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     2 Chronicles   28 - 31


2 Chronicles 28

Ahaz Reigns in Judah

2 Chronicles 28 1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done, 2 but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made metal images for the Baals, 3 and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.

Judah Defeated

5 Therefore the LORD his God gave him into the hand of the king of Syria, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who struck him with great force. 6 For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed 120,000 from Judah in one day, all of them men of valor, because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers. 7 And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son and Azrikam the commander of the palace and Elkanah the next in authority to the king.

8 The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. 9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven. 10 And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God? 11 Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.”

12 Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war 13 and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the LORD in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” 14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. 15 And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. 17 For the Edomites had again invaded and defeated Judah and carried away captives. 18 And the Philistines had made raids on the cities in the Shephelah and the Negeb of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. And they settled there. 19 For the LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the LORD. 20 So Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. 21 For Ahaz took a portion from the house of the LORD and the house of the king and of the princes, and gave tribute to the king of Assyria, but it did not help him.

Ahaz’s Idolatry

22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD—this same King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. 24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and he shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the LORD, the God of his fathers. 26 Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem, for they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.


2 Chronicles 29

Hezekiah Reigns in Judah

2 Chronicles 29 1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.

Hezekiah Cleanses the Temple

3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east 5 and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place. 6 For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD and turned their backs. 7 They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the Holy Place to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore the wrath of the LORD came on Judah and Jerusalem, and he has made them an object of horror, of astonishment, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. 9 For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. 10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not now be negligent, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.”

12 Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehallelel; and of the Gershonites, Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah; 13 and of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel; and of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah; 14 and of the sons of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel. 15 They gathered their brothers and consecrated themselves and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. 16 The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron. 17 They began to consecrate on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. Then for eight days they consecrated the house of the LORD, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. 18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king and said, “We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the showbread and all its utensils. 19 All the utensils that King Ahaz discarded in his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and consecrated, and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.”

Hezekiah Restores Temple Worship

20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the LORD. 21 And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD. 22 So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and threw it against the altar. And they slaughtered the rams, and their blood was thrown against the altar. And they slaughtered the lambs, and their blood was thrown against the altar. 23 Then the goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them, 24 and the priests slaughtered them and made a sin offering with their blood on the altar, to make atonement for all Israel. For the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.

25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. 30 And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.

31 Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves to the LORD. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings. 32 The number of the burnt offerings that the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD. 33 And the consecrated offerings were 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep. 34 But the priests were too few and could not flay all the burnt offerings, so until other priests had consecrated themselves, their brothers the Levites helped them, until the work was finished—for the Levites were more upright in heart than the priests in consecrating themselves. 35 Besides the great number of burnt offerings, there was the fat of the peace offerings, and there were the drink offerings for the burnt offerings. Thus the service of the house of the LORD was restored. 36 And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.


2 Chronicles 30

Passover Celebrated

2 Chronicles 30 1 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. 2 For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to keep the Passover in the second month— 3 for they could not keep it at that time because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient number, nor had the people assembled in Jerusalem— 4 and the plan seemed right to the king and all the assembly. 5 So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed. 6 So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the LORD God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. 8 Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” 10 So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. 11 However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD.

13 And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly. 14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the brook Kidron. 15 And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. 16 They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. 18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 21 And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with all their might to the LORD. 22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers.

23 Then the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days. So they kept it for another seven days with gladness. 24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for offerings, and the princes gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. And the priests consecrated themselves in great numbers. 25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.


2 Chronicles 31

Hezekiah Organizes the Priests

2 Chronicles 31 1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and broke down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, and in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the people of Israel returned to their cities, every man to his possession.

2 And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, division by division, each according to his service, the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and peace offerings, to minister in the gates of the camp of the LORD and to give thanks and praise. 3 The contribution of the king from his own possessions was for the burnt offerings: the burnt offerings of morning and evening, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the appointed feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD. 4 And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the LORD. 5 As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. 6 And the people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of the dedicated things that had been dedicated to the LORD their God, and laid them in heaps. 7 In the third month they began to pile up the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and his people Israel. 9 And Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the heaps. 10 Azariah the chief priest, who was of the house of Zadok, answered him, “Since they began to bring the contributions into the house of the LORD, we have eaten and had enough and have plenty left, for the LORD has blessed his people, so that we have this large amount left.”

11 Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD, and they prepared them. 12 And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second, 13 while Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers assisting Conaniah and Shimei his brother, by the appointment of Hezekiah the king and Azariah the chief officer of the house of God. 14 And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the east gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to apportion the contribution reserved for the LORD and the most holy offerings. 15 Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah were faithfully assisting him in the cities of the priests, to distribute the portions to their brothers, old and young alike, by divisions, 16 except those enrolled by genealogy, males from three years old and upward—all who entered the house of the LORD as the duty of each day required—for their service according to their offices, by their divisions. 17 The enrollment of the priests was according to their fathers’ houses; that of the Levites from twenty years old and upward was according to their offices, by their divisions. 18 They were enrolled with all their little children, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, the whole assembly, for they were faithful in keeping themselves holy. 19 And for the sons of Aaron, the priests, who were in the fields of common land belonging to their cities, there were men in the several cities who were designated by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to everyone among the Levites who was enrolled.

20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.

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Why Is the Penalty of Hell the Same, Even Though People Are So Different?

By J. Warner Wallace 9/6/2017

     The notion of Hell is incredibly controversial, even among Christians. Many believers struggle to reconcile the mercy and grace of God with the existence of Hell and have tried to redefine Hell in an effort to remove what they perceive as offensive. For some, Hell seems too inequitable to be possible. Would a Loving God punish everyone in the same way? Isn’t it unfair to send someone like Gandhi to Hell (simply because he was not a Christian) alongside someone like Hitler (who committed unspeakable atrocities)? A reasonable and just God would not be the source of such inequitable punishment, would He?

     In one sense, it is true: All sin has the same consequence when measured against God’s perfection. Lying is just as significant as murder when it comes to assessing our imperfection relative to the perfection of God. Even the slightest sin demonstrates our inadequacy and need for a Savior. But make no mistake about it; some sins are clearly more heinous than others in the eyes of God (John 19:11-12). As a result, the God of the Bible equitably prescribes punishments for wrongdoing on earth and in the next life:

     There Are Degrees of Punishment on Earth

     When God gave the Law to Moses, He made one thing very clear: Some sins are more punishable than others. God assigned different penalties to different crimes, based on the offensive or heinous nature of the sin itself. The Mosaic Law is filled with measured responses to sin. God prescribed punishments appropriate to the crimes in question (Exodus 21:23-25). In fact, the Mosaic Law carefully assured that each offender would be punished “according to his guilt” and no more (Deuteronomy 25:2-3). The Mosaic Law is evidence of two things. First, while any sin may separate us from the perfection of God, some sins are unmistakably more offensive than others. Second, God prescribes different punishments for different crimes based on the severity of each crime.

     There Are Degrees of Punishment in Hell

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

Expository Preaching—The Antidote to Anemic Worship

By Albert Mohler 2/27/2017

     The anemia of evangelical worship—all the music and energy aside—is directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching.

     Evangelical Christians have been especially attentive to worship in recent years, sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation on what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has unfortunately resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A. W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.

     Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: What is central to Christian worship? Historically, the more liturgical churches have argued that the sacraments form the heart of Christian worship. These churches argue that the elements of the Lord’s Supper and the water of baptism most powerfully present the gospel. Among evangelicals, some call for evangelism as the heart of worship, planning every facet of the service—songs, prayers, the sermon—with the evangelistic invitation in mind.

     Though most evangelicals mention the preaching of the word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music, along with innovations such as drama and video presentations. When preaching the word retreats, a host of entertaining innovations will take its place.

     Traditional norms of worship are now subordinated to a demand for relevance and creativity. A media-driven culture of images has replaced the word-centered culture that gave birth to the Reformation churches. In some sense, the image-driven culture of modern evangelicalism is an embrace of the very practices rejected by the Reformers in their quest for true biblical worship.

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

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If it is so obvious that Jesus is the Messiah, why didn’t the disciples understand it?

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 9/30/2017

     Over the years, I have been asked if the messianic prophecies are so clear about the coming of Jesus, why didn’t the disciples understand His mission? This question can be dealt with in a number of ways.

