1 Chronicles 6
Descendants of Levi1 Chronicles 6 1 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 2 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 3 The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 4 Eleazar fathered Phinehas, Phinehas fathered Abishua, 5 Abishua fathered Bukki, Bukki fathered Uzzi, 6 Uzzi fathered Zerahiah, Zerahiah fathered Meraioth, 7 Meraioth fathered Amariah, Amariah fathered Ahitub, 8 Ahitub fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Ahimaaz, 9 Ahimaaz fathered Azariah, Azariah fathered Johanan, 10 and Johanan fathered Azariah (it was he who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem). 11 Azariah fathered Amariah, Amariah fathered Ahitub, 12 Ahitub fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Shallum, 13 Shallum fathered Hilkiah, Hilkiah fathered Azariah, 14 Azariah fathered Seraiah, Seraiah fathered Jehozadak; 15 and Jehozadak went into exile when the LORD sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. 16 The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. 17 And these are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their fathers. 20 Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, 21 Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son. 22 The sons of Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, 23 Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, 24 Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. 25 The sons of Elkanah: Amasai and Ahimoth, 26 Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, 27 Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. 28 The sons of Samuel: Joel his firstborn, the second Abijah. 29 The sons of Merari: Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, 30 Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.
31 These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order. 33 These are the men who served and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer the son of Joel, son of Samuel, 34 son of Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Eliel, son of Toah, 35 son of Zuph, son of Elkanah, son of Mahath, son of Amasai, 36 son of Elkanah, son of Joel, son of Azariah, son of Zephaniah, 37 son of Tahath, son of Assir, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, 38 son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, son of Israel; 39 and his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, namely, Asaph the son of Berechiah, son of Shimea, 40 son of Michael, son of Baaseiah, son of Malchijah, 41 son of Ethni, son of Zerah, son of Adaiah, 42 son of Ethan, son of Zimmah, son of Shimei, 43 son of Jahath, son of Gershom, son of Levi. 44 On the left hand were their brothers, the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, son of Abdi, son of Malluch, 45 son of Hashabiah, son of Amaziah, son of Hilkiah, 46 son of Amzi, son of Bani, son of Shemer, 47 son of Mahli, son of Mushi, son of Merari, son of Levi. 48 And their brothers the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
49 But Aaron and his sons made offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. 50 These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, 51 Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, 52 Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, 53 Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.
54 These are their dwelling places according to their settlements within their borders: to the sons of Aaron of the clans of Kohathites, for theirs was the first lot, 55 to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its surrounding pasturelands, 56 but the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 57 To the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah with its pasturelands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands, 58 Hilen with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands, 59 Ashan with its pasturelands, and Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands; 60 and from the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon, Geba with its pasturelands, Alemeth with its pasturelands, and Anathoth with its pasturelands. All their cities throughout their clans were thirteen.
61 To the rest of the Kohathites were given by lot out of the clan of the tribe, out of the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities. 62 To the Gershomites according to their clans were allotted thirteen cities out of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh in Bashan. 63 To the Merarites according to their clans were allotted twelve cities out of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun. 64 So the people of Israel gave the Levites the cities with their pasturelands. 65 They gave by lot out of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin these cities that are mentioned by name.
66 And some of the clans of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory out of the tribe of Ephraim. 67 They were given the cities of refuge: Shechem with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, 68 Jokmeam with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands, 69 Aijalon with its pasturelands, Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands, 70 and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Aner with its pasturelands, and Bileam with its pasturelands, for the rest of the clans of the Kohathites.
71 To the Gershomites were given out of the clan of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasturelands and Ashtaroth with its pasturelands; 72 and out of the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its pasturelands, Daberath with its pasturelands, 73 Ramoth with its pasturelands, and Anem with its pasturelands; 74 out of the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its pasturelands, Abdon with its pasturelands, 75 Hukok with its pasturelands, and Rehob with its pasturelands; 76 and out of the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its pasturelands, Hammon with its pasturelands, and Kiriathaim with its pasturelands. 77 To the rest of the Merarites were allotted out of the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasturelands, Tabor with its pasturelands, 78 and beyond the Jordan at Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, out of the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its pasturelands, Jahzah with its pasturelands, 79 Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands; 80 and out of the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its pasturelands, Mahanaim with its pasturelands, 81 Heshbon with its pasturelands, and Jazer with its pasturelands.
What I'm Reading
Why Would God Send Good People to Hell?
By J. Warner Wallace 9/13/2017
I’ve been blogging recently on the existence and nature of Hell and, unsurprisingly, I’ve received tremendous response from Christians and non-Christians alike (much of it hostile). The topic polarizes believers and unbelievers. Many Christians struggle to correlate God’s mercy with a place of permanent justice, while others prefer to believe God would annihilate rebellious souls rather than assign them to Hell eternally. Non-believers often point to the apparent unfairness of God related to those who either reject Jesus or haven’t heard of Him. After all, there are millions of good people in the world who are not Christians. Is it fair for God to penalize people who are otherwise good? A good God would not send good people to Hell, would He?
Here’s the good news: God will not send good people to Hell; of this we can be sure. But, here’s the bad news: “good” people are far rarer than most skeptics (and many Christians) are willing to admit. The Christian worldview describes the true nature of humans and the incredible sovereignty of God, and once these truths are understood, no one will expect their own “goodness” to merit Heaven:
People (By Their Very Nature) Are Not “Good” | We don’t have to teach our infants to be selfish, impatient, rude and self-serving; infants must be taught just the opposite. We don’t come into the world equipped automatically with sacrificial “goodness”. We must be taught how to love, how to think beyond our own needs and desires, how to share and how to appreciate others. The daily news headlines are filled with examples of young men and women who were not taught how to love and respect the law. When young people are not nurtured and trained in this way, they default back to their innate nature. And if we are honest with ourselves, each of us must admit we often have difficulty controlling our anger, our lust, or our pride. We are inherently fallen creatures, trying our best to constrain our fallen nature. The Bible simply recognizes the innately fallen nature of humans (as described in Romans 3:10-18).
(Ro 3:10–18) 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ESV
Heaven (By Its Very Nature) Is “Perfect | If there is a God, He is responsible for creating everything in the Universe. This means that God created matter from non-matter and life from non-life. If this is true, God has incredible, infinite, and unspeakable power. With muscle like that, God surely has the power to eliminate imperfection. This is why, as Christians, we believe that God is perfect; He has the ability to eliminate imperfection. The Christian God is not a “good God” after all. He is a “perfect God”. His standard is not “goodness”, it is “perfection”. The real question that each of us has to ask ourselves is not “Are we good?”, but “Are we perfect?” Can any of us answer in the affirmative here? Even if we reject the teaching of the Bible, but accept the possibility that there may be an all-powerful God, we must acknowledge that His standard will be perfection and that we will ultimately fall short of this standard.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
God Didn’t Write a Book
By Tim Challies 9/14/2017
The Bible is a book—God’s book. Even a child knows this, right? Except that the Bible isn’t a book. Not really.
The Bible was at first oral transmission passed from person to person, events and conversations observed, remembered, and shared. But it was still the Bible.
Then the Bible was a collection of scrolls, each containing a single letter or history or group of psalms. But it was still the Bible.
Then the Bible was a series of codices, large sheets of vellum folded in half and tied together along the fold. But it was still the Bible.
Then, at last, the Bible was printed on paper and bound between two covers. And only now was the Bible a book. It took the printing press to make the Bible a book, but it didn’t take the printing press to make the Bible the Bible.
