Healing of a Man on the SabbathLuke 14 1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. ( A condition where fluid is retained in the tissues and cavities of the body—often caused by kidney or liver ailments, including cancer. ) ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Personal Size 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Parable of the Great Banquet12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ”
The Cost of Discipleship25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Salt Without Taste Is Worthless34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The Parable of the Lost SheepLuke 15 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Prodigal Son11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
Dr Kenneth Bailey has explained how this interpretation of the parable is common in the Muslim world:
Islam claims that in this story the boy is saved without a saviour. The prodigal returns. The father forgives him. There is no cross, no suffering, and no saviour. If man seeks forgiveness, says Islam, God is merciful and will forgive. The incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection are all quite unnecessary. If God is truly great, he can forgive without these things. The story of the prodigal son is for them proof that Christians have sadly perverted Christ’s own message. (The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants)
So in his book The Cross & the Prodigal Dr Bailey, who has for many years taught New Testament at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, takes a fresh look at Luke 15 ‘through the eyes of Middle Eastern peasants’. He explains that the whole village would know that the returning prodigal was in disgrace, and that punishment of some kind was inevitable, if only to preserve the father’s honour. But the father bears the suffering instead of inflicting it. Although ‘a man of his age and position always walks in a slow, dignified fashion’, and although ‘he has not run anywhere for any purpose for 40 years’, he yet ‘races’ down the road like a teenager to welcome his home-coming son. Thus risking the ridicule of the street urchins, ‘he takes upon himself the shame and humiliation due to the prodigal’. ‘In this parable’, Kenneth Bailey continues, ‘we have a father who leaves the comfort and security of his home and exposes himself in a humiliating fashion in the village street. The coming down and going out to his boy hints at the incarnation. The humiliating spectacle in the village street hints at the meaning of the cross’. Thus ‘the cross and the incarnation are implicitly yet dramatically present in the story’, for ‘the suffering of the cross was not primarily the physical torture but rather the agony of rejected love’. What was essential for the prodigal’s reconciliation was a ‘physical demonstration of self-emptying love in suffering.... Is not this the story of the way of God with man on Golgotha?’.
We conclude, then, that the cross was an unparalleled manifestation of God’s love; that he showed his love in bearing our penalty and therefore our pain, in order to be able to forgive and restore us, and that the Parable of the Prodigal Son, far from contradicting this, implicitly expresses it. I think T. J. Crawford was right to put it in this way, that before we can see in the sufferings of Christ any proof of the Father’s love for us, ‘some good must accrue to us from them, not otherwise to be obtained, or some evil must be averted from us by them, not otherwise to be removed or remedied’. (T. J. Crawford - Doctrine of Holy Scripture) This ‘otherwise unavoidable evil’ is the fearful judgment of God, and this ‘otherwise unattainable good’ is his adoption of us into his family. By securing such great blessings for us at the cost of such great sufferings, God has given us an unequalled demonstration of his love. The Cross of Christ
The Parable of the Dishonest ManagerLuke 16 1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. ( The master commended the dishonest manager. Outwitted, he applauded the man’s cunning. His admiration for the evil managers’s criminal genius shows that he, too, was a wicked man. It is the natural tendency of fallen hearts to admire a villain’s craftiness (Ps. 49:18). Notice that all the characters in this parable are unjust, unscrupulous, and corrupt. more shrewd. I.e., most unbelievers are wiser in the ways of the world than some believers (“sons of light,” cf. John 12:36; Eph. 5:18) are toward the things of God. The unrighteous manager used his master’s money to buy earthly friends; believers are to use their Master’s money in a way that will accrue friends for eternity — by investing in the kingdom gospel that brings sinners to salvation, so that when they arrive in heaven (“eternal dwellings”), those sinners will be there to welcome them. Christ did not commend the man’s dishonesty; he pointedly called him “dishonest” (v. 8). He only used him as an illustration to show that even the most wicked sons of this world are shrewd enough to provide for themselves against coming evil. Believers ought to be more shrewd, because they are concerned with eternal matters, not just earthly ones. Cf. 12:33 and Matt. 6:19–21. ) ESV MacArthur Study Bible See panel 6 below.
10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The Law and the Kingdom of God14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
Divorce and Remarriage18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of Judas”?
By J. Warner Wallace 10/26/2017
The Gospel of Judas is an ancient text purportedly written by the disciple who knew Jesus personally. But is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by Judas? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Gospel of Judas was written too late in history to have been written by the disciple we know as Judas, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of Judas still contains small nuggets of truth related to Jesus. Although it is a legendary fabrication written by an author who altered the story of Jesus to suit the purposes of his religious community, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from this late text:
The Gospel of Judas (130-170AD) | The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic text similar to other texts from the 2nd century and later. Like other Gnostic Gospels, it contains a conversation between Jesus and one of His disciples (in this case Judas) in which Jesus reveals secret, esoteric knowledge. It also describes the death of Jesus from Judas’ perspective. The text was discovered in the 1970’s near Beni Masah in Egypt, and was written in the Coptic language, similar to other Gnostic texts. Only one copy has ever been discovered and this copy is in very poor condition, missing large portions of text.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | The surviving copy of The Gospel of Judas has been dated to the 4th century but scholars believe that it may be a Coptic translation of a Greek original created no earlier than the late 2nd century. The text is written in the same dialect and language as other Gnostic texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, and it was discovered as part of a larger text which included The Letter of Peter to Philip and the First Apocalypse of James, two other Gnostic documents also discovered at Nag Hammadi. The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic text that appears far too late in history to have been written by Judas. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote Against Heresies (approximately 180AD) arguing against Gnosticism and mentioned The Gospel of Judas, describing it as “fictitious history”. Epiphanius of Salamis, the bishop of Cyprus, also wrote a document called Heresies in which he condemned The Gospel of Judas for its favorable treatment of Judas.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
By Andy Davis
Scripture Memorization Commanded | Welcome to the rich and challenging journey of extended memorization of Scripture! You are about to embark on one of the most searching and rewarding exercises of spiritual and mental labor anyone could ever attempt: the memorizing of whole chapters and books of the Bible. This effort will challenge you to the depths of your being. Not simply because memorizing is hard work (it is), but because the verses themselves will search your souls with the light of God’s perfect Word. Some days memorizing are harder than others, and it gets harder as you get older and busier. But the rewards of knowledge of God’s Word and of growing intimacy with Christ will make all your labor in the face of these challenges worthwhile.
As you face the challenges of extended memorization, it is good to know whether God is commanding you to do this. Scripture is very clear that God does not want us to innovate when it comes to pleasing Him: He wants simple obedience. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Now the incredible beauty of the Christian life is that we learn that the Lord will enable us to keep all His commands by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 36:27 promises that God will put His Spirit in us and move us to follow His commands and be careful to keep His laws. If this is so, the amazing power of the New Covenant in Christ is that God’s commands become promises of what He will do in our lives by His Spirit.
So, has God commanded us to memorize Scripture? Yes, I believe He has in many places, and that Scripture encourages memorization in other places. Let’s look at some key passages.
In John 15, Jesus likens Himself to a vine and believers as branches that must abide (or live, dwell, remain) in Him in order to stay alive and be fruitful.
In John 15:7-8, Jesus gets even more specific, saying that if we remain in Him and His words (plural!) remain/live/dwell/abide in us, then we may ask whatever we wish and it will be given to us.
3 things John Calvin teaches us about writing
By Obbie Tyler Todd
Remarkably, when John Calvin became pastor in Geneva in 1536, he still lacked an official degree in theology from an academic institution. Neither had he submitted to any kind of ecclesiastical examination. Nevertheless, in addition to his studies in logic, languages, and civic law, the French Reformer was also a master of communication. His style was so fluid that many scholars have even identified him as the inventor of modern French sentence structure.
Like Luther’s Bible in German, Calvin’s Institutes were equally influential for the French language. In his book John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life (2009), Herman J. Selderhuis described Calvin as a “sort of verbal decathlete modeled after the Old Testament prophet.”
As a civil leader, pastor, theologian, apologist, statesman, and ambassador, he wrote with concision and precision. Apart from his sublime theology, John Calvin’s writing remains a homiletic standard for those seeking to convey deep theological truths in a prosaic style. The following are three principles of theological writing pastors and theologians can glean from the man Wolfgang Musculus once described as a “bow always strung.”
1. WRITE WITH BREVITY | It was John Calvin’s belief that “the chief virtue of an interpreter lies in clear brevity.” The craft and skill of a theologian lies not in the length of an argument but in its content and persuasive power. Calvin’s language was rarely ostentatious. For this reason he once wrote to Zurich Reformer and Zwingli protégé Heinrich Bullinger, “I have always loved simplicity; and never cared much for cleverness.”
Calvin described his way of teaching as “too simple to be considered suspect, and at the same time too detailed for it to be called unclear.” This penchant for brevitas, however, did not imply that his discourses were also brief. Most of Calvin’s sermons lasted at least one hour, and their duration was measured using an hourglass. Short sentences did not mean short sermons. Still, Calvin was convinced that his purposes for the Institutes of the Christian Religion could be achieved without wordiness:
An NFL Hall of Famer’s Balanced Perspective on the NFL Controversy
By Joseph D'Hippolito 10/26/2017
An NFL Hall of Famer who devoted himself to civil rights after his playing career hardly fits the stereotype of a conservative.
Jim Brown, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher when he retired from the Cleveland Browns in 1966, organized the Negro Industrial Economic Union that year to stimulate investment in black businesses. (It was later renamed the Black Economic Union.)
In 1967, he organized a meeting with such athletes as Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to support Muhammad Ali, who cited religious reasons for refusing to join the military when drafted. In 1988, Brown founded the Amer-I-Can Foundation to teach marketable skills and emotional maturity to those susceptible to drugs and crime.
“I was fighting for freedom, equality and justice every day of my life,” Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2013. “I was always active to create equal opportunity and to use whatever money or power I had to affect social change.”
‘This is my Country’ | But Brown’s opinion of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police treatment of blacks by kneeling during the pre-game national anthem hardly fits the stereotype of a social activist.
Prisoner Number 2491 The Inspiring Story of the First Nazi Martyr
By Nathan Tarr 10/28/2017
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in London when he heard of Paul Schneider’s death. He gathered his nieces and nephews to tell them.
“Children, you must never forget the name of Paul Schneider. He is our first martyr.”
Schneider, like Martin Niemöller and Bonhoeffer himself, were members of the Confessing Church, pastors who would not bow the knee to Nazism, but confessed allegiance to Christ at any cost.
