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11/08/2018     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     John  9 - 10


John 9

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

John 9 1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.


John 10

I Am the Good Shepherd

John 10 1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

I and the Father Are One

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

The Reformation Study Bible



What I'm Reading

Believing the Gospels vs Trusting the Gospel

By J. Warner Wallace 2/27/14

     I leaned over and said, “I think it may be true.” “What may be true?” asked Susie. “Christianity,” I responded. “The more I look at the Gospels, the more I think they look like real eyewitness accounts.” I spent months examining the claims of the Gospels, evaluating them with the template I typically apply to eyewitnesses in my criminal investigations. At the end of my examination, I was confident in their reliability. I believed the Gospels were telling me the truth about Jesus. But I wasn’t yet a Christian. I had what I often refer to as “belief that”. I examined what the Gospels had to say about Jesus, and after testing them rigorously, I came away with confidence in their accuracy, early datingreliable transmission and lack of bias. But I still had a profoundly important question: “What is the cross all about? Why did Jesus have to die that way?” My wife, Susie, had been raised as a cultural Catholic, and although she was familiar with the language and doctrines of Catholicism, her answer was simply, “I don’t really know.” After months of investigation, I believed what the Gospels told me about Jesus, but I wasn’t yet ready to accept the Gospel of Salvation.

     Yesterday, CBN posted the story of my journey from “belief that” to “belief in”. It’s really the first time I’ve told the story this completely, and I hope it will help you see the role evidence can play in moving someone from intellectual assent to volitional submission:

     For me, the transition from “belief that” to “belief in” can be summarized simply. My investigation of Jesusbrought me to a place of certainty and confidence. What I read about Jesus in the Gospels led me to “belief that”. But what I read about me in the Gospels led me to “belief in”. For months I had been focused on testing the reliability of the Gospels without really embracing the teachings of Jesus related to my own condition as a human. I can still remember where I was when I first read through the accounts from a new perspective, searching this time for what they said about my own human nature. It was convicting.

     I was never someone who saw myself as a bad person. In fact, my role as a police officer only amplified my own pride and sense of “goodness”. I took bad guys to jail. I thought I understood the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. I was on one side of the bars; bad people were on the other. But the New Testament eroded my confidence in my own righteousness. As I saw myself on the pages of Scripture, I had to admit their accuracy. They described me perfectly. The more I read, the more I recognized my need for a Savior. Suddenly the Gospel made sense.

     Every worldview asks and answers three questions: How did we get here, why is it so messed up, and how do we fix it? As I came to understand the answer to the second question, I was ready to embrace the answer to the third. Our problem is rebellion, the same kind of rebellion I had been demonstrating so vividly for thirty-five years as a non-believer. How can we fix it? The Gospel. When I first stepped into an evangelical church and heard the pastor describe Jesus, I wasn’t ready to accept the message of Salvation. I had to begin by examining the Gospel eyewitness accounts:

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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.

Bible Critics and Demands for Archaeological Proof

By Lenny Esposito 11/1/16

     Christianity is a literate faith. By that I mean it is written accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that are at the center of Christian belief. The Gospel accounts and Paul's writings offer specific testimony to historical events that if proven false would mean Christianity is a sham.

     Because written testimony sits at the crux of Christian faith, it should come as no surprise that skeptics and critics call those written accounts into question. Many times, the doubt the critics voice is accompanied by a complaint of the lack of archaeological data. Take Resa Aslan's Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. In chapter three, he writes, "Despite the stories in the gospels about Jesus preaching in his hometown's synagogue, no archaeological evidence has been unearthed to indicate the presence of a synagogue in ancient Nazareth, though there could have been a small structure that served as such."1 Aslan also points out there have been no inscriptions found to show the general population of Nazareth as literate.

     It seems Aslan chooses to offer these points in some attempt to undermine the story of Jesus announcing his Messiahship in Luke 4:16-30. Other critics have made similar moves, asking "where's the archaeology? to this or that biblical account. But lack of accepted archaeological data isn't as clear as the critics would have you believe. Craig Keener, in his massive historical assessment of the book of Acts, makes a pertinent observation:

     Archaeology is, in some ways, more concrete than extant manuscripts copied and recopied from ancient originals; it provides physical evidence and sometimes (especially through burial inscriptions) the "underside" of society less apt to be preserved in literary sources. Nevertheless, it too has its limitations, not least the "muteness" of stones apart from interpretive grids often provided, at least in part, by literary sources... We further possess only a sample of even the possible physical remains, merely a portion of which have been excavated and only some of the excavations published, thus we sometimes have chance finds confirming literary records that previously were unconfirmed by such data. Some of the archaeological data and the interpretations of them for particular sites noted in this commentary will therefore undoubtedly require revision because archaeological information is always partial and open to reinterpretation when new evidence is found.2

     Keener is right on target here. First, the fact is we don't have archaeological evidence for much of ancient history. Very few things can last buried in the dirt for two thousand years and the things that seem significant in our day may not be significant in that day. How do we know just how literate the people of Nazareth are in the Hebrew Scriptures when the common language was koine Greek? Most writing was placed on perishable materials.

1. Aslan, Reza. ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Random House, 2013. Location 3511. Kindle.
2. Keener, Craig S. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.32. Print.
3. Harrington, Spenser PM. "Behind the Mask of Agamemnon." Archaeology Magazine. Archaeological Institute of America, Aug. 1999. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

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     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

Why is the Resurrection so important?

By Lenny Esposito 3/10/13

As we prepare for Easter, I thought it would be a good time to think about the resurrection in different ways. Imagine you are part of Jesus' first disciples some 50 days after Jesus' execution. Jesus is no longer with you, and those in power are willing to execute you, or anyone else that bucks their religious establishment. Yet, you desire to go out and get other people to follow this Jesus, this supposed insurrectionist who taught what the Sanhedrin charged as blasphemy. You want to go and "make disciples of all nations." What could be so convincing that it would lead to thousands of conversions in just a few years after Jesus' death? What testimony would be so powerful for others to believe in spite of all the negative consequences?

     When we look at the speeches of both Peter and Paul in the New Testament we find that the one thing they always focused on in their messages is that Jesus of Nazareth was put to death, but rose again. It is the resurrection of Christ that formed the foundation and the fuel of the new Christian faith. Everywhere the disciples went, they preached Jesus being raised from the dead, and this is what transformed Christianity form a small group of scared disciples to a world-changing faith reaching across the globe.

     It's hard to not understate the importance of the resurrection to Christianity. There's a Greek legend of the servant Damocles, who told his wealthy and prosperous king he would like nothing more than to switch places with him to enjoy the luxuries such a position affords. The king offered his throne for a single day and the servant immediately accepted. However, after taking his seat on the king's throne, Damocles saw that the king had placed a sword hanging directly over his head, suspended only by a single hair. The point was to show that the position of kingship is tenuous at best. Break that hair and Damocles' life is ended. In a similar way, Christianity's claims of authority hang by the thread of the resurrection. The Apostle Paul states this explicitly in 1 Corinthians 15 when he says:

     "Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

     Paul here lays out a very clear test. If Jesus was never raised from the dead, we not only have no hope in rising ourselves, but we believe in vain, we're holding onto a worthless faith. Paul even says we are akin to that person we sometimes see in Warner Brothers cartoons who thinks he's Napoleon. If we believe in a fable that is ridiculous; we are to be most pitied among all men.

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     Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
     Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
     Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.

Tragedy in Texas: Christian Testimony in the Face of Evil

By Albert Mohler 11/6/2017

     All hearts were directed to Texas on Sunday as 26 people were shot and killed when a 26-year-old gunman dressed in black opened fire as a church service was underway at a Baptist church in a small town near San Antonio, Texas. As The New York Times reported:

     “A gunman clad in all black, with a ballistic vest strapped to his chest and a military-style rifle in his hands, opened fire on parishioners at a Sunday service at a small Baptist church in rural Texas, killing at least 26 people and turning this tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s newest mass horror.”

     At this point the investigation is in the earliest stages, but we already know this is an absolutely horrifying story. It is a tragedy that is only going to unfold in greater tragedy. This attack taking place as a small Baptist church in rural Texas was just beginning its worship service, it is a sign of something far deeper that has gone wrong in our society. The fact that many of the victims already have been identified as children, including the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, underlines, once again, that so much of the evil in the world is simply beyond our understanding—even our theological understanding. As is so often the case in our experience when headlines like this come at us, the facts themselves seem perplexing and overwhelming. Murder is hard enough for us to understand, mass murder just makes it all the more difficult to understand. But how can we possibly understand the intentional killing of a pregnant woman, little children, a 14-year-old, and of Christians gathered together in worship?

     From a Christian worldview, we have to understand that the facts are important. It is not wrong to want to know what the dots are and then to try to connect them. God made us rational and moral creatures and this moral sense reaches out for some rational explanation of the horrifying evil of our world. But our first response should not be to try to understand the crime, but rather, to identify with the community in grief and experiencing heartbreak.

     The Christian worldview dignifies the heartbroken. Heartbrokenness is a part of human existence; it will come to every single human being at some time. Jesus himself affirmed this in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

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The Reason Why Few Christians Are Willing to Be Christian Case Makers

By J. Warner Wallace 4/13/15

     Since writing Cold-Case Christianity, my speaking schedule has been extremely busy; I am blessed by opportunities to make the case for Christianity every weekend in churches across the nation. As a result, however, I get to see how many of my Christian brothers and sisters are interested in the evidence supporting their faith. I must tell you, the interest in Christian case making is thin, at best. In a typical church, about ten percent of the congregation is usually concerned enough about “apologetics” to attend a training session or conference. My fellow speakers and traveling case makers report the same interest wherever they go, and if you are among the few Christians who are actively studying or making the case, you know what I am talking about first-hand. Why are so few Christians willing to be Christian case makers? The one thing most of us lack is the very thing that made me successful as a cold-case detective: a desire to work hard and do whatever it takes to master the material.