     First, we must understand the different messianic expectations at the time of Jesus. As I have said before, there wasn’t one dominant messianic expectation at the time of Jesus

     Secondly, we need to understand the various ways the New Testament authors interpret the Jewish Scriptures.

     Third, we need to possibly consider the words of Michael Heiser here. He says:

     “Have you ever wondered how it was that the disciples never seemed to get the things that Jesus told them about himself? Think about it. When Jesus told them that it was time for him to go to Jerusalem and die, it angered and scared them (Matt. 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32). No one replied, “That’s right—I read that in the Scriptures.” Peter even rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing (Matt. 16:21-23). The truth is that the disciples had little sense of what was going on. Even after the resurrection their minds had to be supernaturally enabled to get the message (Luke 24:44-45). We shouldn’t be too hard on the disciples. They weren’t dumb. Their ignorance was the result of God’s deliberate plan to conceal messianic prophecy. Paul talked about the need for that when writing to the Corinthians: But we speak the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, which God predestined before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Cor. 2:7-8) Had Satan and the other powers of darkness known that instigating people to kill the messiah was precisely what God had designed to accomplish their own doom, they never would have done it. The gospels are clear that Satan and demons knew the prophesied son of David had come (Matt. 8:28-29; Luke 4:31-35). The Old Testament was clear that would happen at some point. But what it concealed was the plan of redemption."

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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

Are There Over 300 Messianic Prophecies?

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 5/2/2014

     When I was a new Christian, I read several Christian apologetic books that stated there are over 300 Messianic prophecies that are all fulfilled in Jesus.  At the time I thought this was a convincing evidential apologetic for the truth claims of our  faith. But as the years have gone by, I have realized this approach to Messianic prophecy is not as effective as one might think. Now please let me clarify: I do think there is Messianic  prophecy.  Prophecy was one of the primary ways the apostles spread the faith in the first century. However, I think we need to tweak our approach. I have taught on this subject on several occasions.  In my opinion, here are some helpful tips:

     #1: Messianic prophecy does matter for the following reasons:

  • 1. The Bible is considered to be God’s revelation to mankind. However, The Quran, The Book of Mormon, and other holy books are considered to be God’s word. Messianic prophecy has apologetic value in that it confirms the Bible as a true revelation.
  • 2. Historical Verification: Has God revealed Himself in the course of human history? If so, when and where has He done this?
  • 3. While prophecy does not prove the existence of God, it does show that unusual events predicted in his Name that come to pass are evidence of his special activity.
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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

Who Were The First Apologists? A Look At The Apostles

By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 7/27/2012

     Over the years I have had plenty of people ask me how to go about sharing their faith with others. They always ask whether they should just go ahead and share their personal testimony. I agree that using a personal testimony can be effective in that it shows the difference that Jesus makes in the reality of life. There is nothing wrong with this. But allow me to offer a few suggestions:

     Pragmatism has been one of the most prominent philosophies within American culture over the first quarter of the twentieth century. John Dewey was at the forefront of pragmatism within the educational system. For the pragmatist, an idea is said to be true if it “works” or brings desired results. Pragmatism is not as interested if the idea is objectively true, but simply if an idea leads to expedient or practical results.

     God can and does use our testimony in a powerful way. In other words, by sharing our testimony, we want to show that faith in Jesus works; He is responsible for transforming the human heart. While it is true that Jesus changes lives, let me share some examples of personal conversations I have had with several people. I will go ahead and refer to Barry  as a common person I encounter on a regular basis.

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     Chab123 (Eric Chabot): Southern Evangelical Seminary, M.A. Religious Studies, 2010, Cross Examined, Apologetics Instructors Academy, Graduate, 2008, Memberships: The Evangelical Philosophical Society

     Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.

     Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.

     Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.

Ministry to Grieving Parents

By Nancy Guthrie 8/01/2014

     When we witness the anguish, the anger, the questions, the devastation that comes to families that experience the death of a child, we find ourselves desperate to figure out what we can do, what we can say, that will truly help. In the retreats my husband and I host for couples who have faced the death of a child, participants often talk about the ways people have “been there” for them in the midst of the worst pain they can imagine, as well as the ways people have added to their pain. If you could be a fly on the wall at one of our retreats, here is some of what you would hear them say about how best to minister to them.

SAY SOMETHING

     Say something to us, even if it is “I don’t really know what to say.” We’re not looking for any great wisdom or insight. We just want to know that you care and are willing to come alongside us in our sorrow. In fact, to say, “I don’t know what to say” shows a lack of presumption that anything you could say would make this OK. A simple “I’m so sad with you” is enough. It is your saying nothing that really hurts.

DON’T BE AFRAID

     Don’t be afraid to make us cry or to cry with us. We are desperate to know that our child is not forgotten, that we are not the only people who miss him or her. We long to hear the name of our child. But we know you are sometimes afraid to “bring it up,” afraid that you will make us sad. What you must know is that we are already sad, and when you speak to us about our child, you give us a chance to release some of that sadness, and we are assured that we’re not alone.

DO SOMETHING

     Don’t tell us to call you if we need anything. We can hardly think straight enough to know what we need. What we need is for people to figure out how they can help and just do it. Tell me that you’re coming over to do the laundry, pick up a grocery list, or mow the lawn — things we would never pick up the phone and ask you to do.

DON’T COMPARE

     Don’t compare our pain to someone else’s or say anything that begins with the phrase, “Well, at least …” You see that we are miserable and want to help us to look at the bright side. But all of your efforts to do so simply serve to diminish our loss.

EXPECT SADNESS

     Don’t assume our sadness is a problem. We know our sadness makes things awkward. But doesn’t it make sense that we would be sad? It’s a reflection of our child’s worth. We have a lot of tears that need to come out, a lot of firsts to experience without our child that each bring a fresh wave of pain. Sometimes we feel like people want to fix us so we won’t be sad, or want us to “get back to normal” when we will never be the same. Instead of asking, “How are you?” giving us the impression that the desired response is that we are “good” or “better,” why not ask, “What is your grief like these days?” This shows us that you recognize it is normal and expected that we would be sad for a while.

ENCOURAGE, DON’T PUSH

     Don’t tell us that we need to move on, but keep encouraging us to move forward. It is our grief that keeps us feeling close to our child who died, and we are so desperate for that. We need you to understand that leaving our grief behind feels like leaving our child behind. But we also need gentle encouragement to begin to invest ourselves in the living, to embrace the future, and to expect and welcome the healing work of the Holy Spirit in our emotions and relationships.

POINT TO GOD

     Understand and share our desire to see God use our loss for good, but help us to accept that we might never know exactly what that good is. Even though we don’t especially like to have Romans 8:28 quoted at us, our greatest comfort is found in its truth: that God can and will use the worst thing we can imagine — including our child’s death — to accomplish something good. But many of us assume it is up to us to discover what that “good thing” is. We have a hard time believing it is true until we find what that is. We’re looking for a purpose that is identifiable, justifiable, singular, and individualistic. Remind us that though we might never see in this lifetime how God is using our loss for good, we can be sure He is using it.

NO EASY FIXES

     Finally, don’t expect that if you only knew the right thing to say or do, the right book or counselor to recommend, that everything would be OK. This kind of loss will hurt a while. Your persistent presence with us, refusing to give up on us, your choosing to be at ease with our sadness and struggle, finding no fixes and few answers, is a great gift to us.

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     Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and at conferences worldwide. She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 10,000 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of the Gospel Coalition.

Nancy Guthrie Books:

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Book 5 | Psalm 107

Let the Redeemed of the LORD Say So

107:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

ESV Study Bible

An Ordinary Christian Son

By R.C. Sproul Jr. 8/01/2014

     It has become rather fashionable in certain circles these days to decry the rise in the church of what we call “the cult of personality” — and rightly so. A broader body consumed with consuming theological and biblical teaching via sundry media outlets is going to face the temptation to elevate certain voices, to take sides, to wave flags, and to give blind allegiance to a carefully crafted brand. We choose our cult leaders perhaps because we like their theological perspective, perhaps because we like their teaching style. It may be that our leader champions our favorite cause. Or it may simply be his charm.  Because we are idol factories, we surround ourselves with idols.