And Schneider was the first of them to seal his gospel witness with his blood.
To Rebuild a Heartbroken Humanity | At the end of World War I, Paul Schneider returned from the western front to a Germany in ruins. It changed the trajectory of his life. He had entered the army with plans to become a doctor. Now he was confronted with a brokenness that went beyond a doctor’s skill to heal. He recorded,
By Don Carson 3/2/2018
On first reading, the parable of the shrewd manager and its unexpected conclusion is one of the strangest stories that Jesus tells (Luke 16:1-9).
An inefficient and wasteful manager is called in by the wealthy owner and told he is to be sacked. He must close out the books and pick up his pink slip. Terribly concerned about his future, the manager wonders what he should do. He does not possess the robust physique that would equip him for manual labor, and he really does not want to go on the dole.
So he comes up with a totally unscrupulous plan. While he still enjoys legitimate authority over the owner’s goods and accounts, he starts cutting deals with his master’ s debtors. It is a huge operation, and the sums are enormous. For debtor after debtor, he slashes the amount of their indebtedness, in some cases as much as fifty percent. His reasoning is very simple. In a culture where a gift creates an obligation, he recognizes that all these people will feel obligated to accommodate him when he finds himself without a job and income. With sums like these, he will be able to rely on their hospitality for a very long time. Doubtless the master did not like having his accounts diddled, but he was savvy enough to recognize the shrewdness his manager had shown.
Then comes the startling application: “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (16:8-9). What does this mean?
It cannot mean that Jesus advocates unscrupulous business practices. The point is that the manager used resources under his control (though not properly his) to prepare for his own future. Do the “people of the light” use resources under their control to prepare for their own future? What is that future? The shrewd manager wanted to be welcomed into the homes of these debtors; the people of the light are to be “welcomed into eternal dwellings” (16:9). So should we not be investing heavily in heaven, laying up treasures there? If that includes spending money on the right things, so be it: when it is all gone, we still have an eternal dwelling ahead of us. The idea is not that we can buy heaven, but that it is unimaginably irresponsible not to plan for our home, when even the people of this world know enough to prepare for their future homes. ( I grow weary of all the investment commercials on TV, sigh. ) Understandably, the next verses (16:10-15) strip away the glamour of possessions in favor of what God highly values.
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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
84 Confirmed Facts in the Last 16 Chapters of the Book of Acts
By Chab123 (Eric Chabot) 4/26/2012
In his book The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, the late classics scholar Colin Hemer identified 84 facts in the last 16 chapters of the Book of Acts that have been confirmed by historical and/or archaeological research.
They are as follows:
1. the natural crossing between correctly named ports [Acts 13:4-5]
2. the proper port [Perga] along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cyprus [13:13]
3. the proper location of Lycaonia [14:6]
4. the unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra [14:6]
5. the correct language spoken in Lystra-Lycaonian [14:11]
6. two gods known to be so associated-Zeus and Hermes [14:12]
7. the proper port, Attalia, which returning travelers would use [14:25]
8. the correct order of approach to Derbe and then Lystra from the Cilician Gates [16:1; cf. 15:41]
9. the proper form of the name Troas [16:8]
10. the place of a conspicuous sailors’ landmark, Samothrace [12:14]
11. the proper description of Philippi as a Roman colony [16:12]
12. the right location fro the river [Gangites] near Philippi [12:13]
13. the proper association of Thyatira as a center of dyeing [16:14]
14. correct designations for the magistrates of the colony [16:22]
15. the proper locations [Amphipolis and Apollonia] where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey [17:1]
16. the presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica [17:1]
17. the proper term [“politarchs”] used of the magistrates there [17:6]
18. the correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient way of reaching Athens, with the favoring east winds of summer sailing [17:14-15]
19. the abundant presence of images in Athens [17:16]
20. the reference to a synagogue in Athens [17:17]
21. the depiction of the Athenian life of philosophical debate in the Agora [17:17]
22. the use of the correct Athenian slang word for Paul [spermologos, 17:18] as well as for the court [Areios pagos, 17:19]
23. the proper characterization of the Athenian character [17:21]
24. an alter to an “unknown god” [17:23]
25. the proper reaction of Greek philosophers, who denied the bodily resurrection [17:32]
26. Areopagites as the correct title for a member of the court [17:34]
27. A Corinthian synagogue [18:4]
28. the correct designation of Gallio as proconsul, resident in Corinth [18:12]
29. the bema [judgement seat], which overlooks Corinth’s forum [18:16ff.]
30. the name Tyrannus as attested from Ephesus in first-century inscriptions [19:9]
31. well-known shrines and images of Artemis [19:24]
32. the well attested “great goddess Artemis” [19:27]
33. that the Ephesian theater was the meeting place of the city [19:29]
34. the correct title grammateus for the chief executive magistrate in Ephesus [19:35]
35. the proper title of honor neokoros, authorized by the Romans [19:35]
36. the correct name to designate the goddess [19:37]
37. the proper term for those holding court [19:38]
38. use of plural anthupatori, perhaps a remarkable reference to the fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at this time [19:38]
39. the “regular” assembly, as the precise phrase is attested elsewhere [19:39]
40. use of precise ethnic designation, beroiaios [20:4]
41. employment of the ethnic term Asianos [20:4]
42. the implied recognition of the strategic importance assigned to this city of Troas [20:7ff.]
43. the danger of the coastal trip in this location [20:13]
44. the correct sequence of places [20:14-15]
45. the correct name of the city as a neuter plural [Patara] [21:1]
46. the appropriate route passing across the open sea south of Cyprus favored by persistent northwest winds [21:3]
47. the suitable distance between these cities [21:8]
48. a characteristically Jewish act of piety [21:24]
49. the Jewish law regarding Gentile use of the temple area [21:28] [Archaeological discoveries and quotations from Josephus confirm that Gentiles could be executed for entering the temple area. One inscription reads: “Let no Gentile enter within the balustrade and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will be personally responsible for his consequent death.”]
50. the permanent stationing of a Roman cohort [chiliarch]at Antonia to suppress any disturbance at festival times [21:31]
51. the flight of steps used by the guards [21:31, 35]
52. the common way to obtain Roman citizenship at this time [22:28]
53. the tribune being impressed with Roman rather than Tarsian citizenship [22:29]
54. Ananias being high priest at this time [23:2]
55. Felix being governor at this time [23:34]
56. the natural shopping point on the way to Caesarea [23:31]
57. whose jurisdiction Cilicia was in at the time [23:34]
58. the provincial penal procedure of the time [24:1-9]
59. the name Porcius Festus, which agrees precisely with that given by Josephus [24:27]
60. the right of appeal for Roman citizens [25:11]
61. the correct legal formula [25:18]
62. the characteristic form of reference to the emperor at the time [25:26]
63. the best shipping lanes at the time [27:5]
64. the common bonding of Cilicia and Pamphylia [27:4]
65. the principal port to find a ship sailing to Italy [27:5-6]
66. the slow passage to Cnidus, in the fact of the typical northwest wind [27:7]
67. the right route to sail, in view of the winds [27:7]
68. the locations of Fair Havens and the neighboring site of Lasea [27:8]
69. Fair Havens as a poorly sheltered roadstead [27:7]
70. a noted tendency of a south wind in these climes to back suddenly to a violent northeaster, the well-known gregale [27:13]
71. the nature of a square-rigged ancient ship, having no option but to be driven before a gale [27:15]
72. the precise place and name of this island [27:16]
73. the appropriate maneuvers for the safety of the ship in its particular plight [27:16]
74. the fourteenth night-a remarkable calculation, based inevitably on a compounding of estimates and probabilities, confirmed in the judgement of experienced Mediterranean navigators [27:27]
75. the proper term of the time for the Adriatic [27:27]
76. the precise term [Bolisantes] for taking soundings, and the correct depth of the water near Malta [27:28]
77. a position that suits the probable line of approach of a ship released to run before an easterly wind [27:39]
78. the severe liability on guards who permitted a prisoner to escape [27:42]
79. the local people and superstitions of the day [28:4-6]
80. the proper title protos tes nesou [28:7]
81. Regium as a refuge to await a southerly wind to carry them through the strait [28:13]
82. Appii Forum and Tres Tabernae as correctly placed stopping places on the Appian Way [28:15]
83. appropriate means of custody with Roman soliders [28:16]
84. the conditions of imprisonment, living “at his own expense” [28:30-31] 
Motivating God’s people to understand the need for outreach and apologetic training, contemporary issues in the culture, the need for Christians to engage the university, confronting the current intellectual crisis in the local congregation, philosophy of religion, epistemology, the resurrection, Christian origins, the relationship between early Christology and Jewish monotheism, the relationship between the Tanakh (acronym that is formed from the first three parts of the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings) and the New Testament, the relationship between Israel and the church, Christian theism and other worldviews, apologetic systems, historical method, the genre of the New Testament, the relationship between science and theology, and biblical hermeneutics.
Ministry Experience: Campus outreach minister since 2004.
Founder and Director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry at the The Ohio State University. Website: http://ratiochristi.org/. We have had several well known speakers to the campus such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Michael Licona, Michael Brown, Paul Nelson and others. We have also done students debates on the campus.
By R.C. Sproul
“The sinfulness of sin” sounds like a vacuous redundancy that adds no information to the subject under discussion. However, the necessity of speaking of the sinfulness of sin has been thrust upon us by a culture and even a church that has diminished the significance of sin itself. Sin is communicated in our day in terms of making mistakes or of making poor choices. When I take an examination or a spelling test, if I make a mistake, I miss a particular word. It is one thing to make a mistake. It is another to look at my neighbor’s paper and copy his answers in order to make a good grade. In this case, my mistake has risen to the level of a moral transgression. Though sin may be involved in making mistakes as a result of slothfulness in preparation, nevertheless, the act of cheating takes the exercise to a more serious level. Calling sin “making poor choices” is true, but it is also a euphemism that can discount the severity of the action. The decision to sin is indeed a poor one, but once again, it is more than a mistake. It is an act of moral transgression.
In my book The Truth of the Cross I spend an entire chapter discussing this notion of the sinfulness of sin. I begin that chapter by using the anecdote of my utter incredulity when I received a recent edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Though I was happy to receive this free issue, I was puzzled as to why anyone would send it to me. As I leafed through the pages of quotations that included statements from Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and others, to my complete astonishment I came upon a quotation from me. That I was quoted in such a learned collection definitely surprised me. I was puzzled by what I could have said that merited inclusion in such an anthology, and the answer was found in a simple statement attributed to me: “Sin is cosmic treason.” What I meant by that statement was that even the slightest sin that a creature commits against his Creator does violence to the Creator’s holiness, His glory, and His righteousness. Every sin, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is an act of rebellion against the sovereign God who reigns and rules over us and as such is an act of treason against the cosmic King.
