1 Kings 1 - 2
1 Kings 1
David in His Old Age1 Kings 1:1 Now King David was old and advanced in years. And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. 2 Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king and be in his service. Let her lie in your arms, that my lord the king may be warm.” 3 So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not.
Adonijah Sets Himself Up as King5 Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. 7 He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. 8 But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.
9 Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle by the Serpent’s Stone, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10 but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or Solomon his brother.
Nathan and Bathsheba Before David11 Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it? 12 Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go in at once to King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying, “Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne”? Why then is Adonijah king?’ 14 Then while you are still speaking with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”
15 So Bathsheba went to the king in his chamber (now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was attending to the king). 16 Bathsheba bowed and paid homage to the king, and the king said, “What do you desire?” 17 She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your servant by the LORD your God, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.’ 18 And now, behold, Adonijah is king, although you, my lord the king, do not know it. 19 He has sacrificed oxen, fattened cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army, but Solomon your servant he has not invited. 20 And now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21 Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted offenders.”
22 While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet came in. 23 And they told the king, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, he bowed before the king, with his face to the ground. 24 And Nathan said, “My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’? 25 For he has gone down this day and has sacrificed oxen, fattened cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest. And behold, they are eating and drinking before him, and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But me, your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he has not invited. 27 Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not told your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
Solomon Anointed King28 Then King David answered, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. 29 And the king swore, saying, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, 30 as I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ even so will I do this day.” 31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
32 King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. 33 And the king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34 And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there anoint him king over Israel. Then blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 You shall then come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, for he shall be king in my place. And I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” 36 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, say so. 37 As the LORD has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”
38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.
41 Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished feasting. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, “What does this uproar in the city mean?” 42 While he was still speaking, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came. And Adonijah said, “Come in, for you are a worthy man and bring good news.” 43 Jonathan answered Adonijah, “No, for our lord King David has made Solomon king, 44 and the king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites. And they had him ride on the king’s mule. 45 And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon, and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you have heard. 46 Solomon sits on the royal throne. 47 Moreover, the king’s servants came to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon more famous than yours, and make his throne greater than your throne.’ And the king bowed himself on the bed. 48 And the king also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has granted someone to sit on my throne this day, my own eyes seeing it.’”
49 Then all the guests of Adonijah trembled and rose, and each went his own way. 50 And Adonijah feared Solomon. So he arose and went and took hold of the horns of the altar. 51 Then it was told Solomon, “Behold, Adonijah fears King Solomon, for behold, he has laid hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me first that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’” 52 And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” 53 So King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and paid homage to King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house.”
1 Kings 2
David’s Instructions to Solomon1 Kings 2:1 When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 that the LORD may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
5 “Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7 But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8 And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”
The Death of David10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. 11 And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.
Solomon’s Reign Established13 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, “Do you come peacefully?” He said, “Peacefully.” 14 Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Speak.” 15 He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD. 16 And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Speak.” 17 And he said, “Please ask King Solomon — he will not refuse you — to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” 18 Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”
19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right. 20 Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” 21 She said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” 22 King Solomon answered his mother, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is my older brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.” 23 Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! 24 Now therefore as the LORD lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.” 25 So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.
26 And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because you shared in all my father’s affliction.” 27 So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, thus fulfilling the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
28 When the news came to Joab — for Joab had supported Adonijah although he had not supported Absalom — Joab fled to the tent of the LORD and caught hold of the horns of the altar. 29 And when it was told King Solomon, “Joab has fled to the tent of the LORD, and behold, he is beside the altar,” Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, strike him down.” 30 So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD and said to him, “The king commands, ‘Come out.’” But he said, “No, I will die here.” Then Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” 31 The king replied to him, “Do as he has said, strike him down and bury him, and thus take away from me and from my father’s house the guilt for the blood that Joab shed without cause. 32 The LORD will bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword two men more righteous and better than himself, Abner the son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the LORD forevermore.” 34 Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and struck him down and put him to death. And he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. 35 The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.
36 Then the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there to any place whatever. 37 For on the day you go out and cross the brook Kidron, know for certain that you shall die. Your blood shall be on your own head.” 38 And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.
39 But it happened at the end of three years that two of Shimei’s servants ran away to Achish, son of Maacah, king of Gath. And when it was told Shimei, “Behold, your servants are in Gath,” 40 Shimei arose and saddled a donkey and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants. Shimei went and brought his servants from Gath. 41 And when Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and returned, 42 the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the LORD and solemnly warn you, saying, ‘Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die’? And you said to me, ‘What you say is good; I will obey.’ 43 Why then have you not kept your oath to the LORD and the commandment with which I commanded you?” 44 The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your own heart all the harm that you did to David my father. So the LORD will bring back your harm on your own head. 45 But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.” 46 Then the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck him down, and he died.
So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
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What Love Is This?
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 5/1/2004
The simplicity of God is a doctrine that provides a rather useful fence. The perfections of God are, of course, worthy of our excitement. Their infinity is, of course, staggering. But the simplicity of God is that place where these infinite perfections show themselves to be one where the glorious colors come together in a blinding white. Whatever else we delightfully affirm about God, we must affirm that He is one.
It is the very point of the doctrine of simplicity, however, that we don’t diminish one attribute when we remember another. We have misunderstood simplicity if, as we wax rhapsodic over the love of God, we throw a wet blanket over the party by remembering, “Well, He is also a God of wrath, after all.” The wrath of God doesn’t restrain the love of God, nor does the love of God restrain His wrath. Rather, in a profound way, they are one and the same thing.
There are some fairly obvious ways that we see this. In Psalm 2 we see the wrath of God coming for a specific reason, because the kings of the earth will not kiss the Son. The love of the Son is what provokes the wrath of the Father. We see much the same thing on the road to Damascus, as Jesus accuses Saul, “Why dost thou persecute Me?” Christ’s loving union with the Bride brings wrath on Saul. And in turn, that wrath brings forth love as Saul becomes Paul, a part of the Bride.
Love is universally loved. We who belong to the King rightly celebrate His love for us. But those outside the camp do not stay outside the camp because of a self-conscious rejection of love. Those who think the lost are lost because they have trouble accepting love have been accepting too many foolish bromides from pop psychologists. The very creatures that the lost create, in their rejection of the Creator, are characterized by love. One can safely finish the idolater’s sentence, when he begins, “Well, my god is a god of … .” It’s love, every time. Have you ever heard someone object, when we tell them to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus, “Well, I’m repulsed by your God that forgives the repentant. My god is a god of raging, irrational fury.” No. Everyone loves love.
But while love is not diminished by wrath, a love that excludes wrath is not a biblical love. The love clamored for by the lost is a wrathless love. But the love they crave is just unknown. While there is, rightly understood, a universal love of God that includes even those who will be damned, this love is a simple love, one that includes all that God is. There is no wrathless love that comes from God.
The Bible tells us that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. We find there what some theologians call “common grace.” God acts kindly to all men living. We all need to remember this. When we, or others, in trying to describe their particular anguish describe their situation as “a living hell,” they do not understand the patient love of God. Any suffering experienced on this earth, save for the passion of Christ, is a suffering mitigated by His love, a suffering that is less severe than what is due, a suffering less severe than hell. But even the most wicked among us do not live their earthly lives exclusively in agony. Some unbelieving mothers genuinely rejoice when blessed with a child. Sometimes unbelievers win the Super Bowl and are genuinely happy about it. Even the heathen in the remotest, most desolate part of the world sometimes sit down to a favorite meal and feel real joy in eating it. Common love is common, love, and real.
Common love, or the universal love of God, however, cannot be separated from common wrath. Because God is one, a simple being, you cannot wrap your arms around His love and miss the wrath. The Lord our God, the Lord is One. For the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness, including the unrighteousness of ingratitude. The common love of God is connected with the common wrath of God right here, where Paul tells us of all natural men, “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him …” (Rom. 1:21a). Though the lost will receive the loving gifts of God, they will neither honor Him nor thank Him, and so they will earn His eternal wrath.
God’s love is not only inseparable from His wrath, but it is equally bound together with His sovereignty. That is, when God sends the rain to the unjust, He does so knowing that the unjust will not honor Him. But this doesn’t frustrate God. First, He planned it that way. And second, He planned it that way because of one more connection between love and wrath — God loves His wrath. He delights to manifest the infinite perfection of His wrath just as much as His love, because they are one thing.
This, in turn, must inform how we look at the world around us. The problem with the broader culture, that place where they love love, isn’t that they’ve embraced part of the truth, and that our job as sound Christians is to teach them the hard parts. Rather we have to understand that the love they love is no more love than the god they worship is God. They are wrong on all counts. And unless they embrace the true and living God, the God of love that is wrath, of wrath that is love, of both that are manifest sovereignly, they will perish. Biblical love requires that we tell the world that their love of their love will earn them only His wrath.
R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.
R.C. Sproul Jr. Books | Go to Books Page
By R.C. Sproul 5/1/2004
Love of Complacency
In his monumental biography of Jonathan Edwards, George Marsden cites a passage from Edwards’ Personal Narrative: “Since I came to this town [Northampton], I have often had sweet complacency in God in views of his glorious perfections, and the excellency of Jesus Christ. God has appeared to me, a glorious and lovely being chiefly on account of his holiness. The holiness of God has always appeared to me the most lovely of all his attributes” (p. 112). Love of Benevolence Love of Beneficence
If we take note of Edwards’ language, his choice of words to describe his enraptured delight in the glory of God, we observe his accent on the sweetness, loveliness, and excellence of God. He reports of enjoying a “sweet complacency” in God. What does he mean? Is not the term complacency a word we use to describe a certain smugness, a resting on one’s laurels, a sort of lazy inertia that attends a superficial sort of satisfaction? Perhaps. But here we see a vivid example of how words sometimes change their import over time.
What Edwards meant by a “sweet complacency” had nothing to do with a contemporary dose of smugness. Rather, it had to do with a sense of pleasure. This “pleasure” is not to be understood in a crass hedonistic, or sensual, sense but rather a delight in that which is supremely pleasing to the soul.
The roots of this meaning of “complacency” are traced by the Oxford English Dictionary (vol. 3), where the primary meaning given is “the fact or state of being pleased with a thing or person; tranquil pleasure or satisfaction in something or some one.” References are cited for this usage from John Milton, Richard Baxter, and J. Mason. Mason is quoted, “God can take no real complacency in any but those that are like him.”
I labor the earlier English usage of the word complacency because it is used in a crucial manner in the language of historic, orthodox theology. When speaking of God’s love, we distinguish among three types of that love — the love of benevolence, the love of beneficence, and the love of complacency. The reason for the distinctions is to note the different ways in which God loves all people, in one sense, and the special way He loves His people, the redeemed.
We are all familiar with Luke’s account of the nativity of Jesus in which the heavenly host praises God declaring: “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:8–14 NKJV). Though some argue that the blessing is given to men of goodwill, the root meaning is the same. The love of benevolence is the quality of good will toward others. The New Testament is replete with references of God’s good will to all humanity even in our falleness. Though Satan is a malevolent being (one who harbors bad will both toward us and God), it can never properly be said of God that He is malevolent. He has no malice in His purity, no maliciousness in His actions. God does not “delight” in the death of the wicked — even though He decrees it. His judgments upon evil are rooted in His righteousness, not in some distorted malice in His character. Like an earthly judge weeps when he sends the guilty for punishment, God rejoices in the justness of it but gets no glee from the pain of those justly punished.
This love of benevolence, or good will, extends to all people without distinction. God is loving, in this sense, even to the damned.
Jesus emphasized this aspect of God’s love in teaching regarding those who benefit from God’s providence: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” (Matt. 5:43 ff. NKJV).
In this passage, Jesus enjoins the practice of love toward one’s enemies. Notice that this love is not defined in terms of warm, fuzzy, or sanguine feelings but in terms of behavior. In this context, love is more of a verb than a noun. To love our enemies is to be loving toward them. It involves doing good to them.
In this regard, the love we are to display is a reflection of God’s love toward His enemies. To those who hate and curse Him, He shows the love of beneficence. God’s benevolence (good will) is demonstrated by His beneficence (kind actions). His sun and rain are given equally to the just and the unjust.
We see then that God’s benevolent love and His beneficent love are universal. They extend to the whole of humanity.
But here is the chief difference between these types of love and God’s love of complacency. His love of complacency is not universal, nor is it unconditional. Sadly, in our day, the glorious character of this type of divine love is routinely denied or obscured by a blanket universalization of the love of God. To announce to people indiscriminately that God loves them “unconditionally” (without carefully distinguishing among the distinctive types of divine love) is to promote a perilous false sense of security in the hearers.
God’s love of complacency is the special delight and pleasure He takes first of all in His only-begotten Son. It is Christ who is the beloved of the Father, supremely; He is the Son in whom the Father is “well pleased.”
By adoption in Christ, every believer shares in this divine love of complacency. It is the love enjoyed by Jacob, but not by Esau. This love is reserved for the redeemed in whom God delights — not because there is anything inherently lovely or delightful in us — but we are so united to Christ, the Father’s Beloved, that the love the Father has for the Son spills over onto us. God’s love for us is pleasing and sweet to Himself — and to us — as Jonathan Edwards understood so well.
Love of BenevolenceBenevolence is derived from the Latin prefix bene, which means “well,” or “good,” and it is the root for the word will. Creatures who exercise the faculty of the will by making choices are called volitional creatures. Though God is not a creature, He is a volitional being insofar as He also has the faculty of willing.