     This problem, of course, isn’t a new one. The New Testament not only knew its share of self-proclaimed “super- Apostles,” but even had some perfectly humble and godly men whom people put on a pedestal — “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Peter” (see 1 Cor. 1:12) is not a judgment on Paul, Apollos, or Peter, but on those who made idols of them. I suspect the problem remains with us today because falling into it is actually a not-too-distant cousin of something the Bible actually calls us to: following the examples of those who are our spiritual betters. Paul, after all, calls on us to imitate him even as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

     The real problem is that our standards are off. Though there is nothing at all wrong with having a sound theological perspective or pleasing teaching style, taking up important causes, or even having charm, these are not good, biblical reasons to lift up a man as an example for us. The Bible gives us a list to look for in the men whom we should admire. Those things can be found in Paul’s first letter to Timothy (3:1-7) or in his letter to Titus (1:5-9), where he describes the qualities of an elder. The standards here are not quite so glamorous. An elder is the husband of one wife. He is not given to much wine. He is sober-minded, not quarrelsome. He rules his house well.

     Many years ago, Highlands Ministries, like Ligonier before it, used to welcome students to come for extended times of study. These students would often stay at my house. I suspect that many of the young men who signed up thought something like this: “I haven’t been invited to go and study with my hero, R.C. Sproul. But I can go study with someone who has the same hero, who did live and study with him — R.C. Sproul Jr.” Many of these young men, I suspect, saw themselves on the pathway to greatness. So, I would play into that.

     When we would meet for the first time, I would ask them: “Do you want to make a difference in the kingdom? Do you want to have a lasting, multigenerational impact? Do you want to do great things to advance the cause of Christ?” By this time, they were sitting on the edge of their seat, believing they were going to hear the secret they came to acquire.

     “Alright,” I’d say, “I am going to tell you how to do that. Do you see that woman in there?” I would point into the kitchen, where my beloved wife was hard at work. “Yeah, yeah, I see her,” they would reply. “Here’s what you need to do,” I said. “Go find a godly woman like that, marry her, and then raise up godly children.” They would edge even further up in their seat, awaiting the punch line. I would sit back in my seat, having already delivered it.

     It is a truism that what you cheer on you will get more of. When we lavish praise on men for their genius, their academic attainments, and their skillful presentations, then we should expect to get more genius, academic attainment, and skillful presentations. But what might happen if we were to cheer on what Paul cheers on? What if we believed God enough to believe that the power is in the ordinary: in husbands who love their wives as Christ loves the church, in parents who raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Might we not get more of that?

     When I am asked, as I frequently am, “What was it like having R.C. Sproul for a father?” my assumption is that people are curious about the impact on me of having a father who is theologically sound, gifted at communication, supportive of biblical causes, and, truth be told, charming. My dad is all those things, and there is not a thing in the world wrong with that. But the world, and eternity, has been changed because he, along with my mother, raised my sister and me in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The world has been changed because my parents sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in ordinary ways, in an ordinary home, as ordinary parents, raising ordinary children.

     We do not need special skills or special opportunities to do extraordinary things for the kingdom. We need only to serve our extraordinary Lord in ordinary ways. And He will and does bless that service. We don’t need another hero. We change the world one diaper at a time. For of such is the kingdom of God.

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     R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.

     R.C. Sproul Jr. Books |  Go to Books Page

Divine Incomprehensibility

By R.C. Sproul 8/01/2014

     What can we know about God? That’s the most basic question of theology, for what we can know about God and whether we can know anything about Him at all determine the scope and content of our study. Here we must consider the teaching of the greatest theologians in history, all of whom have affirmed the “incomprehensibility of God.” By using the term incomprehensible, they are not referring to something we are unable to comprehend or know at all. Theologically speaking, to say God is incomprehensible is not to say that God is utterly unknowable. It is to say that none of us can comprehend God exhaustively.

     Incomprehensibility is related to a key tenet of the Protestant Reformation — the finite cannot contain (or grasp) the infinite. Human beings are finite creatures, so our minds always work from a finite perspective. We live, move, and have our being on a finite plane, but God lives, moves, and has His being in infinity. Our finite understanding cannot contain an infinite subject; thus, God is incomprehensible. This concept represents a check and balance to warn us lest we think we have captured altogether and mastered in every detail the things of God. Our finitude always limits our understanding of God.

     If we misunderstand the doctrine of God’s incomprehensibility, we can easily slide into two serious errors. The first error says that since God is incomprehensible, He must be utterly unknowable, and anything we say about God is gibberish. But Christianity affirms the rationality of God alongside the incomprehensibility of God. Our minds can go only so far in understanding God, and to know God we need His revelation. But that revelation is intelligible, not irrational. It is not gibberish. It is not nonsense. The incomprehensible God has revealed Himself truly.

     Here we allude to the Reformational principle that God is both hidden and revealed. There is a mysterious dimension of God that we do not know. However, we aren’t left in darkness, groping around for a hidden God. God has also revealed Himself, and that is basic to the Christian faith. Christianity is a revealed religion. God the Creator has revealed Himself manifestly in the glorious theater of nature. This is what we call “natural revelation.” God has also revealed Himself verbally. He has spoken, and we have His Word inscripturated in the Bible. Here we’re talking about special revelation — information God gives us that we could never figure out on our own.

     God remains incomprehensible because He reveals Himself without revealing everything there is to know about Him. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deut. 29:29). It’s not as if we have no knowledge of God or as if we have consummate knowledge of God; rather, we have a working knowledge of God that is useful and crucial for our lives.

     This raises the question as to how we can meaningfully speak about the incomprehensible God. Theologians have an unfortunate tendency to swing between two poles. The pole of skepticism, which we considered above, assumes that our language about God is utterly meaningless and has no reference point with regard to Him. The other pole is a form of pantheism that falsely assumes we have captured or contained God. We steer clear of these errors when we understand that our language about God is built upon analogy. We can say what God is like, but as soon as we equate whatever it is that we use to describe God with His essence, we have committed the error of thinking that the finite has contained the infinite.

     Historically, we see the vacillating between the two aforementioned errors in Protestant liberalism and Neoorthodoxy. Nineteenth-century liberal theology identified God with the flow of history and with nature. It promoted a pantheism in which everything was God and God was everything. Against that backdrop, Neoorthodoxy objected to identifying God with creation, and it sought to restore God’s transcendence. In their zeal, Neoorthodox theologians spoke of God as “wholly other.” That idea is problematic. If God is wholly other, how do you know anything about Him? If God is utterly dissimilar from us, how could He reveal Himself? What means could He use? Could He reveal Himself through a sunset? Could He reveal Himself through Jesus of Nazareth? If He were wholly other from human beings, what common basis for communication between God and mankind could there ever be? If God is utterly dissimilar from us, there is no way for Him to speak to us.

     Understanding that we relate to the Lord by way of analogy solves the problem. There is a point of contact between man and God. The Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). In some sense, human beings are like God. That makes it possible for communication to occur. God has built this capacity for communication into creation. We are not God, but we are like Him because we bear His image and are made in His likeness. Therefore, God can reveal Himself to us, not in His language, but in our language. He can talk to us. He can communicate to us in a manner that we can understand — not exhaustively, but truly and meaningfully. If you get rid of analogy, you end in skepticism.

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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

Cultural Engagement

By Russell Moore 8/01/2014

     Early in my ministry, I served as a youth pastor, and like every other evangelical youth minister, I received all the advertisements from youth ministry curriculum - hawkers telling me how I could be “relevant” to “today’s teenagers.” The advertisements promised me ways I could “connect” with teenagers through Bible studies based on MTV reality shows and the songs on the top - 40 charts that month.

     All I knew how to do, though, was preach the gospel. Yes, I knew what was happening on MTV, and I’d often contrast biblical reality with that, but I fit nobody’s definition of cool — including my own.

     I remember, too, when a group of teenagers — mostly fatherless boys, some of them gang members — started attending my Wednesday night Bible study. I found they weren’t impressed with the “cool” supplemental video clips provided by my denomination’s publisher. They laughed at Christian rap stars in the same way I laughed at my high school history teacher’s effort to “have a groovy rap session with you youngsters.”

     But what riveted their attention was how weird we were. “So, like, you really believe this dead guy came back from the dead?” one fifteen-year-old boy asked me. “I do,” I replied. “For real?” he responded. “For real,” I said.