     In my career investigating cold cases, I’ve never failed to see an arrested suspect successfully prosecuted. I’m proud of that record, but I don’t attribute it to any brilliance on my part. My success wasn’t the result of my uncanny Sherlock Holmes type of intellect; I’m not all that smart. I was successful because I was determined not to be out-worked. By the time I arrested a suspect for a murder, there was no one who knew the details and issues related to the case better than I did. In fact, even when the case ultimately got to trial, I was still the best source of information about the crime and the person who committed it. Many of my defendants hired excellent attorneys who, in turn, hired a team of investigators to comb through the case and every aspect of my investigation. In an effort to undermine my work, these attorneys and investigators often looked for things I might have missed and tried to find witnesses or evidence to contradict my case. Even if they located someone they thought might help them achieve this goal, once they travelled out to talk to this alleged “witness”, they only discovered I had already been there (and locked in the statements I would later use to make my case).

     In one recent example (featured on Dateline in an episode entitled “The Wire”), my suspect used an unusual variety of braided picture-hanging wire to form the garrote he used to kill the victim. In order to determine the rarity of this wire, I contacted companies responsible for creating such wire at the time of the crime. I could have stopped at just one or two phone calls, but I didn’t. I called and interviewed every manufacturer, distributor and retailer of this wire I could identify. I conducted hundreds of interviews over eight weeks. By the time I was done, I was actually the best available expert on the creation, sales and distribution of braided picture-hanging wire. Few of us ever expect to gain this kind of expertise when we sign up to work murders, but if you want to be successful, you’ll need to be the hardest working person in the room and do whatever it takes to succeed.

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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.

Five Apologetics Questions You Need to Think Through

By Amy K. Hall 11/5/16

     What key questions should we be thinking about as apologists? When I spoke to high school students at a Christian camp last year, I pointed them to the five questions they most need to think through and solidify in their own minds before they go out into the world.

     1. Does God exist?

     This is the most fundamental question of all, and every major divide I can think of in our culture can be traced back to this question. Was everything created, or is it all an accident? Should we acknowledge a created human nature, or do we create our own identities? Do our bodies have a purpose to which we ought to conform ourselves? Are human beings valuable because of who we are, or because of what we do? Is there an objective standard of morality outside of us, or do we (whether as individuals or as a society) create our own rules according to our preferences? The opposing answers to this first question logically lead to radically different worldviews, political positions, and lifestyles.

     2. Is God good?

     The divide between Christians and atheists over the moral nature of the biblical God is more intractable than the divide over whether or not He exists. This is the type of objection I most often hear against Christianity. If you’re not clear on what the Bible truly says about things like the destructionof the Canaanites, slaveryHell, the commands to praise God, etc., you will be shaken when presented with verses plucked from the context of their passages, the culture of ancient Israel, the place of the Old Testament Lawtoday, and the overall story of redemption. Part of what you need to do in order to respond to this type of objection is to work on getting a big-picture understanding of the Bible as a whole.

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     About Amy K. Hall
Do Not Hope in Kings 11/7/16

by Stephen Witmer

     Many of us are struggling to make sense of, and respond to, the current presidential election cycle. As Christian citizens, what should we say? How should we pray?

     A short passage halfway through Luke’s Gospel may help us see what Jesus might say concerning this election, and every other. To be clear, Luke 13 was not written to help twenty-first-century Americans respond to presidential politics; the main point is to provide a window into Jesus’s compassionate heart and redemptive mission. Nevertheless, observing how Jesus related to governing authorities cannot help but profit our understanding of how we should act in the present moment.

     Refuse to Fear | “At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus], ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you’” (Luke 13:31).

     Herod, the ruler over Galilee, had already locked John the Baptist in prison and lopped off his head (Matthew 14:3–12). Now he has heard about Jesus and apparently has a desire to kill him, possibly because he believed it was John back from the dead. Herod is powerful and paranoid (Matthew 14:1–2), as well as selfish and erratic in his behavior. This is no idle threat.

     And yet, this passage records no hint of fear on Jesus’s part. Jesus’s strongest emotions don’t even involve Herod, whom he seems to dismiss and quickly forget. Herod is actively seeking his life, but Jesus isn’t fazed.

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Stephen Witmer is the pastor of Pepperell Christian Fellowship in Pepperell, Massachusetts, and teaches New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of Eternity Changes Everything and a 12-Week-Study-Revelation

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 119

119 SAMEKH

119:113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.

ESV Study Bible

The Right Kind of Freedom

By Nate Shurden 2/01/2016

     They were truly delightful. Probably in their late fifties, recently retired, just relocated to Franklin, Tenn., to be closer to their grandkids. They started attending the church several months earlier and had just expressed excitement about participating in the upcoming inquirers’ class. Hearing this, I was encouraged but mistakenly concluded that signing up for the inquirers’ class meant they were exploring the possibility of membership. I innocently began to ask about churches they were members of in the past when the conversation shifted.

     “I’m sorry. I’m afraid we misled you,” they said. “Even if we attend the inquirers’ class, we won’t be joining the church.” Surprised, and a little confused, I asked why that would be the case. “We don’t do membership. We’ve found it comes with certain expectations about attendance and involvement, and we just prefer to be freer than that.”

     Though rarely expressed so honestly, such sentiment is representative of a significant number of professing Christians across North America. It seems many are happy to maintain a loose affiliation with a church fellowship, but consider membership just a little too much commitment for their tastes.

     To be fair, some of the views or feelings expressed about membership stem from bad experiences in local churches. It is true that some churches and denominations have a history of using membership as a legalistic billy club. If someone is coming from that background, it will take time to heal, build trust, and reshape what biblical church membership is supposed to look like.

     Other Christians have simply never been taught a biblical view of membership and instinctively connect the word with the Rotary Club and Costco. For this person, the idea of membership feels like an exclusive clique where only those who pay the dues are welcome. Again, biblical instruction coupled with loving care will often lead these brothers and sisters into joyously committing to membership.

     In my experience, however, an increasing percentage of professing Christians resist making the membership plunge for the reason the couple of above stated: “We prefer to be freer than that.” Here’s the question though: Is the freedom of non-membership the freedom God wants for us?

     When we take an honest look at Scripture, it is clear that we are redeemed not to be alone or loosely associated but to be numbered among the body of Christ. And contrary to how it may feel at times, membership is exactly the kind of freedom for which we have been designed.  ( Our pastor asks, "Where do you see membership in the Bible?" So Athey Creek does not have a formal membership. That being said, I cannot speak for anyone else, but my wife and I certainly feel connected and committed to Athey Creek.

     At first blush, it may seem odd to call membership the kind of freedom we’re designed to experience, but that is the way Scripture speaks of it. One of the primary ways Scripture speaks of membership is with reference to the metaphor of the physical body.

     In Ephesians 4:1–16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1–27, Christian membership is analogous to the membership shared by the various parts of our body. The way your hand and foot are attached to your physical body is the same way individual Christians are to be attached to Christ and other Christians. The Bible is giving us a picture of a fellowship that is so interrelated and interdependent that true life and belonging cannot be expected without each part’s being connected to one another. Very simply, we cannot be ourselves by ourselves (Rom. 12:5).

     Now, from a certain angle, one could argue that a hand or foot’s attachment to the body is restrictive. It is true that an attached hand or foot is not experiencing the “liberty” of being unattached from the body. The question we should ask is whether the so-called liberty of being unattached to the body is the kind of liberty the hand or foot is designed to experience. Can the hand or the foot be what they are supposed to be without the body? Can we expect the hand and foot to function and develop without the body? The obvious answer is no.

     To be honest, the situation is far more serious than a matter of functioning and development. It’s a matter of life and death. When a hand or foot is dismembered from the body, the very life of the hand or foot is drained out of it. It ceases to live. This is not to mention the fact that it’s very disturbing to see a part of the body cut off. Interestingly, when a hand or foot is attached to a body as it’s designed, it strikes us as the most ordinary thing in the world. But if you see a hand lying on the ground, it’s traumatic—the stuff of horror movies.

     It makes sense, then, why John Calvin, leaning heavily on the early church fathers, argued that the church is the “bosom [in which] God is pleased to gather his sons, not only that they may be nourished by her help and ministry as long as they are infants and children, but also that they may be guided by her motherly care until they mature and at last reach the goal of faith … so that, for those to whom he is Father the church may also be Mother” (Institutes 4.1.1).

     Far from being restrictive to our freedom, membership in a local church is the exact condition and constraint that makes for a healthy—and free—Christian life. In the end, membership really is the right kind of freedom.

Click here to go to source

     Nate Shurden is senior pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tenn., and an adjunct professor at New College Franklin. You can follow him on Twitter @NateShurden.

Fox's Book Of Martyrs

By John Foxe 1563

An Account of the Persecutions of Michael de Molinos, a Native of Spain

     Michael de Molinos, a Spaniard of a rich and honorable family, entered, when young, into priest's orders, but would not accept of any preferment in the Church. He possessed great natural abilities, which he dedicated to the service of his fellow creatures, without any view of emolument to himself. His course of life was pious and uniform; nor did he exercise those austerities which are common among the religious orders of the Church of Rome.