Love of BeneficenceThis type of love, the love of beneficence, is closely linked to the love of benevolence. The difference between benevolence and beneficence is the difference between disposition and action. I may feel well-disposed toward someone, but my goodwill remains unknown until or unless I manifest it by some action. We often associate beneficence with acts of kindness or charity. We note here that the very word “charity” is often used as a synonym for love. In the sense of beneficence, acts of kindness are acts of the love of beneficence.
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
By John MacArthur 5/1/2004
“All you need is love.” So sang the Beatles. If they’d been singing about God’s love, the statement would have a grain of truth in it. But what usually goes by the name love in popular culture is not authentic love at all; it’s a deadly fraud. Far from being “all you need,” it’s something you desperately need to avoid.
The apostle Paul makes that very point in Ephesians 5:1–3. He writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
The simple command of verse 2 ( “walk in love, as Christ loved us” ) sums up the whole moral obligation of the Christian. After all, God’s love is the single, central principle that defines the Christian’s entire duty. This kind of love is really “all you need.” Romans 13:8–10 says, “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments … are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Galatians 5:14 echoes that selfsame truth: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus likewise taught that all the Law and the Prophets hang on two simple principles about love—the first and second great commandments (Matt. 22:38–40). In other words, “love … is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:14 NKJV).
When Paul commands us to walk in love, the context reveals that in positive terms, he is talking about being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another (Eph. 4:32). The model for such selfless love is Christ, who gave His life to save His people from their sins. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
In other words, true love is always sacrificial, self-giving, merciful, compassionate, sympathetic, kind, generous, and patient. These and many other positive, benevolent qualities (see 1 Cor. 13:4–8) are what Scripture associates with divine love.
But notice the negative side as well, also seen in the context of Ephesians 5. The person who truly loves others as Christ loves us must refuse every kind of counterfeit love. The apostle Paul names some of these satanic forgeries. They include immorality, impurity, and covetousness. The passage continues: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them” (vv. 4–7).
Immorality is perhaps our generation’s favorite substitute for love. Paul uses the Greek word porneia, which includes every kind of sexual sin. Popular culture desperately tries to blur the line between genuine love and immoral passion. But all such immorality is a total perversion of genuine love because it seeks self-gratification rather than the good of others.
Impurity is another devilish perversion of love. Here Paul employs the Greek term akatharsia, which refers to every kind of filth and impurity. Specifically, Paul has in mind “filthiness,” “foolish talk,” and “crude joking,” which are the peculiar characteristics of evil companionship. That kind of camaraderie has nothing to do with true love, and the apostle plainly says it has no place in the Christian’s walk.
Covetousness is yet another corruption of love that stems from a narcissistic desire for self-gratification. It’s the exact opposite of the example Christ set when He “gave Himself up for us” (v. 2). In verse 5, Paul equates covetousness with idolatry. Again, this has no place in the Christian walk, and according to verse 5, the person who is guilty of it “has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
Such sins, Paul says, “must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (v. 3). Of those who practice such things, he tells us, “Do not associate with them” (v. 7).
In other words, we are not showing authentic love unless we are intolerant of all the popular perversions of love.
Most of the talk about love these days ignores this principle. “Love” has been redefined as a broad tolerance that overlooks sin and embraces good and evil alike. That’s not love; it’s apathy.
God’s love is not at all like that. Remember, the supreme manifestation of God’s love is the Cross, where Christ “loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (v. 2). Thus Scripture explains the love of God in terms of sacrifice, atonement for sin, and propitiation: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In other words Christ made Himself a sacrifice to turn away the wrath of an offended deity. Far from dismissing our sins with a benign tolerance, God gave His Son as an offering for sin, to satisfy His own wrath and justice in the salvation of sinners.
That is the very heart of the Gospel. God manifests His love in a way that upheld His holiness, justice, and righteousness without compromise. True love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).
That’s the kind of love we are called to walk in. It’s a love that is first pure, then peaceable.
John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley , California , author, conference speaker, president of The Master's College and Seminary, and featured teacher with Grace to You.
From 1964 to 1966 Dr. MacArthur served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank , California and from 1966 to 1969 as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors.
In 1969, John came to Grace Community Church . The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage.Under John's leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,000-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members also participate each week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, led by members of the pastoral staff and lay leaders. These groups are dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.
In 1985, John became president of The Master's College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College ), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college in Santa Clarita , California . In 1986, John founded The Master's Seminary, a graduate school dedicated to training men for full-time pastoral roles and missionary work. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, John regularly teaches Expository Preaching at the seminary and frequently speaks in chapel.
John is also president and featured teacher with Grace to You. Founded in 1969, Grace to You is the nonprofit organization responsible for developing, producing, and distributing John's books, audiocassettes, free sermons (MP3s) and the Grace to You, Portraits of Grace, and Grace to You Weekend radio programs. Grace to You airs thousands of times daily throughout the English speaking world reaching all major population centers in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. It also airs more than 450 times daily in Spanish reaching 23 countries, including Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia.
Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus, in 1988, John has written over 100 books and, through Grace to You and retail bookstores, distributed millions of copies worldwide.Many of John's books are available on CD-ROM and many titles have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and several other major languages.
John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda.They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their eleven grandchildren--Johnny, Ty, Jessy, KD, Olivia, Susannah, Gracie, Kylee, Andrew, Brooke and Elizabeth.
"MacArthur calls himself a "leaky dispensationalist"--meaning he rejects any and all "dispensational" soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Protestant, not "covenantal") soteriology. MacArthur's "dispensationalism" is eschatological and ecclesiological only. And given the fact that soteriology is central to our whole understanding of Christianity, whereas eschatology and ecclesiology deal primarily with secondary doctrines, it would be my assessment that MacArthur has far less in common with Ryrie than he would have with anyone who believes 1) that God's grace is efficacious for regeneration and sanctification as well as for justification, and 2) that God graciously guarantees the perseverance of all true believers." - Phil Johnson
John MacArthur Books | Go to Books Page
One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Worship
By John Sartelle 6/1/2004
What would you think if you went to your church Sunday morning and a child’s life was sacrificed as part of the worship? What would you think if you went to church this Sunday and discovered that a religious sexual orgy was to take the place of the sermon?
What you should think and know is that such changes would mean that your church no longer worships the same God. The worship of any people will reflect the God they worship. If the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, then it follows that her God is God and there is no other, that her God is holy, that her God has authoritatively spoken, and that her God is one. If that is who God is, and if that is what His Church is, then it must first and foremost be expressed visibly in her worship. If the worship of the local body is not declaring that there is but one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, then she is betraying her God and denying her birthright.
It is time for the lackadaisical and man-centered churches of our culture that so easily throw about the labels “Christian” and “evangelical” to realize that their worship must conform to the character of the Trinitarian God. Any substitute is merely using the worship forms of idolatry to approach a God who will not suffer desecration.
Let’s take a moment to walk through the different aspects of the worship of our local churches and understand how each of those features should proclaim that we are a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I love the call to worship. We are being called to be a holy people, a people coming apart from the world to worship. We are holy, set apart by baptism from the world for His service. The world does not sing the “Doxology,” the “Gloria Patri,” or the “Sanctus.” At the very beginning as we take part in, or respond to, the call to worship, we are declaring that we as the Church are a royal and holy priesthood. As His priests, we are offering our worship (every part of our worship) as a holy sacrifice to Him.
We sing the great hymns of the faith, whether they are hymns of praise, prayer, repentance, thanksgiving, or avowal. As we do so, we are proclaiming God to be the one, holy God who has spoken authoritatively, and who has baptized and ordained people from every race, tongue, and nation to be His. That means the content of our hymns matters. Sincere hearts mean nothing to God when they give utterance to thoughts and words that deny or compromise His character.
As we carefully attend to His Word, we are standing on the same foundation as the prophets and apostles. We are not apostles. We are not of a biological line descending from the apostles. We are the spiritual descendants of the apostles as we stand on their authority, the infallible and inerrant Word of the living God. As we stand and say the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, we follow in their footsteps. As we confess, we need to ask God to arouse our emotions. We are saying the very words that were on the lips of martyrs as they died, not ashamed of the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The proclamation of His Word and the creedal declarations are the plumb lines which separate His Church from the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarians.
It is wonderful when we have diversity in race and culture worshiping in the same room. However, we must remember that diversity in the same sanctuary is not the truest expression of our catholicity. The catholicity of the Church is expressed not mainly in our relationships with each other, but it is expressed in our gathering to worship the Trinitarian God who is one. All of His Church worships the same God and Father, and all are indwelt by the same Spirit, who bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God, brothers of Christ, and brothers with each other. Imagine the picture that is seen from heaven each Lord’s Day when people from every race, language, and nation gather before this one God to worship. The sentence I have just written brings to our minds one passage over all others: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth (Rev. 5:9–10).’” That is the song of heaven. Our worship is a prelude and preview to that hymn sung and seen around the globe every Lord’s Day.
Dear reader, do you understand that every aspect of our worship — our worship in our local church this Sunday — should proclaim that we are a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. This is our calling, our duty, and our joy. It is not easy; it cannot be approached casually as if it did not matter. It requires study and thought, not only by those who plan the specifics of the worship, but also by the worshipers themselves. It requires teaching so that this precious heritage continues in the next generation. It requires constant attention that we might grow in our understanding of worship. Most importantly, it requires a heart filled and energized by the Holy Spirit so that we will not fall into the empty grave of dead orthodoxy.
By our worship, we are known to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. He is author of What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism.
Rev. John P. Sartelle Sr. is senior minister of Christ Presbyterian Church in Oakland, Tenn.
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
By R.C. Sproul 6/1/2004
“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty ….” We say it. We argue about it (especially the “under God” part). But is it true? In reality, how united is the United States? The “more perfect union” sought by Lincoln is hardly perfect in terms of harmony. We are a nation — morally, philosophically, and religiously — deeply divided. Yet there remains the outward shell of formal and organizational unity. We have union without unity.
As it is with the “United” States, so it is with the unity of the Christian church. The “oneness” of the church is one of the classic four descriptive terms to define the church. According to the council at Nicaea (325 AD), the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
Few church bodies today give much regard to being apostolic. Fewer still seem concerned with the dimension of the holy. When these two qualities become irrelevant to the minds of church people, it is a mere chimera to speak of catholicity and unity.
The church, organizationally, is hopelessly fragmented. Since the birth of the “Ecumenical Movement,” the church has seen more splits than mergers. The crisis of disunity is on the front pages following the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate a practicing, impenitent homosexual to the role of bishop.
Is unity a false hope? Is it, in its historic expressions, merely an illusion?
To answer these questions we must consider the nature of the unity of the church.
In the first instance, the deepest and most significant unity of the Church is its spiritual unity. Though we can never separate the formal from the material with respect to the Church’s unity, we can and must distinguish them.
It was Augustine who taught most deeply about the distinction between the visible church and the invisible Church. With this classic distinction Augustine did not envision two separate ecclesiastical bodies, one apparent to the naked eye and another beyond the scope of visual perception. Now, did he envision one church that is “underground” and another one above ground, in full view?
No, he was describing a church within a church. Augustine took his cue from our Lord’s teaching that until He purifies His Church in glory, it will continue in this world as a body that will include “tares” along with the “wheat.” The tares are weeds that grow along with the flowers in Christ’s garden.
Because of the presence of wheat and tares simultaneously in the church, we know that believers co-exist with unbelievers, the regenerate alongside the unregenerate. It was this situation that prompted Augustine to describe the church as a “mixed body” (corpus permixtum). The invisible Church is the Church made up of true believers. It is the Church comprised of the regenerate, or as Augustine observed, the “elect.”
Jesus made it clear that there are some, indeed many who profess faith but do not possess it. His piercing warning is the climax of the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” ( Matt. 7:21–23 NKJV).
Elsewhere Jesus noted that people honored Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him. The claim on the lips of the tares is that they labored for Christ. Yet Jesus will dismiss them. He will ask them (nay, command them) to leave. He will declare that they were never at any time part of His true Church. “I never knew you.” These are not onetime sheep who became goats. They are the sons and daughters of Judas who were unbelievers from the beginning.
We notice also that Jesus said that the number of such self-proclaiming believers, who are not really regenerate, is declared to be “many.” This should elicit caution in our assumptions of the success of our methods and techniques of evangelism. We tend to be quite sanguine with our “evangelistic statistics” when we assume the conversion of all who answer an altar call, make a “decision for Christ,” or recite the “sinner’s prayer.” These tools can help measure outward professions, but they do not give us a glimpse into the heart. All we can ever see of a person’s profession is his fruit. And even the fruit can be deceptive. God, and God alone, can read the human heart. Our gaze cannot penetrate beyond the outward appearance.
Augustine also maintained that the invisible Church exists substantially within the visible church. There may be rare instances when a true believer never connects with a visible church if providentially hindered. The thief on the cross never had the opportunity to attend new member classes in a local church.
However, for the most part, the true members of Christ’s invisible Church are found within the visible church. Though the visible church a truly regenerate person may belong to differs from the church another regenerate person belongs to, the two believers are, in reality, already united in the one true, invisible Church.
The union of believers is grounded in the mystical union of Christ and His Church. The Bible speaks of a twoway transaction that occurs when a person is regenerated. Every converted person becomes “in Christ” at the same time Christ enters into the believer. If I am in Christ and you are in Christ, and if He is in us, then we experience a profound unity in Christ.
The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in John 17 in behalf of the unity of His followers was not a failure or unfulfilled plea. God has been pleased to ensure a unity among believers that, though invisible, is nevertheless real. It is a common bond grounded in one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.
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
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 6/1/2004
We’ve all heard the horror stories. First there was the church that offered visitors a free oil change during the “service” if you would come. Then we heard of simple cash rewards. More recently a church raffled off a new Harley Davidson motorcycle. You couldn’t buy raffle tickets; you could only earn them either by visiting or bringing visitors in. Tetzel is spinning in his grave, but only because he is appalled that he never got this sophisticated.