Cosmic treason is one way to characterize the notion of sin, but when we look at the ways in which the Scriptures describe sin, we see three that stand out in importance. First, sin is a debt; second, it is an expression of enmity; third, it is depicted as a crime. In the first instance, we who are sinners are described by Scripture as debtors who cannot pay their debts. In this sense, we are talking not about financial indebtedness but a moral indebtedness. God has the sovereign right to impose obligations upon His creatures. When we fail to keep these obligations, we are debtors to our Lord. This debt represents a failure to keep a moral obligation.
The second way in which sin is described biblically is as an expression of enmity. In this regard, sin is not restricted merely to an external action that transgresses a divine law. Rather, it represents an internal motive, a motive that is driven by an inherent hostility toward the God of the universe. It is rarely discussed in the church or in the world that the biblical description of human fallenness includes an indictment that we are by nature enemies of God. In our enmity toward Him, we do not want to have Him even in our thinking, and this attitude is one of hostility toward the very fact that God commands us to obey His will. It is because of this concept of enmity that the New Testament so often describes our redemption in terms of reconciliation. One of the necessary conditions for reconciliation is that there must be some previous enmity between at least two parties. This enmity is what is presupposed by the redeeming work of our Mediator, Jesus Christ, who overcomes this dimension of enmity.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
Apologetics: Why is the world broken?
By Rob Phillips 10/13/2017
Nearly everyone admits the world is broken, at least to some extent. There’s a disconnect between “what is” and “what ought to be.”
People pursue happiness, only to die sad and alone.
Our stuff wears out, loses its luster, or gets stolen.
Buses run late, baristas can’t make a decent latte, and the wrong team wins the Super Bowl.
Worse, evil runs rampant. ISIS bombs innocent concert-goers. Governments starve their people, even in resource-rich countries. Twitter wars trash reputations.
The Story of Reality
By Tim Challies 1/10/2017
I was wrong. I read the opening words of The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between and thought, “Here we go again.” Over the past few years we’ve been inundated with books that tell the story of the world, the story of history, through what we might call a biblical-theology lens. You are probably familiar with the standard categories: creation, fall, redemption, consummation, and new creation. Through these headings we can trace and tell the story of what God is accomplishing in this world. It’s helpful, it’s good, and it’s been done a lot recently to the benefit of the church. But this book is not that book. Not quite.
Greg Koukl’s The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between is, indeed, a telling of the story of the world through a five-part wide-angle lens. The subtitle nicely fills it out: “How the World Began, How it Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between.” But what sets his book apart is that instead of serving primarily as a theology text, it serves primarily as an apologetic text. Koukl tells this big story for the benefit of new believers who haven’t yet assembled the various components of the faith into a coherent whole. He tells it also for unbelievers who are approaching the Christian faith as skeptics or seekers.
Koukl means to show that the Bible makes sense of the entire world, that it forms the basis for a cohesive, coherent, satisfying worldview. In her foreword, Nancy Pearcey says it like this: “The Bible is not a fairy tale crafted by ancient people to give a sense of meaning to life. It is an account of reality. [Koukl] calls it a story only because, amazingly, it turns out that reality itself is structured like a great drama: It has a beginning and an end; it features a struggle between good and evil; it reaches a climax and then resolves into denouement and a finale. The cosmos is not just a succession of brute facts. It is the plotline of a grand story that God is telling through the verifiable events of history.”
Koukl structures his telling of the story of reality around five themes: God, Man, Jesus, Cross, and Resurrection. Under the heading of God, he distinguishes between theism and two of the major contemporary challenges: Matter-ism and Mind-ism—that there is no God or that everything is god. He defends theism and the Christian understanding of God as a real, personable, eternal being. Under Man he describes humanity as beautiful, broken, lost, and evil and shows why God must express wrath toward those who defy him.
Then he turns to Jesus, defending him as a historical figure and showing that he came to rescue those beautiful, broken objects of God’s wrath. Cross tells of the great transaction that occurred at the cross which allows us to take advantage of a great exchange through which we give Christ our sin and he gives us his righteousness. Resurrection tells of the resurrection of Jesus and shows how his rising from the dead offers hope that we, too, can and will rise forever. It tells also of the devastating reality of an eternal judgment and calls on the reader to turn to Christ in repentance and faith. “You have one of two choices. You can bend your knee to the Sovereign, beg for mercy because of Christ, be welcomed into his family as a son or daughter, and belong to him. Or you can reject the gift, stand alone at the judgment, and pay for your own crimes against God, such as they are.”
I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.
Tim Challies is founding blogger of Challies.com and a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @Challies. He began his web site in 2002 and has been writing there daily since 2003. It is his place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things he discovers in his online travels.
Tim Challies Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 119119 WAW
119:41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563
CHAPTER VI | Account of the Persecutions in the Valleys of PiedmontMany of the Waldenses, to avoid the persecutions to which they were continually subjected in France, went and settled in the valleys of Piedmont, where they increased exceedingly, and flourished very much for a considerable time.
Though they were harmless in their behavior, inoffensive in their conversation, and paid tithes to the Roman clergy, yet the latter could not be contented, but wished to give them some distrubance: they, accordingly, complained to the archbishop of Turin that the Waldenses of the valleys of Piedmont were heretics, for these reasons:
• 1. That they did not believe in the doctrines of the Church of Rome.
• 2. That they made no offerings or prayers for the dead.
• 3. That they did not go to Mass.
• 4. That they did not confess, and receive absolution.
• 5. That they did not believe in purgatory, or pay money to get the souls of their friends out of it.
Upon these charges the archbishop ordered a persecution to be commenced, and many fell martyrs to the superstitious rage of the priests and monks.
At Turin, one of the reformed had his bowels torn out, and put in a basin before his face, where they remained in his view until he expired. At Revel, Catelin Girard being at the stake, desired the executioner to give him a stone; which he refused, thinking that he meant to throw it at somebody; but Girard assuring him that he had no such design, the executioner complied, when Girard, looking earnestly at the stone, said, "When it is in the power of a man to eat and digest this solid stone, the religion for which I am about to suffer shall have an end, and not before." He then threw the stone on the ground, and submitted cheerfully to the flames. A great many more of the reformed were oppressed, or put to death, by various means, until the patience of the Waldenses being tired out, they flew to arms in their own defence, and formed themselves into regular bodies.
Exasperated at this, the bishop of Turin procured a number of troops, and sent against them; but in most of the skirmishes and engagements the Waldenses were successful, which partly arose from their being better acquainted with the passes of the valleys of Piedmont than their adversaries, and partly from the desperation with which they fought; for they well knew, if they were taken, they should not be considered as prisoners of war, but tortured to death as heretics.
At length, Philip VII, duke of Savoy, and supreme lord of Piedmont, determined to interpose his authority, and stop these bloody wars, which so greatly disturbed his dominions. He was not willing to disoblige the pope, or affront the archbishop of Turin; nevertheless, he sent them both messages, importing that he could not any longer tamely see his dominions overrun with troops, who were directed by priests instead of officers, and commanded by prelates instead of generals; nor would he suffer his country to be depopulated, while he himself had not been even consulted upon the occasion.
The priests, finding the resolution of the duke, did all they could to prejudice his mind against the Waldenses; but the duke told them, that though he was unacquainted with the religious tenets of these people, yet he had always found them quiet, faithful, and obedient, and therefore he determined they should be no longer persecuted.
The priests now had recourse to the most palpable and absurd falsehoods: they assured the duke that he was mistaken in the Waldenses for they were a wicked set of people, and highly addicted to intemperance, uncleanness, blasphemy, adultery, incest, and many other abominable crimes; and that they were even monsters in nature, for their children were born with black throats, with four rows of teeth, and bodies all over hairy.
The duke was not so devoid of common sense as to give credit to what the priests said, though they affirmed in the most solemn manner the truth of their assertions. He, however, sent twelve very learned and sensible gentlemen into the Piedmontese valleys, to examine into the real character of the inhabitants.
These gentlemen, after travelling through all their towns and villages, and conversing with people of every rank among the Waldenses returned to the duke, and gave him the most favorable account of these people; affirming, before the faces of the priests who vilified them, that they were harmless, inoffensive, loyal, friendly, industrious, and pious: that they abhorred the crimes of which they were accused; and that, should an individual, through his depravity, fall into any of those crimes, he would, by their laws, be punished in the most exemplary manner. "With respect to the children," the gentlemen said, "the priests had told the most gross and ridiculous falsities, for they were neither born with black throats, teeth in their mouths, nor hair on their bodies, but were as fine children as could be seen. And to convince your highness of what we have said, (continued one of the gentlemen) we have brought twelve of the principal male inhabitants, who are come to ask pardon in the name of the rest, for having taken up arms without your leave, though even in their own defence, and to preserve their lives from their merciless enemies. And we have likewise brought several women, with children of various ages, that your highness may have an opportunity of personally examining them as much as you please."
The duke, after accepting the apology of the twelve delegates, conversing with the women, and examining the children, graciously dismissed them. He then commanded the priests, who had attempted to mislead him, immediately to leave the court; and gave strict orders, that the persecution should cease throughout his dominions.
The Waldenses had enjoyed peace many years, when Philip, the seventh duke of Savoy, died, and his successor happened to be a very bigoted papist. About the same time, some of the principal Waldenses proposed that their clergy should preach in public, that every one might know the purity of their doctrines: for hitherto they had preached only in private, and to such congregations as they well knew to consist of none but persons of the reformed religion.
On hearing these proceedings, the new duke was greatly exasperated, and sent a considerable body of troops into the valleys, swearing that if the people would not change their religion, he would have them flayed alive. The commander of the troops soon found the impracticability of conquering them with the number of men he had with him, he, therefore, sent word to the duke that the idea of subjugating the Waldenses, with so small a force, was ridiculous; that those people were better acquainted with the country than any that were with him; that they had secured all the passes, were well armed, and resolutely determined to defend themselves; and, with respect to flaying them alive, he said, that every skin belonging to those people would cost him the lives of a dozen of his subjects.
Terrified at this information, the duke withdrew the troops, determining to act not by force, but by stratagem. He therefore ordered rewards for the taking of any of the Waldenses, who might be found straying from their places of security; and these, when taken, were either flayed alive, or burnt.
