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10/12/2017
Philippians 1-4
Yesterday     Tomorrow


Greeting

Video     Philippians 1     1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

     3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The Advance of the Gospel

     12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

     15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

To Live Is Christ

     Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

     27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Christ’s Example of Humility

Video     Philippians 2     1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Lights in the World

     12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

     14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

     19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

     25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Righteousness Through Faith in Christ

Video     Philippians 3     1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

     2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Straining Toward the Goal

     12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

     17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Video     Philippians 4     1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer

     2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

     4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

     8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

God’s Provision

     10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

     21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

     23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

English Standard Version Bible with Apocrypha



What I'm Reading

Christ In Me

By James S. Stewart

     (Php 3:13–16) Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. NRSV

     (Php 1:21) For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. NRSV

     It is when we have learnt to cease to look for this superficial consistency in Paul, this standardized, rigid system of thought and doctrine, that we begin to discover in him what is far more important—the deep, inner consistency of the man's religion, and the fundamental unity of all he wrote and taught. "Paul and Plato," says T. R. Glover, "had this in common: neither sought to develop a Paulinism or a Platonism; they both pursued Truth; and to keep abreast of Truth leaves a man little time to be consistent with himself, and little wish for it." Paul can contradict himself, can land himself at times in hopeless antinomy, can leap without warning from one point of view to another totally different, can say in the same breath "Work out your own salvation" and "It is God which worketh in you"; but through it all and beneath it all there is a living unity and a supreme consistency—the unity, not of logic, but of downright spiritual conviction, the consistency of a life utterly and at every point filled and flooded with the redeeming love of God. "Christ in me"—this overmastering experience which was "unquestionably the core of his religion," "der eine Brennpunkt," as Johannes Weiss expresses it, gives to everything he wrote, even in the midst of his most startling antitheses and wildest tangents of thought, a unity far deeper than that of any logical or dogmatic system. "By the good faith of God," he declared emphatically to the Corinthians, "my word to you was not 'yes and no'"; and in an even deeper sense than the words in their original context held, he had a right to say it. In the last resort, his life and work and preaching and writing and witness were all utterly consistent, for they were all Christ. "To me to live is Christ," he said: "life means Christ to me," as Dr. Moffatt translates it. "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ." It was the very voice of the apostle that was speaking through Luther, when he declared "We preach always Him, the true God and man. . . . This may seem a limited and monotonous subject, likely to be soon exhausted, but we are never at the end of it." "He is Alpha and Omega," said the early Church; Christ, as we should say, is simply everything in life from A to Z: that was literally Paul's experience. He spoke of "the simplicity that is toward Christ," * meaning that in this difficult, complex, and often incoherent world the life of a true Christian would always be conspicuous for a deep, inner coherence and unity, an integration of experience, a simplicity of which the secret was a single-hearted devotion and loyalty to one Master, an undivided heart laid at Jesus' feet. And if ever a man had a right to speak thus, Paul had: for that undivided heart was his.

     Hence we might take his own confession to the Philippians and set it as the motto of his life, "This one thing I do." The quest for a doctrinal system, the search for a unified Paulinism, ceases when you have heard that. "If he had been this (a system-maker)," declares Bishop Gore, "he would have saved the controversial and critical world a great deal of trouble, but he would not have been St. Paul." No, and he would not have been the flaming, royal spirit to whom all generations of Christians look back with gratitude to God. He would not have been the mighty instrument he proved himself in God's hand for the converting of the world. He would not have been the man who shines as a beacon for ever because he had one master-passion, Christ. Herein lies the true unity, deeper than all logical precision, more enduring than all imposing systems. With utter clearness, the great day of Damascus had revealed to him Christ as the sole meaning of his own life and of all life, and the very centre of the universe of God; and all the days since then had verified and confirmed the revelation. Possessed, from that first glorious hour of discovery, with an overmastering gratitude to the Lord to whom he owed it, with an utter conviction that what had then happened to himself could happen to everyone, and with a consuming passion to see it happening all over the earth and to share his Christ with all mankind, he threw everything he had, everything he was, into his response to the Gospel challenge. "This one thing I do "—that is the final, the only real, consistency. Systems, dogmatisms, Paulinisms have no more unity than the shifting sands; but Paul's Gospel, spoken and written, stands on solid rock. And that Rock is Christ.

     (Php 2:12–13) Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. NRSV

     (2 Co 1:18–22) As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” 20 For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. NRSV

     (1 Co 2:2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. NRSV

     (2 Co 11:3–6) But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. 5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you. NRSV

A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion (Classic Reprint)

Deny Ourselves

      ... it is impossible for God to do what Christ commanded us to do. He told us to ‘deny ourselves’, but ‘God cannot deny himself’. ( Mark 8:34; 2 Tim. 2:13, RSV. ) Why is that? Why is it that God will not do, indeed cannot do, what he tells us to do? It is because God is God and not man, let alone fallen man. We have to deny or disown everything within us which is false to our true humanity. But there is nothing in God which is incompatible with his true deity, and therefore nothing to deny. It is in order to be our true selves that we have to deny ourselves; it is because God is never other than his true self that he cannot and will not deny himself. He can empty himself of his rightful glory and humble himself to serve. Indeed, it is precisely this that he has done in Christ (Phil. 2:7–8). But he cannot repudiate any part of himself, because he is perfect. He cannot contradict himself. This is his integrity. As for us, we are constantly aware of our human inconsistencies; they usually arouse a comment. ‘It’s so uncharacteristic of him’, we say, or ‘you are not yourself today’, or ‘I’ve come to expect something better from you’. But can you imagine saying such things to or about God? He is always himself and never inconsistent. If he were ever to behave ‘uncharacteristically’, in a way that is out of character with himself, he would cease to be God, and the world would be thrown into moral confusion. No, God is God; he never deviates one iota, even one tiny hair’s breadth, from being entirely himself.

( The Cross of Christ )

Keeping the Faith in a Faithless Age

By Albert Mohler

     “The greatest question of our time,” historian Will Durant offered, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own day.

     For centuries, the Christian church has been the center of Western civilization. Western culture, government, law, and society were based on explicitly Christian principles. Concern for the individual, a commitment to human rights, and respect for the good, the beautiful, and the true—all of these grew out of Christian convictions and the influence of revealed religion.

     All of these, we now hasten to add, are under serious attack. The very notion of right and wrong is now discarded by large sectors of American society. Where it is not discarded, it is often debased. Taking a page out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, modern secularists simply declare wrong, right, and right, wrong.