We have our standard ways of measuring the worldliness of the church. We can note that the divorce rate within the evangelical church is roughly equal to the rate among the lost. In one mammoth evangelical denomination, the rate is actually higher. We can look at it ideologically and note that over half those polled who consider themselves evangelical also affirm that there is no such thing as objective truth. Or, we can see the fruit of that affirmation.
In a time of philosophical crisis in ancient Greece, when two competing schools of thought found themselves in a Mexican standoff, a new school arose. The Sophists did not take a side in the titanic struggle between Heraclitus and Parmenides, between the many and the one. Instead they argued that arguing was a waste of time. This school was interested in persuasion, not proof. In fact, like modern relativists, they believed that proof was impossible.
In the modern, or perhaps postmodern West, we are sophists once again. We have added this Western twist — pragmatism. Now persuasion is no longer in the pursuit of rhetorical laurels, but is in the service of selling things. Indeed we live in such a sophisticated age that we are told that the key to success is selling even ourselves. And once again the church has fallen prey to the wisdom of the world. We think that our pathway to success lies in selling ourselves, in presenting ourselves not just as a product, but as a superior product. What was once the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church has become now Oakmont Family Worship Center. The trouble is that there are no oaks, no mountains, few families (that is, the families all split and go their separate ways as soon as they enter), no worship, and precious little center.
What Oakmont Family Worship Center offers instead is a series of bulletpoint benefits that fit the demographics of the area. They have a gym, a wide array of twelve-step programs, youth groups, women’s groups, men’s groups, singles groups, and, of course, their own coffee bar right in the narthex, I mean, the “greeting center.” Which in turn means that not only are there no oaks, mountains, families, worship or center, but neither is it one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
It is not one because, unlike the true church, its being isn’t centered on the work of Christ. It spits on the liturgy, on the music, even on the convictions of our fathers. It is the first church of what’s happening now, and thus is untethered from the church in history.
Neither, of course, is the church holy. It not only is not set apart, but labors diligently to mimic the world. It is unholy on purpose, because its reason for being is pleasing the lost, rather than the One who finds the lost. It moves from embracing the wisdom of this world in embracing a sophist agenda, which, in turn, leads it into embracing the wisdom of the world, because that’s what attracts the world. The church begins with the assumption that it can be whatever it wishes and concludes by wishing to be just like the world.
The prototypical Oakmont is not catholic either. Not only does it begin with a marketing strategy, but that marketing strategy is to reach a particular niche (virtually always yuppies, not coincidentally). “Oakmont” is focused on bringing in upwardly mobile professionals. Its vision of the church extends only as broadly as the demographic it is seeking. When we affirm the catholicity of the church we are not only affirming that the church encompasses every tongue and tribe, but that it unites every tongue and tribe. And, as noted above, it transcends time, uniting this century and the last, and the one before that, all the way back to the Garden.
Worst of all, Oakmont is not apostolic. It rejects not only the faith once delivered unto the saints, but likewise it rejects the messengers who delivered that faith. It takes its cues from modern-day church growth gurus, who, in turn, take their cues from the madmen of Madison Avenue. Oakmont isn’t concerned with what the apostles said because they make their decisions based on what the market says. And one thing the market cannot bear is sound, old, demanding doctrine. When demographics divide, that’s good marketing. But when doctrine divides, that’s bad marketing.
Sophistry in the church, then, not only guts the church of her defining marks but gives her a new identity. Now she is no longer the bride of Christ, but a painted lady. When the church hustles the world, it becomes a worldly hustler. In short, like Israel before her, when the church cavorts with the world, she finds her lamp stand removed, she finds herself divorced and alone. The world is a cruel lover, but more important, God is a jealous God. When the church plays to consumers, she will find herself consumed by the One who is a consuming fire. Praise God, however, that the church itself, the true church, will never fall. For her Groom has promised, despite her wandering eye, to remove every blot and blemish. And all His promises are yea and amen.
R.C. Sproul Jr. has served previously as a pastor, professor, and teacher. He is author of numerous books. Some are listed below.
R.C. Sproul Jr. Books | Go to Books Page
The Coming Prince
By Sir Robert Anderson 1841-1918
Chapter 14 The Patmos VisionsIf therefore "the day of the Lord" follows immediately upon the close of the seventieth week, it seems that Judah's complete deliverance is not to take place until after that final period has begun. And this is expressly confirmed by Zechariah 14. It is a prophecy than which none is more definite, and the difficulties which beset the interpretation of it are in no degree overcome by refusing to read it literally. It seems to teach that at that time Jerusalem is to be taken by the allied armies of the nations, and that at the moment when a host of prisoners are being led away, God will intervene in some miraculous way, as when He destroyed the army of Pharaoh at the Exodus 
 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall "the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-30).Comparison with the prophecy of Matthew 24 is the surest and strictest test which can be applied to these conclusions. After fixing the epoch and describing the character of the great persecution of the last days, the Lord thus enumerates the events which are to follow at its close:— First the great natural phenomena predicted; then the appearance of the sign of the Son of man in heaven; then the mourning of the tribes of the land;  and finally the glorious advent.
 kopsontai pasai ai phulai tas gas. Comp. Zechariah 12:12 (LXX), kopsetai ha ga kata phulas phulas.That there will be no interval between the persecution and the "great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:11) which are to follow it, is expressly stated; they are to occur "immediately after the tribulation." That an interval shall separate the other events of the series is equally clear. From the defilement of the Holy Place, to the day when the tribulation shall end, and the "fearful sights" and "great signs" from heaven shall strike terror into men's hearts, shall be a definite period of 1,260 days;  and yet when He goes on to speak of the Advent, the Lord declares that that day is known to the Father only: it should be His people's part to watch and wait. He had already warned them against being deceived by expecting His Advent before the fulfillment of all that must come to pass (Matthew 24:4-28). Now He warns them against apostasy after the accomplishment of all things, because of the delay which even then shall still mark His coming. 
 Therefore if the Advent synchronized with these events, any one then living would be able to fix the date of it, once the epoch of the tribulation were known; whereas the chapter clearly shows that an interval will follow after all has been fulfilled, long enough to weed out mere professors, who, tired of waiting, will apostatize (Matthew 24:48), and to lull, even true disciples to a sleep from which their Lord's return will rouse them (Ibid. 25:5).The words of Christ are unequivocally true, and He never enjoins upon His people to live in expectation of His coming, save at a time when nothing intervenes to bar the fulfillment of the hope. Fatalism is as popular among Christians as with the worshippers of Mahomet; and it is forgotten that though the dispensation has run its course these eighteen centuries, it might have been brought to a close at any moment. Hence the Christian is taught to live, "looking for that blessed hope." (Titus 2:12-13) It will be otherwise in days to come, when the present dispensation shall have closed with the first stage of the Advent. Then the word will be, not "Watch, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come," (Matthew 24:42) — that belongs to the time when all shall have been fulfilled, — but "Take heed that no man deceive you, all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." (Matthew 4:6)
 Matthew 24:42-51, and 25:10-13: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins." tote, "at the period spoken of at the end of the last chapter, viz., the coming of the Lord to His personal reign" (Alford, Gr. Test., in loco.)] Though applicable to every age in which there is a waiting people on earth, the parable will have its full and special application in the last days to those who shall be looking back on the complete page of prophecy fulfilled. The entire passage from chap. 24:31, to chap. 25:30, is parenthetical, relating especially to that time.
The Coming Prince
and also at this website. https://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/The.Coming.Prince.html#1-2
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 38Do Not Forsake Me, O LORD
38 A Psalm Of David, for the Memorial Offering.
5 My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.
By Gleason Archer Jr.
This book bears as its title the name of the principal character whose biography is related within its pages. The etymology of this name (רות) is uncertain; some have suggested a Moabite modification of the Hebrew re˓ût, “friendship, association.” The purpose of the book is to relate an episode in the ancestry of king David which accounted for the introduction of non-Israelite blood into his family line. It also teaches the far-reaching scope of the grace of God who is ready to welcome even Gentile converts to the fellowship of His redeemed people. Perhaps most important of all, this brief narrative is designed to exhibit the function of the gōʾēl, or kinsman-redeemer.
Outline of Ruth
I. Migration and sojourn in Moab, 1:1–5
II. Ruth’s choice to return with Naomi to Judah, 1:6–18
III. The mournful homecoming to Bethlehem, 1:19–22
IV. Boaz, a friend in need, 2:1–23
V. Redemption law invoked, 3:1–18
VI. Boaz’ acceptance of his responsibility as gōʾēl, 4:1–16
VII. Promise and posterity, 4:17–22
Ruth: Date of Composition
The historical setting of this little book is laid in the time of the Judges ( Ruth 1:1 ), and it seems to have been composed at about the same time as the larger work. It could hardly have been written earlier than the time of King David, since he is mentioned in it by name ( 4:22 ). Had it been written as late as the time of Solomon, it is quite likely that David’s famous son also would have been listed in the notice of Ruth’s descendants.
Critics of the Liberal school insist on a date later than the reign of Josiah, inasmuch as Ruth seems to betray a knowledge of Deut. 25, and Deuteronomy was ( according to them ) composed just before Josiah’s reform. Most critics date it about 550 B.C. during the time of the Exile, but others have looked to a period some one hundred years later, feeling that it was intended as a counterblast to Nehemiah’s strict enforcement of the laws against marrying foreign wives. It is interesting to note that W. E Albright expresses a preference for an earlier date than Josiah’s time, regardless of its possible dependence upon Deuteronomy. In the Alleman-Flack Old Testament Commentary, he refers to the demonstration by Millar Burrows that the legal usage described in connection with the marriage of Boaz and Ruth represents a stage much earlier than the Pentateuchal laws respecting levirate marriage. On this questionable basis, therefore, Albright says, “We cannot date the bulk of Ruth after the seventh century, and a date as early as the ninth century for the underlying poem is quite possible.”
Kinsman - Redeemer As A Messianic Type
Requirement Fulfillment In Christ
Be a blood relative Christ born of a woman
Be able to purchase forfeited inheritance Christ had the merit to pay the price for sinners
Be willing to buy back the forfeited inheritance Christ willingly laid down His life
Be willing to marry the wife of the deceased kinsman The Church, as the Bride of Christ
In the interests of the later date, some critics have pointed to alleged Aramaisms such as lāhēn in 1:13 and mārāʾ in 1:20. It is true that lāhēn exists in Aramaic as a word for “therefore,” but as a Hebrew term it may be rendered “to them” in the sense of “for those (things).” While it is true that mārāʾ, “bitter,” is spelled in an Aramaic way, its Hebrew equivalent for an identical sound is only slightly varied in spelling. Moreover, since inscriptions have been found as early as the ninth century B.C. containing both Canaanite and Aramaic spellings in the same text, these two questionable words furnish very tenuous grounds for a late dating of the book.
As for the historicity of the narrative, Ruth appears to give an accurate account of the customs during the early period. It was perfectly natural at that era (before the Moabites had become embittered by Israelite overlordship) for a Jewish family to take refuge in Moab during a time of drought and famine. Under those conditions it would be natural also for young people to fall in love and get married with the inhabitants of the land. The fact that David was descended from a Moabitess would furnish a ready explanation for his seeking refuge with the king of Moab during the time he was being pursued by Saul. As Young remarks, “The very fact that Ruth, the ancestress of David, was a Moabitess, is in itself an argument for the historicity of the book.”
Ruth: Basic Teachings of This Book
The basic teachings of Ruth may be summed up under three headings.
1. It affords a foreshadowing of the enlarged blessing to come: Gentiles are capable of being joined to the commonwealth of Israel upon condition of repentance and of faith in Jehovah.
2. God’s marvelous and unexpected providence is exhibited also by the inclusion of a Gentile in the royal lineage of the Messiah (cf. Matt. 1:5 ).
3. The kinsman-redeemer serves as a Messianic type, the gōʾēl who fulfills the following qualifications and functions of his kinsmen: (a) he must be a blood relative (even as Christ became a blood relative of man by the Virgin Birth); (b) he must have the money to purchase the forfeited inheritance ( 4:10 — even as Christ alone had the merit to pay the price for sinners); (c) he must be willing to buy back that forfeited inheritance ( 4:9 — even as Christ laid down His life on His own volition); (d) he must be willing to marry the wife of a deceased kinsman ( 4:10 — typical of the bride and groom relationship between Christ and His Church). From this standpoint, therefore, the little book of Ruth is one of the most instructive in the Old Testament concerning the mediatorial work of the Lord Jesus.
The Day of Atonement
16:1–34 The Day of Atonement, when annual atonement was made for the sins of the nation, was the holiest day in the Old Testament calendar. It fell in the Hebrew seventh month (October) and involved the offering of various sacrifices, the entry of the high priest into the Most Holy Place (in this chapter referred to simply as the “Holy Place” or “Holy Sanctuary”), and the dispatch of a goat into the wilderness carrying the people’s sins. ( click here for article by Sinclair Ferguson ) The Day of Atonement proceeded according to the following steps: (a) The high priest washed and dressed (v. 4); (b) he sacrificed a bull as a sin offering for himself (v. 6; cf. v. 11); (c) he entered the Most Holy Place and sprinkled the ark with blood (vv. 12–14); (d) he took two goats and by lot chose one to be the scapegoat, the other to be a sin offering (vv. 7–8); (e) he sacrificed one goat as a sin offering (vv. 9, 15); (f) he entered the Most Holy Place and sprinkled the ark with blood (v. 15); (g) he went out to the outer part of the tabernacle of meeting and sprinkled the blood (v. 16); (h) he went out into the courtyard of the tabernacle and sprinkled the main altar with blood (vv. 18–19); (i) he confessed the sins of the Israelites as he laid his hands on the scapegoat’s head (v. 21); (j) he sent the scapegoat into the desert (vv. 21–22); (k) the scapegoat gone, the high priest changed into his regular garments and washed (vv. 23–24); and (l) finally, he offered burnt offerings for himself and for the people (vv. 24–25).