     Being of a contemplative turn of mind, he pursued the track of the mystical divines, and having acquired great reputation in Spain, and being desirous of propagating his sublime mode of devotion, he left his own country, and settled at Rome. Here he soon connected himself with some of the most distinguished among the literati, who so approved of his religious maxims, that they concurred in assisting him to propagate them; and, in a short time, he obtained a great number of followers, who, from the sublime mode of their religion, were distinguished by the name of Quietists.

     In 1675, Molinos published a book entitled "Il Guida Spirituale," to which were subjoined recommendatory letters from several great personages. One of these was by the archbishop of Reggio; a second by the general of the Franciscans; and a third by Father Martin de Esparsa, a Jesuit, who had been divinity-professor both at Salamanca and Rome.

     No sooner was the book published than it was greatly read, and highly esteemed, both in Italy and Spain; and this so raised the reputation of the author that his acquaintance was coveted by the most respectable characters. Letters were written to him from numbers of people, so that a correspondence was settled between him, and those who approved of his method in different parts of Europe. Some secular priests, both at Rome and Naples, declared themselves openly for it, and consulted him, as a sort of oracle, on many occasions. But those who attached themselves to him with the greatest sincerity were some of the fathers of the Oratory; in particular three of the most eminent, namely, Caloredi, Ciceri, and Petrucci. Many of the cardinals also courted his acquaintance, and thought themselves happy in being reckoned among the number of his friends. The most distinguished of them was the Cardinal d'Estrees, a man of very great learmning, who so highly approved of Molinos' maxims that he entered into a close connection with him. They conversed together daily, and notwithstanding the distrust a Spaniard has naturally of a Frenchman, yet Molinos, who was sincere in his principles, opened his mind without reserve to the cardinal; and by this means a correspondence was settled between Molinos and some distinguished characters in France.

     Whilst Molinos was thus laboring to propagate his religious mode, Father Petrucci wrote several treatises relative to a contemplative life; but he mixed in them so many rules for the devotions of the Romish Church, as mitigated that censure he might have otherwise incurred. They were written chiefly for the use of the nuns, and therefore the sense was expressed in the most easy and familiar style.

     Molinos had now acquired such reputation, that the Jesuits and Dominicans began to be greatly alarmed, and determined to put a stop to the progress of this method. To do this, it was necessary to decry the author of it; and as heresy is an imputation that makes the strongest impression at Rome, Molinos and his followers were given out to be heretics. Books were also written by some of the Jesuits against Molinos and his method; but they were all answered with spirit by Molinos.

     These disputes occasioned such disturbance in Rome that the whole affair was taken notice of by the Inquisition. Molinos and his book, and Father Petrucci, with his treatises and letters, were brought under a severe examination; and the Jesuits were considered as the accusers. One of the society had, indeed, approved of Molinos' book, but the rest took care he should not be again seen at Rome. In the course of the examination both Molinos and Petrucci acquitted themselves so well, that their books were again approved, and the answers which the Jesuits had written were censured as scandalous.

     Petrucci's conduct on this occasion was so highly approved that it not only raised the credit of the cause, but his own emolument; for he was soon after made bishop of Jesis, which was a new declaration made by the pope in their favor. Their books were now esteemed more than ever, their method was more followed, and the novelty of it, with the new approbation given after so vigorous an accusation by the Jesuits, all contributed to raise the credit, and increase the number of the party.

     The behavior of Father Petrucci in his new dignity greatly contributed to increase his reputation, so that his enemies were unwilling to give him any further disturbance; and, indeed, there was less occasion given for censure by his writings than those of Molinos. Some passages in the latter were not so cautiously expressed, but there was room to make exceptions to them; while, on the other hand Petrucci so fully explained himself, as easily to remove the objections made to some parts of his letter.

     The great reputation acquired by Molinos and Petrucci occasioned a daily increase of the Quietists. All who were thought sincerely devout, or at least affected the reputation of it, were reckoned among the number. If these persons were observed to become more strict in their lives and mental devotions, yet there appeared less zeal in their whole deportment at the exterior parts of the Church ceremonies. They were not so assiduous at Mass, nor so earnest to procure Masses to be said for their friends; nor were they so frequently either at confession, or in processions.

     Though the new approbation given to Molinos' book by the Inquisition had checked the proceedings of his enemies; yet they were still inveterate against him in their hearts, and determined if possible to ruin him. They insinuated that he had ill designs, and was, in his heart, an enemy to the Christian religion: that under pretence of raising men to a sublime strain of devotion, he intended to erase from their minds a sense of the mysteries of Christianity. And because he was a Spaniard, they gave out that he was descended from a Jewish or Mahometan race, and that he might carry in his blood, or in his first education, some seeds of those religions which he had since cultivated with no less art than zeal. This last calumny gained but little credit at Rome, though it was said an order was sent to examine the registers of the place where Molinos was baptized.

     Molinos finding himself attacked with great vigor, and the most unrelenting malice, took every necessary precaution to prevent these imputations being credited. He wrote a treatise, entitled "Frequent and Daily Communion," which was likewise approved by some of the most learned of the Romish clergy. This was printed with his Spiritual Guide, in the year 1675; and in the preface to it he declared that he had not written it with any design to engage himself in matters of controversy, but that it was drawn from him by the earnest solicitations of many pious people.

     The Jesuits, failing in their attempts of crushing Molinos' power in Rome, applied to the court of France, when, in a short time, they so far succeeded that an order was sent to Cardinal d'Estrees, commanding him to prosecute Molinos with all possible rigor. The cardinal, though so strongly attached to Molinos, resolved to sacrifice all that is sacred in friendship to the will of his master. Finding, however, there was not sufficient matter for an accusation against him, he determined to supply that defect himself. He therefore went to the inquisitors, and informed them of several particulars, not only relative to Molinos, but also Petrucci, both of whom, together with several of their friends, were put into the Inquisition.

     When they were brought before the inquisitors, (which was the beginning of the year 1684) Petrucci answered the respective questions put to him with so much judgment and temper that he was soon dismissed; and though Molinos' examination was much longer, it was generally expected he would have been likewise discharged: but this was not the case. Though the inquisitors had not any just accusation against him, yet they strained every nerve to find him guilty of heresy. They first objected to his holding a correspondence in different parts of Europe; but of this he was acquitted, as the matter of that correspondence could not be made criminal. They then directed their attention to some suspicious papers found in his chamber; but Molinos so clearly explained their meaning that nothing could be made of them to his prejudice. At length, Cardinal d'Estrees, after producing the order sent him by the king of France for prosecuting Molinos, said he could prove against him more than was necessary to convince them he was guilty of heresy. To do this he perverted the meaning of some passages in Molinos' books and papers, and related many false and aggravating circumstances relative to the prisoner. He acknowledged he had lived with him under the appearance of friendship, but that it was only to discover his principles and intentions: that he had found them to be of a bad nature, and that dangerous consequences werre likely to ensue; but in order to make a full discovery, he had assented to several things, which, in his heart, he detested; and that, by these means, he saw into the secrets of Molinos, but determined not to take any notice, until a proper opportunity should offer of crushing him and his followers.

     In consequence of d'Estree's evidence, Molinos was closely confined by the Inquisition, where he continued for some time, during which period all was quiet, and his followers prosecuted their mode without interruption. But on a sudden the Jesuits determined to extirpate them, and the storm broke out with the most inveterate vehemence.

     The Count Vespiniani and his lady, Don Paulo Rocchi, confessor to the prince Borghese, and some of his family, with several others, (in all seventy persons) were put into the Inquisition, among whom many were highly esteemed for their learning and piety. The accusation laid against the clergy was their neglecting to say the breviary; and the rest were accused of going to the Communion without first attending confession. In a word, it was said, they neglected all the exterior parts of religion, and gave themselves up wholly to solitude and inward prayer.

     The Countess Vespiniani exerted herself in a very particular manner on her examination before the inquisitors. She said she had never revealed her method of devotion to any mortal but her confessor, and that it was impossible they should know it without his discovering the secret; that, therefore it was time to give over going to confession, if priests made this use of it, to discover the most secret thoughts intrusted to them; and that, for the future, she would only make her confession to God.

     From this spirited speech, and the great noise made in consequence of the countess's situation, the inquisitors thought it most prudent to dismiss both her and her husband, lest the people might be incensed, and what she said might lessen the credit of confession. They were, therefore, both discharged, but bound to appear whenever they should be called upon.

     Besides those already mentioned, such was the inveteracy of the Jesuits against the Quietists, that, within the space of a month, upwards of two hundred persons were put into the Inquisition; and that method of devotion which had passed in Italy as the most elevated to which mortals could aspire, was deemed heretical, and the chief promoters of it confined in a wretched dungeon.

     In order, if possible, to extirpate Quietism, the inquisitors sent a circular letter to Cardinal Cibo, as the chief minister, to disperse it through Italy. It was addressed to all prelates, informed them, that whereas many schools and fraternities were established in several parts of Italy, in which some persons, under the pretence of leading people into the ways of the Spirit, and to the prayer of quietness, instilled into them many abominable heresies, therefore a strict charge was given to dissolve all those societies, and to oblige the spiritual guide to tread in the known paths; and, in particular, to take care that none of that sort should be suffered to have the direction of the nunneries. Orders were likewise given to proceed, in the way of justice, against those who should be found guilty of these abominable errors.

     After this a strict inquiry was made into all the nunneries of Rome, when most of their directors and confessors were discovered to be engaged in this new method. It was found that the Carmelites, the nuns of the Conception, and those of several other convents, were wholly given up to prayer and contemplation, and that, instead of their beads, and the other devotions to saints, or images, they were much alone, and often in the exercise of mental prayer; that when they were asked why they had laid aside the use of their beads and their ancient forms, their answer was that their directors had advised them so to do. Information of this being given to the Inquisition, they sent orders that all books written in the same strain with those of Molinos and Petrucci should be taken from them, and that they should be compelled to return to their original form of devotion.