     A New Landscape | Quaker theologian D. Elton Trueblood once described America as a “cut flower civilization.” Our culture, he argued, is cut off’ from its Christian roots like a flower cut at the stem. Though the flower will hold its beauty for a time, it is destined to wither and die.

     When Trueblood spoke those words more than two decades ago, the flower still had some color and signs of life. But the blossom has long since lost its vitality, and it is time for the fallen petals to be acknowledged.

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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.

Albert Mohler Books:

God’s Dupes?

By Ravi Zacharias

     Is the Christian faith intellectual nonsense? Are Christians deluded?

     “If God exists and takes an interest in the affairs of human beings, his will is not inscrutable,” writes Sam Harris about the 2004 tsunami in Letter to a Christian Nation. “The only thing inscrutable here is that so many otherwise rational men and women can deny the unmitigated horror of these events and think this is the height of moral wisdom” (p. 48). In his article “God’s Dupes,” Harris argues, “Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music” (The Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2007). Ironically, Harris’ first book is entitled The End of Faith, but it should really be called “The End of Reason,” as it demonstrates again that the mind that is alienated from God in the name of reason can become totally irrational.

     Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins suggests that the idea of God is a virus, and we need to find software to eradicate it. Somehow, if we can expunge the virus that led us to think this way, we will be purified and rid of this bedeviling notion of God, good, and evil (“Viruses of the Mind,” 1992). Along with Christopher Hitchens and a few others, these atheists are calling for the banishment of all religious belief. “Away with this nonsense!” is their battle cry. In return, they promise a world of new hope and unlimited horizons once we have shed this delusion of God.

     I have news for them — news to the contrary. The reality is that the emptiness that results from the loss of the transcendent is stark and devastating, philosophically and existentially. Indeed, the denial of an objective moral law, based on the compulsion to deny the existence of God, results ultimately in the denial of evil itself. Furthermore, one would like to ask Dawkins, are we morally bound to remove that virus? Somehow he himself is, of course, free from the virus and can therefore input our moral data.

     In an attempt to escape what they call the contradiction between a good God and a world of evil, atheists try to dance around the reality of a moral law (and hence, a moral lawgiver) by introducing terms like “evolutionary ethics.” The one who raises the question against God in effect plays God while denying He exists. Now, one may wonder: Why do you actually need a moral lawgiver if you have a moral law? The answer is because the questioner and the issue he or she questions always involve the essential value of a person. You can never talk of morality in abstraction. Persons are implicit to the question and the object of the question. In a nutshell, positing a moral law without a moral lawgiver would be equivalent to raising the question of evil without a questioner. So you cannot have a moral law unless the moral law itself is intrinsically woven into personhood. This means that an intrinsically worthy person must exist if the moral law itself is to be valued. And that person can only be God.

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     Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Zacharias has spoken all over the world for 45 years in scores of universities, notably Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and Cambridge. He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow. At the invitation of the President of Nigeria, he addressed delegates at the First Annual Prayer Breakfast for African Leaders held in Mozambique.

     Zacharias has direct contact with key leaders, senators, congressmen, and governors who consult him on an ongoing basis. He has addressed the Florida Legislature and the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Texas and Louisiana, and has twice spoken at the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations in New York, which marks the beginning of the UN General Assembly each year. As the 2008 Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer, he gave addresses at the White House, the Pentagon, and The Cannon House. He has had the privilege of addressing the National Prayer Breakfasts in the seats of government in Ottawa, Canada, and London, England, and speaking at the CIA in Washington, DC.

     Born in India in 1946, Zacharias immigrated to Canada with his family twenty years later. While pursuing a career in business management, his interest in theology grew; subsequently, he pursued this study during his undergraduate education. He received his Master of Divinity from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. Well-versed in the disciplines of comparative religions, cults, and philosophy, he held the chair of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary for three and a half years. Zacharias has been a visiting scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge (then affiliated with Cambridge University, now more recently allied with Cambridge and affiliated with Durham University) where he studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era. He has been conferred ten honorary doctorates, including a Doctor of Laws and a Doctor of Sacred Theology.

     Zacharias has authored or edited over 25 books including the Gold Medallion winner Can Man Live Without God (Word, 1994), Walking from East to West (Zondervan, 2006), The Grand Weaver (Zondervan, 2007), Has Christianity Failed You? (Zondervan, 2010), Why Jesus, (FaithWords, 2012), and Beyond Opinion (Thomas Nelson, 2007), which includes contributions from RZIM’s global team. His latest books are Jesus Among Secular Gods (2017) and Why Suffering? (2014), both coauthored with Vince Vitale and released by FaithWords. Several of his books have been translated into Russian, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish, and other languages.

     Zacharias has appeared on CNN, Fox, and other international broadcasts. His weekly radio program, “Let My People Think,” airs on 2337 outlets worldwide, his weekday program, “Just Thinking,” on 721, and his one-minute, “Just a Thought,” on 488. Various broadcasts are also translated into Romanian and Turkish, and “Let My People Think” airs as the Spanish-language program “Pensemos” on over 250 outlets in sixteen countries. Additionally, his television program, “Let My People Think,” is broadcast internationally in several countries including Indonesia. RZIM is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Romania, Turkey, Austria, Spain, Latin America, and South Africa. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children. They reside in Atlanta.

Ravi Zacharias Books:

A Catechism on the Heart

By Sinclair Ferguson

     Sometimes people ask authors, “Which of your books is your favorite?” The first time the question is asked, the response is likely to be “I am not sure; I have never really thought about it.” But forced to think about it, my own standard response has become, “I am not sure what my favorite book is; but my favorite title is A Heart for God.” I am rarely asked, “Why?” but (in case you ask) the title simply expresses what I want to be: a Christian with a heart for God.

     Perhaps that is in part a reflection of the fact that we sit on the shoulders of the giants of the past. Think of John Calvin’s seal and motto: a heart held out in the palm of a hand and the words “I offer my heart to you, Lord, readily and sincerely.” Or consider Charles Wesley’s hymn:

     O for a heart to praise my God! A heart from sin set free.

     Some hymnbooks don’t include Wesley’s hymn, presumably in part because it is read as an expression of his doctrine of perfect love and entire sanctification. (He thought it possible to have his longing for sinless perfection fulfilled in this world.) But the sentiment itself is surely biblical.