For the high priest, the most important aspects of the ceremony were his entry into the Most Holy Place with the blood of the sin offerings and the dispatch of the scapegoat into the desert. These actions atoned for the sins of repentant Israelites (vv. 16, 19, 21–22). All sin offerings served to cleanse both the earthly sanctuary and the worshipers, but on other occasions the high priest did not enter the (inner) Most Holy Place, but only the anteroom before the separating veil (usually called the “holy place”), the chamber containing the altar of incense, the gold lampstand, and the table of showbread. Because the ark of the covenant, the focal point of God’s presence in the tabernacle was housed in the Most Holy Place, entry to the Most Holy Place was rare and dangerous (v. 2). That the high priest entered the inner chamber only on this one day of the year indicated the depth of atonement being made.
The scapegoat ceremony was also unique to this day. By placing his hands on the goat’s head and confessing the nation’s sins, the high priest transferred those sins to the goat. The goat then symbolically carried the people’s sins away into the desert. Christians have long regarded the scapegoat as a type of Christ. The New Testament makes many comparisons between the Day of Atonement and the death of Christ (Heb. 9:6–28; 13:11–13). That Christ was delivered to the Gentiles and killed outside the walls of Jerusalem indicated that He was sent “outside the camp” like the scapegoat of old.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure;
enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. ESV
The words “I said in my heart” are one of the key expressions in the book of Ecclesiastes. It is the story of the effort of a man to find the supreme good apart from divine revelation. He looks into his own heart, follows its dictates, and after trying all that earth has to offer finds all is vanity or emptiness. Worldly folly never satisfied anyone who sought it. Frivolity may captivate the senses for a moment, but it leaves regret behind. How many a devotee of pleasure has exclaimed at last, “Life is not worth living!” Solomon tried to find solace in the pleasures of the wine cup, though determined not to act the part of a fool and allow himself to become a drunkard. He would drink in moderation, hoping in this to find “what was good for the sons of men.” His book tells how vain was the effort to find lasting enjoyment in self-indulgence of any kind. He had almost unlimited wealth, and he determined not to deny himself anything that his eyes desired or his heart craved. He gave himself, for a time at least, wholly to the pursuit of self-gratification, hoping in this to find perfect happiness. But as he looked back upon wasted years and blighted hopes he realized that the selfish life is the empty life. All was emptiness and a pursuit of the wind. Nothing under the sun can satisfy a man made for eternity.
To walk with God, O fellowship divine!
Man’s highest state on earth — Lord be it mine!
With Thee, may I a close communion hold;
To Thee, the deep recesses of my heart unfold:
Yes, tell Thee all — each weary care and grief
Into Thy bosom pour — till there I find relief.
O let me walk with Thee, Thou Mighty One;
Lean on Thine arm, and trust Thy love alone;
With Thee hold converse sweet where’er I go;
Thy smile of love my highest bliss below!
--- J. J. P.
By James Orr 1907
NOTE C.—P. 413 | Alleged “Midrash” Character Of Genesis 14"
WELLHAUSEN holds this chapter to be one of the very latest (post-exilian) insertions into the Book of Genesis, and absolutely without historical worth. He refuses even to acknowledge, with Nöldeke, the excellence in style of the narration (Compos. d. Hex. pp. 311–3).
Kuenen thinks that in this chapter the redactor “has given us a fragment of a post-exilian version of Abram’s life, a Midrash, such as the Chronicler had among his sources” (Hex. p. 324). He allows, however, that “the story is in its proper place, for it presupposes Lot’s separation from Abram, and his settlement in Sodom” (p. 143).
Kautzsch says of this “remarkable” chapter “that it seems to have been taken from a Midrash of the patriarchal history,” and regards it as an addition of the last redactor (Lit. of O.T., p. 119).
Cheyne declares his agreement with Wellhausen, Stade, Meyer, Kautzsch, in the view that it is “a post-exilian Midrash” (Oxf. Hex. i. p. 168). E. Meyer, quoted by him, thought that the Jew who inserted it “had obtained in Babylon minute information as to the early history of the land” (Gesch. des Alterthums, i. p. 166).
Addis asks: “To what does this proof amount? Simply to this, that the writer had acquired some slight knowledge of Babylonian history, as, doubtless, many a Jew in exile did” (Docs. of Hex. ii. p. 212).
H. P. Smith speaks of the “desperate attempts” which “have been made of late years to rescue the historicity of this chapter, on the ground of Babylonian literature” (O.T. Hist. p. 37).
Yet the “Midrash” thus confidently assumed is nothing but a fiction evolved from the critical imagination. Is it likely that a Jew in Babylon would he found devoting himself to the deciphering of Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions? And where is the proof of his “slight” knowledge?
NOTE D.—P. 418 | The Resurrection Of Myths
THE effect of discovery has been a wonderful resuscitation of the credit of stories and traditions long regarded as myths. We refer in the text to the discoveries affecting Menes and the early Egyptian dynasties. It has been the same elsewhere. “The spade of Dr. Schliemann and his followers have again brought to light the buried empire of Agamemnon. Our knowledge of the culture and power of the princes of Mycenæ and Tiryns in the heroic age of Greece is no longer dependent on the questionable memory of tradition” (Sayce, Higher Crit. p. 18). “I well remember,” says Professor Kittel, “in my student days how the scorn of the whole body of the learned, and the ridicule even of the comic papers, was poured on him (Dr. Schliemann) when he came forward to announce his discovery of Priam’s city, his palace, and his treasures. For in these days it was an article of belief with scholars that our knowledge of the history of ancient Greece practically began with Herodotus and the time of the Persian wars” (Babyl. Excavs. p. 74).
The remarks of the same author on the Cretan excavations are full of interest in this connection. He tells of “a learned friend who was on his way back to Crete, and who had seen there the excavations undertaken by Evans, and was able to boast that he had sat upon the throne and in the palace of King Minos, a monarch well remembered by us all at school, and universally regarded by us as the mere product of a myth” (p. 15). In a note, he adds: “Minos has frequently been regarded as a Cretan god, also a personification of Zeus, or again of the Phœnician domination, and of Baal-Melkart or of Moon-worship, or even as a Sun-god,” etc.
Again: “Much that we previously held, and seemed justified in holding, as mythical, is now coming into the light of history; and, side by side with the already mentioned Minos, we have now, through the latest discovered Assyrian inscriptions, come to accept the historical existence of King Midas of Phrygia, of whom we previously knew nothing but the story of his ass’s ears, but who is now recognised as an actual and worthy ruler of the eighth century before Christ” (p. 16). He shows how Midas “continues at the present time to be described as an ancient divinity of the Northern Greeks and Phrygians, more exactly as a ‘blessing-scattering nature-god’ … in the form of an animal.… To this ancient demon of vegetable life,” etc.
NOTE E.—P. 419 | The Identification Of Rameses and Pithom
THE problems about the city Raamses (Rameses) in Ex. 1:11, are not yet satisfactorily solved. There would seem, in fact, to have been two cities of this name — one, of which we have Egyptian accounts, the city of Zoan or Tanis, of the Hyksos, in the Delta, which Rameses II. rebuilt, and called by his name; the other in the neighbourhood of Pithom, in Goshen (cf. Driver, Authority and Archœology, p. 55). Sayce at first (with Brugsch, etc.) identified Rameses with Tanis (Fresh Light, p. 65), then distinguished two cities (Higher Criticism, p. 239), now again appears to identify the Biblical Raamses with the Egyptian Pi-Ramessu, but disconnects the latter from Tanis (“Raamses” in Dict. of Bible, iv. pp. 188–9; Monument Facts, p. 90); so Pinches (O.T. in Light of Hist. Records, p. 305). Brugsch, also, after the discovery of Pithom, gave up his earlier view of the site of Rameses. It still seems to us more probable that the “store city” is to be distinguished from the gay and splendid Pi-Ramessu. On the possible greater antiquity of the name, see the valuable note in Canon Cook, Speaker’s Com., “ Exodus, ” p. 486.
The situation of Pithom is settled by M. Naville’s discovery, and inscriptions of Rameses II. show the connection of that Pharaoh with it. M. Naville, at the same time, “never had the good fortune to find the king’s name stamped on any of the bricks” (Report, July 1883). The evidence, however, is very abundant that Rameses II. habitually erased the names of his predecessors, and substituted his own (cf. Cook, as above, p. 465). Pollard, in his Land of the Monuments, gives a striking instance from this very district. “A large sphinx in black marble is also very interesting, as the name of the king in whose reign it was carved, and whose portrait it most probably bears, has been erased. It belonged, unquestionably, to the period of the Hyksos, or the Shepherd kings.… The only name found on it at present is that of Rameses the Great, who reigned about 1400 B.C. (?). It was — most unfortunately for the records of Egyptian history — the practice of this monarch to cut his name on almost every object that presented itself. This would have been pardonable enough had he allowed all previous names and titles to remain; but he seems to have desired to obliterate all records but those of his own ancestors” (p. 18). In certain inscriptions, however, he effaces even the name of his father (Seti I.), and substitutes his own.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF WORKS IMPROPERLY INFERRED FROM REWARDS.
There are three divisions in this chapter,--I. A solution of two general objections which are urged in support of justification by works. First, That God will render to every one according to his works, sec. 1. Second, That the reward of works is called eternal, sec. 2-6. II. Answer to other special objections derived from the former, and a perversion of passages of Scripture, sec. 6-9. III. Refutation of the sophism that faith itself is called a work, and, therefore, justification by it is by works, sec. 10.
1. Two general objections. The former solved and explained. What meant by the term working.
2. Solution of the second general objection. 1. Works not the cause of salvation. This shown from the name and nature of inheritance. 2. A striking example that the Lord rewards the works of believers with blessings which he had promised before the works were thought of.
3. First reason why eternal life said to be the reward of works. This confirmed by passages of Scripture. The concurrence of Ambrose. A rule to be observed. Declarations of Christ and an Apostle.
4. Other four reasons. Holiness the way to the kingdom, not the cause of obtaining it. Proposition of the Sophists.
5. Objection that God crowns the works of his people. Three answers from Augustine. A fourth from Scripture.
6. First special objection--viz. that we are ordered to lay up treasure in heaven. Answer, showing in what way this can be done.
7. Second objection--viz. that the righteous enduring affliction are said to be worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Answer. What meant by righteousness.
8. A third objection founded on three passages of Paul. Answer.
9. Fourth objection founded on our Savior's words, "If ye would enter into life, keep the commandments." Answer, giving an exposition of the passage.
10. Last objection--viz. that faith itself is called a work. Answer--it is not as a work that faith justifies.
1. Let us now proceed to those passages which affirm that God will render to every one according to his deeds. Of this description are the following: "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad;" "Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life;" but "tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that does evil;" "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation;" "Come, ye blessed of my Father;" "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink," &c. To these we may add the passages which describe eternal life as the reward of works, such as the following: "The recompense of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him;" "He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded;" "Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven;" "Every man shall receive his own rewards according to his own labour."  The passages in which it is said that God will reward every man according to his works are easily disposed of. For that mode of expression indicates not the cause but the order of sequence. Now, it is beyond a doubt that the steps by which the Lord in his mercy consummates our salvation are these, "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). But though it is by mercy alone that God admits his people to life, yet as he leads them into possession of it by the course of good works, that he may complete his work in them in the order which he has destined, it is not strange that they are said to be crowned according to their works, since by these doubtless they are prepared for receiving the crown of immortality. Nay, for this reason they are aptly said to work out their own salvation (Phil. 2:12), while by exerting themselves in good works they aspire to eternal life, just as they are elsewhere told to labour for the meat which perisheth not (John 6:27), while they acquire life for themselves by believing in Christ; and yet it is immediately added, that this meat "the Son of man shall give unto you." Hence it appears, that working is not at all opposed to grace, but refers to pursuit,  and, therefore, it follows not that believers are the authors of their own salvation, or that it is the result of their works. What then? The moment they are admitted to fellowship with Christ, by the knowledge of the gospel, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, their eternal life is begun, and then He which has begun a good work in them "will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1:6). And it is performed when in righteousness and holiness they bear a resemblance to their heavenly Father, and prove that they are not degenerate sons.
2. There is nothing in the term reward to justify the inference that our works are the cause of salvation. First, let it be a fixed principle in our hearts, that the kingdom of heaven is not the hire of servants, but the inheritance of sons (Eph. 1:18); an inheritance obtained by those only whom the Lord has adopted as sons, and obtained for no other cause than this adoption, "The son of the bond-women shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman," (Gal. 4:30). And hence in those very passages in which the Holy Spirit promises eternal glory as the reward of works, by expressly calling it an inheritance, he demonstrates that it comes to us from some other quarter. Thus Christ enumerates the works for which he bestows heaven as a recompense, while he is calling his elect to the possession of it, but he at the same time adds, that it is to be possessed by right of inheritance (Mt. 25:34). Paul, too, encourages servants, while faithfully doing their duty, to hope for reward from the Lord, but adds, "of the inheritance," (Col. 3:24). You see how, as it were, in formal terms they carefully caution us to attribute eternal blessedness not to works, but to the adoption of God. Why, then, do they at the same time make mention of works? This question will be elucidated by an example from Scripture (Gen. 15:5; 17:1). Before the birth of Isaac, Abraham had received promise of a seed in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed; the propagation of a seed that for number should equal the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, &c. Many years after he prepares, in obedience to a divine message, to sacrifice his son. Having done this act of obedience, he receives the promise, "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice," (Gen. 22:16-18). What is it we hear? Did Abraham by his obedience merit the blessing which had been promised him before the precept was given? Here assuredly we see without ambiguity that God rewards the works of believers with blessings which he had given them before the works were thought of, there still being no cause for the blessings which he bestows but his own mercy.