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
Four Changes That Will Win the Heart of Generation Z Students
By Tim Elmore
Ours is a world where students are savvy and aware—and very difficult to “wow.” Many are well-informed, well-entertained and have already traveled to places we never traveled until we were well into our adult lives. They scroll through their phones looking for something that will capture their interest. Due to over-exposure to information some have become jaded. Teachers today compete for their attention against the likes of YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and Snapchat. “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention,” writes Herbert Simon.
So how do we lead a kid who is so difficult to impress?
My advice? Don’t try to wow them. Try to win them.
I believe educators and parents can play a unique role in the lives of students. While Hollywood can capture their attention for a few moments, caring adults can engage them in a way that’s personal and meaningful. Recently, I had a conversation with a faculty member who said he’s taken on the challenge to “win” the hearts of his students. His report card? Just like students will binge-watch a series on Netflix, he’s working to get students to want to “binge watch” his classes and other science programs on YouTube or TV.
Question: Would students want to binge watch your class?
From the classroom to the boardroom, Elmore is a dynamic communicator who uses principles, images, and stories to strengthen leaders. He has taught leadership to Delta Global Services, Chick-fil-A, Inc., The Home Depot, The John Maxwell Co., HomeBanc, and Gold Kist, Inc., among others. He has also taught courses on leadership and mentoring at nine universities and graduate schools across the U.S. Committed to developing young leaders on every continent of the world, Elmore also has shared his insights in more than thirty countries--including India, Russia, China, and Australia.
Tim's expertise on emerging generations and generational diversity in the workplace has led to media coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, Investor's Business Daily, Huffington Post, MSNBC.com, The Washington Post, WorkingMother.com, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and Portfolio.com. Tim has appeared on CNN's Headline News and FOX & Friends discussing parenting trends and advice. Tim Elmore Books:
- 1 Habitudes Book 1: The Art of Self-Leadership [Faith-Based] (Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes)
- 2 Marching Off the Map: Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World
- 3 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life
- 4 Generation Iy (Updated and Expanded): 5th Anniversary Edition
- 5 Habitudes for the Journey The Art of Navigating Transitions
- 6 Habitudes Book 1: The Art of Self-Leadership [Values-Based] (Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes)
- 7 Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults
- 8 Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits & Attitudes 2
- 9 Habitudes, the Art of Connecting with Others (A Character Based Resource)
- 10 Habitudes The Art of Engaging Communication
- 11 Habitudes for the Journey: The Art of Navigating Transitions
- 12 Habitudes, the Art of Leading Others (A Character Based Resource)
Seven Reasons You Owe Everything to Suffering
By John Piper 7/11/2017
Now let me draw this to a close with a quick summary of seven statements. They go by real fast, showing you that every grace, every blessing, every good thing you ever dreamed about having now or in eternity comes to you through suffering, and only through suffering; namely, the suffering of Jesus. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was the name of the book before the foundation of the world, and it was the ground of grace before the foundation of the world. I want you to feel, I owe everything I ever dreamed of having to suffering.
1. Christ absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf and he did it by suffering.
(Ga 3:13) 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— ESV
Your deliverance from God’s curse came through suffering.
2. Christ bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness, and he did it by suffering.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Seven Reasons You Owe Everything To Suffering
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
Are We Called to Thank God for Our Severest Suffering?
By John Piper 9/11/2017
“My youngest son, Josiah, was diagnosed with bone cancer in July 2013 at the age of twelve. The period of his treatment was really hard, full of intense pain and sickness for him and anxiety for us all. But by the end of his treatment in September 2014, we thought he had come through it. However, at his first post-treatment check, we were told his cancer had returned, riddled his lungs, and he died in April 2015 at the age of fourteen. I am thankful that the Lord had given Josiah a faith that enabled him to face death without fear, and I have confidence that Josiah is now with Jesus. I hold on to the truth that in some way this is part of a plan that makes sense. But the grief has frequently felt unbearable, and now, just over two years later, it still comes crashing in waves that at times feel impossible to withstand."
“My question comes from something I read recently in your book ‘Future Grace.’ At the end of chapter two you write, ‘When faith in God’s future grace is strong, the message is sent that this kind of God makes no mistakes, so that everything he has done in the past is part of a good plan and can be remembered with gratitude. . . . Only if we trust God to turn past calamities into future comfort can we look back with gratitude for all things.’ Gratitude for all things is my question. I can say, ‘Thank you, Lord, for being with us during Josiah’s suffering.’ But it’s difficult for me to say, ‘Thank you, Lord, for Josiah’s suffering.’ I cannot get there, certainly not on an emotional level. Can you help me see what it looks like, or feels like, to be able to say thank you for this deep suffering?”
First, my heart, Kathy, is rising up in praise to God for your words “I am thankful that the Lord had given Josiah a faith that enabled him to face death without fear.” That is a staggering miracle. There are millions of professing Christians who claim to have walked with God for years who don’t come close to that kind of faith.
In fact, it’s the horror of it that makes the faith so unspeakably amazing. That’s my first overflow of praise.
My second one is for your words, Kathy, “I hold on to the truth that in some way this is part of a plan that makes sense.” Well, that holding on to God’s word is another amazing miracle of God’s grace, which I suppose in a mother’s heart is only a little less marvelous than her son’s own faith.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
To My Daughter, Turning Ten
By Paul Beston 9/13/2017
Beacon’s Riverfront Park looks different today, as if we’d been away for years, though it has only been a month or two since our last visit. They’ve erected a new sign in honor of Pete and Toshi Seeger, for whom the park is now named. The sign stands in front of the volleyball pits, which, today, have a full battalion of twentysomethings playing in them—the men shirtless, the women in tank tops and gym shorts, the laughter boisterous and the banter refreshingly unprofane. When you were younger and I took you here every summer weekend, you used the volleyball pits as a sandbox—you wanted to dig “bolt holes,” like you’d seen on Meerkat Manor—and were always disappointed if they were occupied. Today, you don’t seem to notice.
“I want to check something, okay?” And you’re off, running, toward the river. You probably want to see whether it’s high or low tide—if low, a large bank of rocks will protrude above the surface, and you like stepping out onto them, at least before you get to the ones too slippery with river slime. I’m watching you run: long strides, arms swinging in symmetry, something confident about the way you move. On your way, you pass a group of toddlers, and I’m astonished at how you tower over them and by the contingencies that shadow their every step.
Did you really move like that? You did. There is no more apt word for it than “toddle” (a drunk totters, a child toddles). These tiny people, even when moving on surfaces as flat as kitchen floors, jostle like pickups on potholed back roads. When you could toddle reliably, I’d let you run from the car to the play structures in the park’s center, while I followed. I’m seeing that little girl running away in my mind’s eye now; I’ll probably see her when my time comes.
And the even smaller girl: When your overnights settled into a regular pattern, I started manning them. At 2 a.m., like a metronome, you needed a change and a bottle—reasonable demands. I’d sit with you in my lap until you had settled back off to sleep. Your room smelled like Burt’s Bees; your still-wiry hair felt like a texture from some other world. The only sound was the low ticking of a clock. These were the most peaceful moments of my life.
Almost since you’ve been talking, you’ve been fascinated with the idea of the “older girl.” We spent slow winter afternoons at Jumpin’ Jakes, a play space filled with inflatable “bounce houses.” You were four years old when you emerged from one, breathless, eyes bright, and exclaimed: “Daddy! I played with an older girl!” The girl in question, still bouncing, looked back and smiled. She was about as old as you are now.
