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11/6/2017
Habakkuk
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Habakkuk 1:1     The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.

The Prophet’s Complaint

2     O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3     Why do you make me see wrongdoing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4     So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

5     Look at the nations, and see!
Be astonished! Be astounded!
For a work is being done in your days
that you would not believe if you were told.
6     For I am rousing the Chaldeans,
that fierce and impetuous nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7     Dread and fearsome are they;
their justice and dignity proceed from themselves.
8     Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more menacing than wolves at dusk;
their horses charge.
Their horsemen come from far away;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
9     They all come for violence,
with faces pressing forward;
they gather captives like sand.
10     At kings they scoff,
and of rulers they make sport.
They laugh at every fortress,
and heap up earth to take it.
11     Then they sweep by like the wind;
they transgress and become guilty;
their own might is their god!

12     Are you not from of old,
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
You shall not die.
O Lord, you have marked them for judgment;
and you, O Rock, have established them for punishment.
13     Your eyes are too pure to behold evil,
and you cannot look on wrongdoing;
why do you look on the treacherous,
and are silent when the wicked swallow
those more righteous than they?
14     You have made people like the fish of the sea,
like crawling things that have no ruler.

15     The enemy brings all of them up with a hook;
he drags them out with his net,
he gathers them in his seine;
so he rejoices and exults.
16     Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and makes offerings to his seine;
for by them his portion is lavish,
and his food is rich.
17     Is he then to keep on emptying his net,
and destroying nations without mercy?


God’s Reply to the Prophet’s Complaint

Habakkuk 2:1     I will stand at my watchpost,
and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
2     Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
3     For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.
4     Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith.
5     Moreover, wealth is treacherous;
the arrogant do not endure.
They open their throats wide as Sheol;
like Death they never have enough.
They gather all nations for themselves,
and collect all peoples as their own.

The Woes of the Wicked

6 Shall not everyone taunt such people and, with mocking riddles, say about them,
“Alas for you who heap up what is not your own!”
How long will you load yourselves with goods taken in pledge?
7     Will not your own creditors suddenly rise,
and those who make you tremble wake up?
Then you will be booty for them.
8     Because you have plundered many nations,
all that survive of the peoples shall plunder you—
because of human bloodshed, and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who live in them.

9     “Alas for you who get evil gain for your houses,
setting your nest on high
to be safe from the reach of harm!”
10     You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
11     The very stones will cry out from the wall,
and the plaster will respond from the woodwork.

12     “Alas for you who build a town by bloodshed,
and found a city on iniquity!”
13     Is it not from the Lord of hosts
that peoples labor only to feed the flames,
and nations weary themselves for nothing?
14     But the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea.

15     “Alas for you who make your neighbors drink,
pouring out your wrath until they are drunk,
in order to gaze on their nakedness!”
16     You will be sated with contempt instead of glory.
Drink, you yourself, and stagger!
The cup in the Lord’s right hand
will come around to you,
and shame will come upon your glory!
17     For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you;
the destruction of the animals will terrify you—
because of human bloodshed and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who live in them.

18     What use is an idol
once its maker has shaped it—
a cast image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in what has been made,
though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!
19     Alas for you who say to the wood, “Wake up!”
to silent stone, “Rouse yourself!”
Can it teach?
See, it is gold and silver plated,
and there is no breath in it at all.

20     But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him!


Habakkuk 3:1     A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk according to Shigionoth.

The Prophet’s Prayer

2     O Lord, I have heard of your renown,
and I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work.
In our own time revive it;
in our own time make it known;
in wrath may you remember mercy.
3     God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.     Selah
His glory covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
4     The brightness was like the sun;
rays came forth from his hand,
where his power lay hidden.
5     Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed close behind.
6     He stopped and shook the earth;
he looked and made the nations tremble.
The eternal mountains were shattered;
along his ancient pathways
the everlasting hills sank low.
7     I saw the tents of Cushan under affliction;
the tent-curtains of the land of Midian trembled.
8     Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord?
Or your anger against the rivers,
or your rage against the sea,
when you drove your horses,
your chariots to victory?
9     You brandished your naked bow,
sated were the arrows at your command.     Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
10     The mountains saw you, and writhed;
a torrent of water swept by;
the deep gave forth its voice.
The sun raised high its hands;
11     the moon stood still in its exalted place,
at the light of your arrows speeding by,
at the gleam of your flashing spear.
12     In fury you trod the earth,
in anger you trampled nations.
13     You came forth to save your people,
to save your anointed.
You crushed the head of the wicked house,
laying it bare from foundation to roof.     Selah
14     You pierced with their own arrows the head of his warriors,
who came like a whirlwind to scatter us,
gloating as if ready to devour the poor who were in hiding.
15     You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the mighty waters.

16     I hear, and I tremble within;
my lips quiver at the sound.
Rottenness enters into my bones,
and my steps tremble beneath me.
I wait quietly for the day of calamity
to come upon the people who attack us.

Trust and Joy in the Midst of Trouble

17     Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
18     yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
19     God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
and makes me tread upon the heights.

To the leader: with stringed instruments.



The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]


Biblical Topics

Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of Philip”?

By J. Warner Wallace 11/3/2017

     The Gospel of Philip is an ancient text purportedly written by the disciple who knew Jesus personally. But is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Philip? There are four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first attribute requires that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Gospel of Philip was written too late in history to have been written by the disciple we know as Philip, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of Philip does mention many accurate (and ancient) claims related to Jesus.  Although it is a legendary fabrication written by an author who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of his religious community, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from this late text:

     The Gospel of Philip (180-250AD) | The Gospel of Philip is yet another Gnostic gospel discovered as part of the Nag Hammadi collection in Egypt in 1945. The text was bound in the same codex that also contained The Gospel of Thomas, but unlike The Gospel of Thomas, this text is not a collection of “sayings of Jesus” as much as it is a collection of “Gnostic teachings”. The original text was not called The Gospel of Philip; this title has been applied to the text in modern times because Philip is the only disciple of Jesus that is mentioned in the document.

     Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | Because The Gospel of Philip was not originally known by this name, it’s difficult to determine how the Church Fathers and those closest to the eyewitnesses of Jesus assessed the document. Scholars typically date the authorship of the text from the late 2nd to mid-3rd century (most preferring the later dating) and this dating places it far too late in history to be an eyewitness account of the statements and sayings it records (Philip, for example, died in 80AD). This late dating seems quite reasonable given the fact that The Gospel of Philip repeatedly quotes several New Testament texts (such as the Gospels of Matthew and John, 1 Corinthians and 1 Peter) as though they were already well established in Christendom. Scholars also believe that the text reflects the Gnostic theology of Valentinus (a 2nd century Gnostic theologian). Valentinian Gnosticism was vigorously denounced by Irenaeus in Against Heresies (170AD), by Tertullian in Against Valentinus (early 200’s), and by Epiphanius of Salamis in Against Heresies (374-377AD). The Gospel of Philip is clearly a Gnostic document similar to other heretical texts condemned by those who were evaluating the manuscript closest to the time of its alleged authorship.

