderness. We read not that the Father spake audibly to the Son, and gave him so loud a testimony, that he was his “beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased,” till he was upon the brink of strong temptations (Matt. 3:17): nor sent angels to minister immediately to his person, till after his success (Matt. 4:11). Job never had such evidences of Divine love till after he had felt the sharp strokes of Satan’s malice; he had heard of God before, by the “hearing of the ear,” but afterwards is admitted into greater familiarity (Job 42:5): he had more choice appearances, clearer illuminations, and more lively instructions. And, though his people fall into temptation, yet, after their rising, they have more signal marks of his favor than others have, or themselves, before they fell. Peter had been the butt of Satan’s rage, in tempting him to deny Christ, and he had shamefully complied with the temptation; yet, to him particularly, must the first news of the Redeemer’s resurrection be carried, by God’s order, in the mouth of an angel (Mark 16:7); “Go your ways, tell his disciples, and Peter.” We have the greatest communion with God after a victory; the most refreshing truths after the devil hath done his worst. God is ready to furnish us with strength in a combat, and cordials after it.

     4. The goodness of God is seen in temptations, in discovering and advancing inward grace by this means. The issue of a temptation of a Christian is often like that of Christ’s, the manifesting a greater vigor of the Divine nature, in affections to God, and enmity to sin. Spices perfume not the air with their scent till they are invaded by the fire: the truth of grace is evidenced by them. The assault of an enemy revives, and actuates that strength and courage which is in a man, perhaps unknown to himself, as well as others, till he meets with an adversary: many seem good, not that they are so in themselves, but for want of a temptation: this many times verifies a virtue, which was owned upon trust before, and discovers that we had more grace than we thought we had. The solicitations of Joseph’s mistress cleared up his chastity: we are many times under temptation, as a candle under the snuffer; it seems to be out, but presently burns the clearer. Afflictions are like those clouds which look black, and eclipse the sun from the earth, but yet, when they drop, refresh that ground they seem to threaten, and multiply the grain on the earth, to serve for our food; and so our troubles, while they wet us to the skin, wash much of that dust from our graces which in a clearer day had been blown upon us. Too much rest corrupts; exercise teacheth us to manage our weapons: the spiritual armor would grow rusty, without opportunity to furbish it up; faith receives a new heart by every combat, and by every victory; like a fire, it spreads itself further, and gathers strength by the blowing of the wind. While the gardener commands his servant to shake the tree, he intends to fasten its roots, and settle it firmer in its place; and is this an ill-will to the plant?

     5. His goodness is seen in temptations, in preventing sin which we were likely to fall into. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was to prevent the pride of his spirit, and let out the windiness of his heart (2 Cor. 12:7), lest it should be exalted above measure. The goodness of God makes the devil a polisher, while he intends to be a destroyer. The devil never works, but suitably to some corruption lurking in us: Divine goodness makes his fiery darts a means to discover, and so to prevent the treachery of that perfidious inmate in our hearts; humility is a greater benefit than a putrefying pride; if God brings us into a wilderness to be tempted of the evil, it is to bring down our loftiness, to starve our carnal confidence, and expel our rusting “security” (Deut. 8:2); we many times fly under a temptation to God, from whom we sat too loose before. Is it not goodness to use those means that may drive us into his own arms? It is not a want of goodness to soap the garment, in order to take away the spots; we have reason to bless God for the assaults from hell, as well as pure mercies from heaven; and it is a sin to overlook the one as well as the other, since Divine goodness shines in both.

     8. The goodness of God is seen in temptations, in fitting us more for his service. Those whom God intends to make choice instruments in his service, are first seasoned with strong temptations, as timber reserved for the strong beams of a building is first exposed to sun and wind, to make it more compact for its proper use. By this men are brought to answer the end of their creation, the service of God, which is their proper goodness. Peter was, after his foil by a temptation, more courageous in his Master’s cause than before, and the more fitted to strengthen his brethren.

     Thus the goodness of God appears in all parts of his government.