     But behind the giants of church history stands the testimony of Scripture. The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart (Deut. 6:5). That is why, in replacing Saul as king, God “sought out a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), for “the Lord looks on the heart” (16:7). It is a truism to say that, in terms of our response to the gospel, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. But truism or not, it is true.

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     Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is a Ligonier teaching fellow and distinguished visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His many books include The Whole Christ.

Sinclair Ferguson Books:

What Do Manuscripts Tell Us About the Origins of the NT Canon? A Response to John Meade

By Michael J. Kruger 10/10/2017

     Over at Evangelical Textual Criticism, John Meade has posted an article reviewing chapter seven of my book, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books.  In particular, he challenges a number of the arguments I use to show how NT manuscripts may illumine our understanding of the development of the NT canon.

     Meade focuses his comments on two issues, namely the number of manuscripts and the use of the codex. Before offering a response to those issues below, let me begin by making a simple observation about the purpose of this chapter. If one understands the flow of the argument in the book, and sets chapter seven in the larger context of the prior chapters, it will become clear that the exploration of these manuscripts is not intended to provide a definitive answer to which books are in the canon. Nowhere do I argue that we know which books are in the canon simply be looking at the features of early Christian manuscripts.

     Indeed, the prior six chapters are making a very different argument about how we know which books are in and which books are out (an argument I will not rehearse here). The discussion of manuscripts, then, is provided simply as something that further illumines the history of the canon. It provides a general (but not absolute) confirmation of what we see from other kinds of evidence (patristic and otherwise).

     Quantity of Manuscripts | There are few things more frustrating for an author than to make an argument, follow it up with an important qualification, and then have someone critique you as if that qualification were never made.

     When it comes to the quantity of NT manuscripts, this seems to be what Meade has done. I was very clear in chapter seven that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the number of manuscripts of a book and that book’s place in the NT canon. Nowhere do I argue that we know which books are in the canon simply by looking at which books left behind the most manuscripts. Indeed, I expressly state, “the relative popularity of books (on the basis of extant manuscripts) is not the whole story” (239). And one example is that we have only one copy of Mark from this time period.

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

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

Why Did A “Good” God Create Hell?

By Al Serrato 10/10/2017

     Many people today accuse God of unfairness. Since God can foresee the future, they ask, why didn’t He simply never create all those he knows to be destined to spend eternity in Hell? One skeptic I know put the question like this:

     God supposedly knows everything that will happen before you are ever born, so if all your choices are set beforehand, how can they possibly matter? Furthermore, if God knows you will “choose” Hell before he creates you, why does he simply not create you? Personally, I would much prefer nonexistence to eternal torment. Is God deliberately creating people knowing they will end up in Hell? Then I would call him evil. Is he compelled to create people regardless of what he sees in their future? Then he doesn’t have free will, which would certainly be an interesting interpretation, but one I doubt many people share. Is there some other explanation? If so, I can’t think of it.

     This challenge has a bit of intuitive appeal. It seems to put God in a box, as it were, trapped between being “evil” for choosing to create rebellious creatures or lacking free will, by being unable to do otherwise. Let’s take a closer look at the two horns of this apparent dilemma.

     To the Christian, “evil” is the label we give to words, thoughts or actions that deviate from God’s perfect will. If we were created robots, there would be no evil in the world; we would operate exactly in accordance with God’s desires. But in creating man, God did something quite different. He gave us “free will,” the capacity to rebel against him in our thoughts, words and actions. And rebel we did. God “foresaw” this development, but only in a manner of speaking – a manner focused upon the way we think. This is because God is not bound by time. For him, there is no future to “foresee.” There is only an eternal present. All times – whether past, present or future – are accessible to him in this eternal present. Thus, at the moment of creation, God was aware that man would rebel, that he was rebelling, and that he had rebelled. He was aware of the acts and the consequences, the motivations and the ultimate end, of everyone. Consistent with his nature for perfect fairness, he created a means by which man – though in rebellion and deserving punishment – could nonetheless find reunification with him. But in implementing this scheme, he did not force this choice upon us. He gives us the means to salvation, but remains content in allowing us to choose which path we will follow.

     Those who use their free will to turn toward him – more precisely, to accept his free gift of salvation – will find a welcoming father, ready to do the work needed to restore us. Those who use their free will to turn away from God – to reject his gift – will find that this choice too is honored. Expecting God not to create those in this latter category would have two significant effects: it would show that God’s provision of free will is really a fiction, since only those who choose to do his will are actually created, and two, it would mean that Hell is a place of evil. But Hell is a place – or perhaps more precisely a condition – which was created by God to serve a purpose. Since God does not create evil – i.e. he does not act against his own nature – then Hell cannot be a place of evil. Like a human prison, it may be inhabited by those bent on doing evil, but the place itself – and the confinement it effectuates – is actually a good, just as separating hardened criminals from society is a net positive for both the evil-doer and the society that is victimized.

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     Al was raised in a Christian home. Like many other young Christians, he didn't encounter many challenges to his faith until he started attending University. In fact, the challenges and objections of the secular culture became most apparent for Al when he was attending Law School at UC Berkeley in the 1980's. He was in his late twenties by this time, and he found himself unable to answer the objections of atheists or to explain exactly why he believed Christianity was true. Al found himself taking the path that many other young Christians take under such pressure. During this time, Al was introduced to the writings of C.S. Lewis and he realized that Christianity was rational and reasonable. From this point forward, Al pursued his interest in apologetics, in the tradition of "faith seeking understanding." Al has been a criminal prosecutor for the past twenty-three years, developing a deep understanding for the role that evidence plays and the process by which a cases are made. He continues to apply what he learns in the courtroom to his examination of the Christian truth claims. Al is married with three children, is an avid sailor, and has coached softball and baseball for more years than he can remember. Al is a contributor at the PleaseConvinceMe Blog.



