The Death of LazarusJohn 11 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Jesus Weeps28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
Mary Anoints Jesus at BethanyJohn 12 1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
The Plot to Kill Lazarus9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The Triumphal Entry12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
Some Greeks Seek Jesus20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
The Unbelief of the PeopleWhen Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
Jesus Came to Save the World44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment — what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
God Placed You Where You Are for a Reason
By Amy K. Hall 11/4/16
Where has God placed you? How can you bring glory to God in that place? John Stonestreet’s book Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People closes with a good reminder to every Christian. Whatever your life situation, there is a way to apply the Christian worldview to what you do and how you interact with people. There is a way to bring redemptive life to the people you encounter, to your profession, and to those whom you serve through your work.
Over the course of a week, we find ourselves in all kinds of personal and social settings: at work, at home, at church, in our communities, at the voting booth, at the store, and around our neighborhoods. Once we identify the places we spend our time, we can identify the relationships we have in those spaces. Then we can begin to think through the needs of these places and what we might do to join God’s work there.
Underneath this exercise is the classic Christian understanding of vocation. Vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, which means “to call.” Today, vocation is often confused with occupation, or what we do to make a living. The Protestant Reformers understood vocation differently. They understood anywhere and everywhere we go as our “stations,” situations and relationships ordained by God for us.
This idea of “station” is key. If we see the various situations and relationships in our lives as accidental, we will never have a proper understanding of vocation. Instead, we should see our various stations as places and people to which God has called us. A calling, after all, requires a “caller.” As Paul told the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers during his famous “Mars Hill” sermon, “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17: 26).
So God determines when and where we live. It is no accident where we find ourselves, whether in Budapest or Boston, in Singapore or Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. And it is no accident if we are brothers, daughters, employees, neighbors, and citizens. God is writing our stories into His Grand Narrative of the Story of All Things….
Book Review: One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd
By Chad 11/7/16
One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot's Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview is Jason B. Ladd's story. Ladd's story begins at a moment of tragedy in his life. It is at this moment that he realizes that while he may be prepared to defend his country, he is ill-equipped to lead his wife and children. So begins his greatest mission of all: a mission to find the truth.
Layout of the Book | One of the Few's 297 pages are separated into 3 parts. As Ladd explains, "Part I offers a look into my childhood as a military dependent, and chronicles my journey as a spiritual seeker...Part II explains the importance of having a worldview capable of filtering out false teachings, harmful doctrines, and all the trappings of a sinful world...Part III uses my background in peace, war, and defense to help you prepare for spiritual warfare as I discuss searching for peace and struggling with doubt before, during, and after my decision to follow Christ."
Strengths of the Book | This reader greatly appreciated how the author not only offered rational reasons and evidence for the Christian worldview, but he also dealt with how to live as a Christian after deciding to follow Jesus Christ. Not only will the Christian be better equipped to defend their faith after reading this work, but they will also be furnished with some of the tools they will need to live a life pleasing to God. Ladd covers topics such as marriage, parenting, and addiction from the perspective of someone who has seen firsthand the harmful effects that false beliefs and self-destructive lifestyles can have on one's life. Furthermore, he is not afraid to address topics that some in the church today shy away from including homosexuality, drunkenness, and pornography.
Ladd also does a great job weaving his arguments and points throughout his own personal story. His journey is an intimate one that admirably conveys the struggles a soldier, husband, father, and follower of Christ faces.
The author also effectively uses questions to challenge the reader to consider the ramifications of their own worldview. For example, when discussing the power of pre-suppositions, he writes:
Only A Street Fighter Can Take Down Clinton’s Anti-America Machine
By Stella Morabito 11/4/16
I cherish the right to keep my vote secret, and I believe we are beginning to see challenges to the right to secret ballot. I wrote about this concern in The Federalist after seeing the angry reaction to the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. The shocked Remain camp behaved as though Brexit voters had no right whatsoever to prevail at the ballot box.
In the meantime, I’ve watched how people at Donald Trump rallies—basically folks who have felt kicked under the bus by fat-cat elites and their bureaucrats—have been beaten and collectively smeared as right-wing-white-nationalist-KKK-every-slur-in-the-book deplorables. It’s not pretty. No, neither is Trump what you’d call “pretty.” But we don’t live in pretty times now, do we?
The handwriting is on the wall, and Hillary “laws-are-for-little-people” Clinton has all but promised to finally destroy the checks and balances on power our Constitution guarantees. Project Veritas’ undercover interviews with her campaign operative Robert Creamer show in grisly detail that Creamer brazenly instigated the violence and riots at Trump rallies with the apparent consent of the Clinton campaign itself.
There can be no doubt that a Hillary Clinton administration would put into hyperdrive the political correctness that has metastasized under the Obama administration. Political correctness has sickened our nation to the point that we can’t even name our symptoms anymore without fear of being socially tortured by the political establishment. The First Amendment is coming apart at the seams, thanks to policies that punish any expressions of conscience that don’t align with this new order.
The Suffocating National High School | Watching Clinton’s craven behavior reminds me a bit of the power structure in the proverbial high school cafeteria. At the center of power are the “mean girls,” the queen bees who dictate the identities—and therefore the relationships—of everybody in the whole school. The queen bee and her cohort of fellow divas and wannabes decide who may sit with whom. With an air of superiority, they pigeon-hole people, identifying them as nerds or whatever.
Why I Won’t Apologize For Loving Chicago
By Dominic Lynch 11/5/16
Maybe you’ve seen the headlines. “Chicago Hits 500 Homicides for 2016 After Deadly Labor Day Weekend,” reported USA Today. The Chicago Tribune followed up shortly after: “Chicago Passes Another Grim Milestone: More Than 3000 Shot This Year.” Then the bombshell: “Chicago Has Had More Murders Than New York and L.A. Combined This Year.” That was only by October.
It’s all true. My city — the city I love — is crime-infested. From the outside it looks like the Wild West, and from the inside it’s not always better. The South and West Sides, where most of the crime hotspots are, can be a living Hell. What kind of city is so out of control that a nine-year-old can be targeted for a revenge killing? What kind of city lets its poorest residents rot in food deserts, job deserts, and dire poverty? Chicago, of course.
I know what non-Chicagoans think: what a hellhole. The mental imagery the press has painted leads one to think of Chicago as a giant, dilapidated, falling-apart city on the verge of imploding. Guns must be everywhere, and if you aren’t careful you’ll wind up dead. But let me make it clear: that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Chicago’s crime doesn’t define the city, and the city isn’t in the shape outsiders assume it is.
You’ve Not Heard the Whole Story about Chicago
Let me tell you about Chicago. We have the most beautiful cityscape in the country. Lake Michigan is to the east, suburbia is to the west, and everything in between is urban, with one of the most recognizable and beautiful skylines in the country. The Sears (now Willis) Tower, John Hancock, CNA Building, Aon Center, and others make Chicago instantly recognizable to anyone even marginally acquainted with the city.
Europe’s Show Trials Are Where America’s Anti-Speech Regime Is Going
By Alex Grass 11/6/16
Progressives are prosecuting conservative dissenters for 'hate crimes.' Criminalizing politics not only crushes diversity—it's just plain wrong.
American politics has taken a bad turn. We see this in an increase in politically motivated criminal charges. At universities, students’ due process protections are being eliminated in favor of a politically modish star chamber. One presidential candidate even promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the other.
Absent a serious reexamination of these practices, injustice will become a fixed custom. To see where we’re headed, we need only look to Europe, where prosecution for one’s politics has already become the norm.
During a 2014 election rally, Geert Wilders, Dutch parliamentarian and head of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom (PVV), asked the crowd if they wanted fewer or more Moroccans in the country. Supporters chanted “fewer, fewer,” and Wilders replied, “We’ll take care of that.”
The Hague Public Prosecutors subsequently decided Mr. Wilders had committed a hate crime.
4 Ways To Stop Arguing About Abortion And Start Preventing It
By Cara Valle 11/8/16
If you’re tired of arguing until you’re blue in the face and want to make a difference, here are four constructive, non-rabid channels where you can direct your energies.
I’m a conservative, and most of my Facebook friends are conservative, too. Thus, my news feed is reliably peppered with memes like this one:
The intention behind memes like this is to use logic for a good cause. “If I expose the holes in pro-abortion arguments,” thought the sweet elderly lady who posted this, “then maybe people will change their minds about abortion, vote for pro-life candidates who will appoint conservative justices, and progressively outlaw abortion in America.” In the very simplest sense, this is a worthy goal. A widespread and reprehensible practice is something we should all work to prevent.
The problem with the sweet old lady’s strategy is that it is galactically ineffective. It will get “likes” and vigorous head-nods from her fellow pro-life conservatives. It may provoke an argument with a pro-abortion Facebook friend, if she has one. But it will almost certainly not change anyone’s mind about abortion, much less deter a woman from seeking abortion.
Why? Because the sweet old lady doesn’t know what an abortion-seeker looks like, thinks, or needs. She’s been sucked into the ping-pong game of political arguments and forgotten about the people who matter: the women considering abortion.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 119119 AYIN
119:121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Give your servant a pledge of good;
let not the insolent oppress me.
123 My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
126 It is time for the LORD to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.
By R.C. Sproul 2/01/2016
Whenever I return to the first few chapters of Genesis, I’m able not only to review the events of early human history but also to see how humanity hasn’t outgrown our earliest aspirations. Perhaps most illustrative of my point is the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. We read in verse 1 that “the whole earth had one language and the same words.” Note the unity preserved from the original pre-fall creation. In the garden of Eden there were no translators; everyone spoke the same language. And even though sin intruded to destroy the harmony of the original creation, at least people could understand each other in the initial years of human expansion. They could speak the same language and communicate with some degree of harmony.