The Waldenses had hitherto only had the New Testament and a few books of the Old, in the Waldensian tongue; but they determined now to have the sacred writings complete in their own language. They, therefore, employed a Swiss printer to furnish them with a complete edition of the Old and New Testaments in the Waldensian tongue, which he did for the consideration of fifteen hundred crowns of gold, paid him by those pious people.
Pope Paul the third, a bigoted papist, ascending the pontifical chair, immediately solicited the parliament of Turin to persecute the Waldenses, as the most pernicious of all heretics.
The parliament readily agreed, when several were suddenly apprehended and burnt by their order. Among these was Bartholomew Hector, a bookseller and stationer of Turin, who was brought up a Roman Catholic, but having read some treatises written by the reformed clergy, was fully convinced of the errors of the Church of Rome; yet his mind was, for some time, wavering, and he hardly knew what persuasion to embrace.
At length, however, he fully embraced the reformed religion, and was apprehended, as we have already mentioned, and burnt by order of the parliament of Turin.
A consultation was now held by the parliament of Turin, in which it was agreed to send deputies to the valleys of Piedmont, with the following propositions:
• 1. That if the Waldenses would come to the bosom of the Church of Rome, and embrace the Roman Catholic religion, they should enjoy their houses, properties, and lands, and live with their families, without the least molestation.
• 2. That to prove their obedience, they should send twelve of their principal persons, with all their ministers and schoolmasters, to Turin, to be dealt with at discretion.
• 3. That the pope, the king of France, and the duke of Savoy, approved of, and authorized the proceedings of the parliament of Turin, upon this occasion.
• 4. That if the Waldenses of the valleys of Piedmont refused to comply with these propositions, persecution should ensue, and certain death be their portion. (pg 108)
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Words to Live By in Troubled Times (2)
(Oct 30) Bob Gass
‘The word of our God stands forever.’
(Is 40:8) 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. ESV
Are you ready for more of God’s wonderful promises? 1) ‘Let all those who…put their trust in You rejoice…because You…defend them; let those also who love Your name…be in high spirits’ (Psalm 5:11 AMPC). 2) ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you’ (Deuteronomy 33:27 NKJV). 3) ‘The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him’ (Nahum 1:7 KJV). 4) ‘Fear not…for I am with you…I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you…I will hold you up…with My [victorious] right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 AMPC). 5) ‘You protect them by your presence from what people plan against them. You shelter them from evil words’ (Psalm 31:20 NCV). 6) ‘Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever’ (Psalm 23:6 NLT). 7) ‘The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom’ (2 Timothy 4:17-18 NIV 2011 Edition). 8) ‘Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you’ (Psalm 9:10 NIV 2011 Edition). 9) ‘This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:21-23 NKJV).10) ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety’ (Psalm 4:8 NIV 2011 Edition).
(Ps 5:11) 11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. ESV
(Dt 33:27) 27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’ ESV
(Na 1:7) 7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. ESV
(Is 41:10) 10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ESV
(Ps 31:20) 20 In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. ESV
(Ps 23:6) 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ESV
(2 Ti 4:17–18) 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. ESV
(Ps 9:10) 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. ESV
(La 3:21–23) 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ESV
(Ps 4:8) 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. ESV
by Bill Federer
John Adams was born this day, October 30, 1735. He signed the Declaration of Independence, was Vice-President under George Washington and was elected the second President of the United States. Later in life, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson: “Have you ever found in history, one single example of a Nation thoroughly corrupted that was afterwards restored to virtue?… And without virtue, there can be no political liberty…. Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance, vice and folly?… I believe no effort in favour of virtue is lost.”American Minute
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was "for what does it serve?" "'Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god."
A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the question "What on earth is he up to now?" will intrude. It lays one's devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, "Wish they'd remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks."
Thus my whole liturgiological position really boils down to an entreaty for permanence and uniformity. I can make do with almost any kind of service whatever, if only it will stay put. But if each form is snatched away just when I am beginning to feel at home in it, then I can never make any progress in the art of worship. You give me no chance to acquire the trained habito dell’arte.
It may well be that some variations which seem to me merely matters of taste really involve grave doctrinal differences. But surely not all? For if grave doctrinal differences are really as numerous as variations in practice, then we shall have to conclude that no such thing• as the Church of England exists. And anyway, the Liturgical Fidget is not a purely Anglican phenomenon; I have heard Roman Catholics complain of it too.
And that brings me back to my starting point. The business of us laymen is simply to endure and make the best of it. Any tendency to a passionate preference for one type of service must be regarded simply as a temptation. Partisan "Churchmanships'' are my bete noire. And if we avoid them, may we not possibly perform a very useful function? The shepherds go off, "everyone to his own way," and vanish over diverse points of the horizon. If the sheep huddle patiently together and go on bleating, might they finally recall the shepherds? (Haven't English victories sometimes been won by the rank and file in spite of the generals?)
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
... from here, there and everywhere
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…
We need silence to be able to touch souls.
--- Mother Teresa
Rightly understood, faith is not a substitute for moral conduct but a means toward it. The tree does not serve in lieu of fruit but as an agent by which fruit is secured. Fruit, not trees, is the end God has in mind in yonder orchard; so Christ-like conduct is the end of Christian faith.
The Size of the Soul: Principles of Revival and Spiritual Growth
The place for the ship is in the sea, but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.
--- Dwight L. Moody
We are allowed to “enjoy” ourselves while the wrath of God remains over us only until He is ready to pour it out (ultimately) upon us. God is not mocked. Sinners are not really prospering. What is pleasure now turns out to be only a time of gathering an even greater bundle of sticks for the sinner’s own burning. “Whatever a man sows that shall he reap.” The law of karma means an endless cycle of torments without any hope of nirvana. The Hindu religion senses this, but is afraid to say it. Most others religions sense it too, but try to whistle in the dark.
--- John Gerstner The Problem of Pleasure: Why Good Things Happen to Bad People (John Gerstner (1914-1996)), 2002, p. 24.
A better understanding
Middle Eastern villagers eat their meals by breaking off small pieces of bread, one at a time, and dipping them into the common dish and eating them. The very word bread has strong emotional overtones missing in English. The villager says, “We are a people who eat bread.” He means, “We are poor and have very little else to eat.” A man does not work to “make a living.” Rather he works to “eat bread.” Middle Eastern speech is full of idiomatic references to bread. Life itself is called “the eating of bread.” These attitudes toward bread are embedded throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the book of Job the wicked person is described as one who “wanders abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’ ” (Job 15:23), and Judas is referred to by Jesus as “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me” (John 13:18). In the Lord’s Prayer we ask for bread, not food.
Bailey, K. E. The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants
In Our Lord's Blood
Jesus was teaching about the purpose of his death. According to Paul and Matthew, Jesus’ words about the cup referred not only to his ‘blood’ but to the ‘new covenant’ associated with his blood, and Matthew adds further that his blood was to be shed ‘for the forgiveness of sins’. Here is the truly fantastic assertion that through the shedding of Jesus’ blood in death God was taking the initiative to establish a new pact or ‘covenant’ with his people, one of the greatest promises of which would be the forgiveness of sinners. What did he mean?
Many centuries previously God had entered into a covenant with Abraham, promising to bless him with a good land and an abundant posterity. God renewed this covenant at Mount Sinai, after rescuing Israel (Abraham’s descendants) from Egypt. He pledged himself to be their God and to make them his people. Moreover, this covenant was ratified with the blood of sacrifice: ‘Moses...took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”’ Exod. 24:8. See also the covenant references in Isa. 42:6; 49:8; Zech. 9:11 and Heb. 9: 18–20 Hundreds of years passed, in which the people forsook God, broke his covenant and provoked his judgment, until one day in the seventh century bc the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying:
‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord,
‘when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,’
declares the Lord.
‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,’ declares the Lord.
‘I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbour,
or a man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,’
declares the Lord.
‘For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.’
More than six more centuries passed, years of patient waiting and growing expectancy, until one evening in an upper room in Jerusalem a Galilean peasant, carpenter by trade and preacher by vocation, dared to say in effect:
‘this new covenant, prophesied in Jeremiah, is about to be established; the forgiveness of sins promised as one of its distinctive blessings is about to become available; and the sacrifice to seal this covenant and procure this forgiveness will be the shedding of my blood in death.’
Is it possible to exaggerate the staggering nature of this claim? Here is Jesus’ view of his death. It is the divinely appointed sacrifice by which the new covenant with its promise of forgiveness will be ratified. He is going to die in order to bring his people into a new covenant relationship with God.
Thanks to Meir Yona
Concerning The Sabbatic River Which Titus Saw As He Was Journeying Through Syria; And How The People Of Antioch Came With A Petition To Titus Against The Jews But Were Rejected By Him; As Also Concerning Titus's And Vespasian's Triumph.
1. Now Titus Caesar tarried some time at Berytus, as we told you before. He thence removed, and exhibited magnificent shows in all those cities of Syria through which he went, and made use of the captive Jews as public instances of the destruction of that nation. He then saw a river as he went along, of such a nature as deserves to be recorded in history; it runs in the middle between Arcea, belonging to Agrippa's kingdom, and Raphanea. It hath somewhat very peculiar in it; for when it runs, its current is strong, and has plenty of water; after which its springs fail for six days together, and leave its channel dry, as any one may see; after which days it runs on the seventh day as it did before, and as though it had undergone no change at all; it hath also been observed to keep this order perpetually and exactly; whence it is that they call it the Sabbatic River 7 that name being taken from the sacred seventh day among the Jews.