     The circular letter sent to Cardinal Cibo, produced but little effect, for most of the Italian bishops were inclined to Molinos' method. It was intended that this, as well as all other orders from the inquisitors, should be kept secret; but notwithstanding all their care, copies of it were printed, and dispersed in most of the principal towns in Italy. This gave great uneasiness to the inquisitors, who used every method they could to conceal their proceedings from the knowledge of the world. They blamed the cardinal, and accused him of being the cause of it; but he retorted on them, and his secretary laid the fault on both.

     During these transactions, Molinos suffered great indignities from the officers of the Inquisition; and the only comfort he received was from being sometimes visited by Father Petrucci.

     Though he had lived in the highest reputation in Rome for some years, he was now as much despised as he had been admired, being generally considered as one of the worst of heretics.

     The greater part of Molinos' followers, who had been placed in the Inquisition, having abjured his mode, were dismissed; but a harder fate awaited Molinos, their leader.

     After lying a considerable time in prison, he was at length brought again before the inquisitors to answer to a number of articles exhibited against him from his writings. As soon as he appeared in court, a chain was put round his body, and a wax light in his hand, when two friars read aloud the articles of accusation. Molinos answered each with great steadiness and resolution; and notwithstanding his arguments totally defeated the force of all, yet he was found guilty of heresy, and condemned to imprisonment for life.

     When he left the court he was attended by a priest, who had borne him the greatest respect. On his arrival at the prison he entered the cell allotted for his confinement with great tranquillity; and on taking leave of the priest, thus addressed him: "Adieu, father, we shall meet again at the Day of Judgment, and then it will appear on which side the truth is, whether on my side, or on yours."

     During his confinement, he was several times tortured in the most cruel manner, until, at length, the severity of the punishments overpowered his strength, and finished his existence.

     The death of Molinos struck such an impression on his followers that the greater part of them soon abjured his mode; and by the assiduity of the Jesuits, Quietism was totally extirpated throughout the country.


Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Development of the Bible: An Interview with Michael Kruger

By Michael J. Kruger 2/01/2016

     Tabletalk: As president of a Reformed seminary, what do you consider to be the greatest spiritual challenges that future pastors face in the United States and in the world? How can they prepare for those challenges?

     Michael Kruger: In prior generations, pastors have been repeatedly told that theology and doctrine don’t really matter and that they should just focus on running their ministries and shepherding the flock. However, the last few years of decline in America have shown that our theological convictions really do matter. The only pastors (and churches) who have been able to withstand the cultural onslaught regarding issues such as homosexuality are those that are grounded in the authority of Scripture and the truth of biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality. So, the greatest challenge for pastors will be whether they will stand firm on the teachings of the Bible despite the fact that they are ridiculed by our culture. In order to prepare for those challenges, pastors need to (a) recommit themselves to the truth of Scripture, (b) become serious students of Scripture themselves, and (c) boldly preach the Scriptures to their congregations.

     I would also add that pastors will not just be ridiculed by the world, but they will be increasingly ridiculed by their own congregations. Pastors will find themselves in a situation where many members of their congregation openly disagree with them about the Bible’s teaching on key cultural issues. Thus, there will be an ever-growing gap between the position of the pastor/session and the position of some portion of the congregation—and that is the kind of situation that can lead to infighting and schism. To address this challenge, pastors have to make sure that their own people are properly instructed, trained, and persuaded about these key cultural issues. We cannot just assume they agree with us. As we reach out to the culture with the truth of Scripture, we cannot overlook our own congregations.

     TT: What wisdom would you give to a theological student who is struggling to connect his theological knowledge with his heart?

     MK: The first thing to realize is that theological knowledge and the heart are not opposed to each other. We must avoid the idea that we have to choose between the two. Solid, biblical truth encourages and uplifts the heart. Second, the student needs to realize that the study of theology is always personal—it applies to them, too. As soon as we begin to see theological study as an abstract hobby, and not something that we apply to our own lives, we will find ourselves becoming cold and distant to the things of God. And third, students must maintain a vibrant and consistent devotional life. The intimacy of daily communion with God is an inoculation against growing cold and hard-hearted during one’s time in seminary.

     TT: What is the biblical canon? Why is it important for Christians to understand issues related to the canon of the Bible?

     MK: The term canon simply refers to the collection of books that Christians regard as divinely inspired Scripture. Because the Bible is not just one book but is composed of sixty-six smaller books, questions always arise about whether we have the right books. What if some were left out? What if wrong ones were added?

     This issue is exacerbated by a couple of other factors: (a) the discovery of “other” gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, raises questions about whether we have the right books, or whether these alternate stories of Jesus are equally legitimate; and (b) questions about whether the biblical books were really written by the names attached to them. Did John really write John? Did Peter really write 2 Peter? Are these books forgeries?

     These challenges are not just ones that scholars face. People in the pew regularly face them as well. Mainstream media outlets are regularly bringing these issues up as they challenge the integrity of the Bible. For example, on December 23, 2014, Newsweek published a cover story titled “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” This piece attacked the integrity of the Bible just days before Christmas—and was read by millions of people. Thus, the issue of canon is central to our belief in biblical authority. Christians (and especially pastors) have to have answers to these questions.

     TT: How did you become interested in questions of the biblical canon, inspiration, and inerrancy?

     MK: When I was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took a New Testament introduction class with Bart Ehrman, a well-known critic of biblical Christianity. Ehrman piqued my interest in issues related to the development of the canon and the transmission of the New Testament text. It was a very challenging class for me as a young believer, but God used it to lead me to further study in these important areas. In Ph.D. studies, I had the privilege of studying under Larry W. Hurtado at the University of Edinburgh, one of the leading textual critics in the world today. There, I continued to dive deeper into these issues and published my doctoral thesis on the apocryphal gospel fragment P.Oxy. 840.

     TT: What is your response to a person who says, “The early church decided which books made it into the Bible”?

     MK: I would say that this is partially true. The early church did recognize which books were from God, and then affirmed which books belonged in the canon. However, the early church did not “decide” the shape of the canon in the sense that it made books canonical. Books are canonical because they are given by God to His church. The church simply responds to what God has already done.

     Moreover, the historical evidence does not indicate that the church somehow “decided” which books were in the Bible. Long before there were any church councils about the issue, the core books of the canon were already in place and functioning as Scripture. For example, when it comes to the New Testament, we have a core canon (approximately twenty-one out of twenty-seven books) that was well established by the middle of the second century. That is long before the church ever made formal statements about such things.

     TT: What should Christians make of the fact that there was a dispute regarding whether some of the books of the New Testament were canonical?

     MK: Christians are often bothered or surprised when they learn that some Christians disagreed about some canonical books. But this really should not surprise us. When it comes to important spiritual matters, inevitably there is some opposition to the truth. Even when Jesus came to Israel, there was disagreement about who He was.

     Even more than this, it is important to remember that natural historical processes led to some disagreements. Given that books were written by different authors in different locations at different times, it is inevitable that some groups would receive those books before others. If God decided to give His books in normal historical circumstances—and not dropped from heaven on golden tablets—such disagreements would be inevitable. The key issue is that once the dust had settled, Christians were remarkably unified about which books belonged in the canon and which did not.

     TT: What are the autographs of the New Testament, and how does our doctrine of inerrancy relate to them?

     MK: The “autographs” are just a reference to the original manuscripts penned by the inspired authors of the Bible. When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we are careful to clarify that this pertains to the wording of the original autographs. The reason for this is obvious: some manuscripts might have been poorly copied and contained changes and/or mistakes. Such changes obviously are not part of the inspired text. Even though we don’t possess the autographs today, we have so many good copies that we can reconstruct the original text with a very high degree of confidence.

     TT: What is the difference between the New Testament Gospels and other “gospel” documents such as the Gospel of Thomas?

     MK: Books like the Gospel of Thomas are often used to challenge the integrity of the New Testament canon. But they really do not pose a serious threat to its integrity. First of all, the apocryphal gospels, including Thomas, were all written in the second century or later. Thus, none of them could possibly be composed by an actual Apostle (or companion of an Apostle). Second, these apocryphal gospels never had the level of acceptance or popularity as the canonical ones. They were always on the fringe and never serious contenders for a place in the canon.

     TT: How can Christians be sure that the Bible we have is the one that God wanted us to have?

     MK: There are lots of reasons to be confident that the books in our Bibles are the ones God intended. First, Christians have argued that inspired books contain certain “divine qualities” that set them apart from other books. Such qualities include beauty and excellency, power and efficacy, and unity and harmony. Because of the activity of the Holy Spirit, we can be confident that individual Christians and the church as a whole would have been able to recognize these qualities.

     Second, we have excellent historical evidence that shows that these books were recognized early and widely by God’s people. As noted above, the New Testament books were well established even by the second century. Thus, it seems that God’s people were quite able to recognize which books were from God, and they did so at a very early time.

     And, on top of all of this, Christians put their trust in the sovereignty and providence of God over such matters. If God desired that His church possess the proper books, we can be confident that He would sovereignly bring it about.