Speaking the same language, having the same values, this humanity built a city: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens” (v. 4). From the beginning, the dream of human progress, the dream of the human spirit has been to build a city of such magnificence that it reaches to the pinnacle of heaven itself. It’s part of our nature as human beings to build monuments to human accomplishment. You can go through the cities of this world, and you can see magnificent human achievements. You can view the Eiffel Tower from almost any vantage point in and around Paris. No tourist in New York City fails to look for the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. You can’t go to Asia without wanting to walk on the Great Wall of China. When we go to Egypt, we go to the pyramids to see monuments of ancient kings. Brick and mortar, steel and glass — we use whatever we can to somehow say that we are important, that we are significant, that we want to be remembered long after we are dead and gone.
Listen to the sentiment expressed in Genesis 11: “Let us make a name for ourselves” (v. 4). Friedrich Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century atheist philosopher, said the most fundamental drive of the human heart is the “will to power,” a lust for dominance. This is what drives fallen humanity. It’s the legacy of Eden, the living out of the serpent’s seduction when he said, “You shall be as gods.” Why should God get all the glory? Why should the monuments of this world only be to the praise and honor of the Creator? Can’t we share in that? Can’t we claim it for ourselves? Can’t we supplant Him as the Sovereign One? Let’s gather together and build a city. Let’s make monuments that even God cannot bring down, monuments that will endure forever: statues, walls, cathedrals, skyscrapers, and more.
I remember sitting transfixed and watching Walter Cronkite and some former astronauts describe the first landing of human beings on the moon. When I heard the words of Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind,” I was as excited as anybody else by this incredible accomplishment, this conquest of a whole new frontier. But there was also something that bothered me when I heard those words. It sounded like the Tower of Babel all over again, a boasting in human achievement rather than bowing in prayer, saying, “This is for Your glory, O God. This is the fulfillment of the scientific enterprise You gave us in Eden to have dominion over the earth.”
We’ve been called to have dominion over the earth to the glory of God, but we want dominion over the earth and over the heavens for the glory of man. That’s what was going on at Babel — a distortion, an evil twisting of the legitimate task that God has given to mankind. There’s nothing wrong with building. There’s nothing wrong with sowing and reaping. Those are the tasks that God gave to us in creation, but they’re to be done under the authority of God. They’re to be done coram Deo, before the face of God, under the authority of God, and unto the glory of God.
But what happened in the cosmic revolt? Man wanted to build a city for himself, to build his own kingdom. Man wanted to make a name for himself, not for God. And this is not a story of ancient defects of human beings. This is our story. We’re the players in this drama. Babel is representative of the whole human enterprise that we are so busily engaged in. “Let’s build a city. Let us make a name for ourselves,” they said at Babel, “lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Lest we become fugitives and vagabonds, unknown, unacclaimed.
Then we read in Genesis 11 that “the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built” (v. 5). God inspected the city of man, and He didn’t like what He saw:
The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. (vv. 6–9a)
The greatest building project mankind ever attempted was resisted by God. And it ended in chaos and confusion.
Every attempt of man to build his own ultimate city and kingdom will end in chaos. Any success we enjoy will be short-lived, for the Lord will bring into judgment every hidden thing, every secret thought (Eccl. 12:14). Nothing built for the glory of man will survive His scrutiny. But what is done for God’s glory will endure forever.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
Worldview at Home
By John Tweeddale 2/01/2016
Christians have long viewed the home as the hub of life. It is a nursery for aspiring astronauts, playground for wannabe heroes, and sanctuary for weary but heaven-bound wayfarers. Home is a place for cultivating virtue through meandering conversations, large helpings of laughter, hearty meals, excruciating trials, and loads of hard work. Whether you are a child learning to read, a freshman in a dormitory, newlyweds settling into a first apartment, an upstart launching a career, a family with a quiver full of children, or a widow navigating life without a spouse, the comfort of home is a stabilizing reality of life.
Yet for many, the home is far from heaven. It is hell on earth. For those suffering in the environs of oppression, the home is a cauldron of abuse, violence, and manipulation. It is a prison to escape from, not a refuge to run to. Still others have never had the privilege of permanent shelter, let alone experienced the warmth of a fireplace. As Christians discuss the value of home, we must not lose sight of the fact that the guilt and corruption of the fall reaches into every heart, and therefore into every home. Our ultimate hope lies not within the boundaries of a picket fence but in Him who is “our dwelling place” (Ps. 90:1).
When thinking through a theology of home, there are two equal but opposite errors that we must avoid. In the first place, we must not give the impression that life at home in a fallen world is everything. When we do, we are guilty of a misappropriated eschatology. Yes, we must tend to the gardens of our homes. But we must also populate the pews of the church and venture onto the highways of the world. The command of Jesus to “go” in the Great Commission pushes those of us who are tempted to withdraw into the quiet habitats of home to see that when we settle for heaven on earth, we domesticate the kingdom according to our tastes and traditions. The reason we strive to make disciples of all nations is because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Like Abraham, we are “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
If one tendency we have is to idealize (and idolize) the home, then the other mistake we must avoid is marginalizing it. We must not give the impression that life at home in a fallen world means nothing. This is the error of an overly privatized sociology. In the modern world, we have fallen into the deathly trap of believing that who we are in private has little to no bearing on what we do in public. Conviction and character are severed from policy and productivity. As a result, what someone does in the confines of the home is viewed as irrelevant to success in the workplace. As Christians, however, we understand that the prayer closet and the kitchen table are vital places for developing excellence in every area of life. Our view of productivity is inextricably linked to our view of piety. The reason is simple: the dividing wall between the private and the public is meaningless before the eyes of an all-knowing God (Job 34:21). In all of our conduct, we are to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15).
The home is not a neutral zone for acting upon baseless desires, nor is it simply a bastion for maintaining traditional values. One of the primary purposes of the home is to cultivate Christlike virtues that animate who we are in private and facilitate what we do in public. When the Apostle Paul addressed the households in the church of Colossae, he instructed wives, husbands, children, masters, and servants alike to put to death the exploits of the flesh, put on the qualities of Christ, and do everything in word and deed for the glory of God (Col. 3:1–4:1). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul sandwiches his instructions to households between teaching on devotion and worship (Eph. 5:1–21) and spiritual warfare (6:1–20). And the Apostle Peter prefaces his comments to families with an extended discussion on the church (1 Peter 2:1–11; 2:12–3:8), an important reminder that home life can never be isolated from church life.
This side of heaven, home should be a place where faith, hope, and love flourish. Faith in the sure work of Christ crucified and resurrected. Hope in the power of the gospel to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. And love for a triune God whose glory and beauty knows no end. The Christian home in a fallen world is a place of rooted optimism. Rooted in the place where God has called us and optimistic about a far greater place He is preparing for us. The home front is the forlorn battlefield of the cultural wars. In our strivings to defend the gospel against doctrinal decline in the church and increasing secularism in the culture, we must not forget the importance of cultivating virtue in the home. For the church to remain a city on the hill, the light of the gospel must shine brightly in the home.
The Journey of Faith
By Albert Martin 2/01/2016
“Oh God, do it again! Do it in our day! Do it for your glory and praise!” Such are the prayers that instinctively rise from the hearts of serious Christians when they read or hear accounts of true conversions and of Spirit-wrought seasons of awakening and revival. We find such records in our Bibles, in the annals of church history, and in contemporary reports of these gracious works of God occurring in various parts of the world.
However, it is crucial that we recognize that both conversion and seasons of awakening are never to be looked upon as the arrival at a destination — a destination that we repeatedly describe and for which we yearn, nostalgically regarding them as capturing “the good old days.” Rather, they are to be regarded as the beginning of a wonderful journey — a journey of ongoing communion with God and obedience to God that grows richer and deeper with the passing of time.
ConversionActs 26:20 and 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 are two texts that demonstrate the truth that conversion is the start of a journey. In the first of these texts, Paul emphasizes that conversion begins with a radical turning to God in repentance that issues in a lifetime of living out the implications of that turning by “performing deeds in keeping with [that] repentance.”
The second text describes the conversion of the Thessalonians as consisting in a radical turning to God from idols, issuing in a life of bondservice to the living God, and an eager waiting for the completion of salvation to be bestowed at the return of Jesus.
Our initiation into spiritual life by conversion occurs in different ways. God has no detailed “conversion blueprint” to which His saving work must universally conform. But, if any professed conversion is indeed God’s saving work, it always issues in the following: a life of growing communion with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9; Phil. 3:8–10); a life of increasing conformity to Christ (2 Cor. 3:18); a life of continuous abiding in Christ (John 15:1–11); and a life of principled obedience to Christ (John 14:21, 1 John 2:3–4).
The life of a true child of God shaped by these realities will become a blessed and beautiful fulfillment of the promise of Psalm 92:12–14: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.”
On my sixtieth birthday, some twenty-one years ago, I took these verses as my own special companion for whatever years were yet marked out for me. While most other older saints and I are constantly reminded that our “outer [man] is wasting away,” according to the promises of Psalm 92, we also experience the reality that our “inner [man] is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
Growing in GracePentecost was a singular epochal event in redemptive history. However, the flood of spiritual life and power sent down from the enthroned messianic King continues to come upon the emerging and growing church, often as a steady, gentle shower. Awakenings and revivals, when they are the work of God, are periodic intensifications of the ordinary work of the Holy Spirit in which, instead of a gentle and steady rain of heavenly life and power, Christ sends upon His church an intensified localized deluge. As the old gospel song puts it, “mercy drops ‘round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.”
What was the result of that initial Pentecostal deluge? Did the 120 disciples remain in the upper room, repeatedly rehearsing to one another the thrilling experience of hearing the “sound like a mighty rushing wind,” seeing the “divided tongues of fire,” and experiencing the linguistic miracle of speaking in other languages? No. Their risen Lord had told them that when the Spirit came upon them, they would receive power to bear witness to Him and to His saving work in ever-widening circles, even to the “end of the earth” (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:45–49).