The Unreasonableness of Secular Public Reason
By Matthew J. Franck 8/28/2015
When voters and legislators act on religiously informed moral convictions in making the law, it may entail a blending of religion and politics that is disquieting to the secular liberal mind, but it closes no gap in the “separation of church and state.”
Although it may come as a surprise to some, the Constitution does not enact Mr. John Rawls’s Political Liberalism. That is to say, it is a category error to attribute to the Constitution (via the establishment clause of the First Amendment) the Rawlsian concept that “public reason” and political discourse should exclude “comprehensive doctrines” such as religious belief systems.
The accents of this argument could be heard in the Iowa supreme court’s marriage ruling in 2009, in which the court held that “religious opposition to same-sex marriage” was the real reason the state protected conjugal marriage in its law. Therefore, the judgment went, the law lacked a rational basis and was unconstitutional. Likewise, Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court that struck down California’s Proposition 8 claimed to “find” as a “fact” that “moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples” with respect to marriage. For Walker, “moral” was fungible with “religious,” and therefore Prop 8—you guessed it—lacked a rational basis.
The granddaddy of this strange argument is the view of Justice John Paul Stevens in the 1989 abortion case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. Stevens preposterously argued that a Missouri abortion law lacked “any secular purpose for the legislative declarations that life begins at conception and that conception occurs at fertilization” (which happen to be two uncontroversial scientific facts); that he could perceive only theological propositions at work in such legislation; and that therefore it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
This transparent attempt to cripple legislative efforts to regulate or prohibit abortions was predicated not only on a willful blindness about the character of the arguments employed by pro-life legislators, but on a tortured reading of the Establishment Clause. For even if it were the case that prohibition of abortion rested, in the final analysis for every one of its supporters, on a theological proposition about the sanctity of human life, such a prohibition would not violate any reasonable reading of the First Amendment.
Don’t Be Caught without a Confession
By Michael Reeves 9/2017
hristians have always written and cherished summaries of their beliefs. The Bible records the earliest of these confessions of faith (1 Tim 3:16). Then, the early post-Apostolic church produced definitive statements of essential Christian belief, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, still considered benchmarks of orthodoxy. In the centuries that have followed, Christians have continued to produce confessions: the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Thirty-Nine Articles (1562), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), and so on. The church has never been without a confession or creed.
The Recipe And The Pudding | However, for all their defining importance in Christian history, confessions of faith have met with mixed reactions from Christians. While many believers have used confessions enthusiastically, others have claimed that confessions replace a vital relationship with God with a desiccated list of doctrine, replacing the Spirit with the letter, leaving only a husk of dead, dull orthodoxy. However, to understand confessions this way is to mistake the recipe for the pudding. Confessions, like recipes, are descriptions of the vital ingredients in the Christian life of faith, not to be confused with the reality itself. That does not mean the description is unimportant: different ingredients will make a different pudding. But, if you try to eat the recipe card rather than the pudding, you will be sadly disappointed.
There is a deeper, more sinister reason for our distrust of confessions. It started in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve refused to listen to God. Ever since then, mankind pretends that God has not spoken to us. If we admit that God has spoken, we must also admit that we knowingly disobey Him—an admission that we are not the lords and gods we daily pretend to be. Vagueness about what the Bible teaches and a lack of specificity in matters of theology maintain this Edenic error. Without confessions of faith, we are speculating in the dark, denying that God has spoken His revealing light into the world (John 1:1–5). Undisturbed by the harsh light of divine revelation, we are free to dwell in the shadows, fashioning idols to our hearts’ content, crafting a self-made religion out of comforting experiences, moralism, or whatever we choose.
History is replete with this tendency. Consider an example. In seventeenth-century England, a group of theologians called latitudinarians, tired of the never-ending theological debates that flowed from the Reformation, sought a Christianity shorn of most of its doctrine. Doctrine became a dirty word. For them, Christianity was essentially morality—the less doctrine it had, the more people could agree and unite. The problem was that this unity was built around the standards of morality rather than Christ.
In many ways, the latitudinarians were heralds of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment skepticism toward all doctrine epitomized by Edward Gibbon. In his monumental Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon looks despairingly at the doctrinal disputes of the early post-Apostolic church as nothing but irrelevant bickering. For example, Gibbon dismisses the Arian controversy’s debate over whether Christ is truly God (homoousios) or merely an exalted creature (homoiousios) by saying, “The difference between the Homoousion and the Homoiousion is almost invisible to the nicest theological eye.”1 For Gibbon, it was an immaterial debate over the single letter i. Yet the argument was over far more essential matters. The controversy was about whether Christ is God, whether He is to be worshiped as God. That single i divided orthodoxy from heresy, with one side claiming Christ as Creator, while the other saw Him as nothing more than a created being. Gibbon’s blithe indifference to doctrine could just as easily argue that the difference between Christianity and Islam is merely one of numbers: one (Allah) or three (Father, Son, Spirit). We know, however, that doctrinal precision matters.
- 1 Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith
- 2 The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation
- 3 Why the Reformation Still Matters
- 4 Rejoicing in Christ
- 5 The Reformation: What You Need to Know and Why (Lausanne Library)
- 6 Enjoy Your Prayer Life
- 7 The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit
- 8 Freedom Movement
- 9 Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives
- 10 Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life)
- 11 The Breeze of the Centuries: Introducing Great Theologians - From the Apostolic Fathers to Aquinas
- 12 Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves (2012-08-18)
- 13 On Giants' Shoulders: Introducing Great Theologians - from Luther to Barth
- 14 Introducing Major Theologians: From the Apostolic Fathers to the Twentieth Century
- 15 Christ Our Life
- 16 The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves (2009-06-19)
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 103Bless the LORD, O My Soul
103 Of David.
6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
(Sept 15) Bob Gass
(1 Jn 1:7–8) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ESV
Going to church, doing your best, and subscribing to fuzzy notions about God won’t get you into heaven. Here’s the testimony of those already in heaven: ‘To him who loves us…freed us from our sins by his blood, and…made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…be glory and power for ever and ever!’ (Revelation 1:5-6 NIV 2011 Edition). There’s an interesting story behind a broken rope on display at the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt, Switzerland. Some climbers who scaled the Matterhorn used it to rope themselves together for the return descent. But one climber slipped and dragged three others with him into an abyss. The other team members braced for the shock on the rope linking them all together, expecting it to halt their companions’ fall. But the tug came, and to everyone’s horror the rope snapped, plunging them to their deaths. Nobody knows why an inferior rope was used. But they do know it wasn’t genuine Alpine rope, which is guaranteed and distinguished by a red strand running through it. There’s a lesson here. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible has a red strand running through it, and it represents the only thing that can save you - the blood of Jesus. Old Testament believers looked forward to the cross, and New Testament believers looked back to it. By trusting in Christ’s finished work, you’re accepted by God, and one day the door of heaven will open and you’ll live with Him forever. And it’s all based on this truth: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ…cleanses us from all sin.’ No more is required, and nothing less will get you through the door!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He was the only US President to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was appointed by President McKinley as the first governor of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War and by President Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of War. The largest President, weighing over 300 lbs, a bathtub was installed for him in the White House, big enough to hold four men. His name was William Howard Taft, and he was born this day September 15, 1857. President Taft stated: “A God-fearing nation, like ours, owes it to its inborn… sense of moral duty to testify… devout gratitude to the All-Giver for… countless benefits.”American Minute
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Through a woman we were sent to destruction;
through a woman salvation was restored to us.