     In a day when many people are (rightly) seeking to think through ways to engage the culture with the gospel of Christ, it seems that the Bible, in Acts 17, gives us a pattern for doing so in a way that some might not expect — by embracing the “freakishness” of the gospel.

     Christians seeking to “engage popular culture” often point to this passage — the Apostle Paul’s speech on the Areopagus in which he cited the lyrics of pagan poets and the architecture of pagan temples. Christians, they argue, should follow Paul and use popular culture to “build a bridge” with its consumers, finding in popular works a “common ground” through which we can attract their interest and later communicate the gospel.

     And yet, Paul’s discourse on the Areopagus is strikingly different from many Christians’ attempts to be relevant to popular culture. He points to the Athenians’ culture not so much to bring out what they know as what they deny.

     Paul systematically unhinges key facets of Hellenistic thought, and he boldly challenges the Greeks’ tribal pride in being “sprung from the soil of their native Attica” (in the words of the New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce) by pointing to the common ancestry of humanity from “one man,” with God determining the “bounds of their habitation” and “removing all imagined justification for the belief that Greeks were innately superior to barbarians.”

     Moreover, the very nature of Paul’s message was an affront to the ideological underpinnings of Athenian culture. He constantly returns to the resurrection of the body. Nothing was more freakish and alien to Epicurean and Stoic thought, both of which sought to combat the fear of death by separating the prison of the body that dies from the spirit that survives.

     Paul does indeed see a common humanity and a common image of God at work in the Athenian culture. But he sees this common grace twisted and perverted by human rebellion. This is why he is “provoked” by the idolatry in the city (17:16). This is why he refutes the culture’s affirmation that gods can be made of gold and silver and propped up in man-made houses (vv. 24-29). And this is why he warns the Athenians, in the strongest terms imaginable, to flee the wrath of the God of Jesus by repenting before His throne (vv. 30-31).

     Contemporary attempts at engaging popular culture are partly right. We cannot ignore it. It affects life in twenty-first-century America far more than high culture, far more, even, than the middlebrow culture of Broadway and PBS.

     But what pop-culture-engaging Christians need to understand most from Acts 17 is the Athenians’ response. Luke tells us that what arrests the attention of the Athenians is not the so-called bridges Paul builds by citing Athenian cultural products. What pricks their attention at the end is what pricked their attention at the start — Jesus and the resurrection: “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this’” (v. 32).

     Often at the root of so much Christian “engagement” with pop culture lies an embarrassment about the “oddity” of the gospel. Even Christians feel that other people won’t resonate with this strange biblical world of talking snakes, parting seas, floating ax heads, virginal conceptions, and emptied graves. It is easier to meet them “where they are” by putting in a Gospel According to Andy Griffith DVD (for the less hip among us) or by growing a soul patch and quoting Coldplay at the fair-trade coffee house (for the more hip among us).

     Knowing Andy Griffith episodes or Coldplay lyrics might be important avenues for talking about kingdom matters, but let’s not kid ourselves. We connect with sinners in the same way Christians always have: by telling an awfully freakish-sounding story about a man who was dead, and isn’t anymore, but whom we’ll all meet face-to-face in judgment. For real.

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Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. He is a TGC Council member and he blogs at Moore to the Point and you can follow him on Twitter. He is a frequent cultural commentator, an ethicist and theologian by background, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He and his wife Maria are the parents of five sons.

     Russell Moore Books |  Go to Books Page


  • Rights Talk
  • Inquiry Between Art/Science/Faith
  • Godliness and Truth

J. Budziszewski | Biola University

 

Brian Wilson | Biola University

 

Greg Ganssle | Biola University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Things cut off, things cut back
     (Oct 1)    Bob Gass

     ‘So [you] will produce even more.’

(Jn 15:2) 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ESV

     Jesus said the vine dresser ‘cuts off every branch…that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes [cuts back] the branches that do bear fruit so they…produce even more.’ Notice two things: 1) God cuts some things off. ‘What kind of things?’ Things you’re comfortable with but that stand in the way of your progress. Things He hasn’t chosen for you. Things that will bring you trouble. Things that refuse to change. Things that have served their purpose. 2) God cuts some things back. A fruit tree that’s just been pruned certainly doesn’t look its best. And when God starts cutting back certain things in your life in order to redirect your energies, for a while you may not look so good either. Sometimes this means letting go of things you thought would always be there, or reprioritising your life, or making do with less for a while, or not being able to explain to your loved ones why you’re going through the pruning process. But life-giving sap flowing into a barren branch with no potential for fruitfulness is a waste! And so is time, attention, and energy taken from first things and given to second and third things. Understand this: God knows what needs to be cut off in your life, and He knows what needs to be cut back. And although you may not understand what He’s doing, pray: ‘Send whoever You will and take away whoever You will. I’ll praise You when they come and I’ll praise You when they go, because Your approval is my reward and Your purpose is my reason to live.’

Luke 18:18-43
Ps 100-102

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “In the language of the Holy Writ, there is a time for all things. There is a time to preach and a time to fight.” Thus ended the sermon of Lutheran pastor John Peter Muhlenburg, as he removed his clerical robes to reveal the uniform in the Continental Army. After church service, 300 men of his congregation rode off with him to join General Washington’s troops. Born this day, October 1, 1746, and he died this same day in 1807. John Peter Muhlenburg was promoted to Major-General, and later Congressman and Senator. A statue of him now stands in the U.S. Capitol.

American Minute
The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)


     God has blessed pain even in causing us to pray for relief from it, or profit. Whatever drives us to Him, and even nearer Him, has a blessing in it. And, if we are to go higher still, it is to turn pain to praise, to thank Him in the fires, to review life and use some of the energy we spend in worrying upon recalling and tracing His goodness, patience, and mercy. If much open up to us in such a review we may be sure there is much more we do not know, and perhaps never may. God is the greatest of all who do good by stealth and do not crave for every benefit to be acknowledged. Or we may see how our pain becomes a blessing to others. And we turn the spirit of heaviness to the garment of praise. We may stop grousing and get our soul into its Sunday clothes. The sacrament of pain becomes then a true Eucharist and giving of thanks.

     And if there were a higher stage than all it would be Adoration—when we do not think of favours or mercies to us or ours at all, but of the perfection and glory of the Lord. We feel to His Holy Name what the true artist feels towards an unspeakable beauty. As Wordsworth says:

     I gazed and gazed,
     And did not wish her mine.

     There was a girl of 15, tall, sweet, distinguished beyond her years. And this is how Heine ran into English at the sight of her:

     No flower is half so lovely,
     So dear, and fair, and kind.
     A boundless tide of tenderness
     Flows over my heart and mind.
     And I pray. (There is no answer
     To beauty unearthly but prayer.)
     God answered my prayer, and keep you
     So dear, and fine, and fair.


     Tomorrow begins Chapter 3, The Moral Reactions of Prayer.

--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

The Soul of Prayer


Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


Nothing does reason more right,
than the coolness of those that offer it:
For Truth often suffers more
by the heat of its defenders,
than from the arguments of its opposers.
--- William Penn

Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward & learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude.
--- John Chrysostom

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” (In a letter to John Adams, 4/11/1823)
--- Thomas Jefferson

There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.

--- Bernard of Clairvaux

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 8.

     How The Romans Took The Second Wall Twice, And Got All Ready For Taking The Third Wall.