The biblical account of the Spirit’s work subsequent to that initial deluge is focused upon bringing more sinners to conviction and conversion, and then incorporating those converted sinners into an organized community of the people of God, called the church. Luke informs us that the three thousand who were converted were added to the 120 and “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The subsequent record indicates that the church formed on that day did not meet in a perpetual celebration of the events of that day, but grew in the corporate graces of brotherly love, practical benevolence, and demonstrable unity, which validated the power of the gospel that was being preached by the Apostles (Acts 2:43–47; 4:32–36).
The book of Acts, the Apostolic letters, and church history contain irrefutable evidence that true revivals and awakenings give birth to churches and bring renewed life to dying churches. May the Lord do so again, for His glory and praise. Rev. Albert N. Martin is retired pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Montville, N.J., where he served for forty-six years. He is also a writer and conference speaker.
Albert Martin Books:
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563
CHAPTER VII | An Account of the Life and Persecutions of John WickliffeIt will not be inappropriate to devote a few pages of this work to a brief detail of the lives of some of those men who first stepped forward, regardless of the bigoted power which opposed all reformation, to stem the time of papal corruption, and to seal the pure doctrines of the Gospel with their blood.
Among these, Great Britain has the honor of taking the lead, and first maintaining that freedom in religious controversy which astonished Europe, and demonstrated that political and religious liberty are equally the growth of that favored island. Among the earliest of these eminent persons was John Wickliffe.
This celebrated reformer, denominated the "Morning Star of the Reformation," was born about the year 1324, in the reign of Edward II. Of his extraction we have no certain account. His parents designing him for the Church, sent him to Queen's College, Oxford, about that period founded by Robert Eaglesfield, confessor to Queen Philippi. But not meeting with the advantages for study in that newly established house which he expected, he removed to Merton College, which was then esteemed one of the most learned societies in Europe.
The first thing which drew him into public notice, was his defence of the university against the begging friars, who about this time, from their settlement in Oxford in 1230, had been troublesome neighbors to the university. Feuds were continually fomented; the friars appealing to the pope, the scholars to the civil power; and sometimes one party, and sometimes, the other, prevailed. The friars became very fond of a notion that Christ was a common beggar; that his disciples were beggars also; and that begging was of Gospel institution. This doctrine they urged from the pulpit and wherever they had access.
Wickliffe had long held these religious friars in contempt for the laziness of their lives, and had now a fair opportunity of exposing them. He published a treatise against able beggary, in which he lashed the friars, and proved that they were not only a reproach to religion, but also to human society. The university began to consider him one of their first champions, and he was soon promoted to the mastership of Baliol College.
About this time, Archbishop Islip founded Canterbury Hall, in Oxford, where he established a warden and eleven scholars. To this wardenship Wickliffe was elected by the archbishop, but upon his demise, he was displaced by his successor, Stephen Langham, bishop of Ely. As there was a degree of flagrant injustice in the affair, Wickliffe appealed to the pope, who subsequently gave it against him from the following cause: Edward III, then king of England, had withdrawn the tribune, which from the time of King John had been paid to the pope. The pope menaced; Edward called a parliament. The parliament resolved that King John had done an illegal thing, and given up the rights of the nation, and advised the king not to submit, whatever consequences might follow.
The clergy now began to write in favor of the pope, and a learned monk published a spirited and plausible treatise, which had many advocates. Wickliffe, irritated at seeing so bad a cause so well defended, opposed the monk, and did it in so masterly a way that he was considered no longer as unanswerable. His suit at Rome was immediately determined against him; and nobody doubted but his opposition to the pope, at so critical a period, was the true cause of his being non-suited at Rome.
Wickliffe was afterward elected to the chair of the divinity professor: and now fully convinced of the errors of the Romish Church, and the vileness of its monastic agents, he determined to expose them. In public lectures he lashed their vices and opposed their follies. He unfolded a variety of abuses covered by the darkness of superstition. At first he began to loosen the prejudices of the vulgar, and proceeded by slow advances; with the metaphysical disquisitions of the age, he mingled opinions in divinity apparently novel. The usurpations of the court of Rome was a favorite topic. On these he expatiated with all the keenness of argument, joined to logical reasoning. This soon procured him the clamor of the clergy, who, with the archbishop of Canterbury, deprived him of his office.
At this time the administration of affairs was in the hands of the duke of Lancaster, well known by the name of John of Gaunt. This prince had very free notions of religion, and was at enmity with the clergy. The exactions of the court of Rome having become very burdensome, he determined to send the bishop of Bangor and Wickliffe to remonstrate against these abuses, and it was agreed that the pope should no longer dispose of any benefices belonging to the Church of England. In this embassy, Wickliffe's observant mind penetrated into the constitution and policy of Rome, and he returned more strongly than ever determined to expose its avarice and ambition.
Having recovered his former situation, he inveighed, in his lectures, against the pope-his usurpation-his infallibility-his pride-his avarice- and his tyranny. He was the first who termed the pope Antichrist. From the pope, he would turn to the pomp, the luxury, and trappings of the bishops, and compared them with the simplicity of primitive bishops. Their superstitions and deceptions were topics that he urged with energy of mind and logical precision.
From the patronage of the duke of Lancaster, Wickliffe received a good benefice; but he was no sooner settled in his parish, than his enemies and the bishops began to persecute him with renewed vigor. The duke of Lancaster was his friend in this persecution, and by his presence and that of Lord Percy, earl marshal of England, he so overawed the trial, that the whole ended in disorder.
After the death of Edward III his grandson Richard II succeeded, in the eleventh year of his age. The duke of Lancaster not obtaining to be the sole regent, as he expected, his power began to decline, and the enemies of Wickliffe, taking advantage of the circumstance, renewed their articles of accusation against him. Five bulls were despatched in consequence by the pope to the king and certain bishops, but the regency and the people manifested a spirit of contempt at the haughty proceedings of the pontiff, and the former at that time wanting money to oppose an expected invasion of the French, proposed to apply a large sum, collected for the use of the pope, to that purpose. The question was submitted to the decision of Wickliffe. The bishops, however, supported by the papal authority, insisted upon bringing Wickliffe to trial, and he was actually undergoing examination at Lambeth, when, from the riotous behavior of the populace without, and awed by the command of Sir Lewis Clifford, a gentleman of the court, that they should not proceed to any definitive sentence, they terminated the whole affair in a prohibition to Wickliffe, not to preach those doctrines which were obnoxious to the pope; but this was laughed at by our reformer, who, going about barefoot, and in a long frieze gown, preached more vehemently than before.
In the year 1378, a contest arose between two popes, Urban VI and Clement VII which was the lawful pope, and true vicegerent of God. This was a favorable period for the exertion of Wicliffe's talents: he soon produced a tract against popery, which was eagerly read by all sorts of people.
About the end of the year, Wickliffe was seized with a violent disorder, which it was feared might prove fatal. The begging friars, accompanied by four of the most eminent citizens of Oxford, gained admittance to his bed chamber, and begged of him to retract, for his soul's sake, the unjust things he had asserted of their order. Wickliffe, surprised at the solemn message, raised himself in his bed, and with a stern countenance replied, "I shall not die, but live to declare the evil deeds of the friars."
When Wickliffe recovered, he set about a most important work, the translation of the Bible into English. Before this work appeared, he published a tract, wherein he showed the necessity of it. The zeal of the bishops to suppress the Scriptures greatly promoted its sale, and they who were not able to purchase copies, procured transcripts of particular Gospels or Epistles. Afterward, when Lollardy increased, and the flames kindled, it was a common practice to fasten about the neck of the condemned heretic such of these scraps of Scripture as were found in his possession, which generally shared his fate.
Immediately after this transaction, Wickliffe ventured a step further, and affected the doctrine of transubstantiation. This strange opinion was invented by Paschade Radbert, and asserted with amazing boldness. Wickliffe, in his lecture before the University of Oxford, 1381, attacked this doctrine, and published a treatise on the subject. Dr. Barton, at this time vice-chancellor of Oxford, calling together the heads of the university, condemned Wickliffe's doctrines as heretical, and threatened their author with excommunication. Wickliffe could now derive no support from the duke of Lancaster, and being cited to appear before his former adversary, William Courteney, now made archbishop of Canterbury, he sheltered himself under the plea, that, as a member of the university, he was exempt from episcopal jurisdiction. This plea was admitted, as the university were determined to support their member.
The court met at the appointed time, determined, at least to sit in judgment upon his opinions, and some they condemned as erroneous, others as heretical. The publication on this subject was immediately answered by Wickliffe, who had become a subject of the archbishop's determined malice. The king, solicited by the archbishop, granted a license to imprison the teacher of heresy, but the commons made the king revoke this act as illegal. The primate, however, obtained letters from the king, directing the head of the University of Oxford to search for all heresies and books published by Wickliffe; in consequence of which order, the university became a scene of tumult. Wickliffe is supposed to have retired from the storm, into an obscure part of the kingdom. The seeds, however, were scattered, and Wickliffe's opinions were so prevalent that it was said if you met two persons upon the road, you might be sure that one was a Lollard. At this period, the disputes between the two popes continued. Urban published a bull, in which he earnestly called upon all who had any regard for religion, to exert themselves in its cause; and to take up arms against Clement and his adherents in defence of the holy see.
A war, in which the name of religion was so vilely prostituted, roused Wickliffe's inclination, even in his declining years. He took up his pen once more, and wrote against it with the greatest acrimony. He expostulated with the pope in a very free manner, and asks him boldly: 'How he durst make the token of Christ on the cross (which is the token of peace, mercy and charity) a banner to lead us to slay Christian men, for the love of two false priests, and to oppress Christiandom worse than Christ and his apostles were oppressed by the Jews? 'When,' said he, 'will the proud priest of Rome grant indulgences to mankind to live in peace and charity, as he now does to fight and slay one another?'