     V. I shall now come to the Use. First, Of instruction.

     1. If God be so good, how unworthy is the contempt or abuse of his goodness! (1.) The contempt and abuse of Divine goodness is frequent and common; it began in the first ages of the world, and commenced a few moments after the creation; it hath not to this day diminished its affronts; Adam began the dance, and his posterity have followed him; the injury was directed against this, when he entertained the seducer’s notion of God’s being an envious Deity, in not indulging such a knowledge as he might have afforded him (Gen. 3:5): “God doth know, that you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The charge of envy is utterly inconsistent with pure goodness. What was the language of this notion, so easily entertained by Adam, but that the tempter was better than God, and the nature of God as base and sordid as the nature of a devil! Satan paints God with his own colors, represents him as envious and malicious as himself; Adam admires, and believes the picture to be true, and hangs it up as a beloved one in the closet of his heart. The devil still drives on the same game, fills men’s hearts with the same sentiments, and by the same means he murdered our first parents, he redoubles the stabs to his posterity. Every violation of the Divine law is a contempt of God’s goodness, as well as his sovereignty, because his laws are the products both of the one and the other. Goodness animates them, while sovereignty enjoys them: God hath commanded nothing but what doth conduce to our happiness. All disobedience implies, that his law is a snare to entrap us, and make us miserable, and not an act of kindness, to render us happy, which is a disparagement to this perfection, as if he had commanded what would promote our misery, and prohibited what would conduce to our blessedness: to go far from him, and walk after vanity, is to charge him with our iniquity, and unrighteousness, baseness, and cruelty, in his commands: God implies it by his speech (Jer. 2:5), “What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and walked after vanity?” as if, like a tyrant, he had consulted cruelty in the composure of them, and designed to feast himself with the blood and misery of his creatures. Every sin is, in its own nature, a denial of God to be the chiefest good and happiness, and implies that it is no great matter to lose him: it is a forsaking him as the Fountain of Life, and a preferring a “cracked and empty cistern” as the chief happiness before him (Jer. 2:13). Though sin is not so evil as God is good, yet it is the greatest evil, and stands in opposition to God as the greatest good. Sin disorders the frame of the world; it endeavored to frustrate all the communications of Divine goodness in creation, and to stop up the way of any further streams of it to his creatures.

     (2.) The abuse and contempt of the Divine goodness is base and disingenious. It is the highest wickedness, because God is the highest goodness, pure goodness that cannot have anything in him worthy of our contempt. Let men injure God under what notion they will, they injure his goodness; because all his attributes are summed up in this one, and all, as it were, deified by it. For whatsoever power or wisdom he might have, if he were destitute of this he were not God: the contempt of his goodness implies him to be the greatest evil, and worst of beings. Badness, not goodness, is the proper object of contempt: as respect is a propension of mind to something that is good, so contempt is an alienation of the mind from something as evil, either simply or supposedly evil in its nature, or base or unworthy in its action towards that person that contemns it. As men desire nothing but what they apprehend to be good, so they slight nothing but what they apprehend to be evil: since nothing, therefore, is more contemned by us than God, nothing more spurned at by us than God, it will follow that we regard him as the most loathsome and despicable being, which is the greatest baseness. And our contempt of him is worse than that of the devils; they injure him under the inevitable strokes of his justice, and we slight him when we are surrounded with the expressions of his bounty; they abuse him under vials of wrath, and we under a plenteous liberality: they malice him, because he inflicts on them what is hurtful; and we despise him, because he commands what is profitable, holy, and honorable, in its own nature, though not in our esteem. They are not under those high obligations as we; they abuse his creating, and we his redeeming goodness: he never sent his Son to shed a drop of blood for their recovery; they can expect nothing but the torment of their persons, and the destruction of their works; but we abuse that goodness that would rescue us since we are miserable, as well as that righteousness which created us innocent. How base is it to use him so ill, that is not once or twice, but a daily, hourly Benefactor to us; whose rain drops upon the earth for our food, and whose sun shines upon the earth for our pleasure as well as profit such a Benefactor as is the true Proprietor of what we have, and thinks nothing too good for them that think everything too much for his service! How unworthy is it to be guilty of such base carriage towards him, whose benefits we cannot want, nor live without! How disingenious both to God and ourselves, to “despise the riches of his goodness, that are designed to lead us to repentance” (Rom. 2:4), and by that to happiness! And more heinous are the sins of renewed men upon this account, because they are against his “goodness” not only offered to them, but tasted by them; not only against the notion of goodness, but the experience of goodness, and the relished sweetness of choicest bounty.