     1. Now Caesar took this wall there on the fifth day after he had taken the first; and when the Jews had fled from him, he entered into it with a thousand armed men, and those of his choice troops, and this at a place where were the merchants of wool, the braziers, and the market for cloth, and where the narrow streets led obliquely to the wall. Wherefore, if Titus had either demolished a larger part of the wall immediately, or had come in, and, according to the law of war, had laid waste what was left, his victory would not, I suppose, have been mixed with any loss to himself. But now, out of the hope he had that he should make the Jews ashamed of their obstinacy, by not being willing, when he was able, to afflict them more than he needed to do, he did not widen the breach of the wall, in order to make a safer retreat upon occasion; for he did not think they would lay snares for him that did them such a kindness. When therefore he came in, he did not permit his soldiers to kill any of those they caught, nor to set fire to their houses neither; nay, he gave leave to the seditious, if they had a mind, to fight without any harm to the people, and promised to restore the people's effects to them; for he was very desirous to preserve the city for his own sake, and the temple for the sake of the city. As to the people, he had them of a long time ready to comply with his proposals; but as to the fighting men, this humanity of his seemed a mark of his weakness, and they imagined that he made these proposals because he was not able to take the rest of the city. They also threatened death to the people, if they should any one of them say a word about a surrender. They moreover cut the throats of such as talked of a peace, and then attacked those Romans that were come within the wall. Some of them they met in the narrow streets, and some they fought against from their houses, while they made a sudden sally out at the upper gates, and assaulted such Romans as were beyond the wall, till those that guarded the wall were so affrighted, that they leaped down from their towers, and retired to their several camps: upon which a great noise was made by the Romans that were within, because they were encompassed round on every side by their enemies; as also by them that were without, because they were in fear for those that were left in the city. Thus did the Jews grow more numerous perpetually, and had great advantages over the Romans, by their full knowledge of those narrow lanes; and they wounded a great many of them, and fell upon them, and drove them out of the city. Now these Romans were at present forced to make the best resistance they could; for they were not able, in great numbers, to get out at the breach in the wall, it was so narrow. It is also probable that all those that were gotten within had been cut to pieces, if Titus had not sent them succors; for he ordered the archers to stand at the upper ends of these narrow lanes, and he stood himself where was the greatest multitude of his enemies, and with his darts he put a stop to them; as with him did Domitius Sabinus also, a valiant man, and one that in this battle appeared so to be. Thus did Caesar continue to shoot darts at the Jews continually, and to hinder them from coming upon his men, and this until all his soldiers had retreated out of the city.

     2. And thus were the Romans driven out, after they had possessed themselves of the second wall. Whereupon the fighting men that were in the city were lifted up in their minds, and were elevated upon this their good success, and began to think that the Romans would never venture to come into the city any more; and that if they kept within it themselves, they should not be any more conquered. For God had blinded their minds for the transgressions they had been guilty of, nor could they see how much greater forces the Romans had than those that were now expelled, no more than they could discern how a famine was creeping upon them; for hitherto they had fed themselves out of the public miseries, and drank the blood of the city. But now poverty had for a long time seized upon the better part, and a great many had died already for want of necessaries; although the seditious indeed supposed the destruction of the people to be an easement to themselves; for they desired that none others might be preserved but such as were against a peace with the Romans, and were resolved to live in opposition to them, and they were pleased when the multitude of those of a contrary opinion were consumed, as being then freed from a heavy burden. And this was their disposition of mind with regard to those that were within the city, while they covered themselves with their armor, and prevented the Romans, when they were trying to get into the city again, and made a wall of their own bodies over against that part of the wall that was cast down. Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days; but on the fourth day they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus but were compelled by force to fly whither they had fled before; so he quietly possessed himself again of that wall, and demolished it entirely. And when he had put a garrison into the towers that were on the south parts of the city, he contrived how he might assault the third wall.

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

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
Proverbs 26:1
     by D.H. Stern

1     Like snow in summer or rain at harvest-time,
     so honor for a fool is out of place.


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


                The sphere of exaltation

     Jesus leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves. --- Mark 9:2.

     We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.

     We are apt to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching, it is to be turned into something better than teaching, viz., into character. The mount is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a great snare in asking—‘What is the use of it?’ In spiritual matters we can never calculate on that line. The moments on the mountain top are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

My Utmost for His Highest
Coto Donana
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Coto Donana

I don't know; ask the place.
  It was there when we found it:
  Sand mostly, and bushes, too;
  Some of them with dry flowers.
  The map indicates a lake;
  We thought we saw it from the top
  Of a sand-dune, but walking brought it
  No nearer.
          There are great birds
  There that stain the sand
  With their shadows, and snakes coil
  Their necklaces about the bones
  Of the carrion. At night the wild
  Boars plough by their tusks'
  Moonlight, and fierce insects
  Sing, drilling for the blood
  Of the humans, whom time's sea
  Has left there to ride and dream.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Dead Sea Scrolls
     by Google and Israel’s National Museum

     The Dead Sea Scrolls have made their way online some 2,000 years after they were written through a partnership between Google and Israel’s national museum.

     The important documents are available in searchable, high-resolution images, accompanied by informative videos, background information, and historical data. So far five of the scrolls have been digitized, including the biblical Book of Isaiah, the Temple Scroll, and three others.

     Managing Director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel, Professor Yossi Matias said they plan to add additional Dead Sea Scroll documents to the site in the future. The AP says nearly all the scrolls will be online by 2016. (PC Magazine)

     Here is technology at its best!           Click Here

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     TORAH INTERPRETED THROUGH 13 GUIDELINES


     In ancient times, the sanctity of Torah created not only a series of rules on how to live life, but also a series of rules on how to decipher Torah. One of those sets of rules is found in the opening chapter of the Sifra, where Rabbi Yishmael taught that “the Torah is interpreted by thirteen principles.” Those rules gave Rabbi Yishmael and his colleagues direction and limitation in their quest for knowledge from Torah. That same list is found in the traditional siddur, where it is read each Morning during the Shaḥarit service. Though rather technical and complex, Rabbi Yishmael’s principles enabled Jews to study a selection of Rabbinic literature each day.

     As this book draws to an end, we offer a series of contemporary rules for understanding Torah in our day, “The Thirteen Guidelines of Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Gershon.”

     Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Gershon said: The Torah can be interpreted through thirteen guidelines.

1.     First, we learn.

     Midrash comes out of an interpretation of the sacred text. We begin not with a message we want to preach, but with a willingness to study, to question, and to search the Torah for what it has to say to us.

2.     Learning requires tools.

     Midrash implies a connection to the Jewish past. We cannot rely on ourselves alone; we need to turn to other commentaries and interpretations—traditional and scholarly, conceptual or technical—to ground us. Jews don’t just read the Bible; they study it.

3.     Ask questions.

     We can’t discover a good answer until we’ve asked the right question. Every verse we read should provoke a series of questions. “Who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” are as good a place as any to start.

4.     Know the context.

      It is critical to know what came before the section we’re studying and what comes after it. How a particular story fits in to what surrounds it is of great importance in Midrash (even though the Midrash itself often takes a verse out of context!).

5.     Pay attention to details.

      The Bible often tells us a lot less than we’d like to know. When it does pay attention to detail, we should too, because this is usually a hint that we are being told something significant.

6.     Don’t get lost in the details.

     Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Always ask: What is the main point or the ultimate value that is being conveyed?

7.     Fill in the blanks.

     Ask what is missing, and then go out and find it. Draw on earlier or later stories about the same characters, or use personal experiences, or turn to the imagination to flesh out the story.

8.     Language is important.

     So much of the Midrash is based on the particular phrases, words, or letters that are being used to tell the story. Why did the author choose this way and not some other? This means that while we may work with translations, the Hebrew text contains many secrets.

9.     Bring in and acknowledge other sources.

     We are links in a chain of tradition. Bringing in other interpretations shows that we do not depend on ourselves alone. Quoting those sources shows our respect for the ideas of others.

10.     There is more than one right answer.

      Two people may see the same verse in very different ways. And we may find that over time, we ourselves have changed our opinions of what the text means. “Both are the words of the living God,” as the Rabbis often said.

11.     Be respectfully radical.

     From time to time, the Rabbis said things that border on the blasphemous. The key is not what we say, but how we say it. Anger, challenge, questioning are tolerated in Midrash, if they come from within the tradition, and if they come with love.

12.     Let the Torah challenge us.

     We don’t use the Torah merely to buttress a position we already believe in. Just as we have to question the Torah, we have to let the Torah question and challenge us.

13.     Connect the Torah to today.

     After we immerse ourselves in the Torah, we turn outward and try to make it speak to something in our lives and to something in the world around us. Or else, what is the point?

     Creating Midrash is difficult, but it is among the most rewarding things that we can do. There is always a need for … another D’rash.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     October 1

     I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
--- Romans 12:1. KJV

     Observe the exactness with which [Paul] uses each word. For he does not say, offer your bodies as a sacrifice, but “present” them, as if he had said, Never again have any interest in them. (A SELECT LIBRARY OF THE NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH Volume XI: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans.) You have given them up to another. For even they that furnish (same word) the warhorses have no further interest in them. And you too have presented your members for the war against the Devil and for that dread battle array. Do not let them down to selfish use.