Mankind is divided into two sorts:
such as live according to man,
and such as live according to God.
These we call the ‘two cities,’
the one predestined to reign eternally with God,
and the other condemned to perpetual torment with Satan.
--- Saint Augustine of Hippo Bishop
Of all the blessings bestowed on man, the greatest lies in the fact that God's face is forever hidden from him.
--- Isaac Bashevis Singer
The spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who,
nearly two thousand years ago,
taught mankind the lesson it has never learned,
but has never quite forgotten--
that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be…
side by side with the greatest.
--- Judge Learned Hand
Unity that is formed on expedience is, in reality, grounded upon an implicit ignorance. As everyone knows, all colors will look the same in the dark.
--- Francis Bacon
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
How The Soldiers, Both In Judea And Egypt, Proclaimed Vespasian Emperor; And How Vespasian Released Josephus From His Bonds.
1. Now about this very time it was that heavy calamities came about Rome on all sides; for Vitellius was come from Germany with his soldiery, and drew along with him a great multitude of other men besides. And when the spaces allotted for soldiers could not contain them, he made all Rome itself his camp, and filled all the houses with his armed men; which men, when they saw the riches of Rome with those eyes which had never seen such riches before, and found themselves shone round about on all sides with silver and gold, they had much ado to contain their covetous desires, and were ready to betake themselves to plunder, and to the slaughter of such as should stand in their way. And this was the state of affairs in Italy at that time.
2. But when Vespasian had overthrown all the places that were near to Jerusalem, he returned to Cesarea, and heard of the troubles that were at Rome, and that Vitellius was emperor. This produced indignation in him, although he well knew how to be governed as well as to govern, and could not, with any satisfaction, own him for his lord who acted so madly, and seized upon the government as if it were absolutely destitute of a governor. And as this sorrow of his was violent, he was not able to support the torments he was under, nor to apply himself further in other wars, when his native country was laid waste; but then, as much as his passion excited him to avenge his country, so much was he restrained by the consideration of his distance therefrom; because fortune might prevent him, and do a world of mischief before he could himself sail over the sea to Italy, especially as it was still the winter season; so he restrained his anger, how vehement so ever it was at this time.
3. But now his commanders and soldiers met in several companies, and consulted openly about changing the public affairs; and, out of their indignation, cried out, how "at Rome there are soldiers that live delicately, and when they have not ventured so much as to hear the fame of war, they ordain whom they please for our governors, and in hopes of gain make them emperors; while you, who have gone through so many labors, and are grown into years under your helmets, give leave to others to use such a power, when yet you have among yourselves one more worthy to rule than any whom they have set up. Now what juster opportunity shall they ever have of requiting their generals, if they do not make use of this that is now before them? while there is so much juster reasons for Vespasian's being emperor than for Vitellius; as they are themselves more deserving than those that made the other emperors; for that they have undergone as great wars as have the troops that come from Germany; nor are they inferior in war to those that have brought that tyrant to Rome, nor have they undergone smaller labors than they; for that neither will the Roman senate, nor people, bear such a lascivious emperor as Vitellius, if he be compared with their chaste Vespasian; nor will they endure a most barbarous tyrant, instead of a good governor, nor choose one that hath no child 20 to preside over them, instead of him that is a father; because the advancement of men's own children to dignities is certainly the greatest security kings can have for themselves. Whether, therefore, we estimate the capacity of governing from the skill of a person in years, we ought to have Vespasian, or whether from the strength of a young man, we ought to have Titus; for by this means we shall have the advantage of both their ages, for that they will afford strength to those that shall be made emperors, they having already three legions, besides other auxiliaries from the neighboring kings, and will have further all the armies in the east to support them, as also those in Europe, so they as they are out of the distance and dread of Vitellius, besides such auxiliaries as they may have in Italy itself; that is, Vespasian's brother, 21 and his other son [Domitian]; the one of whom will bring in a great many of those young men that are of dignity, while the other is intrusted with the government of the city, which office of his will be no small means of Vespasian's obtaining the government. Upon the whole, the case may be such, that if we ourselves make further delays, the senate may choose an emperor, whom the soldiers, who are the saviors of the empire, will have in contempt."
4. These were the discourses the soldiers had in their several companies; after which they got together in a great body, and, encouraging one another, they declared Vespasian emperor, 22 and exhorted him to save the government, which was now in danger. Now Vespasian's concern had been for a considerable time about the public, yet did he not intend to set up for governor himself, though his actions showed him to deserve it, while he preferred that safety which is in a private life before the dangers in a state of such dignity; but when he refused the empire, the commanders insisted the more earnestly upon his acceptance; and the soldiers came about him, with their drawn swords in their hands, and threatened to kill him, unless he would now live according to his dignity. And when he had shown his reluctance a great while, and had endeavored to thrust away this dominion from him, he at length, being not able to persuade them, yielded to their solicitations that would salute him emperor.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
would you use your lips to deceive?
29 Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me,
I’ll pay him back what his deeds deserve.”
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
What to renounce
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty. --- 2 Cor. 4:2.
Have you “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty”—the things that your sense of honour will not allow to come to the light? You can easily hide them. Is there a thought in your heart about anyone which you would not like to be dragged into the light? Renounce it as soon as it springs up; renounce the whole thing until there is no hidden thing of dishonesty or craftiness about you. Envy, jealousy, strife—these things arise not necessarily from the disposition of sin, but from the make-up of your body which was used for this kind of thing in days gone by (see Romans 6:19 and 1 Peter 4:1–2): Maintain a continual watchfulness so that nothing of which you would be ashamed arises in your life.
“Not walking in craftiness,” that is, resorting to what will carry your point. This is a great snare. You know that God will only let you work in one way, then be careful never to catch people the other way; God’s blight will be upon you if you do. Others are doing things which to you would be walking in craftiness, but it may not be so with them; God has given you another standpoint. Never blunt the sense of your Utmost for His Highest. For you to do a certain thing would mean the incoming of craftiness for an end other than the highest, and the blunting of the motive God has given you. Many have gone back because they are afraid of looking at things from God’s stand-point. The crisis comes spiritually when a man has to emerge a bit farther on than the creed he has accepted.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
And beyond the window Denmark
Waited, but refused to adopt
This family that wore itself out
On its conscience, up and down
In the one room.
Meanwhile the acres
Of the imagination grew
Unhindered, though always they paused
At that labourer, the indictment
Of whose gesture was a warped
Crucifix upon a hill
In Jutland. The stern father
Looked at it and a hard tear
Formed, that the child's frightened
Sympathy could not convert
To a plaything.
He lived on,
Soren, with the deed's terrible lightning
About him, as though a bone
Had broken in the adored body
Of his God. The streets emptied
Of their people but for a girl
Already beginning to feel
The iron in her answering his magnet's
Pull. Her hair was to be
The moonlight towards which he leaned
From darkness. The husband stared
Through life's bars, venturing a hand
To pluck her from the shrill fire
Of his genius. The press sharpened
Its rapier; wounded, he crawled
To the monastery of his chaste thought
To offer up his crumpled amen.
Some people leave their mark on history, and their names become entries in the encyclopedia. A select few leave their mark on our language, and their names become entries in the cultural “dictionary.” To be an Einstein (Albert, 1879–1955) is to be a genius; to be a Rockefeller (John D., 1834–1937) is to be exceedingly rich. A Beau Brummel (George B., 1778–1840) is a fancy dresser. A Houdini (Harry, 1875–1926) makes an amazing escape or disappearance. A Mother Teresa (twentieth century) is a saintlike person who devotes herself to others. A Casanova (Giovanni, eighteenth century) is a prolific lover.