     How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | In spite of the Gnostic nature of The Gospel of Philip, it does acknowledge a number of details related to the life and ministry of Jesus. It identifies Jesus as the “Christ”, the “Savior”, “Jesus the Nazorean, Messiah”, the “Son of Man” and the “Word” who clearly possesses the wisdom of God. It also identifies the followers of Jesus as “Christians” and acknowledges the existence of “disciples” and “apostles”. The Gospel of Philip also acknowledges that Jesus laid down his life to “ransom”, “save” and “redeem”, dying a sacrificial death on the cross and resurrecting from the dead. The text also acknowledges a few Biblical characters, including Mary and Joseph, Mary Magdalene and Philip. The text also acknowledges and quotes several passages from the canonical New Testament documents, including “He said, ‘My Father who is in secret’. He said, ‘Go into your chamber and shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father who is in secret’” (from Matthew 6:6), “He who sins is the slave of sin” (from John 8:34), “Love builds up” (from 1 Corinthians 8:1), “love covers a multitude of sins” (from 1 Peter 4:8), “Already the axe is laid at the root of the trees” (from Matthew 3:10), “If you know the truth, the truth will make you free” (from John 8:32) and “Every plant which my father who is in heaven has not planted will be plucked out.” (from Matthew 15:13).

     Where (and Why) Does It Differ from the Reliable Accounts? | The Gospel of Philip once again portrays Jesus as the source of hidden, esoteric knowledge in a manner that is very similar to other Gnostic texts. It is most famous for its references to Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of Philip contains a passage which describes Jesus as favoring Mary Magdalene and refers to her as his companion. In addition, there is a second passage that is badly damaged that some have reconstructed in the following way (assumptions about the text are in brackets and italicized): “And the companion of [the Savior was Mar]y Ma[gda]lene. [Christ loved] M[ary] more than [all] the disci[ples, and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth].” This reconstruction clearly presumes a great deal and may be completely mistaken. It does appear that the author is claiming that Jesus favored Mary in some way, but this favoritism is not based on a sexual interest. It is based, instead, on Mary’s alleged ability to comprehend the teaching of Jesus: “They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Saviour answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.” In addition, another Gnostic document found in the Nag Hammadi library (The Second Apocalypse of James) describes Jesus kissing James in a very similar way and calling James His “beloved”. Like this text, the Apocalypse of James uses a Gnostic literary device of a “kiss” as a metaphor for the passing of “gnosis”. Nothing in The Gospel of Philip indicates that the author was claiming that Jesus was married to Mary (as some have suggested), and although the author used the word “wife” in other passages, it was never used to describe Mary.

Click here to read all of the article

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

The Research Proves The No. 1 Social Justice Imperative Is Marriage

By Glenn T. Stanton 11/3/2017

     A foundational value in our nation is the opportunity for all its citizens to be able to compete for a fair and meaningful shot at the American dream. This begins with access to citizenship, educational opportunity, and securing meaningful work that leads to greater life opportunities via commitment, diligence, and self-sacrifice. But an important contributor to putting and keeping men, women, and children on the escalator toward the American dream is little-known and widely ignored.

     Just 70 years ago, social mobility and protection from poverty were largely a factor of employment. Those who had full-time work of any kind were seldom poor. Fifty years ago, education marked the gulf separating the haves from the have-nots. For the last 20 years or more, though, marital status has increasingly become the central factor in whether our neighbors and their children rise above, remain, or descend into poverty. The research is astounding.

     Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute explains in his important book “Coming Apart: The State of White America” that in 1960, the poorly and moderately educated were only 10 percent less likely to be married than the college educated, with both numbers quite high: 84 and 94 respectively. That parity largely held until the late 1970s.

     35 percent margin and the gap continues to expand. All the movement is on one side. Marriage is sinking dramatically among lower- and middle-class Americans, down to a minority of 48 percent today. No indicators hint at any slowing. It’s remained generally constant among the well-to-do. This stark trend line led Murray to lament, “Marriage has become the fault line dividing America’s classes.” He has company in this conclusion.

     Marriage Matters Lots More than Income and Race | Jonathan Rauch writing in the National Journal, certainly no conservative, notes that “marriage is displacing both income and race as the great class divide of the new century.” Isabel Sawhill, a senior scholar at the center-left Brookings Institute, boldly and correctly proclaimed some years ago that “the proliferation of single-parent households accounts for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since the early 1970s.” Virtually all of the increase!

Click here to read all of the article

     Glenn is the Director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family and a research fellow at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. He debates and lectures extensively on gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the country. He served the George W. Bush administration for many years as a consultant on increasing fatherhood involvement in the Head Start program.

     He and his wife Jacqueline have five endlessly growing kids and they all live relatively happily in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

Glenn T. Stanton Books:

The World Is God’s Classroom

By J.A. Medders 5/8/2016

     Theology is all around you, ripe for the picking. Take, eat: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8).

     Having a right and rotund theology of God is vital to our discipleship with Jesus Christ. Theology isn’t meant to be quarantined to books on shelves, or chained to the grounds of a seminary’s campus. Theology is for everyday Christianity, for us “ordinary” Christians, for all of life, in all of life, for the glory of God. Theology is always relevant because God is omni-relevant.

     Theology is everywhere because God is everywhere. His omnipresence provides a fresh lens for the present. It’s easy to take cheap shots at theology as being a mere mind-filler, but thanks be to God it is more.

     We must see that, yes, theology is for the mind, but it is for loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. To belittle theology is to belittle our God who architected the universe to be an animated systematic theology. God loves theology. God’s world is a free seminary course for every saint under the sun.

     The World Is a Seminary | God tells us in the Psalms that he is theologizing — teaching, training, informing — us about himself. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Again, “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).

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     J.A. Medders is the lead pastor of Redeemer Church in Tomball, Texas, where he lives with his wife Natalie and their two kids. He is the author of Gospel Formed: Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life and blogs at jamedders.com.

The Holiness of God

By R.C. Sproul

     We point now to one more man in the Old Testament who challenged God. The prophet Habakkuk took God to task for doing things that offended his sense of justice. The prophet was appalled that God’s people should suffer at the hands of a more wicked nation than they were themselves. On the surface it looked as if God had abandoned his promises to the Jews and had become a turncoat, giving His divine allegiance to the wicked Babylonians. For Habakkuk this was comparable to a modern-day Jew wondering if God was on Hitler’s side during the Holocaust. Habakkuk’s complaint was registered with a loud protest:

     See Habakkuk 1:2-4 in the Daily Bible reading above.

     Habakkuk was flaming angry. His complaint was so heated that he overdid it a bit. He said, “Justice never prevails.” Surely there is injustice in this world that awaits final rectification, but to say that justice never prevails is going overboard. Like Job, Habakkuk demanded some answers. He went to the mat with God and was prepared to wrestle it out. He stood in his watchtower, waiting for a reply from the Almighty. When God finally spoke, Habakkuk’s reaction was like Job’s:

     See Habakkuk 3:1-16 in the Daily Bible reading above.