Click here to go to source

     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



  • Impossibility of Salvation 1 Luke 18:18-27
  • Part 2
  • Part 3


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Righteous anger (1)
     (Nov 8)    Bob Gass

     ‘Be angry, and do not sin’

(Eph 4:26) 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, ESV

     There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle your anger. Moses handled his anger the wrong way and it cost him the Promised Land. Jesus handled His anger the right way, and those who took advantage of the poor were exposed and thrown out of the temple. The Scripture, ‘Be angry, and do not sin,’ means instead of just complaining about the problem, you’re supposed to do something about it. Instead of walking around on a slow burn and keeping those around you on pins and needles, get to the core of your anger and express it the right way. Pastor and author Dr Jack Hyles wrote about how his child was assigned to read a book in school – one that was filled with foul language and questionable situations. The more Dr Hyles perused the book, the angrier he got. Eventually he marched up to the principal’s office and politely but firmly said, ‘My son is not going to read this book: he’ll be assigned a different book to read, and he will not be marked down because of it.’ The principal, taken aback and attempting to argue with Dr Hyles, said, ‘But…’ Dr Hyles interrupted and said softly but sternly, ‘No ifs, ands, or buts about it. He will not be forced to read this book, and he will be assigned another one. Is that clear?’ The principal replied, ‘All right, Dr Hyles, but I don’t understand the fuss. After all, the language in that book is no worse than what’s written on the bathroom walls.’ Dr Hyles smiled and said, ‘Yes, and when that becomes required reading – I’ll be back!’

Ezek 16-17
Heb 11

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Julius Caesar Watts, better know as J.C., was born this day, November 8, 1957. A college and pro football player, he was a youth minister and in 1994 was elected to the U.S. Congress. In response to the President’s State of the Union Address in 1997, Congressman J.C. Watts stated: “I was taught to respect everyone for the simple reason that we’re all God’s children. I was taught, in the words of Martin Luther King, to judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. And I was taught that character is simply doing what’s right when nobody’s looking.”

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


     Chapter 4

     Of the two difficulties you mention I think that only one is often a practical problem for believers. The other is in my experience usually raised by people who are attacking Christianity.

     The ideal opening for their attacks-if they know the Bible-is the phrase in Philippians about "making your requests known to God." I mean, the words making known bring out most clearly the apparent absurdity with which they charge us. We say that we believe God to be omniscient; yet a great deal of prayer seems to consist of giving Him information. And indeed we have been reminded by Our Lord too not to pray as if we forgot the omniscience-"for your heavenly Father knows you need all these things."

     This is final against one very silly sort of prayer. I have heard a man offer a prayer for a sick person which really amounted to a diagnosis followed by advice as to how God should treat the patient. And I have heard prayers nominally for peace, but really so concerned for various devices which the petitioner believed to be means to peace, that they were open to the same criticism.

     But even when that kind of thing is ruled out, the unbeliever's objection remains. To confess our sins before God is certainly to tell Him what He knows much better than we. And also, any petition is a kind of telling. If it does not strictly exclude the belief that God knows our need, it at least seems to -solicit His attention. Some traditional formulae make that implication very clear: "Hear us, good Lord"-"0 let thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint." As if, though God does not need to be informed, He does need, and even rather frequently, to be reminded. But we cannot really believe that degrees of attention, and therefore of inattention, and therefore of something like forgetfulness, exist in the Absolute Mind. I presume that only God's attention keeps me (or anything else) in existence at all.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 9.

     How The People That Were In The Fortress Were Prevailed On By The Words Of Eleazar, Two Women And Five Children Only Excepted And All Submitted To Be Killed By One Another.

     1. Now as Eleazar was proceeding on in this exhortation, they all cut him off short, and made haste to do the work, as full of an unconquerable ardor of mind, and moved with a demoniacal fury. So they went their ways, as one still endeavoring to be before another, and as thinking that this eagerness would be a demonstration of their courage and good conduct, if they could avoid appearing in the last class; so great was the zeal they were in to slay their wives and children, and themselves also! Nor indeed, when they came to the work itself, did their courage fail them, as one might imagine it would have done, but they then held fast the same resolution, without wavering, which they had upon the hearing of Eleazar's speech, while yet every one of them still retained the natural passion of love to themselves and their families, because the reasoning they went upon appeared to them to be very just, even with regard to those that were dearest to them; for the husbands tenderly embraced their wives, and took their children into their arms, and gave the longest parting kisses to them, with tears in their eyes. Yet at the same time did they complete what they had resolved on, as if they had been executed by the hands of strangers; and they had nothing else for their comfort but the necessity they were in of doing this execution, to avoid that prospect they had of the miseries they were to suffer from their enemies. Nor was there at length any one of these men found that scrupled to act their part in this terrible execution, but every one of them despatched his dearest relations. Miserable men indeed were they! whose distress forced them to slay their own wives and children with their own hands, as the lightest of those evils that were before them. So they being not able to bear the grief they were under for what they had done any longer, and esteeming it an injury to those they had slain, to live even the shortest space of time after them, they presently laid all they had upon a heap, and set fire to it. They then chose ten men by lot out of them to slay all the rest; every one of whom laid himself down by his wife and children on the ground, and threw his arms about them, and they offered their necks to the stroke of those who by lot executed that melancholy office; and when these ten had, without fear, slain them all, they made the same rule for casting lots for themselves, that he whose lot it was should first kill the other nine, and after all should kill himself. Accordingly, all these had courage sufficient to be no way behind one another in doing or suffering; so, for a conclusion, the nine offered their necks to the executioner, and he who was the last of all took a view of all the other bodies, lest perchance some or other among so many that were slain should want his assistance to be quite despatched, and when he perceived that they were all slain, he set fire to the palace, and with the great force of his hand ran his sword entirely through himself, and fell down dead near to his own relations. So these people died with this intention, that they would not leave so much as one soul among them all alive to be subject to the Romans. Yet was there an ancient woman, and another who was of kin to Eleazar, and superior to most women in prudence and learning, with five children, who had concealed themselves in caverns under ground, and had carried water thither for their drink, and were hidden there when the rest were intent upon the slaughter of one another. Those others were nine hundred and sixty in number, the women and children being withal included in that computation. This calamitous slaughter was made on the fifteenth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan].

     2. Now for the Romans, they expected that they should be fought in the Morning, when, accordingly, they put on their armor, and laid bridges of planks upon their ladders from their banks, to make an assault upon the fortress, which they did; but saw nobody as an enemy, but a terrible solitude on every side, with a fire within the place, as well as a perfect silence. So they were at a loss to guess at what had happened. At length they made a shout, as if it had been at a blow given by the battering ram, to try whether they could bring any one out that was within; the women heard this noise, and came out of their under-ground cavern, and informed the Romans what had been done, as it was done; and the second of them clearly described all both what was said and what was done, and this manner of it; yet did they not easily give their attention to such a desperate undertaking, and did not believe it could be as they said; they also attempted to put the fire out, and quickly cutting themselves a way through it, they came within the palace, and so met with the multitude of the slain, but could take no pleasure in the fact, though it were done to their enemies. Nor could they do other than wonder at the courage of their resolution, and the immovable contempt of death which so great a number of them had shown, when they went through with such an action as that was.

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

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Discernment is God's call to intercession,
never to faultfinding.
--- Corrie Ten Boom     Passionate Prayer: Discovering the Power of Talking with God


     In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for
living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.
--- Thomas Merton     No Man Is an Island (Shambhala Library)


Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that the stuff life is made of.
--- Benjamin Franklin     The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 1: Journalist, 1706-1730


Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
--- T. S. Eliot     T.S. Eliot and Prejudice

... from here, there and everywhere


Proverbs 28:13-14
     by D.H. Stern


13     He who conceals his sins will not succeed;
he who confesses and abandons them will gain mercy.


14     Happy the person who is never without fear,
but he who hardens his heart will fall into misfortune.

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


                The unrivalled power of prayer

     We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. --- Romans 8:26.

     We realize that we are energized by the Holy Spirit for prayer; we know what it is to pray in the Spirit; but we do not so often realize that the Holy Spirit Himself prays in us prayers which we cannot utter. When we are born again of God and are indwelt by the Spirit of God, He expresses for us the unutterable.

     “He,” the Spirit in you, “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God,” and God searches your heart not to know what your conscious prayers are, but to find out what is the prayer of the Holy Spirit.

     The Spirit of God needs the nature of the believer as a shrine in which to offer His intercession. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” When Jesus Christ cleansed the temple, He “would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.” The Spirit of God will not allow you to use your body for your own convenience. Jesus ruthlessly cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and said—“My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

     Have we recognized that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? If so, we must be careful to keep it undefiled for Him. We have to remember that our conscious life, though it is only a tiny bit of our personality, is to be regarded by us as a shrine of the Holy Ghost. He will look after the unconscious part that we know nothing of; but we must see that we guard the conscious part for which we are responsible.

My Utmost for His Highest
The Game
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


                The Game

It is the play of a being
  who is not serious in
  his conclusions. Take this
  from that, he says, and there is everything
  left. Look over the edge
  of the universe and you see
  your own face staring
  at you back, as it does
  in a pool. And we are forced
  into the game, reluctant
  contestants; though the mathematicians
  are best at it. Never mind, they
  say, whether it is there
  or not, so long as our like
  can use it. And we are shattered
  by their deductions. There is
  a series that is without
  end, yet the rules are built
  on the impossibility of
  its existence. It is
  how you play, we cry, scanning
  the future for an account
  of our performance. But the rewards
  are there even so, and history
  festers with the numbers of the recipients
  of them, the handsome, the fortunate,
  the well-fed; those who cheated this
  being when he was not looking.

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

     Man in history is not a lifeless tool in the hands of an omnipotent will. The biblical description of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart suggests that God removed freedom from man and thus allows for a conception of history wherein men are lacking in will and are God’s puppets. Maimonides, however, interprets these verses in a way which protects human freedom from the nonrational intrusion of the vertical will of God:

     To sum up, God did not decree that Pharaoh should ill-treat Israel, or Siḥon sin in his land, or that the Canaanites should commit abominations, or that Israel should worship idols. All of them sinned by their own volition; and all accordingly incurred the penalty that repentance should be withheld from them.