     And he shows another thing also from this, that you must make them approved. For it is not to any mortal being that we present them, but to God, the King of the universe. Since then it is both to be presented (that is, as for a king’s use) and is a sacrifice, rid it of every spot, since if it has a spot, it will no longer be a sacrifice. For neither can the eye that looks lecherously be sacrificed nor the hand be presented that is greedy nor the feet that go to playhouses nor the belly that is self-indulgent nor the heart that has rage in it nor the tongue that utters filthy things.

     Thus we must spy out the spots on our bodies. For if those who offered the sacrifices of old were commanded to look on every side and were not permitted to offer “the blind, the injured or the maimed, or anything with warts or festering or running sores” (Lev. 22:22), much more must we, who offer ourselves, be pure in all respects. For if when Elijah offered the visible sacrifice, a flame that came down from above consumed the whole—water, wood, and stones—much more will this be done upon you.

     And if you have anything in you relaxed and secular, and yet offer the sacrifice with a good intention, the fire of the Spirit will wear away that worldliness and perfect (or “carry up”) the whole sacrifice.

     But what is “reasonable service”? It means spiritual ministry, a way of life according to Christ. And this will be so if every day you bring [to] him yourself as a sacrifice and become the priest of your own body and of the virtue of your soul, offering soberness, relief for the poor, and goodness and moral strength. For in doing this you offer “a reasonable service” (or worship).
--- John Chrysostom

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   October 1
     The Fifteenth Point


     Unity is essential among Christians, but unity does not mean uniformity; and one of the most remarkable patterns in church history is that God uses his church and blesses his children even when they disagree. History’s first missionary team, Paul and Barnabas, argued over John Mark. Wesley and Whitefield were at odds over various points of theology. And the Reformers themselves, strong-willed men, crossed swords over, among other things, the nature of the Lord’s Supper.

     The Swiss Reformers, led by Ulrich Zwingli, insisted that the Lord’s Supper was a memorial service, while the German Reformers, led by Martin Luther, insisted that Christ is actually present in the consecrated bread and wine.

     The conflict was so sharp that a local political leader invited the men to his castle in Marburg on October 1, 1529. In the banquet hall a long table, covered with a velvet runner, sat in the middle of the room. Before the proceedings began, Luther reportedly took a piece of chalk and, on the cloth in front of him, wrote the words, “This is my body.”

     The debate raged for three days. Zwingli insisted that the verb “is” in the phrase “This is my body” should be interpreted as “represents.” Luther said, “Where in the Bible does the verb ‘is’ ever mean ‘represent’?” Zwingli showed him several places. But Luther wouldn’t budge. At the end of the three-day conference, the delegates had agreed on 14 of 15 areas of former confusion. But on the fifteenth—the Lord’s Supper—they failed to reach agreement, and the Reformers were unable to join the German and Swiss factions. As a result, Zwingli lost the support of the German princes. The five Catholic Cantons of Switzerland sent an army against him, and he died in the Battle of Kappel.

     But nothing could stop the Reformers’ fire, and despite the failure of the Marburg meetings, the doctrine of justification by grace through faith spread across the continent.

     During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this. It is my body.” Jesus picked up the cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He gave it to his disciples, and they all drank some. Then he said, “This is my blood, which is poured out for many people. … ”
--- Mark 14:22-24.

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

          Morning - October 1

     “Pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.” --- Song of Solomon 7:13.

     The spouse desires to give to Jesus all that she produces. Our heart has “all manner of pleasant fruits,” both “old and new,” and they are laid up for our Beloved. At this rich autumnal season of fruit, let us survey our stores. We have new fruits. We desire to feel new life, new joy, new gratitude; we wish to make new resolves and carry them out by new labours; our heart blossoms with new prayers, and our soul is pledging herself to new efforts. But we have some old fruits too. There is our first love: a choice fruit that! and Jesus delights in it. There is our first faith: that simple faith by which, having nothing, we became possessors of all things. There is our joy when first we knew the Lord: let us revive it. We have our old remembrances of the promises. How faithful has God been! In sickness, how softly did he make our bed! In deep waters, how placidly did he buoy us up! In the flaming furnace, how graciously did he deliver us. Old fruits, indeed! We have many of them, for his mercies have been more than the hairs of our head. Old sins we must regret, but then we have had repentances which he has given us, by which we have wept our way to the cross, and learned the merit of his blood. We have fruits, this Morning, both new and old; but here is the point—they are all laid up for Jesus. Truly, those are the best and most acceptable services in which Jesus is the solitary aim of the soul, and his glory, without any admixture whatever, the end of all our efforts. Let our many fruits be laid up only for our Beloved; let us display them when he is with us, and not hold them up before the gaze of men. Jesus, we will turn the key in our garden door, and none shall enter to rob thee of one good fruit from the soil which thou hast watered with thy bloody sweat. Our all shall be thine, thine only, O Jesus, our Beloved!


          Evening - October 1

     “He will give grace and glory.” --- Psalm 84:11.

     Bounteous is Jehovah in his nature; to give is his delight. His gifts are beyond measure precious, and are as freely given as the light of the sun. He gives grace to his elect because he wills it, to his redeemed because of his covenant, to the called because of his promise, to believers because they seek it, to sinners because they need it. He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; doubly enhancing the value of the boon by the manner of its bestowal. Grace in all its forms he freely renders to his people: comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing, assisting grace, he generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and he always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, “The Lord will give grace.”

     The little conjunction “and” in this verse is a diamond rivet binding the present with the future: grace and glory always go together. God has married them, and none can divorce them. The Lord will never deny a soul glory to whom he has freely given to live upon his grace; indeed, glory is nothing more than grace in its Sabbath dress, grace in full bloom, grace like autumn fruit, mellow and perfected. How soon we may have glory none can tell! It may be before this month of October has run out we shall see the Holy City; but be the interval longer or shorter, we shall be glorified ere long. Glory, the glory of heaven, the glory of eternity, the glory of Jesus, the glory of the Father, the Lord will surely give to his chosen. Oh, rare promise of a faithful God!

     Two golden links of one celestial chain:
     Who owneth grace shall surely glory gain.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     October 1

          LORD, SPEAK TO ME

     Frances R. Havergal, 1836–1879

     We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

     As Christ’s personal ambassadors, we should be people of double resolve: To hear what God has to say to us and then to share that message with others.

     Use me, God, in Thy great harvest field,
     Which stretcheth far and wide like a wide sea;
     The gatherers are so few; I fear the precious yield
     Will suffer loss. Oh, find a place for me!
     --- Christina G. Rossetti

     Effective service must always begin with prayer—asking God to use us to accomplish His eternal purposes in the lives of others. But we must not dictate to our Lord as to how and when we should be used. We are simply to be available whenever He directs in a particular situation. Then our representation for Him is simply to speak His truth boldly but always in love. Imploring lost people to be reconciled to God is far different from merely engaging them in theological arguments. We must always remember that the real need of people is to hear about the historical Christ as a personal Savior and Lord and to be guided to a living and vital relationship with Him.

     Frances Ridley Havergal, the author of this text, has often been called the “consecration poet” because of her deep commitment to Christ. This text first appeared in 1872 in leaflet form with the title “A Worker’s Prayer,” accompanied by the scripture verse: “For none of us lives to himself and none dies to himself” (Romans 14:17). These words have since been widely used in leading others to a deeper consecration of their lives to God:

     Lord, speak to me that I may speak in living echoes of Thy tone; as Thou hast sought, so let me seek Thy erring children lost and lone.
     O lead me, Lord, that I may lead the wand’ring and the wav’ring feet; O feed me, Lord, that I may feed the hung’ ring ones with manna sweet.
     O teach me, Lord, that I may teach the precious things Thou dost impart; and wing my words that they may reach the hidden depths of many a heart.
     O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord, until my very heart o’er-flow in kindling tho’t and glowing word, Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
     O use me, Lord, use even me, just as Thou wilt, and when, and where, until Thy blessed face I see —Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.