  • Provision 2 Mark 6:30-44
  • Greatest Murdered 1 Mark 6:14-29
  • 2


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Change your thinking
     (Oct 12)    Bob Gass

     ‘Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’

(Php 4:8) 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ESV

     In order to change your life, you must first change your thinking. And that’s not easy when you’ve spent your life thinking a certain way. Minister and columnist Dr Frank Crane said, ‘Our best friends and our worst enemies are our thoughts.’ King Solomon put it this way: ‘As [a man] thinks within himself, so he is’ (Proverbs 23:7 NASB). To change your thinking, you must do it - one thought at a time. That calls for discipline and determination. But it’s worth it. If you wanted to compete in a marathon you wouldn’t go on an all-sugar diet, would you? The fuel you put into something determines its performance. Yet we disregard this basic piece of wisdom: what you feed everything else is nothing compared to what you feed your mind! Here’s a truth that will transform you: think excellent thoughts! What enters your mind repeatedly, occupies it, shapes it, controls it, and in the end expresses itself in what you do and who you become. Your mind will absorb and reflect whatever it’s exposed to. The events you attend, the relationships you build, the materials you read or don’t read, the music you listen to, the media images you’re exposed to, the conversations you engage in, and the thoughts you entertain all shape your mind, and eventually your character and your destiny. So, what should you do? Start each day by praying: ‘Lord, I want the kind of mind Your Word describes. One that’s filled with excellent, admirable, honourable, praiseworthy thoughts’ (see Philippians 4:8). Can you imagine what your life would be like if you constantly prayed that way and programmed your thinking accordingly?

Jer 18-19
1 Tim 2

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     October 12, 1492, two hours after midnight, Columbus sighted land. He named the first island San Salvador, meaning "Holy Saviour." After meeting the natives, Columbus wrote: "So that they might be well-disposed towards us, for I knew that they were a people to be… converted to our Holy Faith rather by love than by force, I gave to some red caps and to others glass beads… They… became so entirely our friends that it was a wonder to see…. I believe that they would easily be made Christians, for it seemed to me that they had no religion of their own."

American Minute

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


     And its great object is to get home as we are to God as He is, and to win response even when we get no compliance. The prayer of faith does not mean a prayer absolutely sure that it will receive what it asks. That is not faith. Faith is that attitude of soul and self to God which is the root and reservoir of prayer apart from all answer. It is what turns need into request. It is what moves your need to need God. It is what makes you sure your prayer is heard and stored, whether granted or not. “He putteth all my tears in His bottle.” God has old prayers of yours long maturing by Him. What wine you will drink with Him in His kingdom! Faith is sure that God refuses with a smile; that He says No in the spirit of Yes, and He gives or refuses always in Christ, our Great Amen. And better prayers are stirred by the presence of the Deliverer than even by the need of deliverance.

     It is not sufficiently remembered that before prayer can expect an answer it must be itself an answer. That is what is meant by prayer in the name of Christ. It is prayer which answers God’s gift in Christ, with Whom are already given us all things. And that is why we must pray without ceasing, because in Christ God speaks without ceasing. Natural or instinctive prayer is one thing; supernatural prayer is another; it is the prayer not of instinct but of faith. It is our word answering God’s. It is more the prayer of fullness even than of need, of strength than of weakness—though it be “a strength girt round with weakness.” Prayer which arises from mere need is flung out to a power which is only remembered, or surmised, or unknown. It is flung into darkness and uncertainty. But in Christian prayer we ask for what we need because we are full of faith in God’s power and word, because need becomes petition at the touch of His word. (I always feel that in the order of our public worship prayer should immediately follow the lesson, without the intrusion on an anthem. And for the reason I name—that Christian prayer is our word answering God’s). We pray, therefore, in Christ’s name, or for His sake, because we pray as answering the gift in Christ. Our prayer is the note the tremulous soul utters when its chords are smitten by Him. We then answer above all things God’s prayer to us in His cross that we would be reconciled. God so beseeches us in Christ. So that, if we put it strongly, we may say that our prayer to God in Christ is our answer to God’s prayer to us there. “The best thing in prayer is faith,” says Luther.

     And the spirit of prayer in Christ’s name is the true child-spirit. A certain type of religion is fond of dwelling on faith as the spirit of divine childhood; and its affinities are all with the tender and touching element in childhood. But one does not always get from the prophets of such piety the impression of a life breathed in prayer. And the notion is not the New Testament sense of being children of God. That is a manlier, a maturer thing. It is being sons of God by faith, and by faith’s energy of prayer. It is not the sense of being as helpless as a child that clings, not the sense of weakness, ignorance, gentleness, and all that side of things. But it is the spirit of a prayer which is a great act of faith, and therefore a power. Faith is not simply surrender, but adoring surrender, not a mere sense of dependence, but an act of intelligent committal, and the confession of a holiness which is able to save, keep, and bless for ever.

     How is it that the experience of life is so often barren of spiritual culture for religious people? They become stoic and stalwart, but not humble; they have been sight, but no insight. Yet it is not the stalwarts but the saints that judge the world, i.e. that ake the true divine measure of the world and get to its subtle, silent, and final powers. Whole sections of our Protestantism have lost the virtue of humility or the understanding of it. It means for them no more than modesty or diffidence. It is the humility of weakness, not of power. To many useful, and even strong, people no experience seems to bring this subtle, spiritual intelligence, this finer discipline of the moral man. No rebukes, no rebuffs, no humiliations, no sorrows, seem to bring it to them. They have no spiritual history. Their spiritual biography not even an angel could write. There is no romance in their soul’s story. At sixty they are, spiritually, much where they were at twenty-six. To calamity, to discipline of any kind, they are simply resilient. Their religion is simply elasticity. It is but lusty life. They rise up after the smart is over, or the darkness fades away, as self-confident as if they were but seasoned politicians beaten at one election, but sure of doing better at the next. They are to the end just irrepressible, or persevering, or dogged. And they are as juvenile in moral insight, as boyish in spiritual perception, as ever.


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

The Soul of Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams


"Having, First, gained all you can, and,
Secondly saved all you can,
Then give all you can."
--- from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley


God's promises are like the stars;
the darker the night
the brighter they shine.
--- David Nicholas


Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.
--- Simone Weil "Faiths of Meditation; Contemplation of the divine" as translated in The Simone Weil Reader (1957) edited by George A. Panichas, p. 417