     The response of the prophet was like a small child who is scolded by a parent. His heart palpitated, and his lips began to quiver. We have all seen small children on the verge of tears. They try to hold back the flood but the tremor in the lower lip gives them away. Here was a grown man whose lips quivered in the presence of God. He felt a kind of internal rottenness, a decay entering his very bones. The skeletal structure of the man felt as if it were collapsing. The trembling of the mysterium tremendum attacked his legs; his knees began to knock. He walked away from his wrestling match with God, but he walked on wobbly legs.

     With the appearance of God, all of Habakkuk’s angry protests ceased. Suddenly the tone of his speech changed from one of bitter despair to one of unwavering confidence and hope:

     See Habakkuk 3:17-18 in the Daily Bible reading above.

     Habakkuk was now as fierce in his joy as he had been in his despair. He was able to rest absolutely in God’s sovereignty. His words, translated into modern jargon, might sound like this:

     Though the budget is never balanced, though the stock market crashes; if food prices skyrocket and basic steel loses to Japanese imports, though the auto industry folds, and the banks close their doors; if the Russians rape our land and the Steelers lose the Super Bowl; yet will I rejoice in the God of my salvation.

     Jacob, Job, and Habakkuk all declared war on God. They all stormed the battlements of heaven. They were all defeated, yet they all came away from the struggle with uplifted souls. They paid a price in pain. God allowed the debate, but the battle was fierce before peace was established.

R.C. Sproul Books:

The Distinguishing Mark of Christianity

By John MacArthur

     Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3) is the distinguishing article of Christianity and marks the essential confession of faith (Romans 10:9). Jesus proclaimed it to His disciples, His enemies, and His casual inquirers alike — and He refused to tone down its implications.

     The expression "Lord" (kurios) speaks of ownership, while "Master/Lord" (despotes) denotes an unquestionable right to command (John 13:13Jude 4). Both words describe a master with absolute dominion over someone else. That explains Jesus' incredulity at the practice of those who paid homage to Him with their lips but not with their lives: "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46).

     Doulos frequently describes what it means to be a true Christian: "He who was called while free, is Christ's slave [doulos]. You were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 7:22-23). It describes the lowest, abject bond slave; his service is not a matter of choice.

     A Misleading Translation | Unfortunately, readers of the English Bible have long been shielded from the full force of doulos because of an ages-old tendency to translate it as "servant" or "bond-servant." This tendency is regrettable, since service and slavery are not the same thing. "No one can be a slave to two masters" (Matthew 6:24) makes better sense than "No one can serve two masters." An employee with two jobs could indeed serve two masters; but a slave could not. Scripture repeatedly calls Christians "slaves" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), purchased for God (Revelation 5:9). This is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian (Romans 14:7-9).

     A Revolting Concept | Not only is slave a word loaded with negative connotations, but our generation is also fixated on the concepts of freedom, fulfillment, and autonomy. Saving faith and Christian discipleship have been reduced to the cliché "a personal relationship with Jesus." It's hard to imagine a more disastrous twisting of what it means to be a Christian. Many people (including Judas and Satan) had some kind of "personal relationship" with Jesus during His earthly ministry without submitting to Him as Lord. But His only true friends were those who did what He said (John 15:14).

Click here to read all of the article

     John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley , California , author, conference speaker, president of The Master's College and Seminary, and featured teacher with Grace to You.

     From 1964 to 1966 Dr. MacArthur served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank , California and from 1966 to 1969 as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors.

     In 1969, John came to Grace Community Church . The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage.Under John's leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,000-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members also participate each week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, led by members of the pastoral staff and lay leaders. These groups are dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

     In 1985, John became president of The Master's College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College ), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college in Santa Clarita , California . In 1986, John founded The Master's Seminary, a graduate school dedicated to training men for full-time pastoral roles and missionary work. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, John regularly teaches Expository Preaching at the seminary and frequently speaks in chapel.

     John is also president and featured teacher with Grace to You. Founded in 1969, Grace to You is the nonprofit organization responsible for developing, producing, and distributing John's books, audiocassettes, free sermons (MP3s) and the Grace to You, Portraits of Grace, and Grace to You Weekend radio programs. Grace to You airs thousands of times daily throughout the English speaking world reaching all major population centers in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. It also airs more than 450 times daily in Spanish reaching 23 countries, including Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia.

     Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus, in 1988, John has written over 100 books and, through Grace to You and retail bookstores, distributed millions of copies worldwide.Many of John's books are available on CD-ROM and many titles have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and several other major languages.

     John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda.They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their eleven grandchildren--Johnny, Ty, Jessy, KD, Olivia, Susannah, Gracie, Kylee, Andrew, Brooke and Elizabeth.

     "MacArthur calls himself a "leaky dispensationalist"--meaning he rejects any and all "dispensational" soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Protestant, not "covenantal") soteriology. MacArthur's "dispensationalism" is eschatological and ecclesiological only. And given the fact that soteriology is central to our whole understanding of Christianity, whereas eschatology and ecclesiology deal primarily with secondary doctrines, it would be my assessment that MacArthur has far less in common with Ryrie than he would have with anyone who believes 1) that God's grace is efficacious for regeneration and sanctification as well as for justification, and 2) that God graciously guarantees the perseverance of all true believers." - Phil Johnson
John MacArthur Books:

Another Look at the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament

By Michael J. Kruger 7/12/2016

     Last year I posted an article entitled “What Is The Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?”  In that post I argued, contrary to common opinion, that the earliest (nearly complete) list is not Athanasius’ Festal Letter in 367.  Instead, the earliest complete list occurs more than a century earlier in the writings of Origen (see picture).

     My blog post was based off a fuller academic piece I wrote for the recent festschrift for Larry Hurtado, Mark Manuscripts and Monotheism (edited by Chris Keith and Dieter Roth; T&T Clark, 2015), entitled, “Origen’s List of New Testament Books in Homiliae on Josuam 7.1: A Fresh Look.”

     Around 250 A.D., in his typical allegorical fashion, Origen used the story of Joshua to describe what seems to be the complete New Testament canon:

     "But when our Lord Jesus Christ comes, whose arrival that prior son of Nun designated, he sends priests, his apostles, bearing “trumpets hammered thin,” the magnificent and heavenly instruction of proclamation. Matthew first sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel; Mark also; Luke and John each played their own priestly trumpets. Even Peter cries out with trumpets in two of his epistles; also James and Jude. In addition, John also sounds the trumpet through his epistles [and Revelation], and Luke, as he describes the Acts of the Apostles. And now that last one comes, the one who said, “I think God displays us apostles last,” and in fourteen of his epistles, thundering with trumpets, he casts down the walls of Jericho and all the devices of idolatry and dogmas of philosophers, all the way to the foundations (Hom. Jos. 7.1)."