     (3). God takes this contempt of his goodness heinously. He never upbraids men with anything in the Scripture, but with the abuse of the good things he hath vouchsafed them, and the unmindfulness of the obligations arising from them. This he bears with the greatest regret and indignation. Thus he upbraids Eli with the preference of him to the priesthood above other families (1 Sam. 2:28): and David with his exaltation to the crown of Israel (2 Sam. 12:7–9), when they abused those honors to carelessness and licentiousness. All sins offend God, but sins against his goodness do more disparage him; and, therefore, his fury is the greater, by how much the more liberally his benefits have been dispensed. It was for abuse of Divine goodness, as soon as it was tasted, that some angels were hurled from their blessed habitation and more happy nature: it was for this Adam lost his present enjoyments, and future happiness, for the abuse of God’s goodness in creation. For the abuse of God’s goodness the old world fell under the fury of the flood; and for the contempt of the Divine goodness in redemption, Jerusalem, once the darling city of the infinite Monarch of the world, was made an Aceldema, a field of blood. For this cause it is, that candlesticks have been removed, great lights put out, nations overturned, and ignorance hath triumphed in places bright before with the beams of heaven. God would have little care of his own goodness, if he always prostituted the fruits of it to our contempt. Why should we expect he should always continue that to us which he sees we will never use to his service? When the Israelites would dedicate the gifts of God to the service of Baal, then he would return, and take away his corn, and his wine, and make them know by the loss, that those things were his in dominion, which they abused, as if they had been sovereign lords of them (Hos. 2:8, 9). Benefits are entailed upon us no longer than we obey (Josh. 24:20): “If you forsake the Lord, he will do you hurt, after he hath done you good.” While we obey, his bounty shall shower upon us: and when we revolt, his justice shall consume us. Present mercies abused, are no bulwarks against independent judgments. God hath curses as well as blessings; and they shall light more heavy when his blessings have been more weighty: justice is never so severe as when it comes to right goodness, and revenge its quarrel for the injuries received.

     A convenient inquiry may be here, How God’s goodness is contemned or abused?

     1st. By a forgetfulness of his benefits. We enjoy the mercies, and forget the Donor; we take what he gives, and pay not the tribute he deserves; the “Israelites forgot God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt” (Psalm 106:21). We send God’s mercies where we would have God send our sins, into the land of forgetfulness, and write his benefits where himself will write the names of the wicked, in the dust, which every wind defaceth: the remembrance soon wears out of our minds, and we are so far from remembering what we had before, that we scarce think of that hand that gives, the very instant wherein his benefits drop upon us. Adam basely forgot his Benefactor, presently after he had been made capable to remember him, and reflect upon him; the first remark we hear of him, is of his forgetfulness, not a syllable of his thankfulness. We forget those souls he hath lodged in us, to acknowledge his favors to our bodies; we forget that image wherewith he beautified us, and that Christ he exposed as a criminal to death for our rescue, which is such an act of goodness as cannot be expressed by the eloquence of the tongue, or conceived by the acuteness of the mind. Those things which are so common, that they cannot be invisible to our eyes, are unregarded by our minds; our sense prompts our understanding, and our understanding is deaf to the plain dictates of our sense. We forget his goodness in the sun, while it warms us, and his showers while they enrich us; in the corn, while it nourisheth us, and the wine while it refresheth us; “She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil” (Hos. 2:8): she that might have read my hand in every bit of bread, and every drop of drink, did not consider this. It is an injustice to forget the benefits we receive from man; it is a crime of a higher nature to forget those dispensed to us by the hand of God, who gives us those things that all the world cannot furnish us with, without him. The inhabitants of Troas will condemn us, who worshipped mice, in a grateful remembrance of the victory they bad made easy for them, by gnawing their enemies’ bow-strings. They were mindful of the courtesy of animals, though unintended by those creatures; and we are regardless of the fore-meditated bounty of God. It is in God’s judgment a brutishness beyond that of a stupid ox, or a duller ass; “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider” (Isa. 1:3). The ox knows his owner that pastures him, and the ass his master that feeds him; but man is not so good as to be like to them, but so bad as to be inferior to them: he forgets Him that sustains him, and spurns at him, instead of valuing him for the benefits conferred by him. How horrible is it, that God should lose more by his bounty, than he would do by his parsimony! If we had blessings more sparingly, we should remember him more gratefully. If be had sent us a bit of bread in a distress by a miracle, as he did to Elijah by the ravens, it would have stuck longer in our memories; but the sense of daily favors soonest wears out of our minds, which are as great miracles as any in their own nature, and the products of the same power; but the wonder they should beget in us, is obscured by their frequency.