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     7. Now two days afterward twelve of those men that were on the forefront, and kept watch upon the banks, got together, and called to them the standard-bearer of the fifth legion, and two others of a troop of horsemen, and one trumpeter; these went without noise, about the ninth hour of the night, through the ruins, to the tower of Antonia; and when they had cut the throats of the first guards of the place, as they were asleep, they got possession of the wall, and ordered the trumpeter to sound his trumpet. Upon which the rest of the guard got up on the sudden, and ran away, before any body could see how many they were that were gotten up; for, partly from the fear they were in, and partly from the sound of the trumpet which they heard, they imagined a great number of the enemy were gotten up. But as soon as Caesar heard the signal, he ordered the army to put on their armor immediately, and came thither with his commanders, and first of all ascended, as did the chosen men that were with him. And as the Jews were flying away to the temple, they fell into that mine which John had dug under the Roman banks. Then did the seditious of both the bodies of the Jewish army, as well that belonging to John as that belonging to Simon, drive them away; and indeed were no way wanting as to the highest degree of force and alacrity; for they esteemed themselves entirely ruined if once the Romans got into the temple, as did the Romans look upon the same thing as the beginning of their entire conquest. So a terrible battle was fought at the entrance of the temple, while the Romans were forcing their way, in order to get possession of that temple, and the Jews were driving them back to the tower of Antonia; in which battle the darts were on both sides useless, as well as the spears, and both sides drew their swords, and fought it out hand to hand. Now during this struggle the positions of the men were undistinguished on both sides, and they fought at random, the men being intermixed one with another, and confounded, by reason of the narrowness of the place; while the noise that was made fell on the ear after an indistinct manner, because it was so very loud. Great slaughter was now made on both sides, and the combatants trod upon the bodies and the armor of those that were dead, and dashed them to pieces. Accordingly, to which side soever the battle inclined, those that had the advantage exhorted one another to go on, as did those that were beaten make great lamentation. But still there was no room for flight, nor for pursuit, but disorderly revolutions and retreats, while the armies were intermixed one with another; but those that were in the first ranks were under the necessity of killing or being killed, without any way for escaping; for those on both sides that came behind forced those before them to go on, without leaving any space between the armies. At length the Jews' violent zeal was too hard for the Romans' skill, and the battle already inclined entirely that way; for the fight had lasted from the ninth hour of the night till the seventh hour of the day, While the Jews came on in crowds, and had the danger the temple was in for their motive; the Romans having no more here than a part of their army; for those legions, on which the soldiers on that side depended, were not come up to them. So it was at present thought sufficient by the Romans to take possession of the tower of Antonia.

     8. But there was one Julian, a centurion, that came from Bithynia, a man he was of great reputation, whom I had formerly seen in that war, and one of the highest fame, both for his skill in war, his strength of body, and the courage of his soul. This man, seeing the Romans giving ground, and in a sad condition, [for he stood by Titus at the tower of Antonia,] leaped out, and of himself alone put the Jews to flight, when they were already conquerors, and made them retire as far as the corner of the inner court of the temple; from him the multitude fled away in crowds, as supposing that neither his strength nor his violent attacks could be those of a mere man. Accordingly, he rushed through the midst of the Jews, as they were dispersed all abroad, and killed those that he caught. Nor, indeed, was there any sight that appeared more wonderful in the eyes of Caesar, or more terrible to others, than this. However, he was himself pursued by fate, which it was not possible that he, who was but a mortal man, should escape; for as he had shoes all full of thick and sharp nails 4 as had every one of the other soldiers, so when he ran on the pavement of the temple, he slipped, and fell down upon his back with a very great noise, which was made by his armor. This made those that were running away to turn back; whereupon those Romans that were in the tower of Antonia set up a great shout, as they were in fear for the man. But the Jews got about him in crowds, and struck at him with their spears and with their swords on all sides. Now he received a great many of the strokes of these iron weapons upon his shield, and often attempted to get up again, but was thrown down by those that struck at him; yet did he, as he lay along, stab many of them with his sword. Nor was he soon killed, as being covered with his helmet and his breastplate in all those parts of his body where he might be mortally wounded; he also pulled his neck close to his body, till all his other limbs were shattered, and nobody durst come to defend him, and then he yielded to his fate. Now Caesar was deeply affected on account of this man of so great fortitude, and especially as he was killed in the sight of so many people; he was desirous himself to come to his assistance, but the place would not give him leave, while such as could have done it were too much terrified to attempt it. Thus when Julian had struggled with death a great while, and had let but few of those that had given him his mortal wound go off unhurt, he had at last his throat cut, though not without some difficulty, and left behind him a very great fame, not only among the Romans, and with Caesar himself, but among his enemies also; then did the Jews catch up his dead body, and put the Romans to flight again, and shut them up in the tower of Antonia. Now those that most signalized themselves, and fought most zealously in this battle of the Jewish side, were one Alexas and Gyphtheus, of John's party, and of Simon's party were Malachias, and Judas the son of Merto, and James the son of Sosas, the commander of the Idumeans; and of the zealots, two brethren, Simon and Judas, the sons of Jairus.

          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 27:2
     by D.H. Stern

2     Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth,
a stranger and not your own lips.

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


                Getting into God's stride

     Enoch walked with God. ---
Genesis 5:24.

     The test of a man's religious life and character is not what he does in the exceptional moments of life, but what he does in the ordinary times, when there is nothing tremendous or exciting on. The worth of a man is revealed in his attitude to ordinary things when he is not before the footlights.
(Cf. John 1:36.) It is a painful business to get through into the stride of God, it means getting your 'second wind' spiritually. In learning to walk with God there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride; but when we have got into it, the only characteristic that manifests itself is the life of God. The individual man is lost sight of in his personal union with God, and the stride and the power of God alone are manifested.

     It is difficult to get into stride with God, because when we start walking with Him we find He has outstripped us before we have taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined into His ways. It was said of Jesus-"He shall not fail nor be discouraged," because He never worked from His own individual standpoint but always from the standpoint of His Father, and we have to learn to do the same. Spiritual truth is learned by atmosphere, not by intellectual reasoning. God's Spirit alters the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and things begin to be possible which never were possible before. Getting into the stride of God means nothing less than union with Himself. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don't give in because the pain is bad just now, get on with it, and before long you will find you have a new vision and a new purpose.


My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

The Word
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


                The Word

A pen appeared, and the god said:
  'Write what it is to be
  man.' And my hand hovered
  long over the bare page.

until there, like footprints
  of the lost traveller, letters
  took shape on the page's
  blankness, and I spelled out

the word 'lonely'. And my hand moved
  to erase it; but the voices
  of all those waiting at life's
  window cried out loud: 'It is true.'


The Poems of R.S. Thomas

ONE / PHILOSOPHY IN MAIMONIDES’ LEGAL WORKS (cont)
     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Against this approach Maimonides appeals to the Torah, arguing that the Torah itself indicates the existence and legitimacy of universal criteria of truth:

     For this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations which shall hear all these statutes and say, "Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people" (Deut. 4:6).