     So, why is this list not accepted by modern scholars? Because some have argued that the list has been modified by Rufinus who translated Origen’s sermon on Joshua into Latin. Rufinus, it is argued, changed the list to fit his own view of the New Testament a century later.

Click here to read all of the article

     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Youth-Driven Culture

By Stephen J. Nichols 3/2013

     Maybe it began earlier than the 1950s and 60s, but those decades seem to mark the rise of the fascination with youth in American culture. The famous line that celebrates all things young, often wrongly attributed to James Dean, declares, “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse behind.”

     Popular music, that telling barometer of popular culture, has kept pace with this trend. Nearly every heavy-metal band of the 1980s and ’90s had a stock ballad about young heroes going down in a “blaze of glory.” Other popmusic references stress the invincible power of youth. Rod Stewart sings of being “Forever Young.” In their hit single “We Are Young,” the contemporary super group Fun declares that these same youth will “set the world on fire.” Bruce Springsteen’s barstool-seated narrator in “Glory Days” drowns the disappointments of his middle-aged life by retelling stories of high school exploits and triumphs. None of us may want to relive our awkward junior high moments, but who among us doesn’t harbor secret desires to be young again and seemingly able to conquer the world?

     The subtle and not-so-subtle pulls of the idolization of youth manifest themselves in three areas. The first is an elevation of youth over the aged. This reverses the biblical paradigm. The second is a view of being human that values prettiness (not to be confused with beauty and aesthetics), strength, and human achievement. Think of the captain of the cheerleading squad and the star quarterback. The third is the dominance of the market by the youth demographic. That is to say, in order to be relevant and successful, one must appeal to the youth or to youthful tastes. These manifestations of our youth-driven culture deserve a closer look.

     The trend of exalting youth and sidelining the elderly stems from a deeper problem summed up in the expression, “Newer is better.” We celebrate the new and innovative while looking down on the past and tradition. There is a compelling vitality to youth and to new ideas, but that does not mean there is no wisdom to be found in the past. It is a sign of hubris to think one can face life without the wisdom of those who have gone before. There is something about being young that makes the young think they are immune to the mistakes or missteps of those who have gone before. We all think too highly of ourselves and our capacities. Simply put, we need the wisdom of the past and of the elderly.

     The idolization of youth even seeps into the church. One of the ways in which we see this is in the stress on church youth groups. Curiously, Jonathan Edwards, in his letter to Deborah Hathaway, referred to as “Letter to a Young Convert,” encouraged her to join with the other youth in the church to pray together and to discuss their progress in sanctification as an encouragement to one another. In short, he was calling for her to start a youth group. Youth groups can serve a significant purpose and can be meaningful ministries. However, they can separate the youth from the other age groups in the church. The church needs to worship, learn, and pray together, old and young side by side. The culture tries to push the aged away. The church cannot afford to do that.

Click here to read all of the article

     Dr. Stephen J. Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Ligonier teaching fellow. He is on Twitter @DrSteveNichols

Dr. Stephen J. Nichols Books (some):

What Is the New Covenant Church?

By John Tweeddale 5/2014

     A churchless Christian is an oxymoron. As John Calvin famously said, echoing the church father Cyprian, “For those to whom God is Father the church may also be Mother.” While the notion of “mother church” may jolt some readers, a moment’s reflection will demonstrate the biblical rationale behind it. Under the new covenant established by Christ, the church is critical for the Christian life; without it, exhortations to worship, discipleship, missions, and fellowship would be meaningless. Indeed, an individual would be hard pressed to accommodate the gaggle of “one another” passages that populate the pages of the New Testament apart from participation in a local church.

     Most importantly, the church is central to the work of Christ. The great mystery of the gospel is that the Son of God left His Father in heaven in order to take for Himself an unworthy bride here on earth. He shed His blood for her. The church is not on the margin of God’s plan of redemption but at the center of it.

     Given the importance of the church to the Christian life and the work of Christ, we need to think carefully about the question of who comprises the church. One helpful answer is found in the Westminster Larger Catechism, which states, “The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children” (Q&A 62). At least three aspects of this definition deserve our consideration.

     First, the visible church is the outward manifestation of God’s people on earth. The Westminster Divines (pastors and theologians) make a helpful distinction between the visible church as we see it and the invisible church as God sees it. These are not fundamentally two different churches, but one church seen from two vantage points. The visible church is known by those who claim the name of the triune God in baptism, who call themselves Christians by profession of faith, who sit under the preaching of God’s Word, who gather around the Lord’s Supper, who receive pastoral oversight from godly elders, who engage together in the grand work of the Great Commission, and so on.

     The invisible church, however, is not defined by those who simply profess faith in Christ but by those who actually possess it: those who have been elected, regenerated, justified, adopted, sanctified, and ultimately glorified in Christ. Not everyone who joins the ranks of the visible church belongs to the invisible church. The principle reflects Paul’s assertion that not all Israel is true Israel.This side of heaven, the visible church will always consist of wheat and tares.

Click here to read all of the article

     Dr. John W. Tweeddale is academic dean and professor of theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla.


  • Christ-Rejecters
  • Murder of God’s Son: 1
  • Part 2


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     The rewards of generosity
     (Nov 6)    Bob Gass

     ‘Be generous, and someday you will be rewarded.’

(Ec 11:1) Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. ESV

     The Dead Sea has such high mineral concentrations that even non-swimmers can stay afloat in it. The only problem is the smell. Because it has no outlets, any fresh water that comes in quickly becomes contaminated. There’s an important biblical principle at work here: ‘The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed’ (Proverbs 11:25 NLT). God never intended you to be a reservoir that just takes in, but a river of blessing that flows out to others. The Bible says: ‘A farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others’ (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NLT). So if you need a job, volunteer at a soup kitchen while you’re looking for work. If you’re praying for an increase in your business, pour your best into someone else’s business and ask God to prosper them. Solomon writes, ‘Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later. Divide your gifts among many, for in the days ahead you yourself may need much help’ (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 TLB). Even if you don’t have a specific need right now, sow a seed of kindness anyway. God knows what the future holds, and one day when you need it most, it will come back to you as a harvest.

Ezek 11-13
Heb 9

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Did you know both basketball and volleyball were invented by instructors at the YMCA? The YMCA, or Young Men’s Christian Association, was founded in 1844 by George Williams and has grown to a membership of over four million in seventy-six countries. Founder George Williams, who died this day, November 6, 1905, wrote: “My life-long experience as a business man and a… worker among young men, has taught me that the only power… that can effectually keep one from evil… is that which comes from an intimate knowledge of the Lord…. and… the safe Guide-Book by which one may be led to Christ is the Bible.”

American Minute

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


     When I spoke of prayer without words I don't think I meant anything so exalted as what mystics call the "prayer of silence." And when I spoke of being "at the top of one's form" I didn't mean it purely in a spiritual sense. The condition of the body comes in; for I suppose a man may be in a state of grace and yet very sleepy.