2. But when the people of Antioch were informed that Titus was approaching, they were so glad at it, that they could not keep within their walls, but hasted away to give him the meeting; nay, they proceeded as far as thirty furlongs, and more, with that intention. These were not the men only, but a multitude of women also with their children did the same; and when they saw him coming up to them, they stood on both sides of the way, and stretched out their right hands, saluting him, and making all sorts of acclamations to him, and turned back together with him. They also, among all the acclamations they made to him, besought him all the way they went to eject the Jews out of their city; yet did not Titus at all yield to this their petition, but gave them the bare hearing of it quietly. However, the Jews were in a great deal of terrible fear, under the uncertainty they were in what his opinion was, and what he would do to them. For Titus did not stay at Antioch, but continued his progress immediately to Zeugma, which lies upon the Euphrates, whither came to him messengers from Vologeses king of Parthia, and brought him a crown of gold upon the victory he had gained over the Jews; which he accepted of, and feasted the king's messengers, and then came back to Antioch. And when the senate and people of Antioch earnestly entreated him to come upon their theater, where their whole multitude was assembled, and expected him, he complied with great humanity; but when they pressed him with much earnestness, and continually begged of him that he would eject the Jews out of their city, he gave them this very pertinent answer: "How can this be done, since that country of theirs, whither the Jews must be obliged then to retire, is destroyed, and no place will receive them besides?" Whereupon the people of Antioch, when they had failed of success in this their first request, made him a second; for they desired that he would order those tables of brass to be removed on which the Jews' privileges were engraven. However, Titus would not grant that neither, but permitted the Jews of Antioch to continue to enjoy the very same privileges in that city which they had before, and then departed for Egypt; and as he came to Jerusalem in his progress, and compared the melancholy condition he saw it then in, with the ancient glory of the city, and called to mind the greatness of its present ruins, as well as its ancient splendor, he could not but pity the destruction of the city, so far was he from boasting that so great and goodly a city as that was had been by him taken by force; nay, he frequently cursed those that had been the authors of their revolt, and had brought such a punishment upon the city; insomuch that it openly appeared that he did not desire that such a calamity as this punishment of theirs amounted to should be a demonstration of his courage. Yet was there no small quantity of the riches that had been in that city still found among its ruins, a great deal of which the Romans dug up; but the greatest part was discovered by those who were captives, and so they carried it away; I mean the gold and the silver, and the rest of that most precious furniture which the Jews had, and which the owners had treasured up under ground, against the uncertain fortunes of war.
3. So Titus took the journey he intended into Egypt, and passed over the desert very suddenly, and came to Alexandria, and took up a resolution to go to Rome by sea. And as he was accompanied by two legions, he sent each of them again to the places whence they had before come; the fifth he sent to Mysia, and the fifteenth to Pannonia: as for the leaders of the captives, Simon and John, with the other seven hundred men, whom he had selected out of the rest as being eminently tall and handsome of body, he gave order that they should be soon carried to Italy, as resolving to produce them in his triumph. So when he had had a prosperous voyage to his mind, the city of Rome behaved itself in his reception, and their meeting him at a distance, as it did in the case of his father. But what made the most splendid appearance in Titus's opinion was, when his father met him, and received him; but still the multitude of the citizens conceived the greatest joy when they saw them all three together, 8 as they did at this time; nor were many days overpast when they determined to have but one triumph, that should be common to both of them, on account of the glorious exploits they had performed, although the senate had decreed each of them a separate triumph by himself. So when notice had been given beforehand of the day appointed for this pompous solemnity to be made, on account of their victories, not one of the immense multitude was left in the city, but every body went out so far as to gain only a station where they might stand, and left only such a passage as was necessary for those that were to be seen to go along it.
by D.H. Stern
along with the grain being crushed;
yet his foolishness will not leave him.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
--- Hebrews 11:6.
Faith in antagonism to common sense is fanaticism, and common sense in antagonism to faith is rationalism. The life of faith brings the two into a right relation. Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual; of impulse and inspiration. Nothing Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, it is revelation sense, and it reaches the shores where common sense fails. Faith must be tried before the reality of faith is actual. “We know that all things work together for good,” then no matter what happens, the alchemy of God’s providence transfigures the ideal faith into actual reality. Faith always works on the personal line, the whole purpose of God being to see that the ideal faith is made real in His children. For every detail of the commonsense life, there is a revelation fact of God whereby we can prove in practical experience what we believe God to be. Faith is a tremendously active principle which always puts Jesus Christ first—‘Lord, Thou hast said so and so’ (e.g., Matthew 6:33), ‘it looks mad, but I am going to venture on Thy word.’ To turn head faith into a personal possession is a fight always, not sometimes. God brings us into circumstances in order to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make its object real. Until we know Jesus, God is a mere abstraction, we cannot have faith in Him; but immediately we hear Jesus say—“He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” we have something that is real, and faith is boundless. Faith is the whole man rightly related to God by the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
It was the eloquence of the unsaid
thing, the nobility of the deed
not performed. They looked sideways
into each other's eyes, met casually
by intention. It was the significance
of an absence, the deprecation
of what was there, the failure
to prove anything that proved his point.
Richness is in the ability
of poverty to conceal itself.
After the curtains deliberately
kept drawn, his phrases were servants moving
silently about the great house of his prose
letting in sunlight into the empty rooms.
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Not for long.
After the dark
After the first light
After the calm the wind,
Creasing the water.
After the silence
Sound of the wild birds,
The fox and the hare.
And all these at one,
Part of the tearless content
Of the eye's lens.
But over the sunlight
Of the first man.
THE BREAD OF TRUTH
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Allegiance to community and to its recognized authorities may be the source of man’s understanding of the world and of God if it can be shown that tradition-based convictions are never in discord with the proven truths of reason. This procedure makes it possible for the individual to participate in two “communities”: With the universal community of rational men, he shares truths which are established through demonstrative reason, while retaining his particular community’s beliefs based upon loyalty to its authorities. Acceptance of beliefs based upon communal authority does not entail that one must doubt the capacity of reason to establish truth. The tradition will always agree with reason when the problem is within the domain in which reason is completely competent, e.g., in demonstrating that God is non-corporeal. Demonstrative arguments are never susceptible to refutation by claims based upon authority.
A similar approach to the Halakhah has been established by Maimonides. Just as a prophet cannot argue from his authority in law matters derived from hermeneutic reasoning, so does Maimonides insist that he cannot argue from authority about truths that are based upon demonstrative reason. The prophet must cast off his mantle of authority in both the academies of legal and demonstrative reasoning.
In discussing the first two commandments of the Decalogue, Maimonides writes:
Now with regard to everything that can be known by demonstration, the status of the Prophet and that of everyone else who knows it are equal; there is no superiority of one over the other. Thus these two principles are not known through prophecy alone.
The first two commandments, since they are capable of being demonstrated by reason, are logically independent of the category of authority. All of Israel—in fact all rational men—can, in principle, share with Moses the same certainty regarding the truths of God’s unity and non-corporeality.
Another similarity between legal and speculative argumentation is noticeable from statements in the Mishneh Torah and the Guide. In both cases, disagreement with men of authority need not imply rejection of their authority.
In Halakhah, one may disagree with the statements of an authority without being accused of disloyalty to him if his claim is based upon legal reasoning.
In Hilkhot Mamrim, Maimonides stipulates the conditions required for the abrogation of legislation enacted by previous courts. In a case where the legislation was based solely on the authority of the courts, he writes:
If the Supreme Court instituted a decree, enacted an ordinance, or introduced a custom, which was universally accepted in Israel, and a later Supreme Court wishes to rescind the measure, to abolish the ordinance, decree, or custom, it is not empowered to do so, unless it is superior to the former both in point of wisdom and in point of number. If it is superior in wisdom but not in number, or in number but not in wisdom, it is denied the right to abrogate the measure adopted by its predecessor, even if the reason which prompted the latter to enact the decree or ordinance has lost all force.
But how is it possible for any Supreme Court to exceed another in number, seeing that each Supreme Court consists of seventy-one members? We include in the number the wise men of the age, who agree to and accept without demur the decision of the [contemporaneous] Supreme Court.
When, however, the legislation was derived from the application of the hermeneutic principles, the above requirements for legal charge do not apply:
If the Great Sanhedrin, by employing one of the hermeneutical principles, deduced a ruling which in its judgment was in consonance with the Law and rendered a decision to that effect, and a later Supreme Court finds a reason for setting aside the ruling, it may do so and act in accordance with its own opinion, as it is said: “[and appear before] the magistrate in charge at the time” (Deut. 17:9); that is, we are bound to follow the directions of the Court of our own generation.
In the former case, abrogation of the law would imply disloyalty to the authority of the previous court since the legislation was grounded solely in its authority to enact new legislation. In the latter case, however, since the enactment of law was based upon reasoned argument, the later court need not be greater in number and wisdom; in disagreeing with the decision of the previous court it was not questioning its superior legal authority. Similarly, about speculative truths, one may disagree with talmudic authorities when their arguments do not emanate from their positions of authority but from reason:
You should not find it blameworthy that the opinion of Aristotle disagrees with that of the Sages, may their memory be blessed, as to this point. For this opinion, I mean to say the one according to which the heavenly bodies produce sounds, is consequent upon the belief in a fixed sphere and in stars that return. You know, on the other hand, that in these astronomical matters they preferred the opinion of the sages of the nations of the world to their own. For they explicitly say: “The sages of the nations of the world have vanquished.” And this is correct. For everyone who argues in speculative matters does this according to the conclusions to which he was led by his speculation. Hence the conclusion whose demonstration is correct is believed.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. --- 1 Corinthians 2:8
If Judas in [his] blundering way meant well, thinking that he knew better than his Master and—because he could not wait for him and his unhurried ways—sought to force his hand, God pity us! The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life For are we not all apt to do just that? Is the church ever quite free from a half-bewildered, half-fretful impatience that can’t trust to the steady drip, drip of the weekly services soaking into people’s souls; that is irritated by the seeming lack of results of his appointed methods; that must have the kingdom break in with a rush and a loud noise and all people taking note of it; that keeps seeking for a swift, immediate revival not at God’s time but now, in ours? Devising desperate expedients, trying to whistle up the winds of God! And they won’t come. And these futilities we thought so wise and good and clever end in nothing except robbing people of their hopes and so delaying what was in God’s mind to give us, what was coming and might have been here by now, had we not rushed in with our silly nothings, our machine-made revivals, our grotesque improvings on Christ.
It is not this way that real revivals rise, but, says Christ, like the winds. We hear the sound of them but cannot tell from where they come or where they go. A miner coming home from work is greeted in a courteous fashion by a friendly stranger, and somehow there on the road there rises up in his heart a passion of affection for other people that makes him give his life for them and sweeps them by the thousands into the kingdom!
God works in his own time, in his own ways. And if we try to dictate, to demand it must be now and in this fashion, only confusion comes of that. If we would cease our cunning engineering, our hot organizing, our continual talking and conferring, of which nothing ever seems to come but more conferring, if we would sit quiet and reverent in God’s presence and worship him and wait and give his voice a chance of reaching people—instead of ours—how much more we might see! For does our fussiness and cleverness do anything except this? Like Judas, we get in Christ’s way and hinder him, we who had meant to help were so sure we could help and had found the very way to do it! It was impatience with his methods, it was thinking he knew better than his Master, it was running on ahead of him, that, think some, was the sin of Judas, and that brought Christ to his cross. And who of us is not guilty of that?