This severe piece drew upon him the resentment of Urban, and was likely to have involved him in greater troubles than he had before experienced, but providentially he was delivered out of their hands. He was struck with the palsy, and though he lived some time, yet it was in such a way that his enemies considered him as a person below their resentment.
Wickliffe returning within short space, either from his banishment, or from some other place where he was secretly kept, repaired to his parish of Lutterworth, where he was parson; and there, quietly departing this mortal life, slept in peace in the Lord, in the end of the year 1384, upon Silvester's day. It appeared that he was well aged before he departed, "and that the same thing pleased him in his old age, which did please him being young."
Wickliffe had some cause to give them thanks, that they would at least spare him until he was dead, and also give him so long respite after his death, forty-one years to rest in his sepulchre before they ungraved him, and turned him from earth to ashes; which ashes they also took and threw into the river. And so was he resolved into three elements, earth, fire, and water, thinking thereby utterly to extinguish and abolish both the name and doctrine of Wickliffe forever. Not much unlike the example of the old Pharisees and sepulchre knights, who, when they had brought the Lord unto the grave, thought to make him sure never to rise again. But these and all others must know that, as there is no counsel against the Lord, so there is no keeping down of verity, but it will spring up and come out of dust and ashes, as appeared right well in this man; for though they dug up his body, burned his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the Word of God and the truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn.
CHAPTER VIII | An Account of the Persecutions in Bohemia Under the PapacyThe Roman pontiffs having usurped a power over several churches were particularly severe on the Bohemians, which occasioned them to send two ministers and four lay-brothers to Rome, in the year 977, to obtain redress of the pope. After some delay, their request was granted, and their grievances redressed. Two things in particular they were permitted to do, viz., to have divine service performed in their own language, and to give the cup to the laity in the Sacrament.
The disputes, however, soon broke out again, the succeeding popes exerting their whole power to impose on the minds of the Bohemians; and the latter, with great spirit, aiming to preserve their religious liberties.
In A.D. 1375, some zealous friends of the Gospel applied to Charles, king of Bohemia, to call an ecumenical Council, for an inquiry into the abuses that had crept into the Church, and to make a full and thorough reformation. The king, not knowing how to proceed, sent to the pope for directions how to act; but the pontiff was so incensed at this affair that his only reply was, "Severely punish those rash and profane heretics." The monarch, accordingly banished every one who had been concerned in the application, and, to oblige the pope, laid a great number of additional restraints upon the religious liberties of the people.
The victims of persecution, however, were not so numerous in Bohemia, until after the burning of John Huss and Jerome of Prague. These two eminent reformers were condemned and executed at the instigation of the pope and his emissaries, as the reader will perceive by the following short sketches of their lives.
Persecution of John HussJohn Huss was born at Hussenitz, a village in Bohemia, about the year 1380. His parents gave him the best education their circumstances would admit; and having acquired a tolerable knowledge of the classics at a private school, he was removed to the university of Prague, where he soon gave strong proofs of his mental powers, and was remarkable for his diligence and application to study.
In 1398, Huss commenced bachelor of divinity, and was after successively chosen pastor of the Church of Bethlehem, in Prague, and dean and rector of the university. In these stations he discharged his duties with great fidelity; and became, at length, so conspicuous for his preaching, which was in conformity with the doctrines of Wickliffe, that it was not likely he could long escape the notice of the pope and his adherents, against whom he inveighed with no small degree of asperity.
The English reformist, Wickliffe, had so kindled the light of reformation, that it began to illumine the darkest corners of popery and ignorance. His doctrines spread into Bohemia, and were well received by great numbers of people, but by none so particularly as John Huss, and his zealous friend and fellow martyr, Jerome of Prague.
The archbishop of Prague, finding the reformists daily increasing, issued a decree to suppress the further spreading of Wickliffe's writings: but this had an effect quite different to what he expected, for it stimulated the friends of those doctrines to greater zeal, and almost the whole university united to propagate them.
Being strongly attached to the doctrines of Wickliffe, Huss opposed the decree of the archbishop, who, however, at length, obtained a bull from the pope, giving him commission to prevent the publishing of Wickliffe's doctrines in his province. By virtue of this bull, the archbishop condemned the writings of Wickliffe: he also proceeded against four doctors, who had not delivered up the copies of that divine, and prohibited them, notwithstanding their privileges, to preach to any congregation. Dr. Huss, with some other members of the university, protested against these proceedings, and entered an appeal from the sentence of the archbishop.
The affair being made known to the pope, he granted a commission to Cardinal Colonna, to cite John Huss to appear personally at the court of Rome, to answer the accusations laid against him, of preaching both errors and heresies. Dr. Huss desired to be excused from a personal appearance, and was so greatly favored in Bohemia, that King Winceslaus, the queen, the nobility, and the university, desired the pope to dispense with such an appearance; as also that he would not suffer the kingdom of Bohemia to lie under the accusation of heresy, but permit them to preach the Gospel with freedom in their places of worship.
Three proctors appeared for Dr. Huss before Cardinal Colonna. They endeavored to excuse his absence, and said they were ready to answer in his behalf. But the cardinal declared Huss contumacious, and excommunicated him accordingly. The proctors appealed to the pope, and appointed four cardinals to examine the process: these commissioners confirmed the former sentence, and extended the excommunication not only to Huss but to all his friends and followers.
From this unjust sentence Huss appealed to a future Council, but without success; and, notwithstanding so severe a decree, and an expulsion in consequence from his church in Prague, he retired to Hussenitz, his native place, where he continued to promulgate his new doctrine, both from the pulpit and with the pen.
The letters which he wrote at this time were very numerous; and he compiled a treatise in which he maintained, that reading the books of Protestants could not be absolutely forbidden. He wrote in defence of Wickliffe's book on the Trinity; and boldly declared against the vices of the pope, the cardinals, and clergy, of those corrupt times. He wrote also many other books, all of which were penned with a strength of argument that greatly facilitated the spreading of his doctrines.
In the month of November, 1414, a general Council was assembled at Constance, in Germany, in order, as was pretended, for the sole purpose of determining a dispute then pending between three persons who contended for the papacy; but the real motive was to crush the progress of the Reformation.
John Huss was summoned to appear at this Council; and, to encourage him, the emperor sent him a safe-conduct: the civilities, and even reverence, which Huss met with on his journey were beyond imagination. The streets, and sometimes the very roads, were lined with people, whom respect, rather than curiosity, had brought together.
He was ushered into the town with great acclamations, and it may be said that he passed through Germany in a kind of triumph. He could not help expressing his surprise at the treatment he received: "I thought (said he) I had been an outcast. I now see my worst friends are in Bohemia."
As soon as Huss arrived at Constance, he immediately took logdings in a remote part of the city. A short time after his arrival, came one Stephen Paletz, who was employed by the clergy at Prague to manage the intended prosecution against him. Paletz was afterwards joined by Michael de Cassis, on the part of the court of Rome. These two declared themselves his accusers, and drew up a set of articles against him, which they presented to the pope and the prelates of the Council.
When it was known that he was in the city he was immediately arrested, and committed prisoner to a chamber in the palace. This violation of common law and justice was particularly noticed by one of Huss's friends, who urged the imperial safe-conduct; but the pope replied he never granted any safe-conduct, nor was he bound by that of the emperor.
While Huss was in confinement, the Council acted the part of inquisitors.
They condemned the doctrines of Wickliffe, and even ordered his remains to be dug up and burned to ashes; which orders were strictly complied with. In the meantime, the nobility of Bohemia and Poland strongly interceded for Huss; and so far prevailed as to prevent his being condemned unheard, which had been resolved on by the commissioners appointed to try him.
When he was brought before the Council, the articles exhibited against him were read: they were upwards of forty in number, and chiefly extracted from his writings.
John Huss's answer was this: "I did appeal unto the pope; who being dead, and the cause of my matter remaining undetermined, I appealed likewise unto his successor John XXIII: before whom when, by the space of two years, I could not be admitted by my advocates to defend my cause, I appealed unto the high judge Christ."
When John Huss had spoken these words, it was demanded of him whether he had received absolution of the pope or no? He answered, "No." Then again, whether it was lawful for him to appeal unto Christ or no? Whereunto John Huss answered: "Verily I do affirm here before you all, that there is no more just or effectual appeal, than that appeal which is made unto Christ, forasmuch as the law doth determine, that to appeal is no other thing than in a cause of grief or wrong done by an inferior judge, to implore and require aid at a higher Judge's hand. Who is then a higher Judge than Christ? Who, I say, can know or judge the matter more justly, or with more equity? when in Him there is found no deceit, neither can He be deceived; or, who can better help the miserable and oppressed than He?" While John Huss, with a devout and sober countenance, was speaking and pronouncing those words, he was derided and mocked by all the whole Council.
These excellent sentences were esteemed as so many expressions of treason, and tended to inflame his adversaries. Accordingly, the bishops appointed by the Council stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, put a paper miter on his head, on which was painted devils, with this inscription, "A ringleader of heretics." Which when he saw, he said: "My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, again wear this light crown, be it ever so ignominious? Truly I will do it, and that willingly." When it was set upon his head, the bishop said: "Now we commit thy soul unto the devil." "But I," said John Huss, lifting his eyes towards the heaven, "do commend into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ! my spirit which Thou has redeemed."
When the chain was put about him at the stake, he said, with a smiling countenance, "My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?"
When the fagots were piled up to his very neck, the duke of Bavaria was so officious as to desire him to abjure. "No, (said Huss;) I never preached any doctrine of an evil tendency; and what I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood." He then said to the executioner, "You are now going to burn a goose, (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language:) but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil." If he were prophetic, he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan for his arms.