     Maimonides writes of prayers for grace:

     What is meant by David’s utterance, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore does He instruct sinners in the way. He guides the humble in justice; and He teaches the humble His way” (Ps. 25:8, 9)? It refers to the fact that God sent them Prophets to teach them the ways of the Lord and bring them back in repentance; furthermore, that He endowed them with the capacity of learning and understanding. For it is characteristic of every human being that, when his interest is engaged in the ways of wisdom and righteousness, he longs for these ways and is eager to follow them. Thus the Sages say, “Whoever comes to purify himself receives aid”; that is, he will find himself helped in his endeavor.

     Petitional prayers for divine guidance can be understood within the horizontal structure of reality. One can understand God’s response to man’s petitional prayers for divine guidance by understanding how human reason is a manifestation of divine governance. This nonmiraculous understanding of divine grace finds similar expression in Maimonides’ approach to historical redemption. Redemption in history is not initiated by the autonomous will and power of God, but by human repentance (teshuvah):

     All the Prophets charged the people concerning repentance. Only through repentance will Israel be redeemed, and the Torah already offered the assurance that Israel will, in the closing period of his exile, finally repent, and thereupon be immediately redeemed.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Take Heart
     November 8



     This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.
---
Jeremiah 23:6.

     The Lord is our righteousness by imputation.   Classic Sermons on The Names of God (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) (Classic Sermons)    For it pleased God, after he had made all things, to create the human race in his own image. And so infinite was the condescension of the one who lives forever that, although he might have insisted on the everlasting obedience of Adam and his posterity, he obliged himself by a covenant made with his own creatures, on condition of obedience, to give them eternal life. For when it is said, “For when you eat of it you will surely die” (
Gen. 2:17), we may infer that as long as they continued obedient and did not eat of it, they would surely live. Genesis 3 gives us a full account of how our first parents broke this covenant and therefore stood in need of a better righteousness than their own in order to procure their future acceptance with God.

     Here then opens the scene of divine philanthropy—God’s love to humanity. For what we could not do, Jesus Christ undertakes for us. And that God might be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus, he took the nature of a servant, even human nature. In that nature he obeyed and thereby fulfilled the whole moral law in our stead; he also died on the cross and by that became a curse for, or instead of, those whom the Father had given him. As God and human in one person, he satisfied at the same time that he obeyed and worked out a full and perfect righteousness for all to whom it was to be imputed.

     Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the active as well as passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Generally, when talking of the merits of Christ we only mention the latter—his death—whereas his life and active obedience are equally necessary. Christ is not the Savior we need unless we join both together. Christ not only died but lived; not only suffered but obeyed for, or instead of, sinners. And both these jointly make up that complete righteousness that is to be imputed to us, as the disobedience of our first parents was made ours by imputation. This is what [Paul] elsewhere terms our becoming in Christ the righteousness of God. This is the sense in which the prophet would have us understand the words of the text—the church itself “will be called,” having this righteousness imputed to her, “the LORD Our Righteousness” (
Jer. 33:16). A passage, I think, worthy of the profoundest meditation of all the descendants of Adam.
--- George Whitefield

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   November 8
     The Subtle Doctor


     John Duns Scotus was born in Scotland, studied theology at Oxford, England, and was ordained. About 1304 he migrated to Paris and obtained his doctor’s degree. Pressing on to Cologne, Germany, he taught theology for about a year before dying on November 8, 1308, at a relatively young age, probably under 40. A monument was erected to John Scotus in the Franciscan church in Cologne in 1513, reading: “Scotia (Scotland) gave me birth, England nursed me, Gaul educated me, Cologne holds my ashes.”

     Scotus possessed a brilliant mind that shook up medieval theology. He had few qualms about criticizing earlier Catholic theologians—Thomas Aquinas and Anselm and the others—and he delighted in rattling students by challenging established beliefs. But, like many theologians, he was better at questioning than answering. His own theology is difficult to follow, and for that reason he is known to church history as “The Subtle Doctor.” He has perplexed and frustrated so many students that the word “Dunce” was coined from the “Duns” in the middle of his name.

     Scotus became the first major theologian to advocate the doctrine of Mary’s immaculate conception: that Mary herself was conceived without any sin, that she was pure and sinless from the moment of her conception. At a public debate in Paris, it is said, Scotus pummeled the followers of Thomas Aquinas with 200 arguments on this subject, and the two camps waged one of the most bitter controversies in the pre-Reformation church.

     Yet Scotus didn’t teach his position as dogma, but as probability, writing: “Upon this question I say that God was able to effect it that Mary was never in original sin. He was able also to effect it that she remained in sin for a moment or for a certain time and was cleansed of it in the last instant of that time. Which of the solutions really took place … God knows.”

     His position on the subject nonetheless became established church teaching when Pope Pius IX proclaimed it a dogma in 1854.

     Keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. You know the teachings I gave you, … So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you.
--- Philippians 4:8,9.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 8

     “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord.” --- Colossians 2:6.

     The life of faith is represented as receiving—an act which implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift. As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God. The saints are not, by nature, wells, or streams, they are but cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours his salvation. The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: so is it in the life of faith, Christ becomes real to us. While we are without faith, Jesus is a mere name to us—a person who lived a long while ago, so long ago that his life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing which I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given. When I receive Jesus, he becomes my Saviour, so mine that neither life nor death shall be able to rob me of him. All this is to receive Christ—to take him as God’s free gift; to realize him in my heart, and to appropriate him as mine.

     Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings, we have received CHRIST JESUS himself. It is true that he gave us life from the dead. He gave us pardon of sin; he gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received him, and appropriated him. What a heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain him!


          Evening - November 8

     “The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?” --- Mark 14:14.

     Jerusalem at the time of the passover was one great inn; each householder had invited his own friends, but no one had invited the Saviour, and he had no dwelling of his own. It was by his own supernatural power that he found himself an upper room in which to keep the feast. It is so even to this day—Jesus is not received among the sons of men save only where by his supernatural power and grace he makes the heart anew. All doors are open enough to the prince of darkness, but Jesus must clear a way for himself or lodge in the streets. It was through the mysterious power exerted by our Lord that the householder raised no question, but at once cheerfully and joyfully opened his guestchamber. Who he was, and what he was, we do not know, but he readily accepted the honour which the Redeemer proposed to confer upon him. In like manner it is still discovered who are the Lord’s chosen, and who are not; for when the Gospel comes to some, they fight against it, and will not have it, but where men receive it, welcoming it, this is a sure indication that there is a secret work going on in the soul, and that God has chosen them unto eternal life. Are you willing, dear reader, to receive Christ? then there is no difficulty in the way; Christ will be your guest; his own power is working with you, making you willing. What an honour to entertain the Son of God! The heaven of heavens cannot contain him, and yet he condescends to find a house within our hearts! We are not worthy that he should come under our roof, but what an unutterable privilege when he condescends to enter! for then he makes a feast, and causes us to feast with him upon royal dainties, we sit at a banquet where the viands are immortal, and give immortality to those who feed thereon. Blessed among the sons of Adam is he who entertains the angels’ Lord.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     November 8

          MAY JESUS CHRIST BE PRAISED

     German hymn, c. 1800
     Translated by Edward Caswall, 1814–1878

     I will extol the Lord at all times: His praise will always be on my lips. (Psalm 34:1)

     Forms of worship services vary according to the cultural backgrounds, personalities, and traditions of the believers. Some Christians feel that true worship is best achieved when it is conducted in a structured, liturgical, and meditative setting. Other believers prefer a more free, spontaneous, informal praise and testimony type of service. Forms of worship are not important in themselves. In fact, a variety of worship forms is healthy within the evangelical community. However, we must never get so caught up in the forms and means of worship that we fail to focus on the object of all worship—the praise of Jesus Christ!

     One of the important sources of English hymnody is the wealth of worthy hymns translated from earlier Greek, Latin, and German sources during the mid 19th century. Many English writers’ interest in the hymns from these other cultures was largely a part of a movement within the Anglican church known as the Oxford Movement. The rediscovery of earlier and ancient hymns became especially important during this time. One of the leaders of this movement was Edward Caswall, a well-known scholar, minister, and translator. Caswall is also the translator of another important hymn about our Lord, “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.” Throughout his life Caswall kept adding new verses to “May Jesus Christ Be Praised” until eventually this hymn included 28 stanzas.

     These words still have an important place in our church services as they direct our attention to the basic purpose of all worship:

     When Morning gilds the skies, my heart awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised! Alike at work and prayer to Jesus I repair: May Jesus Christ be praised!
     Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find: May Jesus Christ be praised! Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this: May Jesus Christ be praised!
     In heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this: May Jesus Christ be praised! The pow’rs of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear: May Jesus Christ be praised!
     Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine: May Jesus Christ be praised! Be this th’ eternal song thru all the ages long: May Jesus Christ be praised!