--- Arthur John Gossip
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
October 31, 1517 is the best-known date in Protestant history—the day Martin Luther nailed his convictions to the Wittenberg door. But an incident that happened 16 years before helps us understand Luther’s boldness. Rodrigo Borgia was named a cardinal in 1456, and “no sooner had he donned his red hat than he removed it, together with the rest of his raiment, for a marathon romp with a succession of women whose identity is unknown to us and may well have been unknown to him.”
His immorality only increased when, in 1492, he became Pope Alexander VI.
On October 30, 1501 Pope Alexander presided over the infamous “Ballet of the Chestnuts.” Guests approaching the papal palace saw living statutes of naked, gilded young people in erotic poses. Inside, after the dishes were cleared from the banquet hall, the city’s most beautiful prostitutes danced with the guests, shedding their clothes a bit at a time. Eventually the pope and his sons became judges of a contest in which guests stripped and performed with one another. Alexander awarded prizes to the men.
The corruption of the papacy continued under Alexander’s successor, Julius II, and when Luther visited Rome in 1510, he was shocked to find the papal court served by “twelve naked girls.” Down to his old age, Luther remembered seeing and hearing of sexual abominations taking place in the name of Christ by those who were thought to be spiritual leaders. He later wrote, “I would not have missed seeing Rome for a hundred thousand florins. If I did I should ever had been uneasy lest I might have done injustice to the pope.”
It was the demoralized nature of the papacy as much as its doctrinal failure that convinced Luther to risk prosecution and excommunication with fortitude. Holy living—personal purity—Luther knew, is married to pure doctrine, and the union is inseparable … for “the just shall live by faith.”
You are God’s people, so don’t let it be said that any of you are immoral or indecent or greedy. Don’t use dirty or foolish or filthy words. Instead, say how thankful you are. Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols.
--- Ephesians 5:3-5a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 30
“I will praise thee, O Lord.” --- Psalm 9:1.
Praise should always follow answered prayer; as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground. Hath the Lord been gracious to thee, and inclined his ear to the voice of thy supplication? Then praise him as long as thou livest. Let the ripe fruit drop upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Deny not a song to him who hath answered thy prayer and given thee the desire of thy heart. To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been cured of their leprosy, returned not to give thanks unto the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master’s service. To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellow-men; “the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, “Oh! magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together; this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Weak hearts will be strengthened, and drooping saints will be revived as they listen to our “songs of deliverance.” Their doubts and fears will be rebuked, as we teach and admonish one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They too shall “sing in the ways of the Lord,” when they hear us magnify his holy name. Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm-branches in their hands, are never weary of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”
Evening - October 30
“Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.” --- Song of Solomon 8:13.
My sweet Lord Jesus remembers well the garden of Gethsemane, and although he has left that garden, he now dwells in the garden of his church: there he unbosoms himself to those who keep his blessed company. That voice of love with which he speaks to his beloved is more musical than the harps of heaven. There is a depth of melodious love within it which leaves all human music far behind. Ten of thousands on earth, and millions above, are indulged with its harmonious accents. Some whom I well know, and whom I greatly envy, are at this moment hearkening to the beloved voice. O that I were a partaker of their joys! It is true some of these are poor, others bedridden, and some near the gates of death, but O my Lord, I would cheerfully starve with them, pine with them, or die with them, if I might but hear thy voice. Once I did hear it often, but I have grieved thy Spirit. Return unto me in compassion, and once again say unto me, “I am thy salvation.” No other voice can content me; I know thy voice, and cannot be deceived by another, let me hear it, I pray thee. I know not what thou wilt say, neither do I make any condition, O my Beloved, do but let me hear thee speak, and if it be a rebuke I will bless thee for it. Perhaps to cleanse my dull ear may need an operation very grievous to the flesh, but let it cost what it may I turn not from the one consuming desire, cause me to hear thy voice. Bore my ear afresh; pierce my ear with thy harshest notes, only do not permit me to continue deaf to thy calls. To-night, Lord, grant thine unworthy one his desire, for I am thine, and thou hast bought me with thy blood. Thou hast opened mine eye to see thee, and the sight has saved me. Lord, open thou mine ear. I have read thy heart, now let me hear thy lips.
Morning and Evening
HOLD THE FORT
Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
Only hold on to what you have until I come. (Revelation 2:25)
God’s call to each believer is to be obedient and faithful—not to seek a life of earthly success. Difficulties and defeats are a normal part of every Christian’s life. Our response to negative situations can either shatter us or they can intensify our perseverance and confidence in a sovereign God. It has been said that a mark of a champion athlete is not how he/she responds to a victory, but how a difficult loss on a previous day has been met.
As was true of so many of Philip P. Bliss’s Gospel songs, this stirring hymn was inspired by an illustration used by Major Whittle, an officer in the American Civil War, while addressing a YMCA meeting on the text from Revelation 2:25. Major Whittle’s illustration was about a small Northern force of soldiers in charge of guarding a great quantity of supplies. They were being hard pressed by greatly superior Confederate forces. Finally, the Confederate general, General French, commanded the Federal troops to surrender. At that moment the troops saw a signal from their leader, General Sherman, on a hill some miles away, which said, “Hold the fort, I am coming. Sherman.” The story so captivated Bliss’s interest that he could not retire that Evening until he had completed both the text and the music for this rousing Gospel song. It later became a great favorite in the Moody-Sankey campaigns both in Great Britain and in the United States.
We too have a commander now in heaven who has promised to return for us. Victory is certain! Our responsibility is to faithfully “hold the fort” and to “occupy till He comes” (Luke 19:13 KJV).
Ho, my comrades, see the signal waving in the sky! Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on; Mighty men around us falling, courage almost gone!
See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow! In our Leader’s name we triumph over ev’ry foe.
Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near; Onward comes our great Commander—cheer, my comrades, cheer!
Chorus: “Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still; wave the answer back to heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
For Today: Matthew 10:22; Romans 5:3; 2 Timothy 2:10; Hebrews 12:2, 6, 7; James 1:12
Reflect seriously on these lines: “Christ’s cause is hindered everywhere, and people are dying in despair. The reason why? Just think a bit—The church is full of those who quit.” Carry this musical truth with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
DISCOURSE X - ON THE POWER OF GOD
BILDAD had, in the foregoing chapter, entertained Job with a discourse of the dominion and power of God, and the purity of his righteousness, whence he argues an impossibility of the justification of man in his presence, who is no better than a worm. Job, in this chapter, acknowledges the greatness of God’s power, and descants more largely upon it than Bildad had done; but doth preface it with a kind of ironical speech, as if he had not acted a friendly part, or spake little to the purpose, or the matter in band: the subject of Job’s discourse was the worldly happiness of the wicked, and the calamities of the godly: and Bildad reads him a lecture, of the extent of God’s dominion, the number of his armies, and the unspotted rcctitude of his nature, in comparison of which the purest creatures are: foul and crooked. Job, therefore, from ver. 1–4, taxeth him in a kind of scoffing manner, that he had not touched the point, but rambled from the subject in hand, and had not applied a salve proper to this sore (ver. 2): “How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm of him that hath no strength?” &c., your discourse is so impertinent, that it will neither strengthen a weak person, nor instruct a simple one. But since Bildad would take up the argument of God’s power, and discourse so short of it, Job would show that he wanted not his instructions in that kind, and that he had more distinct conceptions of it than his antagonist had uttered: and therefore from ver. 5 to the end of the chapter, he doth magnificently treat of the power of God in several branches. And (ver. 5) he begins with the lowest. “Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof:” You read me a lecture of the power of God in the heavenly host: indeed it is visible there, yet of a larger extent; and monuments of it are found in the lower parts. What do you think of those dead things under the earth and waters, of the corn that dies, and by the moistening influences of the clouds, springs up again with a numerous progeny and increase for the nourishment of man? What do you think of those varieties of metals and minerals conceived in the bowels of the earth; those pearls and riches in the depths of the waters, midwifed by this power of God? Add to these those more prodigious creatures in the sea, the inhabitants of the waters, with their vastness and variety, which are all the births of God’s power; both in their first creation by his mighty voice, and their propagation by his cherishing providence. Stop not here, but consider also that his power extends to hell; either the graves the repositories of all the crumbled dust that hath yet been in the world (for so hell is sometimes taken in Scripture: ver. 6, “Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.”) The several lodgings of deceased men are known to him: no screen can obscure them from his sight, nor their dissolution be any bar to his power, when the time is come to compact those mouldered bodies to entertain again their departed souls, either for weal or woe. The grave, or hell, the place of punishment, is naked before him; as distinctly discerned by him, as a naked body in all its lineaments by us, or a dissected body is in all its parts by a skilful eye.