The flames were now applied to the fagots, when our martyr sung a hymn with so loud and cheerful a voice that he was heard through all the cracklings of the combustibles, and the noise of the multitude. At length his voice was interrupted by the severity of the flames, which soon closed his existence.
Then, with great diligence, gathering the ashes together, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of that man should not be left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neither by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind oof torment.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Righteous anger (2)
(Nov 9) Bob Gass
‘Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.’
(Is 5:20) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! ESV
Did you know that God Himself gets angry? The Bible says, ‘The LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice’ (1 Kings 11:9 NKJV). Often change begins with righteous anger. Aristotle once said: ‘Anybody can become angry; that’s easy. But to be angry with the right person…to the right degree…at the right time…for the right purpose, and in the right way …that’s not easy.’ But it is possible! A person who always gets angry is a fool, but a person who never gets angry is lacking in moral courage. Henry Ward Beecher said: ‘A man who doesn’t know how to be angry, doesn’t know how to be good. A man who doesn’t know how to be shaken to his heart’s core with indignation over things evil, is either a fungus or a wicked man.’ Here are four things that we ought to get angry over: 1) A sex-crazed, profanity-filled movie and a television industry that’s polluting the minds of young and old alike. 2) Cowardly politicians who do what’s politically expedient instead of what’s morally right. 3) Injustice done to others because of the colour of their skin or their economic status. 4) Your children when they openly defy you. However, a word of warning: ‘Don’t go to bed angry’ (Ephesians 4:26 CEV). So, clearly explain the rules of the house, consistently enforce those rules, but make sure that your child knows you love them and have only their best interest at heart. They may not understand it at the time, but they will appreciate it later.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
On this day, November 9, 1954, President Eisenhower spoke at the National Conference on the Spiritual Foundation of American Democracy. He stated: “Now Dr. Lowry said something about my having certain convictions as to a God in Heaven and an Almighty power. Well, I don’t think anyone needs a great deal of credit for believing in what seems to me to be obvious.” Eisenhower concluded: “And no matter what Democracy tries to do in terms of individual liberty… when you come back to it, there is just one thing… man is worthwhile because he was born in the image of God.”American Minute
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
What, then, are we really doing? Our whole conception of, so to call it, the prayer-situation depends on the answer.
We are always completely, and therefore equally, known to God. That is our destiny whether we like it or not. But though this knowledge never varies, the quality of our being known can. A school of thought holds that "freedom is willed necessity." Never mind if they are right or not. I want this idea only as an analogy. Ordinarily, to be known by God is to be, for this purpose, in the category of things. We are like earthworms, cabbages, and nebulae, objects of divine knowledge. But when we (a) become aware of the fact-the present fact, not the generalization-and (b) assent with all our will to be so known, then we treat ourselves, in relation to God, not as things but as persons. We have unveiled. Not that any veil could have baffled this sight. The change is in us. The passive changes to the active. Instead of merely being known, we show, we tell, we offer ourselves to view.
To put ourselves thus on a personal footing with God could, in itself and without warrant, be nothing but presumption and illusion. But we are taught that it is not; that it is God who gives us that footing. For it is by the Holy Spirit that we cry "Father." By unveiling, by confessing our sins and "making known" our requests, we assume the high rank of persons before Him. And He, descending, becomes a Person to us.
But I should not have said "becomes." In Him there is no becoming. He reveals Himself as Person: or reveals that in Him which is Person. For-dare one say it? in a book it would need pages of qualification and insurance-God is in some measure to a man as that man is to God. The door in God that opens is the door he knocks at. (At least, I think so, usually.) The person in Him-He is more than a person-meets those who can welcome or at least face it. He speaks as “I” when we truly call Him “Thou.” (How good Buber is!)
This talk of "meeting" is, no doubt, anthropomorphic; as if God and I could be face to face, like two fellow-creatures, when in reality He is above me and within me and below me and all about me. That is why it must be balanced by all manner of metaphysical and theological abstractions. But never, here or anywhere else, let us think that while anthropomorphic images are a concession to our weakness, the abstractions are the literal truth. Both are equally concessions; each singly misleading, and the two together mutually corrective. Unless you sit to it very tightly, continually murmuring "Not thus, not thus, neither is this Thou," the abstraction is fatal. It will make the life of lives inanimate and the love of loves impersonal. The naif image is mischievous chiefly in so far as it holds unbelievers back from conversion. It does believers, even at its crudest, no harm. What soul ever perished for believing that God the Father really has a beard?
Thanks to Meir Yona
That Many Of The Sicarii Fled To Alexandria Also And What Dangers They Were In There; On Which Account That Temple Which Had Formerly Been Built By Onias The High Priest Was Destroyed.
1. When Masada was thus taken, the general left a garrison in the fortress to keep it, and he himself went away to Cesarea; for there were now no enemies left in the country, but it was all overthrown by so long a war. Yet did this war afford disturbances and dangerous disorders even in places very far remote from Judea; for still it came to pass that many Jews were slain at Alexandria in Egypt; for as many of the Sicarii as were able to fly thither, out of the seditious wars in Judea, were not content to have saved themselves, but must needs be undertaking to make new disturbances, and persuaded many of those that entertained them to assert their liberty, to esteem the Romans to be no better than themselves, and to look upon God as their only Lord and Master. But when part of the Jews of reputation opposed them, they slew some of them, and with the others they were very pressing in their exhortations to revolt from the Romans; but when the principal men of the senate saw what madness they were come to, they thought it no longer safe for themselves to overlook them. So they got all the Jews together to an assembly, and accused the madness of the Sicarii, and demonstrated that they had been the authors of all the evils that had come upon them. They said also that "these men, now they were run away from Judea, having no sure hope of escaping, because as soon as ever they shall be known, they will be soon destroyed by the Romans, they come hither and fill us full of those calamities which belong to them, while we have not been partakers with them in any of their sins." Accordingly, they exhorted the multitude to have a care, lest they should be brought to destruction by their means, and to make their apology to the Romans for what had been done, by delivering these men up to them; who being thus apprized of the greatness of the danger they were in, complied with what was proposed, and ran with great violence upon the Sicarii, and seized upon them; and indeed six hundred of them were caught immediately: but as to all those that fled into Egypt 18 and to the Egyptian Thebes, it was not long ere they were caught also, and brought back, whose courage, or whether we ought to call it madness, or hardiness in their opinions, every body was amazed at. For when all sorts of torments and vexations of their bodies that could be devised were made use of to them, they could not get any one of them to comply so far as to confess, or seem to confess, that Caesar was their lord; but they preserved their own opinion, in spite of all the distress they were brought to, as if they received these torments and the fire itself with bodies insensible of pain, and with a soul that in a manner rejoiced under them. But what was most of all astonishing to the beholders was the courage of the children; for not one of these children was so far overcome by these torments, as to name Caesar for their lord. So far does the strength of the courage [of the soul] prevail over the weakness of the body.
2. Now Lupus did then govern Alexandria, who presently sent Caesar word of this commotion; who having in suspicion the restless temper of the Jews for innovation, and being afraid lest they should get together again, and persuade some others to join with them, gave orders to Lupus to demolish that Jewish temple which was in the region called Onion, 19 and was in Egypt, which was built and had its denomination from the occasion following: Onias, the son of Simon, one of the Jewish high priests fled from Antiochus the king of Syria, when he made war with the Jews, and came to Alexandria; and as Ptolemy received him very kindly, on account of hatred to Antiochus, he assured him, that if he would comply with his proposal, he would bring all the Jews to his assistance; and when the king agreed to do it so far as he was able, he desired him to give him leave to build a temple some where in Egypt, and to worship God according to the customs of his own country; for that the Jews would then be so much readier to fight against Antiochus who had laid waste the temple at Jerusalem, and that they would then come to him with greater good-will; and that, by granting them liberty of conscience, very many of them would come over to him.
3. So Ptolemy complied with his proposals, and gave him a place one hundred and eighty furlongs distant from Memphis. 20 That Nomos was called the Nomos of Hellopolis, where Onias built a fortress and a temple, not like to that at Jerusalem, but such as resembled a tower. He built it of large stones to the height of sixty cubits; he made the structure of the altar in imitation of that in our own country, and in like manner adorned with gifts, excepting the make of the candlestick, for he did not make a candlestick, but had a [single] lamp hammered out of a piece of gold, which illuminated the place with its rays, and which he hung by a chain of gold; but the entire temple was encompassed with a wall of burnt brick, though it had gates of stone. The king also gave him a large country for a revenue in money, that both the priests might have a plentiful provision made for them, and that God might have great abundance of what things were necessary for his worship. Yet did not Onias do this out of a sober disposition, but he had a mind to contend with the Jews at Jerusalem, and could not forget the indignation he had for being banished thence. Accordingly, he thought that by building this temple he should draw away a great number from them to himself. There had been also a certain ancient prediction made by [a prophet] whose name was Isaiah, about six hundred years before, that this temple should be built by a man that was a Jew in Egypt. And this is the history of the building of that temple.
4. And now Lupus, the governor of Alexandria, upon the receipt of Caesar's letter, came to the temple, and carried out of it some of the donations dedicated thereto, and shut up the temple itself. And as Lupus died a little afterward, Paulinus succeeded him. This man left none of those donations there, and threatened the priests severely if they did not bring them all out; nor did he permit any who were desirous of worshipping God there so much as to come near the whole sacred place; but when he had shut up the gates, he made it entirely inaccessible, insomuch that there remained no longer the least footsteps of any Divine worship that had been in that place. Now the duration of the time from the building of this temple till it was shut up again was three hundred and forty-three years.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Justice is the insurance
which we have on our lives and property.
Obedience is the premium which we pay for it.
--- William Penn Principles of Social Reconstruction
There is nothing that wastes the body like worry,
and one who has any faith in God
should be ashamed to worry
about anything whatsoever.