     For Today: Psalm 119:9–16; Luke 17:21; John 13:15; Acts 1:8; John 2:17

     Ask God to engineer the circumstances that will allow you to represent Him effectively to some needy person. Use this musical prayer ---

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

          DISCOURSE VII - ON GOD’S OMNIPRESENCE

     II. . Reasons to prove God’s essential presence. Reason I. Because he is infinite. As he is infinite, he is everywhere; as he is simple, his whole essence is everywhere: for, in regard of his infiniteness, he hath no bounds; in regard of his simplicity, he hath no parts and, therefore, those that deny God’s omnipresence, though they pretend to own him infinite, must really conceive him finite.

     1. God is infinite in his perfections. None can set bounds to terminate the greatness and excellency of God (Psalm 145:3): “His greatness is unsearchable,” Sept. οὐχ ἔστι πέρας, there is no end, no limitation. What hath no end is infinite; his power is infinite (Job 5:9): “which doth great things and unsearchable;” — no end of those things he is able to do. His wisdom infinite (Psalm 147:5); he understands all things past, present, and to come; what is already made, what is possible to be made. His duration infinite (Job 36:26): “The number of his years cannot be searched out” ἀπέραντος. To make a finite thing of nothing is an argument of an infinite virtue. Infinite power can only extract something out of the barren womb of nothing; but all things were drawn forth by the word of God, the heavens, and all the host of them; the sun, moon, stars, the rich embellishments of the world, appeared in being “at the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). The author, therefore, must be infinite; and since nothing is the cause of God, or of any perfection in him, — since he derives not his being, or the least spark of his glorious nature, from anything without him, — he cannot be limited in any part of his nature by anything without him; and, indeed, the infiniteness of his power and his other perfections is asserted by the prophet, when he tells us that “the nations are as a drop of a bucket, or the dust of the balance, and less than nothing and vanity” (Isa. 40:15, 17), they are all so in regard of his power, wisdom, &c. Conceive what a little thing a grain of dust or sand is to all the dust that may be made by the rubbish of a house: what a little thing the heap of the rubbish of a house is to the vast heap of the rubbish of a whole city, such an one as London; how little that, also, would be to the dust of a whole empire; how inconsiderable that, also, to the dust of one quarter of the world, Europe or Asia; how much less that, still, to the dust of the whole world! The whole world is composed of an unconceivable number of atoms, and the sea of an unconceivablo number of drops; now what a little grain of dust is in comparison to the dust of the whole world — a drop of water from the sea, to all the drops remaining in the sea — that is the whole world to God. Conceive it still less, a mere nothing, yet is it all less than this in comparison of God; there can be nothing more magnificently expressive of the infiniteness of God to a human conception, than this expression of God himself in the prophet. In the perfection of a creature, something still may be thought greater to be added to it; but God containing all perfections in himself formally, if they be mere perfections, and eminently, if they be but perfections in the creature, mixed with imperfection, nothing can be thought greater, and therefore every one of them is infinite.

     2. If his perfections be infinite, his essence must be so. How God can have infinite perfections, and a finite essence, is unconceivable by a human or angelical understanding; an infinite power, an infinite wisdom, an infinite duration, must needs speak an infinite essence; since the infiniteness of his attributes is grounded upon the infiniteness of his essence: to own infinite perfections in a finite subject is contradictory. The manner of acting by his power, and knowing his wisdom, cannot exceed the manner of being by his essence. His perfections flow from his essence, and the principle must be one the same rank with what flows from it; and, if we conceive his essence to be the cause of his perfections, it is utterly impossible that an infinite effect should arise from a finite cause: but, indeed, his perfections are his essence; for though we conceive the essence of God as the subject, and the attributes of God as faculties and qualities in that subject, according to our weak model, who cannot conceive of an infinite God without some manner of likeness to ourselves — who find understanding, and will, and power in us distinct from our substance; yet truly and really there is no distinction between his essence and attributes; one is inseparable from the other. His power and wisdom are his essence; and therefore to maintain God infinite in the one, and finite in the other, is to make a monstrous god, and have an unreasonable notion of the Deity; for there would be the greatest disproportion in his nature, since there is no greater disproportion can possibly be between one thing and another than there is between finite and infinite. God must not only then be compounded, but have parts of the greatest distance from one another in nature; but God, being the most simple being without the least composition, both must be equally infinite: if, then, his essence be not infinite, his power and wisdom cannot be infinite, which is both against scripture and reason. Again, how should his essence be finite, and his perfections be infinite, since nothing out of himself gave them either the one or the other? Again, either the essence can be infinite, or it cannot; if it cannot, there must be some cause of that impossibility; that can be nothing without him, because nothing without him can be as powerful as himself, much less too powerful for him; nothing within him can be an enemy to his highest perfection; since he is necessarily what he is, he must be necessarily the most perfect being, and therefore necessarily infinite, since to be something infinitely is a greater perfection than to be something finitely: if he can be infinite he is infinite, otherwise he could be greater than he is, and so more blessed and more perfect than he is, which is impossible: for being the most perfect Being, to whom nothing can be added, he must needs be infinite.

     3. If, therefore, God have an infinite essence, he hath an infinite presence. An infinite essence cannot be contained in a finite place, as those things which are finite have a bounded space wherein they are; so that which is infinite hath an unbounded space; for, as fimteness   (must be a miss print)  speaks limitedness, so infiniteness speaks unboundedness; and if we grant to God an infinite duration, there is no difficulty in acknowledging an infinite presence: indeed, the infiniteness of God is a property belonging to him in regard of time and place; he is bounded by no place, and limited to no time. Again, infinite essence may as well be everywhere, as infinite power reaches everything; it may as well be present with every being, as infinite power in its working may be present with nothing to bring it into being. Where God works by his power, he is present in his essence; because his power and his essence cannot be separated; and therefore his power, wisdom, goodness, cannot be anywhere where his essence is not: his essence cannot be severed from his power, nor his power from his essence; for the power of God is nothing but God acting, and the wisdom of God nothing but God knowing. As the power of God is always, so is his essence — as the power of God is everywhere, so is his essence: whatsoever God is, he is alway, and everywhere. To confine him to a place, is to measure his essence; as to confine his actions, is to limit his power; his essence being no less infinite than his power and his wisdom, can be no more bounded than his power and wisdom; but they are not separable from his essence, yea, they are his essence. If God did not fill the whole world, he would be determined to some place, and excluded from others; and so his substance would have bounds and limits, and then something might be conceived greater than God; for we may conceive that a creature may be made by God of so vast a greatness as to fill the whole world, for the power of God is able to make a body that should take up the whole space between heaven and earth, and reach to every corner of it. But nothing can be conceived by any creature greater than God; he exceeds all things, and is exceeded by none. God, therefore, cannot be included in heaven, nor included in the earth; cannot be contained in either of them; for, if we should imagine them vaster than they are, yet still they would be finite; and if his essence were contained in them, it could be no more infinite than the world which contains it, as water is not of a larger compass than the vessel which contains it. If the essence of God were limited, either in the heavens or earth, it must needs be finite, as the heaven and earth are; but there is no proportion between finite and infinite; God, therefore, cannot be contained in them. If there were an infinite body, that must be everywhere; certainly, then, an infinite Spirit must be everywhere; unless we will account him finite, we can render no reason why he should not be in one creature as well as in another. If he be in heaven, which is his creature, why can he not be in the earth, which is as well his creature as the heavens?

     Reason II. Because of the continual operation of God in the world. This was one reason which made the heathen believe that there was an infinite Spirit in the vast body of the world, acting in every thing, and producing those admirable motions which we see everywhere in nature: that cause which acts in the most perfect manner, is also in the most perfect manner present with its effects. God preserves all, and therefore is in all; the apostle thought it a good induction (Acts 17:27), “He is not far from us, for in him we live.” For being as much as because, shows, that from his operation he concluded his real presence with all: it is not, His virtue is not far from every one of us, but He, his substance, himself; for, none that acknowledge a God will deny the absence of the virtue of God from any part of the world. He works in everything, everything lives and works in him; therefore he is present with all: or rather, if things live, they are in God, who gives them life. If things live, God is in them, and gives them life; if things move, God is in them, and gives them motion; if things have any being, God is in them, and gives them being; if God withdraws himself; they presently lose their being, and therefore some have compared the creature to the impression of a seal upon the water, that cannot be preserved but by the presence of the seal. As his presence was actual with what he created, so his presence is actual with what he preserves, since creation and preservation do so little differ; if God creates things by his essential presence, by the same he supports them; if his substance cannot be disjoined from his preserving power, his power and wisdom cannot be separated from his essence; where there are the marks of the one, there is the presence of the other; for it is by his essence that he is powerful and wise; no man can distinguish the one from the other in a simple being; God doth not preserve and act things by a virtue diffused from him.