Destruction hath no covering; none can free himself from the power of his hand. Every person in the bowels of hell; every person punished there is known to him, and feels the power of his wrath. From the lower parts of the world he ascends to the consideration of the power of God in the creation of heaven and earth; “He stretches out the north over the empty places” (ver. 7). The north, or the north pole, over the air, which, by the Greeks, was called void or empty, because of the tenuity and thinness of that element; and he mentions here the north, or north pole, for the whole heaven, because it is more known and apparent than the southern pole. “And hangs the earth upon nothing:” the massy and weighty earth hangs like a thick globe in the midst of a thin air, that there is as much air on the one side of it, as on the other. The heavens have no prop to sustain them in their height, and the earth hath no basis to support it in its place. The heavens are as if vou saw a curtain stretched smooth in the air without any hand to hold it; and the earth is as if you saw a ball hanging in the air without any solid body to under-prop it, or any line to hinder it from falling; both standing monuments of the omnipotence of God. He then takes notice of his daily power in the clouds; “He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them” (ver. 8). He compacts the waters together in clouds, and keeps them by his power in the air against the force of their natural gravity and heaviness, till they are fit to flow down upon the earth, and perform his pleasure in the places for which he designs them. “The cloud is not rent under them;” the thin air is not split asunder by the weight of the waters contained in the cloud above it. He causes them to distil by drops, and strains them, as it were, through a thin lawn, for the refreshment of the earth; and suffers them not to fall in the whole lump, with a violent torrent, to waste the industry of man, and bring famine upon the world, by destroying the fruits of the earth. What a wonder it would be to see but one entire drop of water hang itself but one inch above the ground, unless it be a bubble which is preserved by the air enclosed within it! What a wonder would it be to see a gallon of water contained in a thin cobweb as strongly as in a vessel of brass! Greater is the wonder of Divine power in those thin bottles of heaven, as they are called (Job 38:37); and therefore called his clouds here, as being daily instances of his omnipotence: that the air should sustain those rolling vessels, as it should seem, weightier than itself; that the force of this mass of waters should not break so thin a prison, and hasten to its proper place, which is below the air: that they should be daily confined against their natural inclination, and held by so slight a chain; that there should be such a gradual and successive falling of them, as if the air were pierced with holes like a gardener’s watering-pot, and not fall in one entire body to drown or drench some parts of the earth. These are hourly miracles of Divine power, as little regarded as clearly visible. He proceeds (ver. 9), “He holds back the face of his throne, and spreads the clouds upon it.” The clouds are designed as curtains to cover the heavens, as well as vessels to water the earth (Psalm 147:8). As a tapestry curtain between the heavens, the throne of God (Isa. 46:1), and the earth his footstool: the heavens are called his throne, because his power doth most shine forth there, and magnificently declare the glory of God; and the clouds are as a screen between the scorching heat of the sun, and the tender plants of the earth, and the weak bodies of men. From hence he descends to the sea, and considers the Divine power apparent in the bounding of it (ver. 10); “He hath compassed the waters with bounds, till the day and night come to an end.” This is several times mentioned in Scripture as a signal mark of Divine strength (Job 38:8; Prov. 8:27). He hath measured a place for the sea, and struck the limits of it as with a compass, that it might not mount above the surface of the land, and ruin the ends of the earth’s creation; and this, while day and night have their mutual turns, till he shall make an end of time by removing the measures of it. The bounds of the tumultuous sea are, in many places, as weak as the bottles of the upper waters; the one is contained in thin air, and the other restrained by weak sands, in many places, as well as by stubborn rocks in others; that, though it swells, foams, roars, and the waves, encouraged and egged on by strong winds, come like mountains against the shore; they overflow it not, but humble themselves when they come near to those sands, which are set as their lists and limits, and retire back to the womb that brought them forth, as if they were ashamed and repented of their proud invasion: or else it may be meant of the tides of the sea, and the stated time God hath set it for its ebbing and flowing, till night and day come to an end; both that the fluid waters should contain themselves within due bounds, and keep their perpetually orderly motion, are amazing arguments of Divine power. He passes on to the consideration of the commotions in the air and earth, raised and stilled by the power of God; “The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof:” By pillars of heaven are not meant angels, as some think, but either the air, called the pillars of heaven in regard of place, as it continues and knits together the parts of the world, as pillars do the upper and nether parts of a building: as the lowest parts of the earth are called the foundations of the earth, so the lowest parts of the heaven may be called the pillars of heaven: or else by that phrase may be meant mountains, which seem, at a distance, to touch the sky, as pillars do the top of a structure; and so it may be spoken, according to vulgar capacity, which imagines the heavens to be sustained by the two extreme parts of the earth, as a convex body, or to be arched by pillars; whence the Scripture, according to common apprehensions, mentions the ends of the earth, and the utmost parts of the heavens, though they have properly no end, as being round. The power of God is seen in those commotions in the air and earth, by thunders, lightnings, storms, earthquakes, which rack the air, and make the mountains and hills tremble as servants before a frowning and rebuking master. And as he makes motions in the earth and air, so is his power seen in their influences upon the sea; “He judges the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smites through the proud” (ver. 12). At the creation he put the waters into several channels, and caused the dry land to appear barefaced for a habitation for man and beasts; or rather, he splits the sea by storms, as though he would make the bottom of the deep visible, and rakes up the sands to the surface of the waters, and marshals the waves into mountains and valleys.
After that, “he smites through the proud,” that is, humbles the proud waves, and, by allaying the storm, reduceth them to their former level: the power of God is visible, as well in rebuking, as in awakening the winds; he makes them sensible of his voice, and, according to his pleasure, exasperates or calms them.
The “striking through the proud” here, is not, probably, meant of the destruction of the Egyptian army, for some guess that Job died that year, or about the time of the Israelites coming out of Egypt; so that this discourse here, being in the time of his affliction, could not point at that which was done after his restoration to his temporal prosperity. And now, at last, he sums up the power of God, in the chiefest of his works above, and the greatest wonder of his works below (ver. 13); “By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent,” &c. The greater and lesser lights, sun, moon, and stars, the ornaments and furniture of heaven; and the whale, a prodigious monument of God’s power, often mentioned in Scripture to this purpose, and, in particular, in this book of Job (ch. 41.); and called by the same name of crooked serpent (Isa. 27:1), where it is applied, by way of metaphor, to the king of Assyria or Egypt, or all oppressors of the church. Various interpretations there are of this crooked serpent: some understanding that constellation in heaven which astronomers call the dragon; some that combination of weaker stars, which they call the galaxia, which winds about the heavens: but it is most probable that Job, drawing near to a conclusion of his discourse, joins the two greatest testimonies of God’s power in the world, the highest heavens, and the lowest leviathan, which is here called a bar serpent, in regard of his strength and hardness, as mighty men are called bars in Scripture (Jer. 51:30); “Her bars are broken things.” And in regard of this power of God in the creation of this creature, it is particularly mentioned in the catalogue of God’s works (Gen. 1:21); “And God created great whales;” all the other creatures being put into one sum, and not particularly expressed. And now he makes use of this lecture in the text, “Lo, these are parts of his ways; but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?” This is but a small landscape of some of his works of power; the outsides and extremities of it; more glorious things are within his palaces: though those things argue a stupendous power of the Creator, in his works of creation and providence, yet they are nothing to what may be declared of his power. And what may be declared, is nothing to what may be conceived; and what may be conceived, is nothing to what is above the conceptions of any creature. These are but little crumbs and fragments of that Infinite Power, which is, in his nature, like a drop in comparison of the mighty ocean; a hiss or whisper in comparison of a mighty voice of thunder. This, which I have spoken, is but like a spark to the fiery region, a few lines, by the by, a drop of speech.
The thunder of his power. Some understand it of thunder literally, for material thunder in the air: “The thunder of his power,” that is, according to the Hebrew dialect, “his powerful thunder.” This is not the sense; the nature of thunder in the air doth not so much exceed the capacity of human understanding; it is, therefore, rather to be understood metaphorically, “the thunder of his power,” that is, the greatness and immensity of his power, manifested in the magnificent miracles of nature, in the consideration whereof men are astonished, as if they had heard an unusual clap of thunder. So thunder is used (Job 39:25), “The thunder of the captains;” that is, strength and force of the captains of an army: and (ver. 19), God, speaking to Job of a horse, saith, “Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” that is, strength: and thunder being a mark of the power of God, some of the heathen have called God by the name of a Thunderer. As thunder pierceth the lowest places, and alters the state of things, so doth the power of God penetrate into all things whatsoever; the thunder of his power, that is, the greatness of his power; as “the strength of salvation” (Psalm 20:6), that is, a mighty salvation.
Who can understand? Who is able to count all the monuments of his power? How doth this little, which I have spoken of, exceed the capacity of our understanding, and is rather the matter of our a stonishment, than the object of our comprehensive knowledge. The power of the greatest potentate, or the mightiest creature, is but of small extent: none but have their limits; it may be understood how far they can act, in what sphere their activity is bounded: but when I have spoken all of Divine power that I can, when you leave thought all that you can think of it, your souls will prompt you to conceive something more beyond what I have spoken, and what you have thought. His power shines in everything, and is beyond everything. There is infinitely more power lodged in his nature, not expressed to the world. The understanding of men and angels, centred in one creature, would fall short of the perception of the infiniteness of it. All that can be comprehended of it, are but little fringes of it, a small portion. No man ever discoursed, or can, of God’s power, according to the magnificence of it. No creature can conceive it; God himself only comprehends it; God himself is only able to express it. Man’s power being limited, his line is too short to measure the incomprehensible omnipotence of God. “The thunder of his power who can understand?” that is, none can. The text is a lofty declaration of the Divine power, with a particular note of attention, Lo! I. In the expressions of it, in the works of creation and providence, Lo, these are his ways; ways and works excelling any created strength, referring to the little summary of them he had made before. II. In the insufficiency of these ways to measure his pow er, But how little a portion is heard of him. III. In the incomprehensibleness of it, The thunder of his power, who can understand? Doctrine. Infinite and incomprehensible power pertains to the nature of God, and is expressed, in part, in his works; or, though there be a mighty expression of Divine power in his works, yet an incomprehensible power pertains to his nature. “The thunder of his power, who can understand?”
His power glitters in all his works, as well as his wisdom (Psalm 62:11): “Twice have I heard this, that power belongs unto God.” In the law and in the prophets, say some; but why power twice, and not mercy, which he speaks of in the following verse? He had heard of power twice, from the voice of creation, and from the voice of government. Mercy was heard in government after man’s fall, not creation; innocent man was an object of God’s goodness, not of his mercy, till he made himself miserable; power was expressed in both: or, twice have I heard that power belongs to God, that is, it is a certain and undoubted truth, that power is essential to the Divine nature. It is true, mercy is essential, justice is essential; but power more apparently essential, because no acts of mercy, or justice, or wisdom, can be exercised by him without power; the repetition of a thing confirms the certainty of it. Some observe, that God is called Almighty seventy times in Scripture. Though his power be evident in all his works, yet he hath a power beyond the expression of it in his works, which, as it is the glory of his nature, so it is the comfort of a believer. To which purpose the apostle expresseth it by an excellent paraphrasis for the honor of the Divine nature (Eph. 3:20): “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, unto him be glory in the churches.” We have reason to acknowledge him Almighty, who hath a power of acting above our power of understanding. Who could have imagined such a powerful operation in the propagation of the gospel, and the conversion of the Gentiles, which the apostle seems to hint at in that place? His power is expressed by “horns in his hands” (Hab. 3:4); because all the works of his hands are wrought with Almighty strength. Power is also used as a name of God (Mark 14:62): “The Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power,” that is, at the right hand of God; God and power are so inseparable, that they are reciprocated. As his essence is immense, not to be confined in place; as it is eternal, not to be measured by time; so it is Almighty, not to be limited in regard of action.
1. It is ingenuously illustrated by some by a unit; all numbers depend upon it; it makes numbers by addition, multiplies them unexpressibly; when one unit is removed from a number, how vastly doth it diminish it! It gives perfection to all other numbers, it receives perfection from none. If you add a unit before 100, how doth it multiply it to 1,100! If you set a unit before 20,000,000, it presently makes the number swell up to 120,000,000; and so powerful is a unit, by adding it to numbers, that it will infinitely enlarge them to such a vastness, that shall transcend the capacity of the best arithmetician to count them.