     And, talking of sleepiness, I entirely agree with you that no one in his senses, if he has any power of ordering his own day, would reserve his chief prayers for bed-time-obviously the worst possible hour for any action which needs concentration. The trouble is that thousands of unfortunate people can hardly find any other. Even for us, who are the lucky ones, it is not always easy. My own plan, when hard pressed, is to seize any time, and place, however unsuitable, in preference to the last waking moment. On a day of travelling-with, perhaps, some ghastly meeting at the end of it­I'd rather pray sitting in a crowded train than put it off till midnight when one reaches a hotel bedroom with aching head and dry throat and one's mind partly in a stupor and partly in a whirl. On other, and slightly less crowded, days a bench in a park, or a back street where one can pace up and down, will do.

     A man to whom I was explaining this said, "But why don't you tum into a church?" Partly because, for nine months of the year, it will be freezingly cold, but also because I have had bad luck with churches. No sooner do I enter one and compose my mind than one or other of two things happens. Either someone starts practicing the organ. Or else, with resolute tread, there appears from nowhere a pious woman in elastic side-boots, carrying mop, bucket, and dust-pan, and begins beating hassocks and rolling up carpets and doing things to flower vases. Of course (blessings on her) "work is prayer," and her enacted oratio is probably worth ten times my spoken one. But it doesn't help mine to become worth more.

     When one prays in strange places and at strange times one can't kneel, to be sure. I won't say this doesn't matter. The body ought to pray as well as the soul. Body and soul are both the better for it. Bless the body. Mine has led me into many scrapes, but I've led it into far more. If the imagination were obedient, the appetites would give us very little trouble. And from how much it has saved me! And but for our body one whole realm of God's glory-all that we receive through the senses-would go unpraised. For the beasts can't appreciate it and the angels are, I suppose, pure intelligences. They understand colors and tastes better than our greatest scientists; but have they retinas or palates?

     I fancy the "beauties of nature" are a secret God has shared with us alone. That may be one of the reasons why we were made-and why the resurrection of the body is an important doctrine.

     But I'm being led into a digression; perhaps because I am still smarting under the charge of being a Manichean! The relevant point is that kneeling does matter, but other things matter even more. A concentrated mind and a sitting body make for better prayer than a kneeling body and a mind half asleep. Sometimes these are the only alternatives. (Since the osteoporosis I can hardly kneel at all in most places, myself.)


Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     5. Since therefore the Roman commander Silva had now built a wall on the outside, round about this whole place, as we have said already, and had thereby made a most accurate provision to prevent any one of the besieged running away, he undertook the siege itself, though he found but one single place that would admit of the banks he was to raise; for behind that tower which secured the road that led to the palace, and to the top of the hill from the west; there was a certain eminency of the rock, very broad and very prominent, but three hundred cubits beneath the highest part of Masada; it was called the White Promontory. Accordingly, he got upon that part of the rock, and ordered the army to bring earth; and when they fell to that work with alacrity, and abundance of them together, the bank was raised, and became solid for two hundred cubits in height. Yet was not this bank thought sufficiently high for the use of the engines that were to be set upon it; but still another elevated work of great stones compacted together was raised upon that bank; this was fifty cubits, both in breadth and height. The other machines that were now got ready were like to those that had been first devised by Vespasian, and afterwards by Titus, for sieges. There was also a tower made of the height of sixty cubits, and all over plated with iron, out of which the Romans threw darts and stones from the engines, and soon made those that fought from the walls of the place to retire, and would not let them lift up their heads above the works. At the same time Silva ordered that great battering ram which he had made to be brought thither, and to be set against the wall, and to make frequent batteries against it, which with some difficulty broke down a part of the wall, and quite overthrew it. However, the Sicarii made haste, and presently built another wall within that, which should not be liable to the same misfortune from the machines with the other; it was made soft and yielding, and so was capable of avoiding the terrible blows that affected the other. It was framed after the following manner: They laid together great beams of wood lengthways, one close to the end of another, and the same way in which they were cut: there were two of these rows parallel to one another, and laid at such a distance from each other as the breadth of the wall required, and earth was put into the space between those rows. Now, that the earth might not fall away upon the elevation of this bank to a greater height, they further laid other beams over cross them, and thereby bound those beams together that lay lengthways. This work of theirs was like a real edifice; and when the machines were applied, the blows were weakened by its yielding; and as the materials by such concussion were shaken closer together, the pile by that means became firmer than before. When Silva saw this, he thought it best to endeavor the taking of this wall by setting fire to it; so he gave order that the soldiers should throw a great number of burning torches upon it: accordingly, as it was chiefly made of wood, it soon took fire; and when it was once set on fire, its hollowness made that fire spread to a mighty flame. Now, at the very beginning of this fire, a north wind that then blew proved terrible to the Romans; for by bringing the flame downward, it drove it upon them, and they were almost in despair of success, as fearing their machines would be burnt: but after this, on a sudden the wind changed into the south, as if it were done by Divine Providence, and blew strongly the contrary way, and carried the flame, and drove it against the wall, which was now on fire through its entire thickness. So the Romans, having now assistance from God, returned to their camp with joy, and resolved to attack their enemies the very next day; on which occasion they set their watch more carefully that night, lest any of the Jews should run away from them without being discovered.

     6. However, neither did Eleazar once think of flying away, nor would he permit any one else to do so; but when he saw their wall burned down by the fire, and could devise no other way of escaping, or room for their further courage, and setting before their eyes what the Romans would do to them, their children, and their wives, if they got them into their power, he consulted about having them all slain. Now as he judged this to be the best thing they could do in their present circumstances, he gathered the most courageous of his companions together, and encouraged them to take that course by a speech 15 which he made to them in the manner following: "Since we, long ago, my generous friends, resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God himself, who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice. And let us not at this time bring a reproach upon ourselves for self-contradiction, while we formerly would not undergo slavery, though it were then without danger, but must now, together with slavery, choose such punishments also as are intolerable; I mean this, upon the supposition that the Romans once reduce us under their power while we are alive. We were the very first that revolted from them, and we are the last that fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God hath granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom, which hath not been the case of others, who were conquered unexpectedly. It is very plain that we shall be taken within a day's time; but it is still an eligible thing to die after a glorious manner, together with our dearest friends. This is what our enemies themselves cannot by any means hinder, although they be very desirous to take us alive. Nor can we propose to ourselves any more to fight them, and beat them. It had been proper indeed for us to have conjectured at the purpose of God much sooner, and at the very first, when we were so desirous of defending our liberty, and when we received such sore treatment from one another, and worse treatment from our enemies, and to have been sensible that the same God, who had of old taken the Jewish nation into his favor, had now condemned them to destruction; for had he either continued favorable, or been but in a lesser degree displeased with us, he had not overlooked the destruction of so many men, or delivered his most holy city to be burnt and demolished by our enemies. To be sure we weakly hoped to have preserved ourselves, and ourselves alone, still in a state of freedom, as if we had been guilty of no sins ourselves against God, nor been partners with those of others; we also taught other men to preserve their liberty. Wherefore, consider how God hath convinced us that our hopes were in vain, by bringing such distress upon us in the desperate state we are now in, and which is beyond all our expectations; for the nature of this fortress which was in itself unconquerable, hath not proved a means of our deliverance; and even while we have still great abundance of food, and a great quantity of arms, and other necessaries more than we want, we are openly deprived by God himself of all hope of deliverance; for that fire which was driven upon our enemies did not of its own accord turn back upon the wall which we had built; this was the effect of God's anger against us for our manifold sins, which we have been guilty of in a most insolent and extravagant manner with regard to our own countrymen; the punishments of which let us not receive from the Romans, but from God himself, as executed by our own hands; for these will be more moderate than the other. Let our wives die before they are abused, and our children before they have tasted of slavery; and after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another mutually, and preserve ourselves in freedom, as an excellent funeral monument for us. But first let us destroy our money and the fortress by fire; for I am well assured that this will be a great grief to the Romans, that they shall not be able to seize upon our bodies, and shall fail of our wealth also; and let us spare nothing but our provisions; for they will be a testimonial when we are dead that we were not subdued for want of necessaries, but that, according to our original resolution, we have preferred death before slavery."