There are other names that have become symbols of shame or evil. There’s Captain Bligh (William, 1754–1817), a cruel taskmaster; Machiavelli (Niccolo, 1469–1527) an amoral politician or schemer; and, of course, Benedict Arnold (1741–1801), a traitor.
Then there’s the case of Vidkun Quisling (1887–1945), a Norwegian military officer. After the Nazis invaded Norway in April 1940, Quisling collaborated with the enemy and with their help assumed power. He ruled as a Nazi puppet and was known for his megalomania and cruelty. Following the war, he was arrested and tried for murder and treason and was executed by firing squad. His name became a part of the language: In the dictionary, quisling (with a lower case “q”) came to mean “a person who betrays his country by helping the enemy to invade and occupy.”
Imagine the difficulty for members of Quisling’s family (or even people who are not related but have the same last name). Though they may not have done anything wrong, they carry a name that actually means traitor and that evokes suspicion, anger, or hatred in those who encounter it. Think of assassins or serial killers in America’s history and how their last names have been brands of shame for family members. There are no doubt many people in recent times who have had their last names changed in order to escape the very strong reactions that their surnames evoked.
Adolf Hitler had a half-brother, Alois, who moved to England before the First World War. Alois’s son, William, eventually came to the United States, where he denounced the führer and later served in the U.S. Navy. William Hitler had three sons, each of whom changed his last name. They reside in New York’s Long Island, where they keep their infamous ancestry a family secret.
A name is something very precious. We need to remember to carry it always with pride. We also need to keep in mind (even those of us who will never become famous or infamous) that when we act in such a way that tarnishes our name, we harm more than just ourselves; we hurt everyone else who also carries that name.
“Pop, why do you always do that? Why do you always say ‘My father, zikhrono livrakhah’?”
“What do ya mean? Why do I mention my father, zikhrono livrakhah, so often?”
“Well, ya, that—and the fact that every time you talk about him—which is quite often—you add the words zikhrono livrakhah. ‘My father, zikhrono livrakhah.’ He died over sixty years ago!”
“Sixty-two years ago. When I was eleven years old.”
“I know. I know. You’ve told me the story often. ‘He worked in a factory, twelve, thirteen hours a day. One day, he came home and just collapsed into bed and never woke up again.’ But why, after all these years, do you still invoke his name with ‘zikhrono livrakhah’?”
“Zikhrono livrakhah means ‘of blessed memory.’ When he died, the rabbi told me: ‘Young man, you will think about your father often. You will remember how he worked hard to support your family. You’ll remember how he was an honest and kind-hearted man,’ ”
“ ‘And each time you recall him, you will say zikhrono livrakhah, of blessed memory.’ The rabbi explained how this is based on a verse from the Book of Proverbs: ‘The memory of the righteous is for a blessing.’ He told me that each time I think about my father and say zikhrono livrakhah, of blessed memory, I am keeping my father’s memory alive—and keeping him alive. Look, my father was too young when he died. He should have lived another twenty, thirty years at least. I figure that by talking about him and mentioning him often, I’m giving him another sixty-plus years of life.”
“But, Pop, he’s not alive, really.”
“Maybe not. But his memory is. And that’s a great source of comfort to me. And I know it would have been to him.”
“It just seems kind of creepy, that’s all.”
“Look, boychik, there are people in this world today—alive and breathing—who are as good as dead. No one notices them. They make no impact on the world. When they die, no one will miss them. They are ‘the living dead.’ My father, zikhrono livrakhah, had an influence on the world. I knew him only eleven years, but in that time, he taught me the values of hard work, concern for family, honest living. He loved me, and I loved him. So for me, he is still alive.”
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
--- Zechariah 13:7
Did the sword of divine justice smite the Shepherd, and at the same time [remove] all his outward comforts? (Works of John Flavel (6 Vol. Set)) “Of the Manner of Christ’s Death, in Respect to the Solitariness Thereof,” sermon 28 in a series, The Fountain of Life Opened Up, from The Works of John Flavel , vol. 1 (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968) Then learn that the holiest people have no reason to despond though God should at once strip them of all their outward and inward comforts. In one day Christ loses both heavenly and earthly comforts. Now as God dealt with Christ, he may at one time or other deal with his people. You have your comforts from heaven; so had Christ. He had comforts from his little flock; you have your comforts from the society of the saints, comfortable relations, and so on. Yet none of these are so firmly settled on you that you may not be left destitute of them all in one day. God took all comfort from Christ, both outward and inward—and are we greater than he?
Should the Lord deal thus with any of you, the following considerations will be seasonable and relieving.
First, though the Lord deal thus with you, yet this is no new thing; he has so dealt with others, yes, with Jesus Christ who was his equal. How little reason have we to complain?
Secondly, this befell Jesus Christ so that the similar condition might be sanctified to you when you are brought into it. Jesus Christ passed through such conditions on purpose that he might take away the curse and leave a blessing in those conditions, in preparation for the time that you would come into them.
Thirdly, though inward and outward comforts were both removed from Christ in one day, yet he did not lack support: “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32)—with me by way of support when not by way of comfort. Your God can in like manner support you when all tangible comforts shrink away from your soul and body in one day.
Remark that this comfortless, forsaken condition of Christ immediately preceded the day of his greatest glory and comfort. It was so with Christ, it may be so with you. Therefore act your faith on this, that the most glorious light usually follows the thickest darkness. The louder your groans are now, the louder your triumphs hereafter will be. The horror of your present will but add to the luster of your future state.
--- John Flavel
My Parish September 15
Antoinette Brown, born in a log cabin in New York, was moved by the ministry of Charles Finney at age six and joined the Congregational Church at age nine. She excelled in school. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1847, she created a stir among the faculty when she returned for graduate studies in theology. No woman had yet studied theology at Oberlin. Her family grew alarmed and stopped supporting her. At the end of her studies, she was given no part in the commencement exercises, and her name didn’t appear in the alumni catalog.
When she attended the World’s Temperance Convention in New York City, she was not allowed to speak. This so incensed Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune that he reported: This convention has completed three of its four business sessions, and the results may be summed up as follows: First Day—Crowding a woman off the platform. Second Day—Gagging her. Third Day—Voting that she shall stay gagged. Having thus disposed of the main question, we presume the incidentals will be finished this Morning.
Greeley’s words catapulted Antoinette Brown to prominence, and she was offered a preaching ministry at a large New York City church. But she felt too inexperienced for a large metropolitan pulpit, accepting a call instead to a small Congregational church, having “neither steeple or bell,” in South Butler, New York.
There on September 15, 1853, Antoinette Brown became the first regularly ordained woman minister in America. Rev. Luther Lee preached the ordination message from
Galatians 3:28: Faith in Christ is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.
Brown wrote in her journal: This is a very poor and small church, ample I believe for my needs in this small community. My parish will be a miniature world in good and evil. To get humanity condensed into so small a compass that I can study each individual, opens a new chapter of experience. It is what I want.
All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.
--- Galatians 3:26-28.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 15
"He shall not be afraid of evil tidings." --- Psalm 112:7.
Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved his faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?
Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?
Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Evening - September 15
“A people near unto him.” --- Psalm 148:14.