--- Mohandas Gandhi Visionaries: The 20th Century's 100 Most Inspirational Leaders
The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.
--- Sir Richard Francis Burton The tangled web: a life of Sir Richard Burton
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
Who now rejoice in My sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.… --- Col. 1:24.
The Christian worker has to be a sacramental ‘go-between,’ to be so identified with his Lord and the reality of His Redemption that He can continually bring His creating life through him. It is not the strength of one man’s personality being superimposed on another, but the real presence of Christ coming through the elements of the worker’s life. When we preach the historic facts of the life and death of Our Lord as they are conveyed in the New Testament, our words are made sacramental; God uses them on the ground of His Redemption to create in those who listen that which is not created otherwise. If we preach the effects of Redemption in human life instead of the revelation regarding Jesus, the result in those who listen is not new birth, but refined spiritual culture, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in another domain. We have to see that we are in such living sympathy with God that as we proclaim His truth He can create in souls the things which He alone can do.
'What a wonderful personality!’ ‘What a fascinating man!’ ‘Such marvellous insight!’ What chance has the Gospel of God through all that? It cannot get through, because the line of attraction is always the line of appeal. If a man attracts by his personality, his appeal is along that line; if he is identified with his Lord’s personality, then the appeal is along the line of what Jesus Christ can do. The danger is to glory in men; Jesus says we are to lift Him up.
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Face to face? Ah, no
God; such language falsifies
the relation. Nor side by side,
nor near you, nor anywhere
in time and space.
Say you were,
when I came, your name
vouching for you, ubiquitous
in its explanations. The
earth bore and they reaped
God, they said, looking
in your direction. The wind
changed; over the drowned
body it was you
they spat at.
I pronounced you. Older
I still do, but seldomer
now, leaning far out
over an immense depth, letting
your name go and waiting,
somewhere between faith and doubt,
for the echoes of its arrival.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The biblical promise of redemption does not refer to God’s miraculous intervention in history, but is based upon the conviction that a change in man’s moral life will ultimately affect a change in man’s political conditions. Just as God answers man’s prayer for guidance by providing him with an intellect, so too does He answer man’s longing for redemption by giving the community a Torah which implants in the believing Jew the conviction that his historical condition is affected by his moral actions. Both intellect and Torah can be perceived by religious man as immediate divine response to his longing for divine guidance. Torah and creation can be perceived by the religious Jew as continuous manifestations of divine activity and love. The “promise” in the Torah that Israel will ultimately repent is based upon the fact that Torah creates the impetus for a permanent need for teshuvah:
In the same way the commandment given to us to call upon Him, may He be exalted, in every calamity—I mean its dictum, “You shall sound short blasts on the trumpets”—likewise belongs to this class. For it is an action through which the correct opinion is firmly established that He, may He be exalted, apprehends our situations and that it depends upon Him to improve them, if we obey, and to make them ruinous, if we disobey; we should not believe that such things are fortuitous and happen by chance. This is the meaning of its dictum, “But if, despite this, you disobey Me and remain hostile to Me,” by which it means: If you consider that the calamities with which I cause you to be stricken are to be borne as a mere chance, I shall add for you unto this supposed chance its most grievous and cruel portion. This is the meaning of its dictum: “[But if, despite this,] you disobey Me and remain hostile to Me, I will act against you in wrathful hostility …” For their belief that this is chance contributes to necessitating their persistence in their corrupt opinions and unrighteous actions, so that they do not turn away from them; thus it says: “You have stricken them, but they were not affected.” For this reason we have been commanded to invoke Him, may He be exalted, and to turn rapidly toward Him, and call out to Him in every misfortune.
Torah trains the believing Jew to recognize the power of teshuvah to alter his political and economic condition by constantly reminding him that his political and material life is determined by his relationship to God. It is this training which can explain the prophet’s certainty that Israel will repent.
Maimonides knew of those who maintained that grace and redemption imply acts of God which are independent of human action.32 His rejection of the preoccupation with miracles expresses itself in his making knowledge of God a necessary—and perhaps sufficient—condition for historical redemption:
This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.
--- Jeremiah 23:6.
If we deny this doctrine of salvation by grace, we turn the truth—the Word of God—into a lie. Classic Sermons on The Names of God (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) (Classic Sermons) We subvert all Scripture that says we have been saved by grace, not by works, so that no one can boast—that salvation is God’s free gift. For if the whole personal righteousness of Jesus Christ is not the sole cause of my acceptance with God, if any work done by me was in the least looked on by God as a cause for acquitting my soul from guilt, then I have something for which I may boast. Now boasting is excluded in the great work of our redemption. But that cannot be if we are enemies to the doctrine of an imputed righteousness. It would be endless to enumerate how many texts of Scripture must be false if this doctrine is not true. Let it suffice to affirm that if we deny imputed righteousness, we may as well deny divine revelation.
Can you say, The Lord our righteousness? For entertaining this doctrine in your heads, without receiving the Lord Jesus Christ by a living faith into your hearts, will only increase your damnation. An unapplied Christ is no Christ at all.
Is Christ your sanctification as well as your outward righteousness? For the word “righteousness” in the text not only implies Christ’s personal righteousness imputed to us, but also holiness of heart worked in us. These two God has joined together. He never will separate them. If you are justified by the blood, you are also sanctified by the Spirit of the Lord. Were you ever made to detest yourselves for your actual and original sins and to loathe your own righteous acts as filthy rags? Were you ever made to see and admire the all-sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness and excited by the Spirit of God to be thirsty for the righteousness of Christ?
And after these inward conflicts, were you ever enabled to reach out the arm of faith and embrace Jesus in your souls, so that you could say, My lover is mine and I am his? If so, fear not. The Lord Christ, the everlasting God, is your righteousness. Christ has justified you.
Think on the love of Christ in dying for you! If the Lord is your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lordbe continually in your mouth. Talk of and recommend the righteousness of Christ. Think of the greatness of the gift as well as the giver.
--- George Whitefield
Cost of Discipleship
Berlin’s leading psychiatrist and neurologist, Karl Bonhoeffer expected his son to take up a “respectable” profession such as science or the law. Instead, young Dietrich declared he wanted to be a theologian. When his family pointed out flaws in the German church, he replied, “In that case, I’ll reform it.”
He tried, but he came of age during the days of Adolf Hitler, who duped most German churchmen. “It is because of Hitler that Christ has become effective among us,” said one minister. “National Socialism is positive Christianity in action.” Bonhoeffer, opposing the Nazis with all his might, called the church to repentance. His outspokenness put him at risk; every day, every year, the crisis grew, the tension deepened.
On Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night”), November 9, 1938, the Nazis unleashed their full fury against Jewish communities in Germany. Windows were shattered, houses stormed, synagogues burned, families brutalized, Jews imprisoned. Bonhoeffer, away from Berlin, raced back to the capital and stood like an intrepid prophet against the violence. He was furious with Christians who justified the violence by saying the Jews were reaping only what they deserved as the crucifiers of Christ. He marked the calamitous date alongside Psalm 74:7,8, which he underlined in his Bible.
He was eventually incarcerated at Telgel Prison outside Berlin. His six-by-nine-foot cell contained cot, shelf, stool, and bucket. Here he lived 18 months, writing letters and poems. Some of them were addressed to Maria von Wedemeyer, his fiancée. They never married, and the letters he wrote her are now at Harvard University, sealed at her request until the year 2002.
Eventually Bonhoeffer was taken to Flossenburg Concentration Camp. As he led a small worship service on April 8, 1945, the Gestapo burst in and dragged him away. He cried, “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.” Shortly after five o’clock the next Morning, he was taken to an execution site in a grove of trees and forced to strip. He knelt naked and prayed, then ascended the gallows to God.
They burned down your temple and badly disgraced it.
They said to themselves, “We’ll crush them!”
Then they burned every one of your meeting places
All over the country.
--- Psalm 74:7,8.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - November 9
“So walk ye in him.” --- Colossians 2:6.
If we have received Christ himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with him by a walk of faith in him. Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Jesus; and men say of that man, “He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ.” Walking signifies progress. “So walk ye in him”; proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved. Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the Morning and Evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus, and may then give their hearts to the world all the day: but this is poor living; we should always be with him, treading in his steps and doing his will. Walking also implies habit. When we speak of a man’s walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget him; sometimes call him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in him. We must keep to him, cling to him, never let him go, but live and have our being in him. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him”; persevere in the same way in which ye have begun, and, as at the first Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let him be the same till life’s end; the same when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and enter into the joy and the rest which remain for the people of God. O Holy Spirit, enable us to obey this heavenly precept.
Evening - November 9
“His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” --- Isaiah 33:16.
Do you doubt, O Christian, do you doubt as to whether God will fulfil his promise? Shall the munitions of rock be carried by storm? Shall the storehouses of heaven fail? Do you think that your heavenly Father, though he knoweth that you have need of food and raiment, will yet forget you? When not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered, will you mistrust and doubt him? Perhaps your affliction will continue upon you till you dare to trust your God, and then it shall end. Full many there be who have been tried and sore vexed till at last they have been driven in sheer desperation to exercise faith in God, and the moment of their faith has been the instant of their deliverance; they have seen whether God would keep his promise or not. Oh, I pray you, doubt him no longer! Please not Satan, and vex not yourself by indulging any more those hard thoughts of God. Think it not a light matter to doubt Jehovah. Remember, it is a sin; and not a little sin either, but in the highest degree criminal. The angels never doubted him, nor the devils either: we alone, out of all the beings that God has fashioned, dishonour him by unbelief, and tarnish his honour by mistrust. Shame upon us for this! Our God does not deserve to be so basely suspected; in our past life we have proved him to be true and faithful to his word, and with so many instances of his love and of his kindness as we have received, and are daily receiving, at his hands, it is base and inexcusable that we suffer a doubt to sojourn within our heart. May we henceforth wage constant war against doubts of our God—enemies to our peace and to his honour; and with an unstaggering faith believe that what he has promised he will also perform. “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
PRAISE THE SAVIOR
Thomas Kelly, 1769–1854
In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:11, 12)
God’s people have always been and will always be a “praising people.” God created and chose us in order that we “might be for the praise of His glory,” the sum of all that God is and does. The song of praise began at creation when “the Morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). It was furthered during the Old Testament period by the Israelites, who were widely known for their “singing faith.” The song of praise was echoed by the angelic chorus announcing Christ’s birth. It has been proclaimed and published by pastors, hymn writers, and singers throughout the centuries. And it is rehearsed each week by worshiping believers everywhere as they prepare for the new song of praise and worship that will continue throughout eternity.