     It may be demanded whether that virtue be distinct from God; if it be not, it is then the essence of God; if it be distinct it is a creature, and then it may be asked, how that virtue which preserves other things, is preserved itself; it must be ultimately resolved into the essence of God, or else there must be a running in infinitum: or else, is that virtue of God a substance, or not? Is it endued with understanding, or not? If it hath understanding, how doth it differ from God? If it wants understanding, can any imagine that the support of the world, the guidance of all creatures, the wonders of nature, can be wrought, preserved, managed by a virtue that hath nothing of understanding in it? If it be not a substance, it can much less be able to produce such excellent operations as the preserving all the kinds of things in the world, and ordering them to perform such excellent ends; this virtue is, therefore, God himself — the infinite power and wisdom of God; and therefore, wheresoever the effects of these are seen in the world, God is essentially present: some creatures, indeed, act at a distance by a virtue diffused. But such a manner of acting comes from a limitedness of nature, that such a nature cannot be everywhere present and extend its substance to all parts. To act by a virtue, speaks the subject finite, and it is a part of indigence: kings act in their kindoms by ministers and messengers, because they cannot act otherwise; but God being infinitely perfect, works all things in all immediately (1 Cor. 12:6). Illumination, sanctification, grace, &c., are the immediate works of God in the heart, and irnmediatc   (??)  agents are present with what they do: it is an argument of the greater perfection of a being, to know things immediately, which are done in several places, than to know them at the second hand by instruments; it is no less a perfection to be everywhere, rather than to be tied to one place of action, and to act in other places lay instruments, for want of a power to act immediately itself. God, indeed, acts by means and second causes in his providential dispensations in the world, but this is not out of any defect of power to work all immediately himself;  but he thereby accommodates his way of acting to the nature of the creature,  and the order of things which he hath settled in the world. And when he works by means, he acts with those means, in those means, sustains their faculties and virtues in them, concurs with them by his power; so that God’s acting by means doth rather strengthen his essential presence than weaken it, since there is a necessary dependence of the creatures upon the Creator in their being and acting; and what they are, they are by the power of God; what they act, they act in the power of God, concurring with them; they have their motion in him as well as their being; and where the power of God is, his essence is, because they are inseparable; and so this omnipresence ariseth from the simplicit of the nature of God; the more vast anything is, the less confined. All that will acknowledge God so great, as to be able to work all things by his will, without an essential presence, cannot imagine him upon the same reason, so little as to be contained in, and bounded by any place.

     Reason III. Because of his supreme perfection. No perfection is wanting to God; but an unbounded essence is a perfection; a limited one is an imperfection. Though it be a perfection in a man to be wise, yet it is an imperfection that his wisdom cannot rule all the things that concern him; though it be a perfection to be present in a place where his affairs lie, yet is it an imperfection that he cannot be present everywhere in the midst of all his concerns; if any man could be so, it would be universally owned as a prime perfection in him above others: is that which would be a perfection in man to be denied to God? as that which hath life is more perfect than that which hath not life; and that which hath sense is more perfect than that which hath only life as the plants have; and what hath reason, is more perfect than that which hath only life and sense, as the beasts have; so what is everywhere, is more perfect than that which is bounded in some narrow confines: if a power of motion be more excellent than to be bed-rid, and swiftness in a creature be a more excellent endowment than to be slow and snail-like, then to be everywhere without motion, is inconceivably a greater excellency than to be everywhere successively by motion. God sets forth his readiness to help his people and punish his enemies, or his omnipresence, by swiftness, or “flying upon the wings of the wind” (Psalm 18:10): the wind is in every part of the air, where it blows; it cannot be said that it is in this or that point of the air where you feel it, so as to exclude it from another part of the air where you are not; it seems to possess all at once. If the Divine essence had any bounds of place, it would be imperfect, as well as if it had bounds of time; where anything hath limitation, it hath some defect in being; and therefore if God were confined or concluded, he would be as good as nothing in regard of infiniteness. Whence should this restraint arise? there is no power above him to restrain him to a certain space; if so, then he would not be God, but that power which restrained him would be God: not from his own nature, for the being everywhere implies no contradiction to his nature; if his own nature determined him to a certain place, then if he removed from that place, he would act against his nature; to conceive any such thing of God is highly absurd. It cannot be thought God should voluntarily impose any such restraint or confinement upon himself; this would be to deny himself a perfection he might have; if God have not this perfection, it is either because it is inconsistent with his nature; or, because he cannot have it; or, because he will not. The former cannot be; for if he hath impressed upon air and light a resemblance of his excellency, to diffuse themselves and fill so vast a space, is such an excellency inconsistent with the Creator more than the creature? whatsoever perfection the creature hath, is eminently in God. “Understand, O ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will you be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?” (Psalm 94:8, 9.) By the same reason he that hath given such a power to those creatures, air and light, shall not he be much more filling all spaces of the world? It is so clear a rule, that the Psalmist fixes a folly and brutishness upon those that deny it; it is not therefore inconsistent with his nature, it were not then a perfection but an imperfection; but whatsoever is an excellency in creatures, cannot in a way of eminency be an imperfection in God; if it be then a perfection, and God want it, it is because he cannot have it; where, then, is his power? How can he be then the fountain of his own Being? If he will not, where is his love to his own nature and glory? since no creature would deny that to itself which it can have, and is an excellency to it; God, therefore, hath not only a power or fitness to be everywhere, but he is actually everywhere.

     Reason IV. Because of his immutability. If God did not fill all the spaces of heaven and earth, but only possess one, yet it must be acknowledged that God hath a power to move himself to another. It were absurd to fix God in a part of the heavens, like a star in an orb, without a power of motion to another place. If he be therefore essentially in heaven, may he not be upon the earth if he please, and transfer his substance from one place to another? to say he cannot, is to deny him a perfection which he hath bestowed upon his creatures; the angels, his messengers, are sometimes in heaven, sometimes on the earth; the eagles, meaner creatures, are sometimes in the air out of sight, sometimes upon the earth. If he doth move, therefore, and recede from one place and settle in another, doth he not declare himself mutable by changing places? — by being where he was not before, and in not being where he was before? He would not fill heaven and earth at once, but successively; no man can be said to fill a room, that moves from one part of a room to another; if therefore any in their imaginations stake God to the heavens, they render him less than his creatures; if they allow him a power of motion from one place to another, they conceive him changeable; and in either of them they own him no greater than a finite and limited Being; limited to heaven, if they fix him there; limited to that space to which they imagine him to move.

     Reason V. Because of his omnipotency. The Almightiness of God is a notion settled in the minds of all, — that God can do whatsoever he pleases, everything that is not against the purity of his nature, and doth not imply a contradiction in itself; he can therefore create millions of worlds greater than this; and millions of heavens greater than this heaven he hath already created; if so, he is then in inconceivable spaces beyond this world, for his essence is not less narrower than his power; and his power is not to be thought of a further extent than his essence; he cannot be excluded therefore from those vast spaces where his power may fix those worlds if he please; if so, it is no wonder that he should fill this world: and there is no reason to exclude God from the narrow space of this world, that is not contained in infinite spaces beyond the world. God is wheresoever he hath a power to act; but he hath a power to act everywhere in the world, everywhere out of the world; he is therefore everywhere in the world, everywhere out of the world. Before this world was made, he had a power to make it in the space where now it stands; was he not then unlimitedly where the world now is, before the world received a being by his powerful word?

     Why should he not then be in every part of the world now? Can it be thought that God who was immense before, should, after he had created the world, contract himself to the limits of one of his creatures, and tie himself to a particular place of his own creation, and be less after his creation than he was before? This might also be prosecuted by an argument from his eternity. What is eternal in duration, is immense in essence; the same reason which renders him eternal, renders him immense; that which proves him to be always, will prove him to be everywhere.

The Existence and Attributes of God


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