The dispensation of the old covenant was that of distance. When God appeared even to his servant Moses, he said, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet”; and when he manifested himself upon Mount Sinai, to his own chosen and separated people, one of the first commands was, “Thou shalt set bounds about the mount.” Both in the sacred worship of the tabernacle and the temple, the thought of distance was always prominent. The mass of the people did not even enter the outer court. Into the inner court none but the priests might dare to intrude; while into the innermost place, or the holy of holies, the high priest entered but once in the year. It was as if the Lord in those early ages would teach man that sin was so utterly loathsome to him, that he must treat men as lepers put without the camp; and when he came nearest to them, he yet made them feel the width of the separation between a holy God and an impure sinner. When the Gospel came, we were placed on quite another footing. The word “Go” was exchanged for “Come”; distance was made to give place to nearness, and we who aforetime were afar off, were made nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ. Incarnate Deity has no wall of fire about it. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” is the joyful proclamation of God as he appears in human flesh. Not now does he teach the leper his leprosy by setting him at a distance, but by himself suffering the penalty of his defilement. What a state of safety and privilege is this nearness to God through Jesus! Do you know it by experience? If you know it, are you living in the power of it? Marvellous is this nearness, yet it is to be followed by a dispensation of greater nearness still, when it shall be said, “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he doth dwell among them.” Hasten it, O Lord.
HOW SWEET THE NAME OF JESUS SOUNDS
John Newton, 1725–1807
Unto you therefore which believe He is precious. (1 Peter 2:7) KJV
One of the important activities we need for our spiritual growth and maturity is to spend time daily in quiet meditation and communion with our Lord. Although Bible reading and prayer are absolutely necessary, it is still possible to engage in these pursuits without ever experiencing real communion with Christ Himself. We must learn to say --
Once His gifts I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for blessing, now Himself alone!
--- A. B. Simpson
John Newton has given believers an excellent text for extolling and meditating upon Christ. This worship of our Lord reaches its crescendo in the fourth stanza when Newton lists ten consecutive titles for Jesus: Shepherd, Brother, Friend, Prophet, Priest, King, Lord, Life, Way, End. In the fifth and sixth stanzas, Newton realizes that a Christian’s praise of Christ’s names will always be inadequate until He is finally viewed in heaven. But we must never cease trying.
The story is told of this converted slave ship captain preaching one of his final RS Thomas before his home-going at the age of 82. His eyesight was nearly gone and his memory had become faulty. It was necessary for an assistant to stand in the pulpit to help him with his sermon. One Sunday Newton had twice read the words, “Jesus Christ is precious.” “You have already said that twice,” whispered his helper; “go on.” “I said that twice, and I am going to say it again,” replied Newton. Then the rafters rang as the old preacher shouted, “JESUS CHRIST IS PRECIOUS!”
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.
Dear name! the Rock on which I build, my Shield and Hiding place, my never failing Treasury filled with boundless stores of grace.
Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest and King, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought; but when I see Thee as Thou art I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim with ev’ry fleeting breath; and may the music of Thy name refresh my soul in death.
For Today: Psalm 8:9; 104:34; Song of Solomon 1:3; Matthew 11:28
Ask this question: “How often do I spend time in worship and adoration of Christ simply for who He is?” Begin now by singing this musical message ---
DISCOURSE V - ON THE ETERNITY OF GOD
Use 2. Of comfort. What foundation of comfort can we have in any of God’s attributes, were it not for his infiniteness and eternity, though he be “merciful, good, wise, faithful?” What support could there be, if they were perfections belonging to a corruptible God? What hopes of a resurrection to happiness can we have, or of the duration of it, if that God that promised it were not immortal to continue it, as well as powerful to effect it? His power were not Almighty, if his duration were not eternal.
1. If God be eternal, his covenant will be so. It is founded upon the eternity of God; the oath whereby he confirms it, is by his life. Since there is none greater than himself, he swears by himself (Heb. 6:13), or by his own life, which he engageth together with his eternity for the full performance; so that if he lives forever, the covenant shall not be disannulled; it is an “immutable counsel” (ver. 16, 17). The immutability of his counsel follows the immutability of his nature. Immutability and eternity go hand in hand together. The promise of eternal life is as ancient as God himself in regard of the purpose of the promise, or in regard of the promise made to Christ for us. “Eternal life which God promised before the world began.” (Tit. 1:2): As it hath an ante-eternity, so it hath a posteternity; therefore the gospel, which is the new covenant published, is termed the “everlasting gospel” (Rev. 14:6), which can no more be altered and perish, than God can change and vanish into nothing; he can as little morally deny his truth, as he can naturally desert his life. The covenant is there represented in a green color, to note its perpetual verdure; the rainbow, the emblem of the covenant “about the throne, was like to an emerald” (Rev. 4:3), a stone of a green color, whereas the natural rainbow had many colors; this but one, to signify its eternity.
2. If God be eternal, he being our God in covenant, is an eternal good and possession. “This God is our God forever and ever” (Psalm 48:14): “He is a dwelling place in all generations.” We shall traverse the world awhile, and then arrive at the blessings Jacob wished for Joseph, “the blessings of the everlasting hills” (Gen. 49:26). If an estate of a thousand pound per annum render a man’s life comfortable for a short term, how much more may the soul be swallowed up with joy in the enjoyment of the Creator, whose years never fail, who lives forever to be enjoyed, and can keep us in life forever to enjoy him! Death, indeed, will seize upon us by God’s irreversible order, but the immortal Creator will make him disgorge his morsel, and land us in a glorious immortality; our souls at their dissolution, and our bodies at the resurrection, after which they shall remain forever, and employ the extent of that boundless eternity, in the fruition of the sovereign and eternal God; for it is impossible that the believer, who is united to the immortal God that is from everlasting to everlasting, can ever perish; for being in conjunction with him who is an ever-flowing fountain of life, he cannot suffer him to remain in the jaws of death. While God is eternal, and always the same, it is not possible that those that partake of his spiritual life, should not also partake of his eternal. It is from the consideration of the endlessness of the years of God that the church comforts herself that “her children shall continue, and their seed be established forever” (Psalm 102:27, 28). And from the eternity of God Habakkuk (chap. 1:12) concludes the eternity of believers, “Art not thou from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? we shall not die, O Lord.” After they are retired from this world, they shall live forever with God, without any change by the multitude of those imaginable years and ages that shall run forever. It is that God that hath neither beginning nor end, that is our God; who hath not only immortality in himself, but immortality to give out to others. As he hath “abundance of spirit” to quicken them (Mal. 2:15), so he hath abundance of immortality to continue them. It is only in the consideration of this a man can with wisdom say, “Soul, take thy ease; thou hast goods laid up for many years” (Luke 12:19, 20): to say it of any other possession is the greatest folly in the judgment of our Saviour. “Mortality shall be swallowed up of immortality;” “rivers of pleasure” shall be “for evermore.” Death is a word never spoken there by any; never heard by any in that possession of eternity; it is forever put out as one of Christ’s conquered enemies. The happiness depends upon the presence of God, with whom believers shall be forever present. Happiness cannot perish as long as God lives; he is the first and the last; the first of all delights, nothing before him; the last of all pleasures, nothing beyond him; a paradise of delights in every point, without a flaming sword.