3. And yet the Lord does not act in vain, or delude us when he says, that he renders to works what he had freely given previous to works. As he would have us to be exercised in good works, while aspiring to the manifestation, or, if I may so speak, the fruition of the things which he has promised, and by means of them to hasten on to the blessed hope set before us in heaven, the fruit of the promises is justly ascribed to those things by which it is brought to maturity. Both things were elegantly expressed by the Apostle, when he told the Colossians to study the offices of charity, "for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel," (Col. 1:5). For when he says that the gospel informed them of the hope which was treasured up for them in heaven, he declares that it depends on Christ alone, and not at all upon works. With this accords the saying of Peter, that believers "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time," (1 Pet. 1:5). When he says that they strive on account of it, he intimates that believers must continue running during the whole course of their lives in order that they may attain it. But to prevent us from supposing that the reward which is promised becomes a kind of merit, our Lord introduced a parable, in which he represented himself as a householder, who sent all the laborers whom he met to work in his vineyard, some at the first hour of the day, others at the second, others at the third, some even at the eleventh; at evening he paid them all alike. The interpretation of this parable is briefly and truly given by that ancient writer (whoever he was) who wrote the book De Vocatione Gentium, which goes under the name of Ambrose. I will give it in his words rather than my own:  "By means of this comparison, our Lord represented the many various modes of calling as pertaining to grace alone, where those who were introduced into the vineyard at the eleventh hour and made equal to those who had toiled the whole day, doubtless represent the case of those whom the indulgence of God, to commend the excellence of grace, has rewarded in the decline of the day and the conclusion of life; not paying the price of labor, but shedding the riches of his goodness on those whom he chose without works; in order that even those who bore the heat of the day, and yet received no more than those who came last, may understand that they received a gift of grace, not the hire of works," (Lib. 1, cap. 5). Lastly, it is also worthy of remark, that in those passages in which eternal life is called the reward of works, it is not taken simply for that communion which we have with God preparatory to a blessed immortality, when with paternal benevolence he embraces us in Christ, but for the possession, or, as it is called, the fruition of blessedness, as the very words of Christ express it, "in the world to come eternal life," (Mark 10:30), and elsewhere, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom," &c. (Mt. 25:34). For this reasons also, Paul gives the name of adoption to that revelation of adoption which shall be made at the resurrection; and which adoption he afterwards interprets to mean, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23). But, otherwise, as alienation from God is eternal death,--so when man is received into favor by God that he may enjoy communion with him and become one with him, he passes from death unto life. This is owing to adoption alone. Although after their manner they pertinaciously urge the term reward, we can always carry them back to the declaration of Peter, that eternal life is the reward of faith (1 Pet. 1:9).
4. Let us not suppose, then, that the Holy Spirit, by this promise, commends the dignity of our works, as if they were deserving of such a reward. For Scripture leaves us nothing of which we may glory in the sight of God. Nay, rather its whole object is to repress, humble, cast down, and completely crush our pride. But in this way help is given to our weakness, which would immediately give way were it not sustained by this expectation, and soothed by this comfort. First, let every man reflect for himself how hard it is not only to leave all things, but to leave and abjure one's self. And yet this is the training by which Christ initiates his disciples, that is, all the godly. Secondly, he thus keeps them all their lifetime under the discipline of the cross, lest they should allow their heart to long for or confide in present good. In short, his treatment is usually such, that wherever they turn their eyes, as far as this world extends, they see nothing before them but despair; and hence Paul says "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable," (1 Cor. 15:19). That they may not fail in these great straits, the Lord is present reminding them to lift their head higher and extend their view farther, that in him they may find a happiness which they see not in the world: to this happiness he gives the name of reward, hire, recompense, not as estimating the merit of works, but intimating that it is a compensation for their straits, sufferings, and affronts, &c. Wherefore, there is nothing to prevent us from calling eternal life a recompense after the example of Scripture, because in it the Lord brings his people from labour to quiet, from affliction to a prosperous and desirable condition, from sorrow to joy, from poverty to affluence, from ignominy to glory; in short, exchanges all the evils which they endured for blessings. Thus there will be no impropriety in considering holiness of life as the way, not indeed the way which gives access to the glory of the heavenly kingdom; but a way by which God conducts his elect to the manifestation of that kingdom, since his good pleasure is to glorify those whom he has sanctified (Rom. 8:30). Only let us not imagine that merit and hire are correlative terms, a point on which the Sophists absurdly insist, from not attending to the end to which we have adverted. How preposterous is it when the Lord calls us to one end to look to another? Nothing is clearer than that a reward is promised to good works, in order to support the weakness of our flesh by some degree of comfort; but not to inflate our minds with vain glory. He, therefore, who from merit infers reward, or weighs works and reward in the same balance, errs very widely from the end which God has in view.
5. Accordingly, when the Scripture speaks of "a crown of righteousness which God the righteous Judge shall give" "at that day," (2 Tim. 4:8), I not only say with Augustine, "To whom could the righteous Judge give the crown if the merciful Father had not given grace, and how could there have been righteousness but for the precedence of grace which justified the ungodly? how could these be paid as things due were not things not due previously given?" (August. ad Valent. de Grat. et Lib. Art.); but I also add, how could he impute righteousness to our works, did not his indulgence hide the unrighteousness that is in them? How could he deem them worthy of reward, did he not with boundless goodness destroy what is unworthy in them? Augustine is wont to give the name of grace to eternal life, because, while it is the recompense of works, it is bestowed by the gratuitous gifts of God. But Scripture humbles us more, and at the same time elevates us. For besides forbidding us to glory in works, because they are the gratuitous gifts of God, it tells us that they are always defiled by some degrees of impurity, so that they cannot satisfy God when they are tested by the standard of his justice; but that lest our activity should be destroyed, they please merely by pardon. But though Augustine speaks somewhat differently from us, it is plain from his words that the difference is more apparent than real. After drawing a contrast between two individuals the one with a life holy and perfect almost to a miracle; the other honest indeed, and of pure morals, yet not so perfect as not to leave much room for desiring better, he at length infers, "He who seems inferior in conduct, yet on account of the true faith in God by which he lives (Hab. 2:4), and in conformity to which he accuses himself in all his faults, praises God in all his good works, takes shame to himself, and ascribes glory to God, from whom he receives both forgiveness for his sins, and the love of well-doing, the moment he is set free from this life is translated into the society of Christ. Why, but just on account of his faith? For though it saves no man without works (such faith being reprobate and not working by love), yet by means of it sins are forgiven; for the just lives by faith: without it works which seem good are converted into sins," (August. ad Bonifac., Lib. 3, c. 5). Here he not obscurely acknowledges what we so strongly maintains that the righteousness of good works depends on their being approved by God in the way of pardon. 
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
3/1/2008 Regarding Depravity
I have a high regard for the depravity of man. Without contest, the supreme sinfulness of sinners is the most disregarded reality — the world over. The fall of man is quite possibly the most forgotten, under appreciated, and misunderstood event in history. For this reason, many in our day preach “salvation” but neglect to preach sin; many talk about Christ but fail to talk about conviction; many offer testimonies about renewal but forget to mention repentance.
In our post postmodern society, you might get away with talking about Jesus with a Muslim; you might be able to have a great conversation with a Jewish friend about Christmas; you might be at liberty to say “God bless you” to an atheist; you may still even be able to pledge your allegiance to a nation “under God,” but don’t you dare mention a word about that awful, three-letter word sin-. It is certainly true that sin, Satan, and spiritual death are among society’s dirty words, and you dare not speak them in polite company lest you incur the wrath of the most outspoken, self-appointed, religiously correct person present. To the Gospel’s great misfortune, if it could know such misfortune, many in our churches have fallen prey to this sort of religiously correct philosophy of life. As a result, many have struggled to understand the good news without first knowing the bad news — and in the context of spiritual life and death, no news is most certainly bad news. Without the bad news about sin, Satan, and spiritual death, the good news is superfluous at best.
In my estimation, it is for this seemingly contradictory reason that so many Christians are spiritually depressed. In fact, such a designation is in itself a contradiction in terms — a “spiritually depressed Christian.” We get depressed on account of the fact that we have underestimated the power and reality of sin, and we have thus underestimated the power and reality of the Gospel. The darkness of spiritual depression will not lift until we have sought forgiveness before the very face of God, coram Deo. For it is only when we rightly regard our sin that we will be able rightly to cling to the forgiveness, liberty, joy, and abundant life from the Light of the World.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
Less than two months after Lincoln was inaugurated President, the Civil War began this day, April 12, 1861, with Confederate troops in Charleston, South Carolina, firing upon Fort Sumter. The Confederate Army was unstoppable, twice winning battles at Bull Run, Virginia, just twenty miles from Washington, D.C., forcing the Union troops to retreat to the fortifications of the Capitol. It wasn’t until the Battle of Gettysburg, over two years into the war, that the tide began to turn. President Lincoln confided: “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The work of spirituality is to recognize where we are - the particular circumstances of our lives - to recognize grace and say, "Do you suppose God wants to be with me in a way that does not involve changing my spouse or getting rid of my spouse or my kids, but in changing me, and doing something in my life that maybe I could never experience without this pain and this suffering?
--- Edmund Clowney
The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction
We are generally desirous of bargaining with God; we would like at least to impose the limits and see the end of our sufferings. That same obstinate and hidden hold of life, which renders the cross necessary, causes us to reject it in part, and by a secret resistance, which impairs its virtue. We have thus to go over the same ground again and again; we suffer greatly, but to very little purpose. The Lord deliver us from falling into that state of soul in which crosses are of no benefit to us! God loves a cheerful giver, according to Paul; ah! what must be his love to those who, in a cheerful and absolute abandonment, resign themselves to the entire extent of his crucifying will!
--- Francois Fenelon
Christian Teachings on the Practice of Prayer: From the Early Church to the Present
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
--- John Donne
The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne (Modern Library Classics)
It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.
--- Blaise Pascal
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Libray 1994
1772. Attends the Yearly Meeting in London -- Then proceeds towards Yorkshire -- Visits Quarterly and other Meetings in the Counties of Hertford, Warwick, Oxford, Nottingham, York, and Westmoreland -- Returns to Yorkshire -- Instructive Observations and Letters -- Hears of the Decease of William Hunt -- Some Account of him -- The Author's Last Illness and Death at York.
ON the 8th of sixth month, 1772, we landed at London, and I went straightway to the Yearly Meeting of ministers and elders, which had been gathered, I suppose, about half an hour.
In this meeting my mind was humbly contrite. In the afternoon the meeting for business was opened, which by adjournments held near a week. In these meetings I often felt a living concern for the establishment of Friends in the pure life of truth. My heart was enlarged in the meetings of ministers, that for business, and in several meetings for public worship, and I felt my mind united in true love to the faithful laborers now gathered at this Yearly Meeting. On the 15th I went to a Quarterly Meeting at Hertford.
First of seventh month. -- I have been at Quarterly Meetings at Sherrington, Northampton, Banbury, and Shipton, and have had sundry meetings between. My mind hath been bowed under a sense of Divine goodness manifested among us; my heart hath been often enlarged in true love, both among ministers and elders and in public meetings, and through the Lord's goodness I believe it hath been a fresh visitation to many, in particular, to the youth.
Seventeenth. -- I was this day at Birmingham; I have been at meetings at Coventry, Warwick, in Oxfordshire, and sundry other places, and have felt the humbling hand of the Lord upon me; but through his tender mercies I find peace in the labors I have gone through.
Twenty-sixth. -- I have continued travelling northward, visiting meetings. Was this day at Nottingham; the fore-noon meeting was especially, through Divine love, a heart-tendering season. Next day I had a meeting in a Friend's family, which, through the strengthening arm of the Lord, was a time to be thankfully remembered.
Second of eighth month and first of the week. -- I was this day at Sheffield, a large inland town. I was at sundry meetings last week, and feel inward thankfulness for that Divine support which hath been graciously extended to me. On the 9th I was at Rushworth. I have lately passed through some painful labor, but have been comforted under a sense of that Divine visitation which I feel extended towards many young people.
Sixteenth of eighth month and the first of the week, I was at Settle. It hath of late been a time of inward poverty, under which my mind hath been preserved in a watchful, tender state, feeling for the mind of the Holy Leader, and I find peace in the labors I have passed through.
John Woolman's Journal
Thomas A Kempis
Book Three - Internal Consolation
The Thirty-Fourth Chapter / God Is Sweet Above All Things And In All Things To Those Who Love Him
BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only to him who loves it, and not to the world or the things that are in the world.
My God and my all! These words are enough for him who understands, and for him who loves it is a joy to repeat them often. For when You are present, all things are delightful; when You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give a heart tranquillity, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things. Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long, for if it is to be pleasing and tasteful, Your grace and the seasoning of Your wisdom must be in it. What is there that can displease him whose happiness is in You? And, on the contrary, what can satisfy him whose delight is not in You?
The wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh, are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from flesh to spirit. By such as these God is relished, and whatever good is found in creatures they turn to praise of the Creator. But great—yes, very great, indeed—is the difference between delight in the Creator and in the creature, in eternity and in time, in Light uncreated and in the light that is reflected.
O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh, when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this is not given me, my joy will not be complete.
The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my God.
The Imitation Of Christ
Practical religion. The Christian life
Peter denied his Lord thrice, and then the Lord looked upon him; and that look of Jesus broke the heart of Peter, and all at once there opened up before him the terrible sin that he had committed, the terrible failure that had come, and the depth into which he had fallen, and "Peter went out and wept bitterly."
Oh! who can tell what that repentance must have been? During the following hours of that night, and the next day, when he saw Christ crucified and buried, and the next day, the Sabbath--oh, in what hopeless despair and shame he must have spent that day!
"My Lord is gone, my hope is gone, and I denied my Lord. After that life of love, after that blessed fellowship of three years, I denied my Lord. God have mercy upon me!"
I do not think we can realize into what a depth of humiliation Peter sank then. But that was the turning point and the change; and on the first day of the week Christ was seen of Peter, and in the evening He met him with the others. Later on at the Lake of Galilee He asked him: "Lovest thou me?" until Peter was made sad by the thought that the Lord reminded him of having denied Him thrice; and said in sorrow, but in uprightness:
"Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee" (John 21:17).
Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
by D.H. Stern
but a liar misdirects [judgment].
26 In the fear of ADONAI is powerful security;
for his children there will be a place of refuge.
27 The fear of ADONAI is a fountain of life
enabling one to avoid deadly traps.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
‘This moment contains all moments.’
‘Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me in pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me—before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.’
‘I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?’
The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.
‘Be careful,’ it said. ‘He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams—all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent …’
‘Have I your permission?’ said the Angel to the Ghost.
‘I know it will kill me.’
‘It won’t. But supposing it did?’
‘You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.’
‘Then I may?’
‘Damn and blast you! Go on, can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, ‘God help me. God help me.’
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken-backed, on the turf.
‘Ow! That’s done for me,’ gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.
For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialised while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man—an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.
The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse’s back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I knew well what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.
While I still watched, I noticed that the whole plain and forest were shaking with a sound which in our world would be too large to hear, but there I could take it with joy. I knew it was not the Solid People who were singing. It was the voice of that earth, those woods and those waters. A strange archaic, inorganic noise, that came from all directions at once. The Nature or Arch-Nature of that land rejoiced to have been once more ridden, and therefore consummated, in the person of the horse. It sang,
The Great Divorce
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Death hath no more dominion over Him … in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.
--- Romans 6:9–11.
Co-Eternal Life. Eternal life was the life which Jesus Christ exhibited on the human plane, and it is the same life, not a copy of it, which is manifested in our mortal flesh when we are born of God. Eternal life is not a gift from God, eternal life is the gift of God. The energy and the power which were manifested in Jesus will be manifested in us by the sheer sovereign grace of God when once we have made the moral decision about sin.
“Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost”—not power as a gift from the Holy Ghost; the power is the Holy Ghost, not something which He imparts. The life that was in Jesus is made ours by means of his Cross when once we make the decision to be identified with Him. If it is difficult to get right with God, it is because we will not decide definitely about sin. Immediately we do decide, the full life of God comes in. Jesus came to give us endless supplies of life: “that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Eternal Life has nothing to do with Time, it is the life which Jesus lived when He was down here. The only source of Life is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The weakest saint can experience the power of the Deity of the Son of God if once he is willing to ‘let go.’ Any strand of our own energy in ourselves will blur the life of Jesus. We have to keep letting go, and slowly and surely the great full life of God will invade us in every part, and men will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
You go up the long track
That will take a car, but is best walked
On slow foot, noting the lichen
That writes history on the page
Of the grey rock. Trees are about you
At first, but yield to the green bracken,
The nightjars house: you can hear it spin
On warm evenings; it is still now
In the noonday heat, only the lesser
Voices sound, blue-fly and gnat
And the stream's whisper. As the road climbs,
You will pause for breath and the far sea's
Signal will flash, till you turn again
To the steep track, buttressed with cloud.
And there at the top that old woman,
Born almost a century back
In that stone farm, awaits your coming;
Waits for the news of the lost village
She thinks she knows, a place that exists
In her memory only.
You bring her greeting
And praise for having lasted so long
With time's knife shaving the bone.
Yet no bridge joins her own
World with yours, all you can do
Is lean kindly across the abyss
To hear words that were once wise.
Deuteronomy 12–26 / Ways of Worship
Chapters 5–11 of Deuteronomy affirmed the basic principle of love which God’s gift of Law expresses. Then Moses reviewed the Law given earlier at Sinai, and highlighted specific ways in which God’s people could express their love for Him. In essence this chapter explores a variety of ways of worship: ways in which God’s people can honor, glorify, and love the Lord their God.
|One Place||chapters 12; 16|
|One God||chapters 13; 17–18|
|Tithes||chapters 12; 14|
|Clean and Unclean||chapters 14; 23|
|Compassion||chapters 15; 24–25|
Worship. In the Old Testament, “worship” is usually sahah, “to bow down” or “to prostrate oneself out of respect.” ˓Asab, “to serve,” is also translated “worship.” The underlying idea is to show respect and reverence, not only in a worship service where God is praised, but in every aspect of one’s life.
Our lives are to be expressions of worship of God.
Tithe. Ten percent of all that the Promised Land produced was to be set aside by Israelites as “holy to the Lord” and to be used as He commanded.
The people of Israel, who were so deeply loved by God, were to return that love in worship— by showing respect and reverence for God in every way.
In these chapters of Deuteronomy we find a number of mixed themes—special instructions about tithes, about ritual cleanness, about war, justice, and compassion. At first glance they seem unrelated. But what ties them together is the fact that every action commanded describes another aspect of a life so intimately linked to God that all the godly Israelite said and did could be considered an act of worship.
One Place: Deuteronomy 12; 16 / Many of the ritual elements of Israel’s worship are explained by a simple phrase we find repeated in Deuteronomy 12. “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way”
(Deuteronomy 12:31). The worship of God must be as distinct from the worship of pagan idols as God Himself is from dead wood and stone.
A basic feature of pagan worship was its localization. The peoples of Canaan called their gods Baals, a word which means “master” or “owner.” The baals were thought of as owners of their area—a hillside, a valley, a plot of land, or a larger section of territory. One worshiped the local Baal as an act of respect, for it was thought to control the fruitfulness of the land.
Because of this localized concept of a deity’s rights and powers, Canaan under the pagans was filled with “high places”—spots on the tops of hills or groves of trees set aside for worship of the local deity.
Many years later, when the Assyrians resettled the Northern Kingdom of Israel after deporting most of its Jewish inhabitants, the people resettled there took up the worship of Yahweh along with worship of their old gods. They did not do this because they respected Yahweh as Lord God Almighty. They did it because He was viewed as the God of that land, and it was wise to show respect for One who controlled the fertility of the fields they plowed!
But God is God of the whole earth. His sovereign power extends over all! To truly worship God, His overarching sovereignty must be acknowledged and He must be worshiped for who He truly is. God is no local diety—and it would be totally inappropriate for Him to be worshiped as if He were nothing more than God of these few trees, that plot of land.
So God commanded Israel that, when they entered the land of Canaan, they were to “destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:2). In place of these localized places of worship, God promised to choose one place where He would put His name. “To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Deuteronomy 12:5–6). This command is repeated and underlined (Deuteronomy 12:11–14). Israel was to worship “only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes.”
When the people first entered the land they worshiped wherever the tabernacle was located. That was the one place where God met with His people, and where the sacrifices the Law ordained could be made. Some 400 years would pass before David established Jerusalem as his capital city, and set aside a mount on which his son Solomon would build the promised temple of God.
Deuteronomy 16 reviews again the three pilgrim festivals, religious feasts which were to be held annually at the central place of worship. Here again the “one place” theme is repeated. “You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you except in the place He will choose as a dwelling for His name” (Deuteronomy 16:5–6).
What is the significance for us of these crystal clear instructions to Israel? Primarily they serve as a reminder of the wonders that are now ours as Jesus’ people.
Corporate worship in Israel was to be focused in the one place on earth where God’s presence was established. But where is God present today? God is present in His people—God has come in the person of the Holy Spirit and taken up residence in you and me!
No wonder Jesus taught, “Where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20).
For many today, “worship” is an experience generated by the stately music and quiet surroundings of some beautiful sanctuary. The church is just a building, and worship is a Sunday kind of thing. But we Christians do not worship God in their way!
Instead we gather together, realizing that we ourselves are the church and that Jesus, living in each one, is the living focus of our praise.
In Old Testament times God’s special presence was in one place. Today His special presence is felt whenever we who love Jesus come together to worship and honor our Lord.
One God: Deuteronomy 13; 17–18 / Again and again Moses emphasized the total commitment to God that personal relationship with Him demands. “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ … do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death” (Deuteronomy 13:6–9).
It was absolutely essential for the spiritual future of Israel to maintain a complete and total commitment to God.
However, God carefully protected His people against the kind of thing that marked the Spanish Inquisition—false and anonymous accusation. Deuteronomy 17 repeats the command that a person who traffics with other gods should be put to death, but specifies “on the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” And then “the hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death” (Deuteronomy 17:6–7).
What might be so attractive as to turn the hearts of the Israelites to pagan gods? One answer of course is found in the immorality which was associated with Canaanite religious rites. But another is located in man’s sense of helplessness in a universe too big for control. One aspect of pagan religions was their suggestion that through magical means a person might gain control over his or her environment and other persons. Through the seers and diviners of paganism people were offered some insight into the future, and some hope of controlling or guarding themselves from future events.
Twice in these chapters Moses dealt with the question of those who seemed to have some supernatural powers that offered supernatural help and guidance.
The key passage is found in Deuteronomy 18, and is the background against which we must understand the role of the prophet in Israel.
When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord. --- Deuteronomy 18:9–13
While God’s people were forbidden to consult pagan or occult sources for information, God knew that there would be times when the written Law did not provide enough guidance to know God’s will in a specific situation.
So Moses promised that the Lord would raise up for them a prophet like him from among their own brothers. They must listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:18).
The prophet, then, would be God’s own spokesman, giving Israel the guidance required to live in a given situation in the will of God. As God said, “I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18).
There was no reason, ever, to turn to pagan gods. God was ready and able to meet every need of His dearly loved people.
These chapters also tell the Israelites how to distinguish a true prophet from a false prophet. These tests are:
The prophet must be an Israelite “from among your own brothers” (Deuteronomy 18:18).
He will “speak in My name,” and anyone who prophesied in the name of other gods was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 18:20).
What he says will happen will actually take place, for “if what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken.” Such pseudo-prophets are not to be feared, for the words of a true prophet will always come true
Anyone who encourages the following of other gods, even if he works miracles, is to be rejected and put to death. The Word of God stands as an objective test of the prophet’s message.
God does meet all the needs of His people. To look elsewhere for guidance or aid is to treat Him with contempt. We are to count on God to meet our every need, for He truly is committed to us.
The Teacher's Commentary
Moed Katan 8b
Often, we think of God in terms of overwhelming power—the Creation, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the revelation at Sinai. Rabbi Yoḥanan’s explanation reminds us that the rabbinic view of God’s greatness is more inclusive. God exhibits not only strength and grandeur in divine transcendence, but also unending concern for humanity and love, in divine imminence.
Perhaps Rabbi Yoḥanan’s words, and his attempt to expand our view of God’s attributes, can help us refocus our view of greatness—not only God’s, but also our own. If we are to follow God’s ways and imitate God’s attributes, then we have to understand real stature. True greatness is powerful, expansive, and broad-based, yet it is also quiet and understated. Wherever there is strength, there should also be compassion.
Recent studies of successful businesses have made this exact point. Those companies that excel are not only strong, powerful corporations but, more often than not, businesses that show care and concern for people. They are in the forefront of providing child-care for employees, of listening to customer suggestions and acting on them, of making people, even the lowliest employee on the corporate ladder, feel both needed and welcome.
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, turned a small store into a nationwide chain, becoming one of the richest men in America. Some have explained Walton’s success in his concern for each employee. A story demonstrates this: One night, he could not sleep. After driving to an all-night bakery at 2:30 A.M., Mr. Walton brought donuts to the workers at a Wal-Mart distribution center, chatting with them at this late hour. In so doing, he found out that the employees wanted a new shower installed at work, which he arranged for. Sam Walton’s greatness was not only in selling $2 billion of merchandise a year, but also in caring for the lonely employee who worked the late night shift at one of his stores.
This is what Rabbi Yoḥanan’s words are saying to us today: Just as God’s greatness comes from strength combined with compassion, we humans, created in God’s image, must show both strength and compassion, hand-in-hand. Thus, a business executive can have a high-powered career, earning lots of money and wielding strength; that executive must also care for the human beings who are touched by the company. Powerful politicians can win votes and elections, but the real challenge is often winning the hearts of the people whom they represent. We have to earn money to support our families, but we cannot forget to spend time with them.
If the common person, even the most unfortunate member of society like the widow or orphan, is constantly the focus of God’s attention, then don’t we human beings have an equal responsibility of never forgetting them? This, in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s eyes, as well as in the view of Judaism, is true greatness.
One does not mix one happy occasion with another.