     For Today: Psalm 5:3; 57:7; 69:34; John 14:6, 9; 20:31; Revelation 11:15; 17:14

     What does the term worship mean to you? Is your understanding founded on the praise of Christ? Identify activities in a church service as well as in our own devotional lives that are often substituted for the true worship of God. Determine to praise Christ throughout the day with this hymn ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

     Instruct. 5. Hence is inferred the providence of God, and his government of the world. His power, as well as his wisdom, gives him a right to govern: nothing can equal him, therefore nothing can share the command with him; since all things are his works, it is fittest they should be under his order: he that frames a work, is fittest to guide and govern it. God hath the most right to govern, because he hath knowledge to direct his power, and power to execute the results of his wisdom: he knows what is convenient to order, and hath strength to effect what he orders. As his power would be oppressive without goodness and wisdom, so his goodness and wisdom would be fruitless without power. An artificer that hath lost his hands may direct, but cannot make an engine: a pilot that hath lost his arms may advise the way of steerage, but cannot hold the helm; something is wanting in him to be a complete governor but since both counsel and power are infinite in God, hence results an infinite right to govern, and an infinite fitness, because his will cannot be resisted, his power cannot be enfeebled or diminished; he can quicken and increase the strength of all means as he pleases. He can hold all things in the world together, and preserve them in those functions wherein he settled them, and conduct them to those ends for which he designed them. Every artificer, the more excellent he is, and the more excellency of power appears in his work, is the more careful to maintain and cherish it. Those that deny Providence, do not only ravish from him the bowels of his goodness, but strip him of a main exercise of his power, and engender in men a suspicion of weariness and feebleness in him; as though his strength had been spent in making them, that none is left to guide them. They would make him headless in regard of his wisdom, and bowelless in regard of his goodness, and armless in regard of his strength. If he did not, or were not able to preserve and provide for his creatures, his power in making them would be, in a great part, an invisible power; if he did not preserve what he made, and govern what he preserves, it would be a kind of strange and rude power, to make, and suffer it to be dashed in pieces at the pleasure of others. If the power of God should relinquish the world, the life of things would be extinguished, the fabric would be confounded, and fall into a deplorable chaos. That which is composed of so many various pieces, could not maintain its union, if here were not a secret virtue binding them together and maintaining those varieties of links. Well, then, since God is not only so good, that he cannot will anything but what is good; so wise, that he cannot err or mistake; but also so able, that he cannot be defeated or mated; he hath every way a full ability to govern the world: where those three are infinite, the right and fitness resulting from thence is unquestionable: and, indeed, to deny God this active part of his power, is to render him weak, foolish, cruel, or all.

     Instruct. 6. Here is a ground for the worship of God. Wisdom and power are the grounds of the respect we give to men; they being both infinite in God, are the foundation of a solemn honor to be returned to him by his creatures. If a man makes a curious engine, we honor him for his skill; if another vanquish a vigorous enemy, we admire him for his strength: and shall not the efficacy of God’s power in creation, government, redemption, enflame us with a sense of the honor of his name and perfections? We admire those princes that have vast empires, numerous armies, that have a power to conquer their enemies, and preserve their own people in peace. How much more ground have we to pay a mighty reverence to God, who, without trouble and weariness, made and manages this vast empire of the world by a word and beck! What sensible thoughts have we of the noise of thunder, the power of the sun, the storms of the sea! These things that have no understanding have struck men with such a reverence, that many have adored them as gods. What reverence and adoration doth this mighty power, joined with an infinite wisdom in God, demand at our hands! All religion and worship stands especially upon two pillars, goodness, and power in God; if either of these were defective, all religion would faint away. We can expect no entertainment with him without goodness, nor any benefit from him without power. This God prefaceth to the command to worship him, the benefit his goodness had conferred upon them, and the powerful manner of conveyance of it to them (2 Kings 17:36): “The Lord brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power, and an out-stretched arm; him shall you fear, and him shall you worship, and to him shall you do sacrifice.”

     Because this attribute is a main foundation of prayer, the Lord’s Prayer is concluded with a doxology of it, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.” As he is rich, possessing all blessings; so he is powerful, to confer all blessings on us, and make them efficacious to us. The Jews repeat many times in their prayers, some say an hundred times, העולם מלד , “The King of the world;” it is both an awe and an encouragement. We could not, without consideration of it, pray in faith of success; nay, we could not pray at all, if his power were defective to help us, and his mercy too weak to relieve us. Who would solicit a lifeless, or he a prostrate suppliant, to a feeble arm? Upon this ability of God, our Saviour built his petitions (Heb. 5:7): “He offered up strong cries unto Him that was able to save him from death.” Abraham’s faith hung upon the same string (Rom. 4:21), and the captived church supplicates God to act according to the greatness of his power (Psalm 79:11). In all our addresses this is to be eyed and considered; God is able to help, to relieve, to ease me, let my misery be never so great, and my strength never so weak (Matt. 8:2): “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,” was the consideration the leper had when he came to worship Christ; he was clear in his power, and therefore worshipped him, though he was not equally clear in his will. All worship is shot wrong that is not directed to, and conducted by, the thoughts of this attribute, whose assistance we need. When we beg the pardon of our sins, we should eye mercy and power; when we beg his righting us in any case where we are unjustly oppressed, we do not eye righteousness without power; when we plead the performance of his promise, we do not regard his faithfulness only without the prop of his power. As power ushers in all the attributes of God in their exercise and manifestation in the world, so should it be the butt our eyes should be fixed upon in all our acts of worship: as without his power his other attributes would be useless, so without due apprehensions of his power our prayers will be faithless and comfortless. The title in the Lord’s prayer directs us to a prospect both of his goodness and power; his goodness in the word Father, his greatness, excellency, and power, in the word Heaven. The heedless consideration of the infiniteness of this perfection roots up piety in the midst of us, and makes us so careless in worship. Did we more think of that Power that raised the world out of nothing, that orders all creatures by an act of his will, that performed so great an exploit as that of our redemption, when masterless sin had triumphed over the world, we should give God the honor and adoration which so great an excellency challengeth and deserves at our hands, though we ourselves had not been the work of his hands, or the monuments of his strength; how could any creature engross to itself that reverence from us which is due to the powerful Creator, of whom it comes infinitely short in strength as well as wisdom?

     Instruct. 7. From this we have a ground for the belief of the resurrection. God aims at the glory of his power, as well as the glory of any other attribute. Moses else would not have culled out this as the main argument, in his pleading with God, for the sheathing the sword which he began to draw out against them in the wilderness (Num. 14:16): “The nations will say, Because the Lord was not able to bring these people into the land which he sware to them,” &c. As the finding out the particulars of the dust of our bodies discovers the vastness of his knowledge, so to raise them will manifest the glory of his power as much as creation; bodies that have mouldered away into multitudes of atoms, been resolved into the elements, passed through varieties of changes, been sometimes the matter to lodge the form of a plant, or been turned into the substance of a fish or fowl, or vapored up into a cloud, and been part of that matter which hath compacted a thunder-bolt, disposed of in places far distant, scattered by the winds, swallowed and concocted by beasts; for these to be called out from their different places of abode, to meet in one body, and be restored to their former consistency, in a marriage union, in the “twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:22), it is a consideration that may justly amaze us, and our shallow understandings are too feeble to comprehend it. But is it not credible, since all the disputes against it maybe silenced by reflections on Infinite Power, which nothing can oppose, for which nothing can be esteemed too difficult to effect, which doth not imply a contradiction in itself? It was no less amazing to the blessed virgin to hear a message that she should conceive a Son without knowing a man; but she is quickly answered, by the angel, with a “Nothing is impossible to God” (Luke 1:34, 37). The distinct parts off our bodies cannot be hid from his all-seeing eye, wherever they are lodged, and in all the changes they pass through, as was discoursed w hen the Omniscience of God was handled; shall, then, the collection of them together be too hard for his invincible power and strength, and the uniting all those parts into a body, with new dispositions to receive their several souls, be too big and bulky for that Power which never yet was acquainted with any bar? Was not the miracle of our Saviour’s multiplying the loaves, suppose it had not been by a new creation, but a collection of grain from several parts, very near as stupendous as this? Had any one of us been the only creatures made just before the matter of the world, and beheld that inform chaos covered with a thick darkness, mentioned Gen. 1:2, would not the report, that from this dark deep , next to nothing, should be raised such a multitude of comely creatures, with such innumerable varieties of members, voices, colors, motions, and such numbers of shining stars, a bright sun, one uniform body of light from this darkness, that should, like a giant, rejoice to run a race, for many thousands of years together, without stop or weariness; would not all these have seemed as incredible as the collection of scattered dust? What was it that erected the innumerable host of heaven, the glorious angels, and glittering stars, for aught we know more numerous than the bodies of men, but an act of the Divine will? and shall the power that wrought this sink under the charge of gathering some dispersed atoms, and compacting them into a human body? Can you tell how the dust of the ground was kneaded by God into the body of man, and changed into flesh, skin, hair, bones, sinews, veins, arteries, and blood, and fitted for so many several activities, when a human soul was breathed into it? Can you imagine how a rib, taken from Adam’s side, a lifeless bone, was formed into head, hands, feet, eyes? Why may not the matter of men, which have been, be restored, as well as that which was not, be first erected? Is it harder to repair those things which were, than to create those things which were not? Is there not the same Artificer? Hath any disease or sickliness abated his power? Is the Ancient of Days grown feeble? or shall the elements, and other creatures, that alway yet obeyed his command, ruffle against his raising voice, and refuse to disgorge those remains of human bodies they have swallowed up in their several bowels? Did the whole world, and all the parts of it, rise at his word? and shall not some parts of the world, the dust of the dead, stand up out of the graves at a word of the same mighty efficacy? Do we not annually see those marks of power which may stun our incredulity in this concern? Do you see in a small acorn, or little seed, any such sights, as a tree with body, bark, branches, leaves, flowers, fruit—where can you find them? Do you know the invisible corners where they lurk in that little body? And yet these you afterwards view rising up from this little body, when sown in the ground, that you could not possibly have any prospect of when you rolled it in your hand, or opened its bowels. And why may not all the particulars of our bodies, however disposed as to their distinct natures invisibly to us, remain distinct, as well as if you mingle a thousand seeds together? they will come up in their distinct kinds, and preserve their distinct virtues. Again, is not the making heaven and earth, the union of the Divine and human nature, eternity and infirmity, to make a virgin conceive a Son, bear the Creator, and bring forth the Redeemer, to form the blood of God of the flesh of a virgin, a greater work than the calling together and uniting the scattered parts of our bodies, which are all of one nature and matter? And since the power of God is manifested in pardoning innumerable sins, is not the scattering our transgressions, as far as the east is from the west, as the expression is, Psalm 103:12, and casting such numbers into the depths of the sea, which is God’s power over himself, a greater argument of might than the recalling and repairing the atoms of our bodies from their various receptacles? It is not hard for them to believe this of the resurrection, that have been sensible of the weight and force of their sins, and the power of God in pardoning and vanquishing that mighty resistance which was made in their hearts against the power of his renewing and sanctifying grace. The consideration of the infinite power of God is a good ground of the belief of the resurrection.