     2d. The goodness of God is contemned by an impatient murmuring. Our repinings proceed from an inconsideration of God’s free liberality, and an ungrateful temper of spirit. Most men are guilty of this. It is implied in the commendation of Job under his pressures (Job 1:22): “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly,” as if it were a character peculiar to him, whereby he verified the eulogy God had given of him before (ver. 8), that there was “none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man.” What is implied by the expression? but that scarce a man is to be found without unjust complaints of God, and charging him under their crosses with cruelty; when in the greatest they have much more reason to bless him for his bounty in the remainder. Good men have not been innocent. Baruch complains of God for adding grief to his sorrow, not furnishing him with those “great things” he expected (Jer. 45:3, 4); whereas, he had matter of thankfulness in God’s gift of his life as a prey. But his master chargeth God in a higher strain: “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: I am in derision daily” (Jer. 20:7). When he met with reproach instead of success in the execution of his function, he quarrels with God, as if he had a mind to cheat him into a mischief, when he had more reason to bless him for the honor of being employed in his service. Because we have not what we expect, we slight his goodness in what we enjoy. If he cross us in one thing, be might have made us successless in more: if he take away some things, he might as well have taken away all. The unmerited remainder, though never so little, deserves our acknowledgements more than the deserved loss can justify our repining. And for that which is snatched from us, there is more cause to be thankful, that we have enjoyed it so long, than to murmur that we possess it no longer. Adam’s sin implies a repining: he imagined God had been short in his goodness, in not giving him a knowledge he foolishly conceived himself capable of, and would venture a forfeiture of what already had been bountifully bestowed upon him. Man thought God had envied him, and ever since man studies to be even with God; and envies him the free disposal of his own doles: all murmuring, either in our own cause or others, charges God with a want of goodness, because there is a want of that which he foolishly thinks would make himself or others happy. The language of this sin is, that man thinks himself better than God; and if it were in his power, would express a more plentiful goodness than his Maker. As man is apt to think himself “more pure than God” (Job 4:17), so of a kinder nature also than an infinite goodness. The Israelites are a wonderful example of this contempt of Divine goodness; they had been spectators of the greatest miracles, and partakers of the choicest deliverance: he had solicited their redemption from captivity; and when words would not do, he came to blows for them, musters up his judgments against their enemies, and, at last, as the Lord of hosts and God of battles, totally defeats their pursuers, and drowns them and their proud hopes of victory in the Red Sea. Little account was made of all this by the redeemed ones; “they lightly esteemed the rock of their salvation,” and launch into greater unworthiness, instead of being thankful for the breaking their yoke: they are angry with him, that he had done so much for them: they repented that ever they had complied with him, for their own deliverance, and had a regret that they had been brought out of Egypt: they were angry that they were freemen, and that their chains had been knocked off: they were more desirous to return to the oppression of their Egyptian tyrants, than have God for their governor and caterer, and be fed with his manna. “It was well with us in Egypt: Why came we forth out of Egypt?” which is called a “despising the Lord” (Num. 9:18, 20). They were so far from rejoicing in the expectation of the future benefits promised them, that they murmured that they had not enjoyed less; they were so sottish, as to be desirous to put themselves into the irons whence God had delivered them: they would seek a remedy in that Egypt, which had been the prison of their nation, and under the successors of that Pharaoh, who had been the invader of their liberties; they would snatch Moses from the place where the Lord, by an extraordinary providence, hath established him; they would stone those that minded them of the goodness of God to them, and thereupon of their crime and their duty (Num. 16:3, 9–11); they rose against their benefactors, and “murmured against God,” that had strengthened the hands of their deliverers; they “despised the manna” he had sent them, and “despised the pleasant land” he intended them (Psalm 106:24): all which was a high contempt of God and his unparalleled goodness and care of them. All murmuring is an accusation of Divine goodness.