3. The enjoyment of God will be as fresh and glorious after many ages, as it was at first. God is eternal, and eternity knows no change; there will then be the fullest possession without any decay in the object enjoyed. There can be nothing past, nothing future; time neither adds to it, nor detracts from it; that infinite fulness of perfection which flourisheth in him now, will flourish eternally, without any discoloring of it in the least, by those innumerable ages that shall run to eternity, much less any despoiling him of them: “He is the same in his endless duration” (Psalm 102:27). As God is, so will the eternity of him be, without succession, without division; the fulness of joy will be always present; without past to be thought of with regret for being gone; without future to be expected with tormenting desires. When we enjoy God, we enjoy him in his eternity without any flux; an entire possession of all together, without the passing away of pleasures that may be wished to return, or expectation of future joys which might be desired to hasten. Time is fluid, but eternity is stable; and after many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites. When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance; he will be so far from ceasing to flow, that he will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of himself in glory to the creature. God, therefore, as sitting upon his throne of grace, and acting according to his covenant, is like a jasper-stone, which is of a green color, a color always delightful (Rev. 4:3); because God is always vigorous and flourishing; a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire; forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction; with an infinite variety, without any change or succession; he will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them; this will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God: be is not a cistern, but a fountain, wherein water is always living, and never putrefies.
4. If God be eternal, here is a strong ground of comfort against all the distresses of the church, and the threats of the church’s enemies. God’s abiding forever is the plea Jeremy makes for his return to his forsaken church: “Thou, O Lord, remainest forever; thy throne from generation to generation” (Lam. 5:19, 20). The church is weak; created things are easily cut off; what prop is there, but that God that lives forever? What, though Jerusalem lost its bulwarks, the temple were defaced, the land wasted; yet the God of Jerusalem sits upon an eternal throne, and from everlasting to everlasting there is no diminution of his power. The prophet intimates in this complaint, that it is not agreeable to God’s eternity to forget his people, to whom he hath from eternity borne good-will. In the greatest confusions, the church’s eyes are to be fixed upon the eternity of God’s throne, where he sits as governor of the world. No creature can take any comfort in this perfection, but the church; other creatures depend upon God, but the church is united to him. The first discovery of the name “I am,” which signifies the divine eternity, as well as immutability, was for the comfort of the “oppressed Israelites in Egypt” (Exod. 3:14, 15): it was then published from the secret place of the Almighty, as the only strong cordial to refresh them: it hath not yet, it shall not ever lose its virtue in any of the miseries that have, or shall successively befall the church. It is a comfort as durable as the God whose name it is; he is still “I Am;” and the same to the church, as he was then to his Israel. His spiritual Israel have a greater right to the glories of it, than the carnal Israel could have. No oppression can be greater than theirs; what was a comfort suited to that distress, hath the same suitableness to every other oppression. It was not a temporary name, but a name forever; his “memorial to all generations” (ver. 15), and reacheth to the church of the Gentiles with whom he treats as the God of Abraham; ratifying that covenant by the Messiah, which he made with Abraham, the father of the faithful. The church’s enemies are not to be feared; they may spring as the grass, but soon after do wither by their own inward principles of decdy, or are cut down by the hand of God (Psalm 92:7–9). They may be instruments of the anger of God, but “they shall be scattered as the workers of iniquity by the hand of the Lord, that is high for evermore” (ver. 8), and is engaged by his promise, to preserve a church in the world. They may threaten, but their breath may vanish as soon as their threatenings are pronounced; for they carry their breath in no surer a place than their own nostrils, upon which the eternal God can put his hand, and sink them with all their rage. Do the prophets and instructers of the church “live forever” (Zech. 1:5)? No: shall, then, the adversaries and disturbers of the church live forever? They shall vanish as a shadow; their being depends upon the eternal God of the faithful, and the everlasting Judge of the wicked. He that inhabits eternity is above them that inhabit mortality; and must, whether they will or no, “say to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister” (Job 17:14.) When they will act with a confidence, as if they were living gods, he will not be mated; but evidence himself to be a living God above them. Why, then, should mortal men be feared in their frowns, when an immortal God hath promised protection in his word, and lives forever to perform it?
5. Hence follows another comfort; since God is eternal, he hath as much power as will to be as good as his word. His promises are established upon his eternity; and his perfection is a main ground of trust; “Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:4). טם צול צור יהוח ביה His name is doubled; that name, Jah and Jehovah, which was always the strength of his people; and not a single one, but the strength or rock of eternities: not a failing, but an eternal truth and power; that as his strength is eternal, so our trust in him should imitate his eternity in its perpetuity; and therefore in the despondency of his people, as if God had forgot his promises, and made no account of them, or his word, and were weary of doing good, he calls them to reflect on what they had heard of his eternity, which is attended with immutability, who hath an infiniteness of power to perform his will, and an infiniteness of understanding to judge of the right seasons of it. His wisdom, will, truth, have always been, and will to eternity be the same (Isa. 40:27, 28). He wants not life, any more than love, forever to help us; since his word is past, he will never fail us; since his life continues, he can never be out of a capacity to relieve us; and, therefore, whenever we foolishly charge him by our distrustful thoughts, we forget his love, which made the promise, and his eternal life, which can accomplish it. As his word is the bottom of our trust, and his truth is the assurance of his sincerity, so his eternity is the assurance of his ability to perform: “His word stands forever” (ver. 8). A man may be my friend this day, and be in another world to-morrow; and though he be never so sincere in his word, yet death snaps his life asunder, and forbids the execution. But as God cannot die, so he cannot lie; because he is the eternity of Israel: “The strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent,” נצח perpetuity, or eternity of Israel (1 Sam. 15:29). Eternity implies immutability; we could have no ground for our hopes, if we knew him not to be longer lived than ourselves. The Psalmist beats off our hands from trust in men, “because their breath goes forth, they return to their earth, and in that day their thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:3, 4). And if the God of Jacob were like them, what happiness could we have in making him our help? As his sovereignty in giving precepts had not been a strong ground of obedience, without considering him as an eternal lawgiver, who could maintain his rights; so his kindness in making the promises had not been a strong ground of confidence, without considering him as an eternal promiser, whose thoughts and whose life can never perish. And this may be one reason why the Holy Ghost mentions so often the post-eternity of God, and so little his ante-eternity; because that is the strongest foundation of our faith and hope, which respects chiefly that which is future, and not that which is past; yet, indeed, no assurance of his after-eternity can be had, if his ante-eternity be not certain. If he had a beginning, he may have an end; and if he had a change in his nature, he might have in his counsels; but since all the resolves of God are as himself is, eternal, and all the promises of God are the fruits of his counsel, therefore they cannot be changed; if he should change them for the better, he would not have been eternally wise, to know what was best; if for the worse, he had not been eternally good or just. Men may break their promises, because they are made without foresight; but God, that inhabits eternity, foreknows all things that shall be done under the sun, as if they had been then acting before him; and nothing can intervene, or work a change in his resolves; because the least circumstances were eternally foreseen by him. Though there may be variations, and changes to our sight, the wind may tack about, and every hour new and cross accidents happen; yet the eternal God, who is eternally true to his word, sits at the helm, and the winds and the waves obey him. And though he should defer his promise a thousand years, yet he is “not slack” (2 Pet. 3:8, 9); for he defers it but a day to his eternity: and who would not with comfort stay a day in expectation of a considerable advantage?
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Sect. CLVIII. — Now let us hear an example of “Free-will.” — Nicodemus is a man in whom there is every thing that you can desire, which “Free-will” is able to do. For what does that man omit either of devoted effort, or endeavour? He confesses Christ to be true, and to have come from God; he declares His miracles; he comes by night to hear Him, and to converse with Him. Does he not appear to have sought after, by the power of “Free-will,” those things which pertain unto piety and salvation? But mark what shipwreck he makes. When he hears the true way of salvation by a new-birth to be taught by Christ, does he acknowledge it, or confess that he had ever sought after it? Nay, he revolts from it, and is confounded; so much so, that he does not only say he does not understand it, but heaves against it as impossible — “How (says he) can these things be?” (John iii. 9).