     Instruct. 8. Since the power of God is so great and incomprehensible, how strange is it that it should be contemned and abused by the creatures as it is! The power of God is beaten down by some, outraged by others, blasphemed by many, under their sufferings. The stripping God of the honor of his creation, and the glory of his preservation of the world, falls under this charge: thus do they that deny his framing the world alone, or thought the first matter was not of God’s creation, and such as fancied an evil principle, the author of all evil, as God is the author of all good, and so exempt from the power of God , that it could not be vanquished by him. These things have formerly found defenders in the world; but they are, in themselves, ridiculous and vain, and have no footing in common reason, and are not worthy of debate in a christian auditory.

     In general, all idolatry in the world did arise from the want of a due notion of this Infinite Power. The heathen thought one God was not sufficient for the managing all things in the world, and therefore they feigned several gods, that had several charges; as Ceres presided over the fruits of the earth; Esculapius over the cure of distempers; Mercury for merchandise and trade; Mars for war and battles; Apollo and Minerva for learning and ingenious arts; and Fortune for casual things. Whence doth the other sort of idolatry, the adoring our bags and gold, our dependencies on, and trusting in, creatures for help arise, but from ignorance of God’s power, or mean and slender apprehensions of it? First, there is a contempt of it. Secondly, An abuse of it.

     1. It is contemned in every sin, especially in obstinacy in sin. All sin whatsoever is built upon some false notion or monstrous conception of one or other of God’s perfections, and in particular of this. It includes a secret and lurking imagination, that we are able to grapple with Omnipotence, and enter the lists with Almightiness; what else can be judged of the apostle’s expression (1 Cor. 10:22), “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy; are we stronger than he?” Do we think we have an arm too powerful for that justice we provoke, and can repel that vengeance we exasperate? Do we think we are an even match for God, and are able to despoil him of his Divinity? To despise his will, violate his order, practise what he forbids with a severe threatening, and pawns his power to make it good, is to pretend to have an arm like God, and be able to thunder with a voice equal or superior to him, as the expression is (Job 40:9). All security in sin is of this strain; when men are not concerned at Divine threatenings, nor staggered in their sinful race, they intimate, that the declarations of Divine Power are but vain-glorious boastings; that God is not so strong and able as he reports himself to be; and therefore they will venture it, and dare him to try, whether the strength of his arm be as forcible as the words of his mouth are terrible in his threats; this is to believe themselves Creators, not creatures. We magnify God’s power in our wants, and debase it in our rebellions; as though Omnipotence were only able to supply our necessities, and unable to revenge the injuries we offer him.

     2. This power is contemned in distrust of God. All distrust is founded in a doubting of his truth, as if he would not be as good as his word; or of his omniscience, as if he had not a memory to retain his word; or of his power, as if he could not be as great as his word. We measure the infinite power of God by the short line of our understandings, as if infinite strength were bounded within the narrow compass of our finite reason; as if he could do no more than we were able to do. How soon did those Israelites lose the remembrance of God’s outstretched arm, when they uttered that atheistical speech (Psalm 78:19), “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” As if he that turned the dust of Egypt into lice, for the punishment of their oppressors, could not turn the dust of the wilderness into corn, for the support of their bodies! As if he that had miraculously rebuked the Red Sea, for their safety, could not provide bread, for their nourishment! Though they had seen the Egyptians with lost lives in the morning, in the same place where their lives had been miraculously preserved in the evening, yet they disgrace that experimental power, by opposing to it the stature of the Anakims, the strength of their cities, and the height of their walls (Num. 13:32). And (Num. 14:3). “Wherefore hath the Lord brought us into this land to fall by the sword?” As though the giants of Canaan were too strong for Him, for whom they had seen the armies of Egypt too weak. How did they contract the almightiness of God into the littleness of a little man, as if he must needs sink under the sword of a Canaanite? This distrust must arise either from a flat atheism, a denial of the being of God, or his government of the world; or unworthy conceits of a weakness in him, that he had made creatures too hard for himself; that he were not strong enough to grapple with those mighty Anakims, and give them the possession of Canaan against so great a force. Distrust of him implies either that he was always destitute of power, or that his power is exhausted by his former works, or that it is limited, and near a period: it is to deny him to be the Creator that moulded heaven and earth. Why should we, by distrust, put a slight upon that power which he hath so often expressed, and which, in the minutest works of his hands, surmount the force of the sharpest understanding?

     3. It is contemned in too great a fear of man, which ariseth from a distrust of Divine power. Fear of man is a crediting the might of man with a disrepute of the arm of God, it takes away the glory of his might, and renders the creature stronger than God; and God more feeble than a mortal; as if the arm of man were a rod of iron, and the arm of God a brittle reed. How often do men tremble at the threatenings and hectorings of ruffians, yet will stand as stakes against the precepts and threatenings of God, as though he had less power to preserve us, than enemies had to destroy? With what disdain doth God speak to men infected with this humor (Isa. 51:12, 13)? “Who art thou, that art afraid of a man that shall die, and the Son of man that shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth; and hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor?” To fear man that is as grass, that cannot think a thought without a Divine concourse, that cannot breathe, but by a Divine power, nor touch a hair without license first granted from heaven; this is forgetfulness, and consequently a slight of that Infinite Power, which hath been manifested in founding the earth and garnishing the heavens. All fear of man, in the way of our duty, doth in some sort thrust out the remembrance, and discredit the great actions of the Creator. Would not a mighty prince think it a disparagement to him, if his servant should decline his command for fear of one of his subjects? and hath not the great God just cause to think himself disgraced by us, when we deny him obedience for fear of a creature: as though he had but an infant ability too feeble to bear us out in duty, and incapable to balance the strength of an arm of flesh?

     4. It is contemned by trusting in ourselves, in means, in man, more than in God. When in any distress we will try every creature refuge, before we have recourse to God; and when we apply ourselves to him, we do it with such slight and perfunctory frames, and with so much despondency, as if we despaired either of his ability or will to help us; and implore him with cooler affections than we solicit creatures: or, when in a disease we depend apon the virtue of the medicine, the ability of the physician, and reflect not upon that power that endued the medicine with that virtue, and supports the quality in it, and concurs to the operation of it. When we depend upon the activity of the means, as if they had power originally in themselves, and not derivatively; and do not eye the power of God animating and assisting them. We cannot expect relief from anything with a neglect of God, but we render it in our thoughts more powerful than God: we acknowledge a greater fulness in a shallow stream, than in an eternal spring; we do, in effect, depose the true God, and create to ourselves a new one; we assert, by such a kind of acting, the creature, if not superior, yet equal with God, and independent on him. When we trust in our own strength, without begging his assistance; or boast of our own strength, without acknowledging his concurrence, as the Assyrian; “By the strength of my hand have I done this; I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man” (Isa. 10:13). It is, as if the axe should boast itself against him that hews therewith, and thinks itself more mighty than the arm that wields it (ver. 15), when we trust in others more than in God. Thus God upbraids those by the prophet, that sought help from Egypt, telling them (Isa. 31:3), “The Egyptians were men, and not gods;” intimating, that by their dependence on them, they rendered them gods and not men, and advanced them from the state of creatures to that of almighty deities. It is to set a pile of dust, a heap of ashes, above Him that created and preserves the world. To trust in a creature, is to make it as infinite as God; to do that which is impossible in itself to be done. God himself cannot make a creature infinite, for that were to make him God. It is also contemned when we ascribe what we receive to the power of instruments, and not to the power of God. Men, in whatsoever they do for us, are but the tools whereby the Creator works. Is it not a disgrace to the limner to admire his pencil, and not himself; to the artificer, to admire his file and engines, and not his power? “It is not I,” saith Paul, “that labor, but the grace, the efficacious grace of God, which is in me.” Whatsoever good we do is from him, not from ourselves; to ascribe it to ourselves, or to instruments, is to overlook and contemn his power.

The Existence and Attributes of God


John 9 - 10
Lean-into-GOD






God's Glory and Coming Clean     
Gary Friesen   Biola University





Beyond the Reconciliation Blues   
Ed Gilbreath   Biola University






Into the Wild   
Jon Lunde   Biola University





Theological Coherence of Christian Particularism
Kevin Lewis | Biola University






Christ and the Challenge of World Religions
Craig Hazen | Biola University





The Nature of Conflict
Tim Pollard | Biola University






The Hope & Impact of the Gospel
Tim Pollard | Biola University





Go...and be Reconciled
Gary Friesen | Biola University






A Different Point of View
Ed Gilbreath | Biola University





Desire and Prayer
Ryan Bradley | Biola University






Contending for the Faith in Our Day
Scott Waller | Biola University





The Creative Act is the Courageous Act
Erwin McManus | Biola University






Overcoming Pain, Blame and Shame...Forgiven
Anne Beiler | Biola University