Thomas Kelly is considered to be one of the most distinguished spiritual poets of the 19th century. After his dismissal from the Anglican church for his zealous evangelical preaching, especially on the subject of “justification by faith”—a doctrinal taboo by the High Church, he associated himself with the dissenting Congregationalists, becoming known as a magnetic preacher throughout his ministry.
These inspiring two-line verses by Thomas Kelly, based on Psalm 88:1, were published in 1809. The melody of this hymn is of unknown German origin.
Praise the Savior, ye who know Him! Who can tell how much we owe Him? Gladly let us render to Him all we are and have.
Jesus is the name that charms us; He for conflict fits and arms us. Nothing moves and nothing harms us while we trust in Him.
Trust in Him, ye saints, forever—He is faithful, changing never. Neither force nor guile can sever those He loves from Him.
Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving to Thyself, and still believing, till the hour of our receiving promised joys with Thee.
Then we shall be where we would be; then we shall be what we should be. Things that are not now, nor could be, soon shall be our own.
For Today: Psalm 66:2; 88:1; 96:7, 8; 100:4; Hebrews 13:15; Revelation 4:11
The psalmist declared that he praised God seven times a day for His righteous laws (Psalm 119:164). Determine to spend some time throughout this day in offering your voice of praise to the Lord. Use this hymn to help ---
5. Unbelief of the gospel is a contempt and disowning Divine power. This perfection hath been discovered in the conception of
Christ, the union of the two natures, his resurrection from the grave, the restoration of the world, and the conversion of men, more
than in the creation of the world: then what a disgrace is unbelief to all that power that so severely punished the Jews for the rejecting
the gospel: turned so many nations from their beloved superstitions; humbled the power of princes and the wisdom of philosophers;
chased devils from their temples by the weakness of fishermen; planted the standard of the gospel against the common notions and
inveterate customs of the world! What a disgrace is unbelief to this power which hath preserved Christianity from being extinguished
by the force of men and devils, and kept it flourishing in the midst of sword, fire, and executioners; that hath made the simplicity of
the gospel overpower the eloquence of orators, and multiplied it from the ashes of martyrs, when it was destitute of all human
assistances! Not heartily to believe and embrace that doctrine, which hath been attended with such marks of power, is a high
reflection upon this Divine perfection, so highly manifested in the first publication, propagation, and preservation of it.
Secondly, The power of God is abused, as well as contemned.
1. When we make use of it to justify contradictions. The doctrine of transubstantiation is an abuse of this power. When the maintainers of it cannot answer the absurdities alleged against it, they have recourse to the power of God. It implies a contradiction, that the same body should be on earth and in heaven at the same instant of time; that it should be at the right hand of God, and in the mouth and stomach of a man; that it should be a body of flesh, and yet bread to the eye and to the taste; that it should be visible and invisible, a glorious body, and yet gnawn by the teeth of a creature; that it should be multiplied in a thousand places, and yet an entire body in every one, where there is no member to be seen, no flesh to be tasted; that it should be above us in the highest heavens, and yet within us in our lower bowels; such contradictions as these are an abuse of the power of God. Again, we abuse this power when we believe every idle story that is reported, because God is able to make it so if he pleased. We may as well believe Æsop’s Fables to be true, that birds spake, and beasts reasoned, because the power of God can enable such creatures to such acts. God’s power is not the rule of our belief of a thing without the exercise of it in matter of fact, and the declaration of it upon sufficient evidence.
2. The power of God is abused by presuming on it, without using the means he hath appointed. When men sit with folded arms, and make a confidence in his power a glorious title to their idleness and disobedience, they would have his strength do all, and his precept should move them to do nothing; this is a trust of his power against his command, a pretended glorifying his power with a slight of his sovereignty. Though God be almighty, yet, for the most part, he exerciseth his might in giving life and success to second causes and lawful endeavors. When we stay in the mouth of danger, without any call ordering us to continue, and against a door of providence opened for our rescue, and sanctuary ourselves in the power of God without any promise, without any providence conducting us; this is not to glorify the Divine might, but to neglect it, in neglecting the means which his power affords to us for our escape; to condemn it to our humors, to work miracles for us according to our wills, and against his own. God could have sent a worm to be Herod’s executioner when he sought the life of our Saviour, or employed an angel from heaven to have tied his hands or stopped his breath, and not put Joseph upon a flight to Egypt with our Saviour; yet had it not been an abuse of the power of God, for Joseph to have neglected the precept, and slighted the means God gave him for the preserving his own life and that of the child’s?
Christ himself, when the Jews consulted to destroy him, presumed not upon the power of God to secure him, but used ordinary means for his preservation, by walling no more openly, but “retiring himself into a city near the wilderness till the hour was come, and the call of his Father manifest” (John 11:53, 54). A rash running upon danger, though for the truth itself, is a presuming upon, and consequently an abuse of, this power; a proud challenging it to serve our turns against the authority of his will, and the force of his precept; a not resting in his ordinate power, but demanding his absolute power to pleasure our follies and presumptions; concluding and expecting more from it than what is authorized by his will.
Instruct. 9. If infinite power be a peculiar property of God, how miserable will all wicked rebels be under this power of God! Men may break his laws, but not impair his arm; they may slight his word, but cannot resist his power. If he swear that he will sweep a place with the besom of destruction, “as he hath thought, so shall it come to pass; and as he hath purposed, so shall it stand,” (Isa. 14:23, 24). Rebels against an earthly prince may exceed him in strength, and be more powerful than their sovereign; none can equal God, much less exceed him. As none can exercise an act of hostility against him without his permissive will, so none can struggle from under his hand without his positive will. He hath an arm not to be moved, a hand not to be wrung aside. God is represented on his throne like a “jasper stone” (Rev. 4:3), as one of invincible power when he comes to judge; the jasper is a stone which withstands the greatest force. Though men resist the order of his laws, they, cannot the sentence of their punishment, nor the execution of it. None can any more exempt themselves from the arm of his strength, than they can from the authority of his dominion. As they must bow to his sovereignty, so must they sink under his force. A prisoner in this world may make his escape, but a prisoner in the world to come cannot (Job 10:7). “There is none that can deliver out of thine hand.” There is none to deliver when he “tears in pieces” (Psalm 50:22). His strength is uncontrollable; hence his throne his represented as a “fiery flame” (Dan. 7:9). As a spark of fire hath power to kindle one thing after another, and increase till it consumes a forest, a city, swallow up all combustible matter till it consumes a world, and many worlds, if they were in being, what power hath the tree to resist the fire, though it seems mighty, when it outbraves the winds? What man, to this day, hath been able to free himself from that chain of death God clapped upon him for his revolt? And if he be too feeble to rescue himself from a temporal, much less from an eternal death. The devils have, to this minute, groaned under the pile of wrath, without any success in delivering themselves by all their strength, which much surmounts all the strength of mankind, nor have they any hopes to work their rescue to eternity. How foolish is every sinner! Can we poor worms strut it out against Infinite Power? We cannot resist the meanest creatures when God commissions them, and puts a sword into their hands. They will not, no, not the worms, be startled at the glory of a king, when they have the Creator’s warrant to be his executioners (Acts 12:23). Who can withstand him, when he commands the waves and inundations of the sea to leap over the shore; when he divides the ground in earthquakes, and makes it gape wide to swallow the inhabitants of it; when the air is corrupted to breed pestilences; when storms and showers, unseasonably falling, putrify the fruits of the earth; what created power can mend the matter, and, with a prevailing voice, say to him, What dost thou? There are two attributes God will make glister in hell to the full; his wrath and his power (Rom. 9:22): “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?” If it were mere wrath, and no power to second it, it were not so terrible; but it is wrath and power: both are joined together. It is not only a sharp sword, but a powerful arm; and not only that, for then it were well for the damned creature. To have many sharp blows, and from a strong arm, this may be without putting forth the highest strength a man hath; but in this God makes it his design to make his power known and conspicuous; he takes the sword, as it were, in both hands, that he may show the strength of his arm in striking the harder blow; and therefore the apostles calls it (2 Thess. 1:9) “the glory of his power,” which puts a sting into his wrath; and it is called (Rev. 19:15) “the fierceness of the wrath of the Almighty.” God will do it in such a manner as to make men sensible of his almightiness in every stroke. How great must that vengeance be, that is backed by all the strength of God! When there will be a powerful wrath, without a powerful compassion; when all his power shall be exercised in punishing, and not the least mite of it exercised in pitying; how irresistible will be the load of such a weighty hand! How can the dust of the balance break the mighty bars, or get out of the lists of a powerful vengeance, or hope for any grain of comfort? O, that every obstinate sinner would think of this, and consider his unmeasurable boldness in thinking himself able to grapple with Omnipotence! What force can any have to resist the presence of Him, before whom rocks melt, and the heavens, at length, shall be shrivelled up as a parchment by the last fire! As the light of God’s face is too dazzling to be beheld by us, so the arm of his power is too mighty to be opposed by us. His almightiness is above the reach of our potsherd strength, as his infiniteness is above the capacity of our purblind understanding. God were not omnipotent, if his power could be rendered ineffectual by any.