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

Josephus: The Complete Works

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Science, including philosophy, cannot establish man’s relationship to the infinite universe, or towards its origin, if no other reason than that before any kind of philosophy or science could come into existence there must have been that, without which it is impossible to have any kind of mental activity, or any kind of relationship whatsoever between man and the universe.
--- Leo Tolstoy     Confession


A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all.
No man can serve two masters.
Your life is shaped by the end you live for.
You are made in the image of what you desire.
--- Thomas Merton


When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you're smiling and everyone around you is crying.
--- Anonymous


The church is the great lost and found department.
--- Robert Short

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 28:9-10
     by D.H. Stern


9     If a person will not listen to Torah,
even his prayer is an abomination.

10     Whoever causes the honest to pursue evil ways
will himself fall into his own pit,
but the pure-hearted will inherit good.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                Programme of belief

     Believest thou this? --- John 11:26.

     Martha believed in the power at the disposal of Jesus Christ; she believed that if He had been present He could have healed her brother. She also believed that Jesus had a peculiar intimacy with God and that whatever He asked of God, God would do; but she needed a closer personal intimacy with Jesus. Martha’s programme of belief had its fulfilment in the future; Jesus led her on until her belief became a personal possession, and then slowly emerged into a particular inheritance—“Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ …”

     Is there something like that in the Lord’s dealings with you? Is Jesus educating you into a personal intimacy with Himself? Let Him press home His question to you—“Believest thou this?” What is your ordeal of doubt? Have you come, like Martha, to some overwhelming passage in your circumstances where your programme of belief is about to emerge into a personal belief? This can never be until a personal need arises out of a personal problem.

     To believe is to commit. In the programme of mental belief I commit myself, and abandon all that is not related to that commitment. In personal belief I commit myself morally to this way of confidence and refuse to compromise with any other; and in particular belief I commit myself spiritually to Jesus Christ, and determine in that thing to be dominated by the Lord alone.

     When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and He says to me—“Believest thou this?” I find that faith is as natural as breathing, and I am staggered that I was so stupid as not to trust Him before.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Abercuawg
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


                Abercuawg

  Abercuawg ! Where is it?
Where is Abercuawg, that
place where the cuckoos sing?
I asked the professors.
Lo, here, lo, there: on the banks
of a river they explained
how Cuawg had become Dulas.
There was the mansion, Dolguog,
not far off to confirm them. I
looked at the surface of the water,
but the place that I was seeking
was not reflected therein.
I looked as though through a clear
window at pebbles that were the ruins
of no building, with no birds tolling
among them, as in the towers of the mind.

An absence is how we become surer
of what we want. Abercuawg
is not here now, but there. And
there is the indefinable point,
the incarnation of a concept,
the moment at which a little
becomes a lot. I have listened
to the word 'Branwen' and pictured
the horses and the soil red
with their blood, and the trouble
in Ireland, and have opened
my eyes on a child, sticky
with sweets and snivel. And : `Not
this,' I have cried. `This is the name,
not the thing that the name
stands for.' I have no faith
that to put a name to
a thing is to bring it
before one. I am a seeker
in time for that which is
beyond time, that is everywhere
and nowhere; no more before
than after, yet always
about to be; whose duration is
of the mind, but free as
Bergson would say of the mind's
degradation of the eternal.


Frequencies

4 / THE PHILOSOPHIC RELIGIOUS SENSIBILITY
     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     In chapter six of his Eight Chapters, Maimonides discusses this problem:

     Philosophers maintain that though the man of self-restraint performs moral and praiseworthy deeds, yet he does them desiring and craving all the while for immoral deeds, but, subduing his passions and actively fighting against a longing to do those things to which his faculties, his desires, and his psychic disposition excite him, succeeds, though with constant vexation and irritation, in acting morally. The saintly man, however, is guided in his actions by that to which his inclination and disposition prompt him, in consequence of which he acts morally from innate longing and desire. Philosophers unanimously agree that the latter is superior to, and more perfect than, the one who has to curb his passions, although they add that it is possible for such a one to equal the saintly man in many regards. In general, however, he must necessarily be ranked lower in the scale of virtue, because there lurks within him the desire to do evil, and, though he does not do it, yet because his inclinations are all in that direction, it denotes the presence of an immoral psychic disposition.… When, however, we consult the Rabbis on this subject, it would seem that they consider him who desires iniquity, and craves for it [but does not do it], more praiseworthy and perfect than the one who feels no torment at refraining from evil; and they even go so far as to maintain that the more praiseworthy and perfect a man is, the greater is his desire to commit an iniquity, and the more irritation does he feel at having to desist from it.

     The rabbis’ insistence on the necessity to subdue one’s natural impulses in obeying Halakhah suggests that the laws of Torah are not in harmony with the nature of man. If this is so, then the anthropology which Maimonides developed regarding cognitive aspects of the tradition would be subverted by the legal norms of Judaism by which submission to authority would exclusively characterize halakhic behavior.

     Maimonides counters this potential conflict by restricting the scope of commandments which must be obeyed through willful self-repression.

     At first blush, by a superficial comparison of the sayings of the philosophers and the Rabbis, one might be inclined to say that they contradict one another. Such, however, is not the case. Both are correct and, moreover, are not in disagreement in the least, as the evils which the philosophers term such—and of which they say that he who has no longing for them is more to be praised than he who desires them but conquers his passion—are things which all people commonly agree are evils, such as the shedding of blood, theft, robbery, fraud, injury to one who has done no harm, ingratitude, contempt for parents, and the like. The prescriptions against these are called “commandments” [mitzvot], about which the Rabbis said, “If they had not already been written in the Law, it would be proper to add them.” Some of our later Sages, who were infected with the unsound principles of the Mutakallimun, called these “rational laws.” There is no doubt that a soul which has the desire for, and lusts after, the above-mentioned misdeeds, is imperfect, that a noble soul has absolutely no desire for any such crimes and experiences no struggle in refraining from them. When, however, the Rabbis maintain that he who overcomes his desire has more merit and a greater reward [than he who has no temptation], they say so only in reference to laws that are ceremonial prohibitions. This is quite true, since, were it not for the Law, they would not at all be considered transgressions.