Text / Mishnah (1:7): One does not marry a woman during a festival, be she a virgin or a widow, nor does one effect a levirate marriage, because it is a happy occasion.…
Gemara: So what if it is a happy occasion? Rav Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel, and so too Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Oshiya, while others say Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Ḥanina: “Because one does not mix one happy occasion with another.” Rabbah bar Rav Huna said: “Because he would set aside the rejoicing in the festival and busy himself with rejoicing with his wife.” Abaye said to Rav Yosef: “What Rabbah bar Rav Huna said is the same as Rav said, for Rav Daniel bar Katina said in the name of Rav: ‘From where do we learn that one does not marry a woman during a festival? As it says: “You shall rejoice in your festival” [Deuteronomy 16:14]. In your festival, not with your wife.’ ” Ulla said: “Because of all the trouble.” Rabbi Yitzḥak Nappaḥa said: “Because of the neglect of reproduction.”
Context / The Gemara goes on to ask if there is a biblical source for the principle of not mixing one happy occasion with another. It is found in the account of Solomon’s dedication of the Temple which took place on the seven days following the festival of Sukkot:
So Solomon and all Israel with him—a great assemblage, [coming] from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt—observed the Feast at that time before the Lord our God, seven days and again seven days, fourteen days in all. (1 Kings 8:65)
The Rabbis note that it would have been easier and more convenient for the people to have celebrated the dedication of the Temple during the holiday of Sukkot. The justification for imposing upon the nation to spend an additional week in Jerusalem is that both the festival and the dedication were considered happy occasions, not to be mixed.
One is immediately struck by the large number of Rabbis mentioned in this short piece. Trying to establish the correct source of a teaching is a very important characteristic of rabbinic literature. Attributing a quote to its original author, or bringing alternative claims of authorship, account for the many names here. Mentioning the correct source helps to establish the authority of a particular teaching; it also bestows a kind of immortality on the author.
The levirate marriage referred to in the Mishnah is when a man marries his childless dead brother’s widow, in order to continue the family line (Deuteronomy 25:5–6). Four reasons are presented by the Gemara to explain the prohibition of marriage during a festival. Rabbah bar Rav Huna is concerned that a man would spend time with his new wife and neglect the celebration of the holiday. Rav derives the prohibition from a very literal reading of a biblical verse. Ulla worries that a wedding requires a great deal of preparation, and work of many kinds is forbidden on a holiday. Rabbi Yitzḥak Nappaḥa notes that weddings cost a good deal of money, as did holiday preparations. If weddings were permitted on a festival, many people might postpone their marriages until the festival, so they would have to prepare only one banquet for both. Rabbi Yitzḥak fears that by putting off weddings, ultimately there would be a decrease in the number of children born.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Vers. 1–8—The support of the ministry the duty of God’s people. In a note on a corresponding passage in
Numb. 18:21, 22, Dr. Jameson remarks, “Neither the priests nor the Levites were to possess any allotments of land, but no depend entirely upon him who liberally provided for them out of his own portion; and this law was subservient to many important purposes, such as that, being exempted from the cares and labours of worldly business, they might be exclusively devoted to his service; that a bond of mutual love and attachment might be formed between the people and the Levites, who, as performing religious services for the people, derived their subsistence from them; and further, that, being the more easily dispersed among the different tribes, they might be more useful in instructing and directing the people.” This suggestive note seems to us to contain the pith of the Mosaic instructions concerning the maintenance of the Levites. We can scarcely fail to see in this passage principles far wider in their application than to the Jewish people alone, and reaching much further onward than the times of the old covenant. And though, as it falls to the lot of the preacher to expound these principles, it may not quite fall within his preference to do so, if he is, like the Levites, supported by the contributions of the people, yet, when he is continuously expounding the Word of God, he may not omit to teach the people that “he that is taught in the Word should communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” This is part of the “counsel of God,” and should not be withheld, since it is not for his own sake, but for the sake of the entire ministry of the Lord Jesus, for which, if he is faithful, he will plead. The principles which may be expounded by the ministers of the New Testament, are these—
I. A GODLY, ABLE MINISTRY IS THE WANT OF THE PEOPLE. True, there are now no sacrifices to be offered, nor is there any complicated ritual of service to be performed; but there is a mighty work to be done in heralding the gospel “to every creature” and in “building up the body of Christ.” And so long as sin and ignorance prevail, so long will the people need those who will lead the way in seeking their expulsion and extinction. For this end our Lord has instituted a New Testament ministry. The work now to be fulfilled is that of teaching and preaching Jesus Christ
(Eph. 4:1–16; 1 Cor. 9). “Faithful men, able to teach,” are to be appointed. These are the qualifications. The Church needs no priesthood in it. It is itself the priesthood for the world. Ministers do not come now in a family, a tribe, or line. The figment of apostolical succession is “less than nothing, and vanity.” It is not by the law of “a carnal commandment” that any ministry is valid now. But wherever God’s Spirit fills a man with holy yearning for this work, where the needful gifts are imparted, where God’s providence leads and clears the way, and the divinely inspired voice of a free Christian people says to him, “Come and be our teacher and guide in the ways of the Lord,” there are calls to a ministry such as cannot be mistaken, and such as ought not to be ignored. And when, on such a ministry, the seals of Divine approval are set, when the minister can see the law of Christ which is promulgated by his lips, reproduced in men’s hearts and lives, when he can see many a wanderer reclaimed through his pleading and prayers,—then can his ministry show a like validity even with that of Paul, for he, like him, can point to one and another and say, “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you, for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.”
II. THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD DEMANDS THE DEVOTION OF THE ENTIRE LIFE. We by no means intend here that none should teach or preach but those who can give their whole time thereto. But that, as a part of the application of the “division of labour” in the Church, the demands on those who make the ministry of the Word their care are such, that only the entire consecration of their life to it will enable them fittingly to meet them. To take the oversight of the flock of God: to give unto each one their portion of meat in due season: to visit the fatherless and widow, the poor and the sick: to observe the signs of the times: to know what Israel ought to do, and to direct them in doing it: to keep abreast of the thinking of the day, whether helpful or adverse: and so to declare the whole counsel of God, as by manifestation of the truth to commend himself to every conscience:—all these things go to make up a work so varied, so momentous, so exhausting, that nothing less than “giving himself wholly” to it can enable any man even approximately to discharge it.
III. THIS BEING THE CASE, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE MINISTER SHOULD NOT BE ENTANGLED IN IMPEDING CARES. The Levites were not to have great estates that might draw off their interest from the duties of their office, nor were they to be left at an uncertainty respecting the supply of their temporal need. Even so now. It will greatly fetter and hamper a minister if he is entangled with the affairs of his life, whether by having; so much on his hands that his time is absorbed in secular, which ought to be devoted to sacred, things; or by having so little on which he can rely, that the anxiety about feeding the people with living bread, is diverted from its proper channel, by anxiety about having the “bread that perisheth” for himself and his.
IV. CONSEQUENTLY IT IS AN ORDINANCE OF GOD THAT THE MINISTRY, WHICH IS FOR THE PEOPLE, SHOULD BE THE CARE OF THE PEOPLE. This may be set on several grounds. 1. It is manifestly right. If a man gives up all ways of securing temporal comforts for the sake of serving the people, they are bound to secure him the temporal comforts in some other way. 2. The Apostle Paul distinctly lays it down as an appointment by the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 9:14). (Paul waived this right, rather than hinder the gospel by pressing it, as is now done under like circumstances; but it was a right, nevertheless, and a Divine appointment.) 3. Wherever a people cause a minister to be embarrassed in temporalities, they will suffer for it. The minister’s work, teaching, and preaching will all bear the traces of such embarrassment, and will be the weaker for it. 4. This Divine ordinance helps to promote the mutual care of minister and people for each other. They reap his spiritual things; he reaps their carnal things. 5. There is also thus a high and holy spiritual education of the people, in calling out their own kindly and just activities to uphold that ministry by which they themselves are upheld. The ministry is not to be found of them, but to be maintained by them. Thus there is seen to be a guard against abuse of position on either side.
V. ISRAEL WAS TO GUARD ITS OWN PRIESTHOOD AS BEING ITSELF A PRIESTHOOD FOR THE WORLD. So Churches are to guard the honour of their own ministry, because they have a ministry for the world. It is not for the ministers’ own sakes that they are to be thus cared for, but on account of the high and holy cause which they represent, and which they seek, however imperfectly, to maintain. They are to be esteemed very highly in love for their work’s sake; for the work which they fulfil is that which is purifying and saving the world. It is, in fact, by thus supporting a ministry that the Church is fulfilling its commission, “to preach the gospel to every creature.”. Of course, it follows from all this, that a ministry can claim such and such support, only so far as it is carrying out the Divine intent, or seeking in all fidelity to do so. It is not that God has put clergy as a kind of official police over the people; but that those who love righteousness are to show it by upholding the preaching of righteousness, and that those who love their Saviour’s Name are to sustain the heralds of that Name, both at home and abroad.
The Pulpit Commentary (23 Volume Set)
JAMES L. KUGEL / The Mode of Restoration
One final point about the “how” of ancient biblical interpretation: it always worked via a scrupulous examination of the precise wording of the biblical text. Even when the issues addressed by interpreters were broader—divine omniscience, Abraham’s character, Isaac’s apparent passivity—these were always approached through the interpretation of a specific verse, indeed, sometimes through a single word in the verse. “Do you want to know what ‘after these things’ means in the story of Abraham and Isaac? It means after these words.” “Do you know why the two of them walked together is repeated? The second time is a hint that Abraham had just told Isaac he was to be sacrificed, and he agreed.” It was always from such precise points of wording that larger issues were approached.
Ancient biblical interpretation was thus, no matter how broad its intentions, formally an interpretation of single verses. And this is what enabled specific interpretations to travel so widely. Teachers in school as well as preachers in synagogue or church would, in the course of explaining a biblical text, inevitably pass on an insight into this or that verse: “Here is what it is really talking about!” Thereafter, all the listeners would know that such was the meaning of that particular verse, and they would think of it every time the verse was read in public; indeed, they would pass on the explanation to others. Since the biblical text was known far and wide and often cited—the Torah, in particular, was learned by heart at an early age—a clever answer to a long-standing conundrum would circulate quickly throughout the population.
Nowadays, such verse-centered interpretations are known as exegetical motifs—“motifs” because, like musical motifs, they were capable of being inserted into different compositions, reworked or adapted, and combined with other motifs to make a smooth-running narrative. After a while, retellers sometimes did not even bother to allude to the particular biblical verse in question, but simply incorporated the underlying idea into their retelling. Thus, for example, the idea that Abraham had explained to Isaac that “the lamb for the burnt offering [is you,] my son,” and that Isaac, far from fleeing, had willingly embraced his martyrdom, shows up in a variety of retellings, some of them terse, but others lovingly expanding on the basic idea:
Going at the same pace—no less with regard to their thinking than with their bodies … they came to the designated place. (Philo, On Abraham 172)
This is indeed intended as a precise explanation of the two occurrences of “and the two of them walked together” in the Genesis tale; the first refers to their physical walking (what Philo designates as the motion of “their bodies”), whereas the second refers to their agreement that Isaac should be sacrificed (Philo’s “with regard to their thinking”).
Remember … the father [= Abraham], by whose hand Isaac would have submitted to being slain for the sake of religion. (4 Macc. 13:12)
When the altar had been prepared (and) he had laid the cleft wood upon it and all was ready, [Abraham] said to his son: “My child, myriad were the prayers in which I beseeched God for your birth, and when you came into the world, I spared nothing for your upbringing.… But since it was by God’s will that I became your father and it now pleases Him that I give you over to Him, bear this consecration valiantly.…” The son of such a father could not but be brave-hearted, and Isaac received these words with joy. He exclaimed that he deserved never to have been born at all if he were to reject the decision of God and of his father.… (Josephus, Ant. 1.228–32)
And as he was setting out, he said to his son, “Behold now, my son, I am offering you as a burnt offering and I am returning you into the hands of Him who gave you to me. But the son said to the father, “Hear me, father. If [ordinarily] a lamb of the flocks is accepted with sweet savor as a sacrifice to the Lord, and if such flocks have been set aside for slaughter [in order to atone] for human iniquity, while man, on the contrary, has been designated to inherit this world—why should you be saying to me now, ‘Come and inherit eternal life and time without measure?’ Why if not that I was indeed born in this world in order to be offered as a sacrifice to Him who made me? Indeed, this [sacrifice] will be the [mark of] my blessedness over other men.…” (Ps.-Philo, Bib. Ant. 32:2–3)
The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast. --- Revelation 15:2.
With all the mystery of the book of Revelation, one thing we are sure of: in it we have the summing up of the moral processes of all time. ( Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series) )
I speak only of moral contest, of this struggle with suffering and wickedness, of trial, of the state that earnest people, conscious of their own inner lives, know full well. What will be the end of it all?
I do not know in full what is intended by this term “the beast.” I think it means in its largest sense the power of evil in all its earthly manifestations, all that is low and base and tries to drag down what is high and noble, all sin and temptation, so that “those who had been victorious over the beast” are those who have come out of sin holy and out of trial pure and, out of much tribulation, have entered the kingdom of heaven.
These will walk on “a sea of glass mixed with fire.” The sea of glass—calm, clear, placid—evidently that is the symbol of repose, of rest, of peace. And fire, testing all things, consuming what is evil, purifying what is good, never resting a moment, never sparing pain; fire, all through the Bible, is the symbol of active trial of every sort, of struggle. The “sea of glass mixed with fire” is repose mingled with struggle. It is peace and rest and achievement, with the power of trial and suffering yet alive and working within it.