     If there are specific Jewish criteria of truth, how could this promise be realized? If what counts for truth in this community is to be based exclusively upon rabbinic authority, how can the Torah expect those who are not bound by that authority to marvel and appreciate the wisdom of the community? There must exist, then, independent criteria of truth which neither Jew nor non Jew can ignore. (
Makes me think of Roman 1:20.)

     A careful reader of Maimonides' proof-text would immediately discover that the wisdom which the world appreciates includes the laws of Judaism:

     See, I have imparted to you laws and rules, as the Lord my God has commanded me, for you to abide by in the land which you are about to invade and occupy. Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, "Surely that great nation is a wise and discerning people." For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand as is the Lord our God whenever we call upon Him? Or what great nation has laws and as perfect as all this Teaching that I set before you this day? (Deut. 4:5–8).

     The student must await The Guide of the Perplexed for a full explication of how Judaism as a whole—its Aggadah and Halakhah—can be seen as worthy and capable of universal appreciation. In his commentary to Ḥelek Maimonides deals only with Aggadah. He informs his reader that the literalistic approach which leads to insulation "robs our religion of its beauties, darkens its brilliance and makes the Law of God convey meanings quite contrary to those it was intended to convey."

     A second group of readers accepts a literalistic reading of Aggadah which leads, however, not to submission, but to derision and rejection:

     The second class of reasoners is also numerous. They see and hear the words of the Sages and accept them in their literal significations, thinking that the Sages meant nothing but what the literal interpretation indicates. They consequently apply themselves to showing the weakness of the Rabbinical statements and their objectionable character, and to slandering that which is free from reproach. They make sport of the words of the Sages from time to time and imagine themselves more intellectually gifted and possessed of more penetrating minds, whereas they, peace to them, are deceived, shortsighted, ignorant of all existing things, and consequently unable to comprehend anything.… They are more stupid than the first class, of which we have spoken, and more steeped in folly! They are an accursed class, because they put themselves in opposition to men of great worth, whose learning is manifest to scholars. If only they trained themselves in knowledge so as to know how necessary it is to use the appropriate speech in theology, and in like subjects.

     Since this group views the rabbis as fools and simpletons, one may infer rejection of rabbinic legislative authority as well. Maimonides' statement that "they are an accursed class" seems to suggest this. The fundamentalist understanding of Aggadah by a person unable to disassociate his thinking from the way he acts results either in total obedience to tradition, the way of insulation of the first class, or in abandonment of the tradition, the way of rejection of the second class.

     Maimonides offers a third approach:

     The third class of thinkers is, as God lives, so very small in numbers that one would only call it a class in the sense that the sun is termed a species although it is a single object. They are the men who accept as established facts the greatness of the Sages and the excellence of their thoughts, as found in the generality of their remarks, where each word points a very true theme.… The members of this class are convinced also of the impossibility of the impossible and the necessary existence of what must exist. For they know that they, peace to them, would not talk absurdities to one another. And they are convinced beyond doubt that their words have both an outer and an inner meaning, and that in all that they say of things impossible, their discourses were in the form of riddle and parable.

     Maimonides' reader is an observant Jew who fully accepts the Halakhah as a self-contained system with a specific logic of legal interpretation and development. Yet, Maimonides' point here is that this need not prevent one from recognizing that aggadic discourse can be understood in a manner different from the way in which one understands halakhic discourse. The halakhic Jew can approach the Aggadah with knowledge gained from sources independent of the tradition; when Aggadah violates reason's understanding of the necessary or the impossible, he recognizes that Aggadah must be understood symbolically. The reader who is a member of this group (the reader whom Maimonides wants to cultivate) manifests his reverence for the tradition by his painstaking attempts to uncover hidden meanings in the Aggadah. By recognizing that one must discover the point of a statement before one can judge it to be true or false, one can combine a serious allegiance to the tradition with a commitment to universal criteria of knowledge. To reject a rabbinic or biblical statement whose literal reading contradicts accepted truths is to misunderstand the meaning of that which one purports to evaluate.

     Maimonides supports his approach to Aggadah by showing that a symbolic understanding of Torah texts is a traditional mode of understanding:

     And how can we disapprove of their literary productions being in the manner of proverb and simile of a lowly and popular kind, seeing that the wisest of men did the same "by holy inspiration" i.e., Solomon, in the books of Proverbs, Song of Songs, and parts of Ecclesiastes? How can we disapprove of the method of placing interpretations on the words of Sages, and drawing them out of their literalness to adjust them to reason and make them accord with truth and the books of Scripture, seeing that the Sages themselves place their interpretations on the words of the text and, by bringing them out of their literal meaning, present them as parable?

     One does not, therefore, distort the tradition when one applies an approach toward understanding Aggadah that differs from the method used to understand Halakhah.

     The acceptance of the symbolic approach to aggadic language immediately raises a question: Why did the tradition choose to speak in parables when it could have been explicit and literal? Maimonides offers the following explanation in his introduction to the Commentary to the Mishnah:

     And they did this to marvelous issues, i.e., wrote in parables whose literal meaning may be contrary to reason; first, to awaken the understanding of students, and also to blind the eyes of fools whose hearts will never be enlightened, and even if the truth were presented before them they would turn away from it according to the deficiency of their natures, as it is [written] said regarding those like them, "One does not reveal to them the secret" (T.B. Kedushin 71a), for their intellect is not perfect to the extent required to receive the truth as it is.… And, thus, it is improper for the man of knowledge [perfect man] to publicize what he knows of the secret teachings other than to one who is greater than he or like him. Because if he would present it before a fool, if [the latter] would not deprecate it to his face, surely the matter will not find favor in his eyes. Therefore, the wise man said: "Speak not in the ears of a fool; for he will despise the wisdom of thy words" (Prov. 23:9). And also, it is not correct to teach the public but by the way of riddle and parable in order to include women, young men, and children, so that when their intellects reach perfection they will know the meanings [matter] of those parables. To this issue Solomon alluded in his saying, "To understand a proverb, and a figure; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings" (Prov. 1:6), and because of this our Sages, peace to them, spoke about Divine matters in riddle form.