     Although there remains a realm of halakhic observance, ḥukkim, which has no connection with the nature of man and thus requires a highly developed sense of obedience to authority, one must recognize that many laws of the Torah (mitzvot—termed mishpatim elsewhere) reflect and express the nature of man. Maimonides’ analysis of Jewish laws in his Eight Chapters, in terms of ḥukkim and mishpatim, indicates his need to counter the religious orientation which focuses exclusively on the nonintelligibility of norms and the consequent individual who solely values obedience to tradition.

     Mishpatim express Jewish particularity as it embodies universal understanding of the nature of man. Ḥukkim reflect Jewish particularity in isolation from reason. There is an interesting parallelism between this approach to law and Judaism’s understanding of nature. To Maimonides, Judaism accepts mishpatim and those laws of nature which reason discovers. In both these areas, Judaism participates in a common universe of discourse with all rational men. Yet there still remains the belief in the independent will of God which is not identical with the horizontal structure of being. Miracles reflect the autonomous will of God which cannot be understood or predicted by human reason. To the believing Jew, miracles can symbolize God’s singling out of the Jewish community and therefore can reflect its unique relationship to God. The community’s unique status in history is confirmed, as well, by a way of life which includes ḥukkim, i.e., norms which are binding exclusively on the recipients of divine revelation.

     Maimonides’ legal works give expression to a conception of Jewish spirituality which contains a balanced attitude to universality and particularity. The religious sensibility that Maimonides was attempting to heal is the one that focuses primarily on the miraculous events in nature and the laws of Torah which suggest Israel’s particular relationship to God. This type of sensibility experiences the immediacy of God in those events and laws in which only Israel participates.

     In his Treatise on Resurrection, Maimonides writes of many committed Jews whose most beloved activity is to bifurcate Torah and reason by emphasizing miraculous features of Torah which openly contradict the order of nature. As opposed to this group, Maimonides states that his efforts were directed at making Torah compatible with the order of nature. Only when such an approach would do violence to the explicit sense of certain biblical statements does Maimonides feel compelled to admit the occurrence of a miracle. Maimonides did not believe that horizontal explanations, i.e., explanations which conform to criteria of objectivity as understood by all rational men, would weaken the personal immediacy of the relationship with God. Wherever possible, he tried to understand descriptions of God’s relationship to Israel within a context of universal intelligibility.


Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     November 6



     2 Chronicles 29:27.

     It is not till the burnt offering begins that we ever hear a single strain of music.   Classic Sermons on Praise    Every human life has got its shadow, and every human life has got its cross. It is well to distinguish the shadow from the cross, lest by confusing them we go astray. For the shadow is something into which we enter and out of which we will pass in God’s good time. But the cross is something that we must take up, or stumble over into the mouth of hell. Now one of the deepest questions in life is, “In what way do you regard your crosses?” Do you hate them? Do you rebel against them? Would you give anything to fling them from you? Along that road there is no voice of song. Along that road there is the hardening heart. Along that road there is a growing bitterness, the foretaste of the bitterness of death. But take up your cross, as Jesus bids you do—take it up as a mother takes her child. Lay it against your heart and cherish it—say “This, too, like the summer roses, is from God.” And so this is how your poor life will become a harmony—and what is harmony but perfect music—and when the burnt offering begins, the song of the Lord will begin also.
--- George H. Morrison


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

On This Day   November 6
     Let a Thousand Fall


     Along the edge of western Africa sits Liberia, black Africa’s first independent state. It was established in the early 1800s through the efforts of the American Colonization Society, an organization devoted to repatriating American ex-slaves in colonies along the African coast.

     The first missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Melville Beveridge Cox, was directed there in 1833. He was a young widower, pale and prostrated with grief and planning for missions service in South America. “Why not go to Liberia?” asked his bishop, seeking someone to send to that land of fatal fevers.

     “If the Lord wills,” replied Cox. “I have no lingering fear. A grave in Africa shall be sweet if he sustain me.” To a friend, Cox wrote, “I know I cannot live long in Africa, but I hope to live long enough to get there; and if it please God that my bones shall lie in an African grave, I shall have established such a bond between Africa and the church at home as shall not be broken until Africa be redeemed.”

     To students of Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, he said, “If I die in Africa, you must come over and write my epitaph.” When a student asked what they should write, Cox replied, “Write, Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up.”

     He made a final visit to the graves of his wife and small child, then on November 6, 1832, Cox boarded the Jupiter and set sail. The seas were rough, and at first he doubled over in seasickness. But by mid-ocean, he was at work, planning a mission house, school, and farm. Glimpsing the coast, he wrote, “I have seen Liberia and live! It rises up like a cloud of heaven!” He disembarked at Monrovia on March 7, 1833, and threw himself into the work. But on July 21 he awoke from a fitful sleep, bathed in sweat and shouting, “Come, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” He died in a fever, having served less than four months.

     There were 999 left to go; and because of Cox’s example, five other youths were already on their way.

     I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me strength to face anything.
--- Philippians 4:12,13.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 6

     “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.” --- Isaiah 44:3.

     When a believer has fallen into a low, sad state of feeling, he often tries to lift himself out of it by chastening himself with dark and doleful fears. Such is not the way to rise from the dust, but to continue in it. As well chain the eagle’s wing to make it mount, as doubt in order to increase our grace. It is not the law, but the Gospel which saves the seeking soul at first; and it is not a legal bondage, but Gospel liberty which can restore the fainting believer afterwards. Slavish fear brings not back the backslider to God, but the sweet wooings of love allure him to Jesus’ bosom. Are you this Morning thirsting for the living God, and unhappy because you cannot find him to the delight of your heart? Have you lost the joy of religion, and is this your prayer, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation”? Are you conscious also that you are barren, like the dry ground; that you are not bringing forth the fruit unto God which he has a right to expect of you; that you are not so useful in the Church, or in the world, as your heart desires to be? Then here is exactly the promise which you need, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.” You shall receive the grace you so much require, and you shall have it to the utmost reach of your needs. Water refreshes the thirsty: you shall be refreshed; your desires shall be gratified. Water quickens sleeping vegetable life: your life shall be quickened by fresh grace. Water swells the buds and makes the fruits ripen; you shall have fructifying grace: you shall be made fruitful in the ways of God. Whatever good quality there is in divine grace, you shall enjoy it to the full. All the riches of divine grace you shall receive in plenty; you shall be as it were drenched with it: and as sometimes the meadows become flooded by the bursting rivers, and the fields are turned into pools, so shall you be—the thirsty land shall be springs of water.