And no wonder: for who ever heard, that man must be born again unto salvation “of water and of the Spirit?” (5). Who ever thought, that the Son of God must be exalted, “that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life?” (15). Did the greatest and most acute philosophers ever make mention of this? Did the princes of this world ever possess this knowledge? Did the “Free-will” of any man ever attain unto this, by endeavours? Does not Paul confess it to be “wisdom hidden in a mystery,” foretold indeed by the Prophets, but revealed by the Gospel? So that, it was secret and hidden from the world.
In a word: Ask experience: and the whole world, human reason itself, and in consequence, “Free-will” itself is compelled to confess, that it never knew Christ, nor heard of Him, before the Gospel came into the world. And if it did not know Him, much less could it seek after Him, search for Him, or endeavour to come unto Him. But Christ is “the way” of truth, life, and salvation. It must confess, therefore, whether it will or no, that, of its own powers, it neither knew nor could seek after those things which pertain unto the way of truth and salvation. And yet, contrary to this our own very confession and experience, like madmen we dispute in empty words, that there is in us that power remaining, which can both know and apply itself unto those things which pertain unto salvation! This is nothing more or less than saying, that Christ the Son of God was exalted for us, when no one could ever have known it or thought of it; but that, nevertheless, this very ignorance is not an ignorance, but a knowledge of Christ; that is, of those things which pertain unto salvation.
Do you not yet then see and palpably feel out, that the assertors of “Free-will” are plainly mad, while they call that knowledge, which they themselves confess to be ignorance? Is this not to “put darkness for light?” (Isaiah v. 20). But so it is, though God so powerfully stop the mouth of “Free-will” by its own confession and experience, yet even then, it cannot keep silence and give God the glory.
Sect. CLIX. — AND now farther, as Christ is said to be “the way, the truth, and the life,” (John xiv. 6), and that, by positive assertion, so that whatever is not Christ is not the way but error, is not the truth but a lie, is not the life but death, it of necessity follows, that “Free-will,” as it is neither Christ nor in Christ, must be bound in error, in a lie, and in death. Where now will be found that medium and neuter — that the power of “Free-will,” which is not in Christ, that is, in the way, the truth, and the life, is yet not, of necessity, either error, or a lie, or death?
For if all things which are said concerning Christ and grace were not said by positive assertion, that they might be opposed to their contraries; that is, that out of Christ there is nothing but Satan, out of grace nothing but wrath, out of the light nothing but darkness, out of the life nothing but death — what, I ask you, would be the use of all the Writings of the Apostles, nay, of the whole Scripture? The whole would be written in vain; because, they would not fix the point, that Christ is necessary (which, nevertheless, is their especial design) and for this reason, — because a medium would be found out, which of itself, would be neither evil nor good, neither of Christ nor of Satan, neither true nor false, neither alive nor dead, and perhaps, neither any thing nor nothing; and that would be called, ‘that which is most excellent and most exalted’ in the whole race of men!
Take it therefore which way you will. — If you grant that the Scriptures speak in positive assertion, you can say nothing for “Free-will,” but that which is contrary to Christ: that is, you will say, that error, death, Satan, and all evils, reign in Him. If you do not grant that they speak in positive assertion, you weaken the Scriptures, make them to establish nothing, not even to prove that Christ is necessary. And thus, while you establish “Free-will,” you make Christ void, and bring the whole Scripture to destruction. And though you may pretend, verbally, that you confess Christ; yet, in reality and in heart, you deny Him. For if the power of “Free-will” be not a thing erroneous altogether, and damnable, but sees and wills those things which are good and meritorious, and which pertain unto salvation, it is whole, it wants not the physician Christ, nor does Christ redeem that part of man. — For what need is there for light and life, where there is light and life already?
Moreover, if that power be not redeemed, the best part in man is not redeemed, but is of itself good and whole. And then also, God is unjust if He damn any man; because, He damns that which is the most excellent in man, and whole; that is, He damns him when innocent. For there is no man who has not “Free-will.” And although the evil man abuse this, yet this power itself, (according to what you teach) is not so destroyed, but that it can, and does endeavour towards good. And if it be such, it is without doubt good, holy, and just: wherefore, it ought not to be damned, but to be distinctly separated from the man who is to be damned. But this cannot be done, and even if it could be done, man would then be without “Free-will,” nay, he would not be man at all, he would neither have merit nor demerit, he could neither be damned nor saved, but would be completely a brute, and no longer immortal. It follows therefore, that God is unjust who damns that good, just, and holy power, which, though it be in an evil man, does not need Christ as the evil man does.
Sect. CLX. — BUT let us proceed with John. “He that believeth on Him, (saith he) is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Name of the only begotten Son of God. (John iii. 18).
Tell me! — Is “Free-will” included in the number of those that believe, or not? If it be, then again, it has no need of grace; because, of itself, it believes on Christ — whom, of itself it never knew nor thought of! If it be not, then it is judged already and what is this but saying, that it is damned in the sight of God? But God damns none but the ungodly: therefore, it is ungodly. And what godliness can that which is ungodly endeavour after? For I do not think that the power of “Free-will” can be excepted; seeing that, he speaks of the whole man as being condemned.
Moreover, unbelief is not one of the grosser affections, but is that chief affection seated and ruling on the throne of the will and reason; just the same as its contrary, faith. For to be unbelieving, is to deny God, and to make him a liar; “If we believe not we make God a liar,” (1 John v. 10). How then can that power, which is contrary to God, and which makes Him a liar, endeavour after that which is good? And if that power be not unbelieving and ungodly, John ought not to say of the whole man that he is condemned already, but to speak thus, — Man, according to his ‘grosser affections,’ is condemned already; but according to that which is best and ‘most excellent,’ he is not condemned; because, that endeavours after faith, or rather, is already believing.
Hence, where the Scripture so often saith, “All men are liars,” we must, upon the authority of “Free-will,” on the contrary say — the Scripture rather, lies; because, man is not a liar as to his best part, that is, his reason and will, but as to his flesh only, that is, his blood and his grosser part: so that that whole, according to which he is called man, that is, his reason and his will, is sound and holy. Again, there is that of the Baptist, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John iii. 36). We must understand “upon him” thus: — that is, the wrath of God abideth upon the ‘grosser affections’ of the man: but upon that power of “Free-will,” that is, upon his will and his reason, abide grace and everlasting life.
Hence, according to this, in order that “Free-will” might stand, whatever is in the Scriptures said against the ungodly, you are, by the figure synecdoche, to twist round to apply to that brutal part of man, that the truly rational and human part might remain safe. I have therefore, to render thanks to the assertors of “Free-will;” because, I may sin with all confidence; knowing that, my reason and will, or my “Free-will,” cannot be damned, because it cannot be destroyed by my sinning, but for ever remains sound, righteous, and holy. And thus, happy in my will and reason, I shall rejoice that my filthy and brutal flesh is distinctly separated from me, and damned; so far shall I be from wishing Christ to become its Redeemer! — You see, here, to what the doctrine of “Free-will” brings us — it denies all things, divine and human, temporal and eternal; and with all these enormities, makes a laughing-stock of itself!