     Thus it is proper for a person who happens to come across one of their statements, which he thinks is opposed to reason, not to attribute the deficiency to those statements, but to attribute the deficiency to his own intellect. And when he sees one of their parables whose literal meaning is far from his understanding, it is proper for him to be much grieved that he did not understand the issue so that all true statements became extremely distant [to his understanding]. For the intellects of men are as different as differences of temperament, and as the temperament of one man is better and closer to the mean than the temperament of another man, so too will the intellect of one man be more perfect and complete than the intellect of another man. There is no doubt that the intellect of one who knows a sublime matter is not as the intellect of one who does not know that matter, for the one is like an intellect in actu and the other an intellect in potentia. Therefore, there are matters [issues] which to a specific person are perfectly clear and correct, while to another person they are in the domain of the impossible, according to the extent of their level of wisdom.

     The tradition spoke exactly and explicitly when it legislated norms. However it spoke symbolically when it was guiding the individual toward higher spiritual achievements. The ambiguity and obscurity of the parables is a challenge to the wise and a veil to the unlearned. When the tradition elaborated norms for the community it addressed itself not to the elite few but to the total community. Moses as well as every other member of the community is expected to obey the same law.

     The democratization of the spiritual which is the hallmark of the Halakhah is not, however, the complete picture of Judaism. For those individuals capable of deeper spirituality it provides an Aggadah:

     For these matters are not among those that can be taught, and are not interpreted in public, rather they [rabbis] allude to them in books by hidden allusions. And if God removes the screens from the heart of one who is pleasing before Him, after he has prepared himself through study, [such a person] will understand of them according to his intellect.… And when God reveals to such a man whatever He reveals, he should hide [such knowledge] as we said, and if he alludes to something [of them] behold [he should do so] only to one whose intellect is perfected and whose righteousness is known as we have explained and clarified in many stories of the Talmud.


Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 12



     And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” --- Luke 1:46–47.

     Let us think of his greatness; it will be really praising him if we thus think of him.  Spurgeon's Sermons on Old Testament Women, Vol. 1: (C. H. Spurgeon Sermon Series)  You need not speak, but just ponder, weigh, consider, contemplate, meditate on the character of the Most High. Begin with his mercy if you cannot begin with his holiness, but take his attributes one by one and think about them. As you think of any one of them, it will delight you and carry you away. You will be lost in wonder, love, and praise as you consider it; you will be astonished and amazed as you plunge into its wondrous depths, and everything else will vanish from your vision. That is one way of making God great—by often thinking about him.

     The next way to make God great is by often drinking him into yourself. The lilies stand and worship God simply by being beautiful—by drinking in the sunlight and the dewdrops. Stand before the Lord and drink him in; do you understand what I mean by this expression? You go down to the seaside when you are sickly; there is a delightful breeze coming up from the sea; you feel as if it came in at every pore of your body and you seem to be drinking in health at every breath you breathe. Do just like that in a spiritual sense with God; go down to the great sea of Godhead; magnify it by thinking how great it is, and then take it into your very soul. God cannot be greater than he is, but he can be greater in you than he is at present. He cannot increase; there cannot be more of God than there is, but there may be more of God in you. More of his great love, more of his perfect holiness, more of his divine power may be manifested in you, and more of his likeness and light may be revealed through you. Therefore, make him great in that respect.

     And when you have done that, by his help, then try to make him great by what you give forth, even as the rose: when it has satisfied itself with the sweet shower, no sooner does the clear shining come after the rain than it deluges the garden all around with its delicious perfume. Do the same; first drink in all you can of the deity, and then exhale him; breathe out again in your praise, in your holy living, in your prayers, in your earnest zeal, and in your devout spirit the God whom you have breathed in. You cannot make more of God than he is, but you can make God more consciously present to the minds of others and make them think more highly of God by what you say and what you do.
--- C. H. Spurgeon


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

On This Day   October 12
     A Pinch of Poison


     Luke, who bolted New Testament events into world history, refers to Roman emperor Claudius in Acts 11 and 18.

     Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, born shortly before Christ, became Roman emperor in 41 at age 50. As a young man he had suffered infantile paralysis, and his long, spindly legs barely supported his stout frame. His head wobbled when he walked, he stuttered, and he laughed in outbursts. When angered, he foamed at the mouth and trickled at the nose.

     But when he became emperor, he surprised everyone by showing promise. He lowered taxes, extended the empire into Britain and Mauritania, and refused to be worshiped as a god. Many were granted Roman citizenship under his rule. Civil service was expanded, the legal system was reformed, and public works grew.

     It didn't last. The latter years of Claudius were marred by intrigue, much of it centered around his wife, Agrippina. The emperor's first wife had died on their wedding day. Others had been divorced or slain. Then he met and married the wily Agrippina.

     The empress, 32, had but one aim—to secure the throne for her own son. To do that, she had to dispatch both Claudius and his son Britannicus. As she assumed more and more power, she plotted the deaths of her enemies and unleashed a reign of terror. It took Claudius five years to realize what was happening, and by then it was too late. On October 12, 54 she fed him mushrooms well seasoned with a potent pinch of poison. He suffered 12 agonizing hours, unable to speak a word, before dying. Britannicus eventually tasted poison as well.

     Agrippina's son became emperor. He thanked her by plotting her murder. First he tried poisoning her, but she knew all the tricks. He next tried drowning her, but she swam to safety from the prearranged shipwreck. Finally, paid assassins plunged swords into her womb. Viewing her uncovered corpse, the young emperor remarked, "I did not know I had so beautiful a mother."

     His name? Nero.

     During this time some prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch. One of them was Agabus. Then with the help of the Spirit, he told that there would be a terrible famine everywhere in the world. And it happened when Claudius was Emperor.
--- Acts 11:27,28.


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

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 12

     “I will meditate in thy precepts.” --- Psalm 119:15.

     There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on his Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this Morning, “I will meditate in thy precepts.”


          Evening - October 12

     “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost.” --- John 14:26.

     This age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Jesus cheers us, not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Ghost, who is evermore the Comforter of the church. It is his office to console the hearts of God’s people. He convinces of sin; he illuminates and instructs; but still the main part of his work lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down. He does this by revealing Jesus to them. The Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If we may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but Jesus is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ’s name and grace. He takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. So if we give to the Holy Spirit the Greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the Comfort. Now, with such rich provision for his need, why should the Christian be sad and desponding? The Holy Spirit has graciously engaged to be thy Comforter: dost thou imagine, O thou weak and trembling believer, that he will be negligent of his sacred trust? Canst thou suppose that he has undertaken what he cannot or will not perform? If it be his especial work to strengthen thee, and to comfort thee, dost thou suppose he has forgotten his business, or that he will fail in the loving office which he sustains towards thee? Nay, think not so hardly of the tender and blessed Spirit whose name is “the Comforter.” He delights to give the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Trust thou in him, and he will surely comfort thee till the house of mourning is closed for ever, and the marriage feast has begun.