This is our doctrine: the permanent value of trial—that when you conquer your adversaries and your difficulties, it is not as if you never had encountered them. Your victory is colored with the hard struggle that won it. Your sea of glass is always mixed with fire, just as this peaceful crust of earth on which we live, with its wheat fields, vineyards, orchards, and flower beds is full still of the power of the convulsion that wrought it into its present shape, of the floods and volcanoes and glaciers that have rent it or drowned it or tortured it. Just so, the life that has been overturned and overturned by the strong hand of God, filled with the deep, revolutionary forces of suffering, and purified by the strong fires of temptation keeps its long discipline forever. There roots in that discipline the deepest growths of the most sunny and luxuriant spiritual life that it is ever able to attain.
--- Phillips Brooks
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Calvin’s Mentor April 12
Few assume greatness by themselves. Behind the scenes often lies an older mentor, watching with pride. John Calvin exists as a hero in church history because of Guillaume Farel.
Farel was a traveling evangelist in France, full of fire and fury. He was likened to Elijah and was called the “scourge of priests.” He considered the pope the Antichrist and viewed the Mass as nothing but idolatry. Priests, wishing him dead, carried weapons under their cloaks to assassinate him. After one attempt on his life, he whirled around and faced the priest who had fired the errant bullet. “I am not afraid of your shots,” he roared.
He was small, sunburned, fiery, and powerful. His sermons were cannon blasts, and his oratory captivated the nation. He often said too much, and one friend cautioned him, “Your mission is to evangelize, not to curse.”
On April 12, 1523 Farel was forbidden to preach in France. He fled to Switzerland and wandered from town to town, turning stumps and stones into pulpits. When he entered Geneva, the city fathers and priests tried to make him leave. “Who invited you?” they demanded. Farel replied:
I have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and am not a devil. I go about preaching Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification. Whoever believes in him will be saved; unbelievers will be lost. I am bound to preach to all who will hear. I am ready to dispute with you, to give an account of my faith and ministry. Elijah said to King Ahab, “It is thou, and not I, who disturbest Israel.” So I say, it is you and yours, who trouble the world by your traditions, your human inventions, and your dissolute lives.
He was ridiculed, beaten, shot at, and abused. But he wouldn’t give up on Geneva. Several years later when young John Calvin came passing through, Farel spotted him and gave him a place to minister—and, as it turns out, a place in church history.
Ahab went to meet Elijah, and when he saw him, Ahab shouted, “There you are, the biggest troublemaker in Israel!” Elijah answered, “You’re the troublemaker—not me! You and your family have disobeyed the LORD’s commands by worshiping Baal.”
--- 1 Kings 18:16b-18.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - April 12
"My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."
--- Psalm 22:14.
Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to his God, “Be not far from me,” for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark his fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord’s countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of his griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by his love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to him that if he will put his ear to me, he will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of his own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at his feet for ever.
Evening - April 12
"The king’s garden." Nehemiah 3:15.
Mention of the king’s garden by Nehemiah brings to mind the paradise which the King of kings prepared for Adam. Sin has utterly ruined that fair abode of all delights, and driven forth the children of men to till the ground, which yields thorns and briers unto them. My soul, remember the fall, for it was thy fall. Weep much because the Lord of love was so shamefully ill-treated by the head of the human race, of which thou art a member, as undeserving as any. Behold how dragons and demons dwell on this fair earth, which once was a garden of delights.
See yonder another King’s garden, which the King waters with his bloody sweat—Gethsemane, whose bitter herbs are sweeter far to renewed souls than even Eden’s luscious fruits. There the mischief of the serpent in the first garden was undone: there the curse was lifted from earth, and borne by the woman’s promised seed. My soul, bethink thee much of the agony and the passion; resort to the garden of the olive-press, and view thy great Redeemer rescuing thee from thy lost estate. This is the garden of gardens indeed, wherein the soul may see the guilt of sin and the power of love, two sights which surpass all others.
Is there no other King’s garden? Yes, my heart, thou art, or shouldst be such. How do the flowers flourish? Do any choice fruits appear? Does the King walk within, and rest in the bowers of my spirit? Let me see that the plants are trimmed and watered, and the mischievous foxes hunted out. Come, Lord, and let the heavenly wind blow at thy coming, that the spices of thy garden may flow abroad. Nor must I forget the King’s garden of the church. O Lord, send prosperity unto it. Rebuild her walls, nourish her plants, ripen her fruits, and from the huge wilderness, reclaim the barren waste, and make thereof “a King’s garden.”
Morning and Evening
THERE IS A FOUNTAIN
William Cowper, 1731–1800
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)
William Cowper is viewed by some as one of the finest of all English writers. But Cowper’s emotional life was one of great turmoil. At an early age he was directed by his father to study law. Upon completion of his studies, however, the prospect of appearing for his final examination before the bar so frightened him that it caused a mental breakdown and even an attempted suicide. Later he was placed in an insane asylum for 18 months. During this detention, he one day read from the Scriptures the passage in Romans 3:25 that Jesus Christ is “set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Through his reading of the Bible, Cowper soon developed a personal relationship with Christ and a sense of forgiveness of sin. This was in 1764, when he was 33 years old.
Three years later, Cowper was invited to move to Olney, England, where John Newton pastored the parish Anglican Church. It was here for nearly two decades that Newton and Cowper had a close personal friendship. In 1799 their combined talents produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal, one of the most important single contributions made to the field of evangelical hymnody. In this ambitious collection of 349 hymns, sixty-seven were written by Cowper with the remainder by Newton.
“There Is a Fountain” was originally titled “Peace for the Fountain Opened.” The hymn, with its vivid imagery, is based on the Old Testament text, Zechariah 13:1—“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.”
Only eternity will reveal the hosts who, through the singing of this hymn, have been made aware of the efficacy of Christ’s complete atonement.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day,
and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its pow’r,
till all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more.
E’er since by faith I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.
When this poor lisping, stamm’ring tongue lies silent in the grave,
then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.
For Today: John 19:34; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:12–14.
Carry the joy of “redeeming love” as your day’s theme.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)
The Proper Use of Precepts, Warnings, and Comforting Doctrines
Let us give reverent attention to the faithful words of Adolph Saphir on this life-or-death subject:
Theopedia says, "Adolph Saphir (1831 - 1891) was a Hungarian Christian who was born into a Jewish family. He and his family were converted in 1843 when the Scottish Free Church sent missionaries to the Jews in Hungary. After completing his studies in 1854, Saphir served in the Irish Presbyterian Church as a missionary to the Jews. He was later ordained by the Presbytery of Belfast. He was a pastor of churches in Glasgow and in London from 1861-1888. Saphir's book, The Hidden Life: Thoughts on Communion With God (Classic Reprint) was described as "one of the most helpful books in English literature on the subject of prayer and the deeper Christian life."
“There is a one-sided and unscriptural forgetfulness of the actual position of the believer (or professing believer) as a man who is still on the road, in the battle; who has still the responsibility of trading with the talent entrusted, of watching for the return of the Master. Now there are many bypaths, dangers, precipices on the road, and we must persevere to the end. Only they who overcome and are faithful to death shall be crowned. It is not spiritual but carnal to take the blessed and solemn doctrines of our election in Christ and of the perseverance of the saints, given us as a cordial for fainting hours and as the inmost and ultimate secret of the soul in its dealings with God, and place them on the common and daily road of our duties and trials, instead of the precepts and warnings of the Divine Word. It is not merely that God keeps us through these warnings and commandments, but the attitude of soul which neglects and hurries over these portions of Scripture is not childlike, humble, and sincere. The attempts to explain away the fearful warnings of Scripture against apostasy are rooted in a very morbid and dangerous state of mind. A precipice is a precipice, and it is folly to deny it. ‘If we live after the flesh,’ says the apostle, ‘we shall die.’ Now, to keep people from falling over a precipice, we do not put up a slender and graceful hedge of flowers, but the strongest barrier we can; and piercing spikes or cutting pieces of glass to prevent calamities. But even this is only the surface of the matter. Our walk with God and our perseverance to the end are great and solemn realities. We are dealing with the living God, and only life with God, and in God, and unto God, can be of any avail here. He who brought us out of Egypt is now guiding us; and if we follow Him, and follow Him to the end, we shall enter into the final rest.”
It is outside my intended scope to give here a full exposition of the precepts found in verses 20-23, yet a few remarks are needed if I am to be faithful in observing the inseparable link that exists between them and our text. Duty and privilege must not be divorced, nor dare we allow privilege to oust duty. If it be the Christian's privilege to have his heart engaged with Christ in glory, it must be while treading the path that He has appointed and while engaged in those tasks that He has assigned him. Though Christ is most certainly the One who keeps him from making shipwreck of the faith, it is not apart from the disciple's own earnest endeavors that He does so. Christ deals with His redeemed as responsible creatures. He requires them to conduct themselves as moral agents, putting forth every effort to overcome the evils that menace them. Though entirely dependent on Him, they are not to remain passive. Man is of an active nature, and therefore must grow either better or worse. Before regeneration he is indeed spiritually dead, but at the new birth he receives Divine life. Motion and exercise follow life, and those motions are to be directed by the Divine precepts. Hear the words of our Lord:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
How these words must have reechoed in Jude's memory as he wrote this Epistle (see John 14:21, 22).
Seven Exhortations to a Life of Holiness
“But ye, beloved [in contrast with the apostates of the previous verse], building up yourselves on your most holy faith” (v. 20, brackets mine). Truly, as Paul says, “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:1 9a). Yet God requires that we wholeheartedly concur with Him, by our own endeavors, in His purpose for electing such as we to eternal salvation, namely, our entire sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). For in the same verse Paul declares, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (1 Tim. 2: 19b). Therefore, we are to be solicitous about our growth and to exercise care both over ourselves and our fellow believers. It is not sufficient to be grounded in the faith; we must daily increase therein more and more. To grow in faith is one of the appointed means of our preservation. We build up ourselves on our faith by a deepened knowledge thereof. “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning”; says Solomon (Prov. 1:5). We build up ourselves on our faith by meditating upon its substance or contents (Ps. 1:2; Luke 2:19), by believing and appropriating it, by applying it to ourselves, and by being governed by it. Observe that it is a “most holy faith,” for it both requires and promotes personal holiness. Thereby do we distinguish ourselves from carnal professors and apostates. “Praying in the Holy Ghost.” We are to fervently and constantly seek His presence and Divine energy, which can supply us with the strength of will and affections that are necessary in order to comply with these precepts.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God” (v. 21). See to it that your love for Him is preserved in a pure, healthy, and vigorous condition. See to it that your love to Christ is in constant exercise by rendering obedience to Him who said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Keep thy heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23), for if your affections wane, your communion with Him will deteriorate and your witness for Him will be marred. Only as you keep yourselves in the love of God will you be distinguished from the carnal professors all around you. This exhortation is no needless one. The Christian is living in a world whose icy blasts will soon chill his love for God unless he guards it as the apple of his eye. A malicious adversary will do all he can to pour cold water upon it. Remember the solemn warning of Revelation 2:4. Oh, that Christ may never have to complain of you or me, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”. Rather, may our love “abound yet more and more” (Phil. 1:9). In order thereto hope must be in exercise, “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (v. 21). Verses 22 and 23 make known our duty, and what is to be our attitude, toward those of our brethren who have fallen by the way. Toward some we are to show compassion, who by reason of tenderness can stand only mild rebukes and admonitions; whereas roughness would only drive them to despair and the postponement of their penitent looking to Christ. But others, who differ by temperament, or by reason of hardness of heart, require strong rebukes for their recovery, with frightening warnings concerning God's judgment against obstinate sinners who hold out against His threats and overtures of mercy. These we are to “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
A Guide to Fervent Prayer
W. Phillip Keller | (1920-1997)
1 The Lord Is My Shepherd
In memory I can still see one of the sheep ranches in our district that was operated by a tenant sheepman. He ought never to have been allowed to keep sheep. His stock were always thin, weak, and riddled with disease or parasites. Again and again they would come and stand at the fence staring blankly through the woven wire at the green lush pastures that my flock enjoyed. Had they been able to speak, I am sure they would have said, “Oh, to be set free from this awful owner!”
This is a picture that has never left my memory. It is a picture of pathetic people the world over who have not known what it is to belong to the Good Shepherd . . . who suffer instead under sin and Satan.
How amazing it is that individual men and women vehemently refuse and reject the claims of Christ on their lives. They fear that to acknowledge His ownership is to come under the rule of a tyrant.
This is difficult to comprehend when one pauses to consider the character of Christ. Admittedly there have been many false caricatures of this Person, but an unbiased look at His life quickly reveals an individual of enormous compassion and incredible integrity.
He was the most balanced and perhaps the most beloved being ever to enter the society of men. Though born amid most disgusting surroundings, the member of a modest working family, He bore Himself always with great dignity and assurance. Though He enjoyed no special advantages as a child, either in education or employment, His entire philosophy and outlook on life were the highest standards of human conduct ever set before mankind. Though He had no vast economic assets, political power, or military might, no other person ever made such an enormous impact on the world’s history. Because of Him, millions of people across almost twenty centuries of time have come into a life of decency and honor and noble conduct.
Not only was He gentle and tender and true but also righteous, stern as steel, and terribly tough on phony people.
He was magnificent in His magnanimous spirit of forgiveness for fallen folk but a terror to those who indulged in double-talk or false pretenses.
He came to set men free from their own sins, their own selves, their own fears. Those so liberated loved Him with fierce loyalty.
It is this One who insists that He was the Good Shepherd, the understanding Shepherd, the concerned Shepherd who cares enough to seek out and save and restore lost men and women.
He never hesitated to make it quite clear that when an individual once came under His management and control, there would be a certain new and unique relationship between Him and them. There would be something very special about belonging to this particular Shepherd. There would be a distinct mark upon the man or woman that differentiated him or her from the rest of the crowd.
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
Jon Courson (2013)