          Evening - November 6

     “Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” --- Hebrews 9:20.

     There is a strange power about the very name of blood, and the sight of it is always affecting. A kind heart cannot bear to see a sparrow bleed, and unless familiarized by use, turns away with horror at the slaughter of a beast. As to the blood of men, it is a consecrated thing: it is murder to shed it in wrath, it is a dreadful crime to squander it in war. Is this solemnity occasioned by the fact that the blood is the life, and the pouring of it forth the token of death? We think so. When we rise to contemplate the blood of the Son of God, our awe is yet more increased, and we shudder as we think of the guilt of sin, and the terrible penalty which the Sin-bearer endured. Blood, always precious, is priceless when it streams from Immanuel’s side. The blood of Jesus seals the covenant of grace, and makes it for ever sure. Covenants of old were made by sacrifice, and the everlasting covenant was ratified in the same manner. Oh, the delight of being saved upon the sure foundation of divine engagements which cannot be dishonoured! Salvation by the works of the law is a frail and broken vessel whose shipwreck is sure; but the covenant vessel fears no storms, for the blood ensures the whole. The blood of Jesus made his testament valid. Wills are of no power unless the testators die. In this light the soldier’s spear is a blessed aid to faith, since it proved our Lord to be really dead. Doubts upon that matter there can be none, and we may boldly appropriate the legacies which he has left for his people. Happy they who see their title to heavenly blessings assured to them by a dying Saviour. But has this blood no voice to us? Does it not bid us sanctify ourselves unto him by whom we have been redeemed? Does it not call us to newness of life, and incite us to entire consecration to the Lord? O that the power of the blood might be known, and felt in us this night!


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

Amazing Grace
     November 6

          I SING THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOD

     Isaac Watts, 1674–1748, with alterations by others

     He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the rivers unto the ends of the earth. (Psalm 72:8 KJV)

     Isaac Watts, the father of English hymnody, had a fervent concern about the dismal state of congregational singing that had developed in the English-speaking churches during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He wrote many new paraphrased versions of the Psalms to replace the ponderous literal settings that had long been used. Watts also believed that writers should be free to express praise and devotion to God in their own words. These texts became known as “hymns of human composure.” For having such convictions, Isaac Watts was often known as a revolutionary churchman of his day. Yet his ambition, according to his own words, was as follows: “My design was not to exalt myself to the rank and glory of poets, but I was ambitious to be a servant to the churches, and a helper to the joy of the meanest Christian.”

     Although he never married, Isaac Watts always loved children and wrote much for them. In 1715 he wrote a book of songs especially for young people titled Divine Songs for Children. This hymnal, the first ever written exclusively for children, includes the text for “I Sing Mighty Power of God.”

     How important it is, whether child or adult, that we recognize and praise the mighty power of our Creator God. This hymn also teaches that we should sing of His goodness and wisdom as well as His omnipresence. God’s people have much to sing about!

     I sing the mighty pow’r of God that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies. I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day; the moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.
     There’ s not a plant or flow’r below but makes Thy glories known; and clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Thy throne. While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care, and ev’rywhere that man can be, Thou, God, art present there.


     For Today: 1 Chronicles 29:11–13; Psalm 95:3–5; 107:8; Isaiah 40:26, 28; Revelation 4:11

     Try to catch a new awareness of God’s great power, goodness, and wisdom. Thank Him for His promise to be at your side. Praise Him as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Monday, November 6, 2017 | After Pentecost


Proper 26, Monday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 56, 57 (58)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 64, 65
Old Testament     Nehemiah 6:1–19
New Testament     Revelation 10:1–11
Gospel     Matthew 13:36–43

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 56, 57 (58)

To the leader: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths.
Of David. A Miktam, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, 3 when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?

5 All day long they seek to injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk,
they watch my steps.
As they hoped to have my life,
7 so repay them for their crime;
in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will retreat
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?

12 My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David.
A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until the destroying storms pass by.
2 I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me.     Selah
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.

4 I lie down among lions
that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongues sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path,
but they have fallen into it themselves.     Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

[     To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam.

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge people fairly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.

3 The wicked go astray from the womb;
they err from their birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.

6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

10 The righteous will rejoice when they see vengeance done;
they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 People will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”     ]

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 64, 65

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from the dread enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the scheming of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless;
they shoot suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see us?
6 Who can search out our crimes?
We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.”
For the human heart and mind are deep.

7 But God will shoot his arrow at them;
they will be wounded suddenly.
8 Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake with horror.
9 Then everyone will fear;
they will tell what God has brought about,
and ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him.
Let all the upright in heart glory.

To the leader. A Psalm of David. A Song.

1 Praise is due to you,
O God, in Zion;
and to you shall vows be performed,
2 O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
you forgive our transgressions.
4 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
your holy temple.

5 By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
6 By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
7 You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it,
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

Old Testament
Nehemiah 6:1–19

6 Now when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah and to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no gap left in it (though up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?” 4 They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5 In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations—and Geshem also says it—that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and according to this report you wish to become their king. 7 You have also set up prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore, and let us confer together.” 8 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own mind” 9 —for they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

10 One day when I went into the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his house, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, tonight they are coming to kill you.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” 12 Then I perceived and saw that God had not sent him at all, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this purpose, to intimidate me and make me sin by acting in this way, and so they could give me a bad name, in order to taunt me. 14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem; for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence, and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.

New Testament
Revelation 10:1–11

10 And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2 He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring. And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. 4 And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” 5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land

     raised his right hand to heaven
6     and swore by him who lives forever and ever,

who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay, 7 but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” 10 So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.

11 Then they said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

Gospel
Matthew 13:36–43

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!


The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church



Of Christ & Oranges     
David Taylor   Biola University





Radical Discipleship   
George Verwer   Biola University






The Revelation of God's Wrath   
Thomas Schreiner   Biola University





An Invincible Hope
Thomas Schreiner   Biola University






The Compassionate Heart of Jesus     
George Chavanikamannil   Biola University





Picture This: Why Theology Matters     
Diversity Roundtable   Biola University






Why Such a Global Interest
in the Dead Sea Scrolls?   
George Giacumakis   Biola University





The Word Became Flesh
Rob Lister   Biola University






Turning the Other Cheek     
Don Sunukjian   Biola University





Beyond the Jesus Mural     
Barry Corey   Biola University






God's Presence in a World of Absence     
Shane Hipps   Biola University





Listening for Your Purpose     
Shane Hipps   Biola University






Living Together in Community
Beth Tabor   Biola University





Genesis 10-11: Reversing Babel
Adam Edgerly   Biola University






David’s Son and LORD Luke 20:41-44
John MacArthur





The Savior Silences the Sadducees Luke 20:27-40
John MacArthur






Rejecting the King’s Authority Luke 20:1-8
John MacArthur