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

Amazing Grace
     October 12

          LEAD ON, O KING ETERNAL

     Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1862–1917

     I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)

     One of the thrilling experiences in life is to watch a loved one or friend walk across a stage in cap and gown and receive that long awaited diploma. Today’s hymn was written for just such an event.

     Ernest Shurtleff, author of this text, was about to graduate from Andover Seminary in 1887. His classmates at the seminary, recognizing the poetic ability of their colleague, shortly before graduation one day approached Shurtleff with this request:

     “Ernest, why don’t you write our class poem. After all, you have already published two volumes of poetry—What’s the use of having a distinguished author in the class if he cannot rise to the occasion and do his class the honor of writing a good poem just for them?”
     “Let’s make it a hymn that we can all sing,” replied Shurtleff, “We’ve been spending days of preparation here at seminary. Now the day of march has come and we must go out to follow the leadership of the King of kings, to conquer the world under His banner.”


     Although the metaphors and expressions in this hymn were intended to challenge the graduating class of 1887 at Andover Seminary, the truths of this text can be applied to our lives today. This is not the time for any of us to slacken our efforts in the service of our Lord. The crown awaits the conquest— “Lead on, O God of Might!”

     Lead on, O King Eternal, the day of march has come! Henceforth in fields of conquest Thy tents shall be our home. Thru days of preparation Thy grace has made us strong, and now, O King Eternal, we lift our battle song.
     Lead on, O King Eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease; and holiness shall whisper the sweet Amen of peace; for not with swords loud clashing nor roll of stirring drums, with deeds of love and mercy the heav’nly kingdom comes.
     Lead on, O King Eternal, we follow, not with fears; for gladness breaks like Morning where’er Thy face appears. Thy cross is lifted o’er us; we journey in its light: The crown awaits the conquest—lead on, O God of might.


     For Today: Psalm 25:4, 9, 10; Isaiah 48:17; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 1:27–30

     Ask God to lead you to greater spiritual conquests than you have yet known and to enable you to win the victory “with deeds of love and mercy.” Carry these musical truths with you ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Thursday, October 12, 2017 | After Pentecost


Proper 22, Thursday
Year 1

Psalms (Morning)     Psalm 131, 132 (133)
Psalms (Evening)     Psalm 134, 135
Old Testament     2 Kings 23:4–25
New Testament     1 Corinthians 12:1–11
Gospel     Matthew 9:18–26

Index of Readings

Psalms (Morning)
Psalm 131, 132 (133)

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.

A Song of Ascents.

1 O LORD, remember in David’s favor
all the hardships he endured;
2 how he swore to the LORD
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house
or get into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6 We heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool.”

8 Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your faithful shout for joy.
10 For your servant David’s sake
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my decrees that I shall teach them,
their sons also, forevermore,
shall sit on your throne.”

13 For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his habitation:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
here I will reside, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless its provisions;
I will satisfy its poor with bread.
16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy.
17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace,
but on him, his crown will gleam.”

[     A Song of Ascents.

1 How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,
life forevermore.     ]

Psalms (Evening)
Psalm 134, 135

A Song of Ascents.

1 Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place,
and bless the LORD.

3 May the LORD, maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD;
give praise, O servants of the LORD,
2 you that stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.
3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing to his name, for he is gracious.
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.

5 For I know that the LORD is great;
our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth;
he makes lightnings for the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

8 He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both human beings and animals;
9 he sent signs and wonders
into your midst, O Egypt,
against Pharaoh and all his servants.
10 He struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings—
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan—
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.

13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
14 For the LORD will vindicate his people,
and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
they have eyes, but they do not see;
17 they have ears, but they do not hear,
and there is no breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them
and all who trust them
shall become like them.

19 O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!
20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
You that fear the LORD, bless the LORD!
21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion,
he who resides in Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
2 Kings 23:4–25

4 The king commanded the high priest Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, and the guardians of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 He deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who made offerings to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the host of the heavens. 6 He brought out the image of Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the Wadi Kidron, burned it at the Wadi Kidron, beat it to dust and threw the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. 7 He broke down the houses of the male temple prostitutes that were in the house of the LORD, where the women did weaving for Asherah. 8 He brought all the priests out of the towns of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beer-sheba; he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on the left at the gate of the city. 9 The priests of the high places, however, did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but ate unleavened bread among their kindred. 10 He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or a daughter pass through fire as an offering to Molech. 11 He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of the eunuch Nathan-melech, which was in the precincts; then he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 The altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, he pulled down from there and broke in pieces, and threw the rubble into the Wadi Kidron. 13 The king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Destruction, which King Solomon of Israel had built for Astarte the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 14 He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones.

15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin—he pulled down that altar along with the high place. He burned the high place, crushing it to dust; he also burned the sacred pole. 16 As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount; and he sent and took the bones out of the tombs, and burned them on the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, when Jeroboam stood by the altar at the festival; he turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God who had predicted these things. 17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” The people of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” 18 He said, “Let him rest; let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. 19 Moreover, Josiah removed all the shrines of the high places that were in the towns of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger; he did to them just as he had done at Bethel. 20 He slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

21 The king commanded all the people, “Keep the passover to the LORD your God as prescribed in this book of the covenant.” 22 No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; 23 but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem.

24 Moreover Josiah put away the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the LORD. 25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

New Testament
1 Corinthians 12:1–11

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Gospel
Matthew 9:18–26

18 While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20 Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23 When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26 And the report of this spread throughout that district.


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



Ecclesiastes 1 Intro Qohelet Genres
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning





Ecclesiastes 2 Major Motifs
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning






Ecclesiastes 3 Stock Phrases--Under the Sun/Heaven
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning





Ecclesiastes 4 Theology and Anthropology, Time
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning






Ecclesiastes 5 Inevitability of Death Motif
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning





Ecclesiastes 6 Enjoyment of Life Refrains
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning






Ecclesiastes 7 Fear of God
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning





Ecclesiastes 8 Ecclesiastes 1-6 Text Exposition
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning






Ecclesiastes 9 Ecclesiastes 7-12 Text Exposition
Dr. Al Fuhr   Biblical eLearning





Provision 1 Mark 6:30-44
John MacArthur