By such a meditation as this, you may have some prospect of the power of that God who is only unity; the beginning of all things, as a unit is the beginning of all numbers; and can perform as many things really , as a unit can numerically; that is, can do as much in the making of creatures, as a unit can do in the multiplying of numbers. The omnipotence of God was scarce denied by any heathen that did not deny the being of a God; and that was Pliny, and that upon weak arguments.
2. Indeed we cannot have a conception of God, if we conceive him not most powerful, as well as most wise; he is not a God that cannot do what he will, and perform all his pleasure. If we imagine him restrained in his power, we imagine him limited in his esscnce; as he hath an infinite knowledge to know what is possible, he cannot be without an infinite power to do what is possible; as he hath a will to resolve what he sees good, so he cannot want a power to effect what he sees good to decree; as the essence of a creature cannot be conceived without that activity that belongs to his nature; as when you conceive fire, you cannot conceive it without a power of burning and warming; and when you conceive water, you cannot conceive it without a power of moistening and cleansing: so you cannot conceive an infinite essence without an infinite power of activity; and therefore a heathen could say, “If you know God, you know he can do all things;” and therefore, saith Austin, “Give me not only a Christian, but a Jew; not only a Jew, but a heathen, that will deny God to be Almighty.” A Jew, a heathen, may deny Christ to be omnipotent, but no heathen will deny God to be omnipotent, and no devil will deny either to be so: God cannot be conceived without some power, for then he must be conceived without action. Whose, then, are those products and effects of power, which are visible to us in the world? to whom do they belong? who is the Father of them? God cannot be conceived without a power suitable to his nature and essence. If we imagine him to be of an infinite essence, we must imagine him to be of an infinite power and strength.
In particular, I shall show—I. The nature of God’s power. II. Reasons to prove that God must needs be powerful. III. How his power appears in creation, in government, in redemption. IV. The Use.
I. What this power is; or the nature of it.
1. Power sometimes signifies authority: and a man is said to be mighty and powerful in regard of his dominion, and the right he hath to command multitudes of other persons to take his part; but power taken for strength, and power taken for authority, are distinct things, and may be separated from one another. Power may be without authority; as in successful invasions, that have no just foundation. Authority may be without power; as in a just prince, expelled by an unjust rebellion, the authority resides in him, though he be overpowered, and is destitute of strength to support and exercise that authority. The power of God is not to be understood of his authority and dominion, but his strength to act; and the word in the text properly signifies strength.
2. This power is divided ordinarily into absolute and ordinate. Absolute, is that power whereby God is able to do that which he will not do, but is possible to be done; ordinate, is that power whereby God doth that which he hath decreed to do, that is, which he hath ordained or appointed to be exercised; which are not distinct powers, but one and the same power. His ordinate power is a part of his absolute; for if he had not a power to do every thing that he could will, he might not have the power to do everything that he doth absolute; for if he had not a power to do every thing that he could will, he might not have the power to do everything that he doth will. The object of his absolute power is all things possible; such things that imply not a contradiction, such that are not repugnant in their own nature to be done, and such as are not contrary to the nature and perfections of God to be done. Those things that are repugnant in their own nature to be done are several, as to make a thing which is past not to be past. As, for example, the world is created; God could have chose whether he would create the world, and after it is created he hath power to dissolve it; but after it was created, and when it is dissolved, it will be eternally true, that the world was created, and that it was dissolved; for it is impossible, that that which was once true, should ever be false: if it be true that the world was created, it will forever be true that it was created, and cannot be otherwise. And also, if it be once true that God hath decreed, it is impossible in its own nature to be true that God hath not decreed. Some things are repugnant to the nature and perfections of God; as it is impossible for his nature to die and perish; impossible for him, in regard of truth, to lie and deceive. But of this hereafter; only at present to understand the object of God’s absolute power to be things possible, that is, possible in nature; not by any strength in themselves, or of themselves; for nothing hath no strength, and everything is nothing before it comes into being; so God, by his absolute power, might have prevented the sin of the fallen angels, and so have preserved them in their first habitation. He might, by his absolute power, have restrained the devil from tempting of Eve, or restrained her and Adam from swallowing the bait, and joining hands with the temptation. By his absolute power, God might have given the reins to Peter to betray his Master, as well as to deny him; and employed Judas in the same glorious and successful service, wherein he employed Paul. By his absolute power, he might have created the world millions of years before he did create it, and can reduce it into its empty nothing this moment. This the Baptist affirms, when he tells us, “That God is able of these stones (meaning the stones in the wilderness, and not the people which came out to him out of Judea, which were children of Abraham) to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt. 3:9); that is, there is a possibility of such a thing there is no contradiction in it, but that God is able to do it if he please. But now the object of his ordinate power, is all things ordained by him to be done, all things decreed by him; and because of the Divine ordination of things, this power is called ordinate; and what is thus ordained by him he cannot but do, because of his unchangeableness. Both those powers are expressed (Matt. 26:53, 54), “My Father can send twelve legions of angels,” there is his absolute power; “but how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” there is his ordinate power. As his power is free from any act of his will, it is called absolute; as it is joined with an act of his will, it is called ordinate. His absolute power is necessary, and belongs to his nature; his ordinate power is free, and belongs to his will;—a power guided by his will,—not, as I said before, that they are two distinct powers, both belonging to his nature, but the latter is the same with the former, only it is guided by his will and wisdom.
3. It follows, then, that the power of God is that ability and strength, whereby he can bring to pass whatsoever he please; whatsoever his infinite wisdom can direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of his will can resolve. Power, in the primary notion of it, doth not signify an act, but an ability to bring a thing into act; it is power, as able to act before it doth actually produce a thing: as God had an ability to create before he did create, he had power before he acted that power without. Power notes the principle of the action, and, therefore, is greater than the act itself. Power exercised and diffused, in bringing forth and nursing in its particular objects without, is inconceivably less than that strength which is infinite in himself, the same with his essence, and is indeed himself: by his power exercised he doth whatsoever he actually wills; but by the power in his nature, he is able to do whatsoever he is able to will. The will of creatures may be, and is more extensive than their power; and their power more contracted and shortened than their will: but, as the prophet saith, “His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). His power is as great as his will, that is, whatsoever can fall within the verge of his will, falls within the compass of his power. Though he will never actually will this or that, yet supposing he should will it, he is able to perform it: so that you must, in your notion of Divine power, enlarge it further than to think God can only do what he hath resolved to do; but that he hath as infinite a capacity of power to act , as he hath an infinite capacity of will to resolve. Besides, this power is of that nature, that he can do whatsoever he pleases without difficulty, without resistance; it cannot be checked, restrained, frustrated. As he can do all things possible in regard of the object, he can do all things easily in regard of the manner of acting: what in human artificers is knowledge, labor, industry, that in God is his will; his will works without labor; his works stand forth as he wills them. Hands and arms are ascribed to him for our conceptions, because our power of acting is distinct from our will; but God’s power of acting is not really distinct from his will; it is sufficient to the existence of a thing that God wills it to exist; he can act what he will only by his will, without any instruments. He needs no matter to work upon, because he can make something from nothing; all matter owes itself to his creative power: he needs no time to work in, for he can make time when he pleases to begin to work: he needs no copy to work by; himself is his own pattern and copy in his works: All created agents want matter to work upon, instruments to work with, copies to work by; time to bring either the births of their minds, or the works of their hands, to perfection: but the power of God needs none of these things, but is of a vast and incomprehensible nature, beyond all these. As nothing can be done without the compass of it, so itself is without the compass of every created understanding.
4. This power is of a distinct conception from the wisdom and will of God. They are not really distinct, but according to our conceptions. We cannot discourse of Divine things, without observing some proportion of them with human, ascribing unto God the perfections, sifted from the imperfections of our nature. In us there are three orders of understanding, will, power; and, accordingly, three acts, counsel, resolution, execution; which, though they are distinct in us, are not really distinct in God. In our conceptions, the apprehension of a thing belongs to the understanding of God; determination, to the will of God; direction, to the wisdom of God; execution, to the power of God. The knowledge of God regards a thing as possible, and as it may be done; the wisdom of God regards a thing as fit, and convenient to be done; the will of God resolves that it shall be done; the power of God is the application of his will to effect what it hath resolved. Wisdom is a fixing the being of things, the measures and perfections of their several beings; power is a conferring those perfections and beings upon them. His power is his ability to act, and his wisdom is the director of his action: his will orders, his wisdom guides, and his power effects. His will as the spring, and his power as the worker, are expressed (Psalm 115:3). “He hath done whatsoever he pleased. He commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 140:5); and all three expressed (Eph. 1:11), “Who works all things according to the counsel of his own will:” so that the power of God is a perfection, as it were, subordinate to his understanding and will, to execute the results of his wisdom, and the orders of his will; to his wisdom as directing, because he works skilfully; to his will as moving and applying, because he works voluntarily and freely. The exercise of his power depends upon his will: His will is the supreme cause of everything that stands up in time, and all things receive a being as he wills them. His power is but will perpetually working, and diffusing itself in the season his will hath fixed from eternity; it is his eternal will in perpetual and successive springs and streams in the creatures; it is nothing else but the constant efficacy of his omnipotent will. This must be understood of his ordinate power; but his absolute power is larger than his resolving will: for though the Scripture tells us, “He hath done whatsoever he will,” yet it tells us not, that he hath done whatsoever he could: he can do things that he will never do. Again, his power is distinguished from his will in regard of the exercise of it, which is after the act of his will: his will was conversant about objects, when his power was not exercised about them. Creatures were the objects of his will from eternity, but they were not from eternity the effects of his power. His purpose to create was from eternity, but the execution of his purpose was in time. Now this execution of his will we call his ordinate power: his wisdom and his will are supposed antecedent to his power, as the counsel and resolve; as the cause precedes the performance of the purpose as the effect.
Some distinguish his power from his understanding and will, in regard that his understanding and will are larger than his absolute power; for God understands sins, and wills to permit them, but he cannot himself do any evil or unjust action, nor have a power of doing it. But this is not to distinguish that Divine power, but impotence; for to be unable to do evil is the perfection of power; and to be able to do things unjust and evil, is a weakness, imperfection, and inability. Man indeed wills many things that he is not able to perform, and understands many things that he is not able to effect; he understands much of the creatures, something of sun, moon, and stars; he can conceive many suns, many moons, yet is not able to create the least atom: but there is nothing that belongs to power but God understands, and is able to effect. To sum this up, the will of God is the root of all, the wisdom of God is the copy of all, and the power of God is the framer of all.
The Existence and Attributes of God
DISCOURSE X - ON THE POWER OF GODJOB 26:14.—Lo! these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?