     3d. By unbelief and impenitency. What is the reason we come not to Him when he calls us; but some secret imagination that he is of an ill nature, means not as he speaks, but intends to mock us, instead of welcoming us? When we neglect his call, spurn at his bowels, slight the riches of his grace; as it is a disparagement to his wisdom to despise his counsel, so it is to his goodness to slight his offers, as though you could make better provision for yourselves than he is able or willing to do. It disgraceth that which is designed to the praise of the glory of his grace, and renders God cruel to his own Son, as being an unnecessary shedder of his blood. As the devil by his temptation of Adam, envied God the glory of his creating goodness, so unbelief envies God the glory of his redeeming grace: it is a bidding defiance to him, and challenging him to muster up the legions of his judgments, rather than have sent his Son to suffer for us, or his Spirit to solicit us. Since the sending his Son was the greatest act of goodness that God could express, the refusal of him must be the highest reproach of that liberality God designed to commend to the world in so rare a gift: the ingratitude in this refusal must be as high in the rank of sins, as the person slighted is in the rank of beings, or rank of gifts. Christ is a gift (Rom. 5:16), the royalest gift, an unparalleled gift, springing from inconceivable treasures of goodness (John 3:16). What is our turning our backs upon this gift but a low opinion of it? as though the richest jewel of heaven were not so valuable as a swinish pleasure on earth, and deserved to be treated at no other rate than if mere offals had been presented to us. The plain language of it is, that there were no gracious intentions for our welfare in this present; and that he is not as good, in the mission of his Son, as he would induce us to imagine. Impenitence is also an abuse of this goodness, either by presumption, as if God would entertain rebels that bid defiance against him with the same respect that he doth his prostrate and weeping suppliants; that he will have the same regard to the swine as to the children, and lodge them in the same habitation; or it speaks a suspicion of God as a deceitful Master, one of a pretended, not a real goodness, that makes promises to mock men, and invitations to delude them: that he is an implacable tyrant, rather than a good Father; a rigid, not a kind Being, delightful only to mark our faults, and overlook our services.

     4th. The goodness of God is contemned by a distrust of his providence. As all trust in him supposeth him good, so all distrust of him supposeth him evil; either without goodness to exert his power, or without power to display his goodness. Job seems to have a spice of this in his complaint (Job 30:20), “I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me; I stand up, and thou regardest me not.” It is a fume of the serpent’s venom, first breathed into man, to suspect him of cruelty, severity, regardlessness, even under the daily evidences of his good disposition: and it is ordinary not to believe him when he speaks, nor credit him when he acts; to question the goodness of his precepts, and misinterpret the kindness of his providence; as if they were designed for the supports of a tyranny, and the deceit of the miserable. Thus the Israelites thought their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, and the placing them in security in the wilderness, was intended only to pound them up for a slaughter (Num. 14:3): thus they defiled the lustre of Divine goodness which they had so highly experimented, and placed not that confidence in him which was due to so frequent a Benefactor, and thereby crucified the rich kindness of God, as Genebrard translates the word “limited” (Psalm 78:41). It is also a jealousy of Divine goodness, when we seek to deliver ourselves from our straits by unlawful ways, as though God had not kindness enough to deliver us without committing evil. What! did God make a world, and all creatures in it, to think of them no more, not to concern himself in their affairs? If he be good, he is diffusive, and delights to communicate himself; and what subjects should there be for it, but those that seek him, and implore his assistance? It is an indignity to Divine bounty to have such mean thoughts of it, that it should be of a nature contrary to that of his works, which, the better they are, the more diffusive they are. Doth a man distrust that the sun will not shine any more, or the earth not bring forth its fruit? Doth he distrust the goodness of an approved medicine for the expelling his distemper? If we distrust those things, should we not render ourselves ridiculous and sottish? and if we distrust the Creator of those things, do we not make ourselves contemners of his goodness? If his caring for us be a principal argument to move us to cast our care upon him, as it is 1 Pet. 5:7, “Casting your care upon him, for he cares for you;” then, if we cast not our care upon him, it is a denial of his gracious care of us, as if he regarded not what becomes of us.

The Existence and Attributes of God


1 Corinthians 5 - 8
Lean-into-GOD






Grace Be With You All
Alistair Begg





Communion With Christ
Alistair Begg






Mark 13 - An Introduction
Alistair Begg





A Question For Jesus
Alistair Begg






Signs of the End
Alistair Begg





Be On Guard!
Alistair Begg






The Coming of the Son of Man
Alistair Begg





A Wake Up Call!
Alistair Begg






The Faithfulness of God
Alistair Begg





Whole-Hearted Devotion
Alistair Begg