Use II. A second use of this point, from the consideration of the infinite power of God, is of comfort. As Omnipotence is an ocean that cannot be fathomed, so the comforts from it are streams that cannot be exhausted. What joy can be wanting to him that finds himself folded in the arms of Omnipotence? This perfection is made over to believers in the covenant, as well as any other attribute; “I am the Lord, your God;” therefore, that power, which is as essential to the Godhead as any other perfection of his nature, is, in the rights and extent of it, assured unto you. Nay, may we not say, it is made over more than any other, because it is that which animates every other perfection; and is the Spirit that gives them motion and appearance in the world. If God had expressed himself in particular, as, “I am a true God, a wise God, a loving God, a righteous God, I am yours;” what would all, or any of those, have signified, unless the other also had been implied, as, “I am an almighty God, I am your God?” In God’s making over himself in any particular attribute, this of his power is included in every one, without which, all his other grants would be insignificant. It is a comfort that power is in the hands of God; it can never be better placed, for he can never use his power to injure his confiding creature; if it were in our own hands, we might use it to injure ourselves. It is a power in the hands of an indulgent Father, not a hard-hearted tyrant; it is a just power; “His right hand is full of righteousness” (Psalm 48:10); because of his righteousness he can never use it ill, and because of his wisdom he can never use it unseasonably. Men that have strength, often misplace the actings of it, because of their folly; and sometimes employ it to base ends, because of their wickedness; but this power in God is always awakened by goodness, and conducted by wisdom; it is never exercised by self-will and passion, but according to the immutable rule of his own nature, which is righteousness. How comfortable is it to think, that you have a God that can do what he pleases; nothing so difficult but he can effect, nothing so strong but he can overrule! Y ou need not dread men, since you have One to restrain them; nor fear devils, since you have One to chain them; no creature but is acted by this power; no creature but must fall upon the withdrawing of this power. It was not all laid out in creation; it is not weakened by his preservation of things; he yet hath a fullness of power, and a residue of Spirit; for whom should that eternal arm of the Lord be displayed, and that incomprehensible thunder of his power be shot out, but for those for whose sake and for whose comfort it is revealed in his word? In particular,
1. Here is comfort in all afflictions and distresses. Our evils can never be so great to oppress us, as his power is great to deliver us. The same power that brought a world out of a chaos, and constituted, and hath hitherto preserved, the regular motion of the stars, can bring order out of our confusions, and light out of our darkness. When our Saviour was in the greatest distress, and beheld the face of his Father frowning, while he was upon the cross, in his complaint to him, he exerciseth faith upon his power (Matt. 27:46): “Eli, Eli: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” that this, My strong, my strong; , is a name of power, belonging to God; he comforts himself’ in his power, while he complains of his frowns.
Follow his pattern, and forget not that power that can scatter the clouds, as well as gather them together. The Psalmist’s support in his distress, was in the creative power of God (Psalm 121:2): “My help comes from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
2. It is comfort in all strong and stirring corruptions and mighty temptations. It is by this we may arm ourselves, and “be strong in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10); by this we may conquer principalities and powers, as dreadful as hell, but not so mighty as heaven; by this we may triumph over lusts within, too strong for an arm of flesh; by this the devils that have possessed us may be cast out; the battered walls of our souls may be repaired; and the sons of Anak laid flat. That power that brought light out of darkness, and overmastered the deformity of the chaos, and set bounds to the ocean, and dried up the Red Sea by a rebuke, can quell the tumults in our spirits, and level spiritual Goliahs by his word. When the disciples heard that terrifying speech of our Saviour, concerning rich men, that it was “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24), to entertain the gospel, which commanded self-denial; and that, because of the allurements of the world, and the strong habits in their soul; Christ refers them to the power of God (ver. 26), who could expel those ill habits, and plant good ones: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” There is no resistance, but he can surmount; no strong-hold, but he can demolish; no tower, but he can level.
3. It is comfort from hence, that all promises shall be performed. Goodness is sufficient to make a promise, but power is necessary to perform a promise. Men that are honest, cannot often make good their words, because something may intervene that may shorten their ability: but nothing can disable God, without diminishing his godhead. He hath an infiniteness of power to accomplish his word, as well as an infiniteness of goodness to make and utter his word. That might whereby he made heaven and earth, and his keeping truth forever, are joined together (Psalm 146:5, 6); his Father’s faithfulness, and his creative power are linked together. It is upon this basis the covenant, and every part of it, is established, and stands as firm as the almightiness of God, whereby he sprung up the earth, and reared the heavens. “No power can resist his will” (Rom. 9:19); “Who can disannul his purpose, and turn back his hand when it is stretched out” (Isa. 14:27)? His word is unalterable, and his power is invincible. He could not deceive himself, for he knew his own strength when he promised: no unexpected event can change his resolution, because nothing can happen without the compass of his foresight. No created strength can stop him in his action, because all creatures are ready to serve him at his command; not the devils in hell, nor all the wicked men on earth, since he hath strength to restrain them, and an arm to punish them. What can be too hard for Him that created heaven and earth? Hence it was, that when God promised anything anciently to his people, he used often the name of the Almighty, the Lord that created heaven and earth, as that which was an undeniable answer to any objection, against anything that might be made against the greatness and stupendousness of any promise; by that name, in all his works of grace, was he known to them (Exod. 6:3). When we are sure of his will, we need not question his strength, since he never over-engaged himself above his ability. He that could not be resisted by anything in creation, nor vanquished by devils in redemption, can never want power to glorify his faithfulness in his accomplishment of whatsoever he hath promised.
4. From this infiniteness of power in God, we have ground of assurance for perseverance. Since conversion is resembled to the works of creation and resurrection, two great marks of his strength, he doth not surely employ himself in the first of changing the heart, to let any created strength baffle that power which he began and intends to glorify. It was this might that struck off the chain, and expelled that strong one that possessed you. What, if you are too weak to keep him out of his lost possession, will God lose the glory of his first strength, by suffering his foiled adversary to make a re-entry, and regain his former usurpation? His out-stretched arm will not do less by his spiritual, than it did by his national Israel: it guarded them all the way to Canaan, and left them not to shift for themselves after he had struck off the fetters of Egypt, and buried their enemies in the Red Sea (Deut. 1:31). This greatness of the Father, above all, our Saviour makes the ground of believers’ continuance forever, against the blasts of hell and engines of the world (John 10:29). “My Father is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hands.” Our keeping is not in our own weak hands, but in the hands of Him who is mighty to save. That power of God keeps us which intends our salvation. In all fears of falling away, shelter yourselves in the power of God: “He shall be holden up,” saith the apostle, speaking concerning one weak in faith; and no other reason is rendered by him but this, “For God is able to make him to stand” (Rom. 14:4).
5. From this attribute of the infinite power of God, we have a ground of comfort in the lowest estate of the church. Let the state of the church be never so deplorable, the condition never so desperate, that Power that created the world, and shall raise the bodies of men, can create a happy state for the church, and raise her from an overwhelming grave; though the enemies trample upon her, they cannot upon the arm that holds her, which by the least motion of it, can lift her up above the heads of her adversaries, and make them feel the thunder of that Power that none can understand: by the “blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils they are consumed” (Job 4:9); they “shall be scattered as chaff before the wind.” If once he “draw his hand out of his bosom,” all must fly before him, or sink under him (Psalm 74:11): and when there is “none to help, his own arm sustains him, and brings salvation, and his fury doth uphold him” (Isa. 63:5). What if the church totter under the underminings of hell? What if it hath a sad heart and wet eyes? In what a little moment can he make the night turn into day, and make the Jews, that were preparing for death in Shushan, triumph over the necks of their enemies, and march in one hour with swords in their hands, that expected the last hour “ropes about their necks” (Esth. 9:1, 5)? If Israel be pursued by Pharaoh, the sea shall open its arms to protect them: if they be thirsty, a rock shall spout out water to refresh them: if they be hungry, heaven shall be their granary for manna: if Jerusalem be besieged, and hath not force enough to encounter Sennacherib, an angel shall turn the camp into an Aceldema, a field of blood. His people shall not want deliverances, till God want a power of working miracles for their security: he is more jealous of his power, than the church can be of her safety. And if we should want other arguments to press him, we may implore him by virtue of his power: for when there is nothing in the church as a motive to him to save it, there is enough in his own name, and “the illustration of his power” (Psalm 106:8). Who can grapple with the omnipotency of that God, who is jealous of, and zealous for, the honor of it? And therefore God, for the most part, takes such opportunities to deliver, wherein his almightiness may be most conspicuous, and his counsels most admirable. He awakened not himself to deliver Israel, till they were upon the brink of the Red Sea; nor to rescue the three children, till they were in the fiery furnace; nor Daniel, till he was in the lion’s den. It is in the weakness of his creature that his strength is perfected, not in a way of addition of perfectness to it, but in a way of manifestation of the perfection of it; as it is the perfection of the sun to shine and enlighten the world, not that the sun receives an increase of light by the darting of his beams, but discovers his glory to the admiration of men, and pleasure of the world. If it were not for such occasions, the world would not regard the mightiness of God, nor know what power were in him. It traverses the stage in its fulness and liveliness upon such occasions, when the enemies are strong, and their strength edged with an intense hatred, and but little time between the contrivance and execution. It is a great comfort that the lowest distresses of the church are a fit scene for the discovery of this attribute, and that the glory of God’s omnipotence, and the church’s security, are so straitly linked together. It is a promise that will never be forgotten by God, and ought never to be forgotten by us, that “in this mountain the hand of the Lord shall rest” (Isa. 25:10); that is, the power of the Lord shall abide; and Moab “shall be trodden under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.” And the “plagues of Babylon shall come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; for strong is the Lord who judgeth her” (Rev. 18:8).
The Existence and Attributes of God