1 Thessalonians 1
Greeting1 Thessalonians 1 1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 2
Paul’s Ministry to the Thessalonians1 Thessalonians 2 1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!
Paul’s Longing to See Them Again17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 31 Thessalonians 3 1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 4
A Life Pleasing to God1 Thessalonians 4 1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
The Coming of the Lord13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5
The Day of the Lord1 Thessalonians 5 1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Final Instructions and Benediction12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
Do the Non-Canonical Gospels Challenge the Historicity of the New Testament?
By J. Warner Wallace 10/14/2013
A recent press release announced an upcoming conference in the United Kingdom in which two “scholars” are going to argue the story of Jesus was “actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar” in an effort to keep order amongst the citizenry of Rome. The new reinterpretation of Jesus is apparently based on a re-reading of Josephus’ War Of The Jews. This sort of thing is becoming more and more common, especially in an era of profitable television documentaries and book deals. Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson are also about to release a new book arguing for a reinterpretation of Jesus, this time based on what they call “The Lost Gospel,” a 6th Century Syriac manuscript “translated from much earlier Greek writing” (in other words: “Yes we realize this text first appears 500 years too late to be credible, but we’d like you to believe it can be dated to the 1st Century”). We are increasingly deluged with pseudo-academic efforts to discredit the classic Christian version of Jesus. Skeptics would like us to believe the canonical Gospels aren’t the only 1st Century stories about Jesus. They claim there are a number of ancient Gospels describing a version of Jesus very different from the one we accept today. If this is the case, how can we know which versions of Jesus are the truth and which are lies?
Fortunately, we can separate late legend from early reliable history. The late non-canonical gospels (like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary or the Gospel of Judas) have risen in popularity as skeptics attempt to argue Jesus either (1) failed to perform any miracles, (2) failed to resurrect from the dead or (3) failed to teach the things described in the New Testament. The truth, however, is the canonical Gospels alone are the trustworthy source for information related to the life of Jesus.
The Non-Canonical Gospels Appear Too Late
The Gospels found in the New Testament appeared very early in history. There is good reason to believe that Mark’s Gospel was written as early as 50AD and that John’s Gospel was written no later than 70AD. These texts appeared early enough to be eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus, just as they claim to be. By comparison, the entire catalogue of non-canonical Gospels were written much later in history (The Gospel of Thomas, for example, was written from 130-150AD, the Gospel of Mary from 120-180AD and the Gospel of Judas from 130-170AD). The non-canonical Gospels appear far too late to have been written by eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus.
The Non-Canonical Gospels Were Known to be Fraudulent
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Powerful Reasons Why Scholars Know That Jesus Existed.
By James Bishop 1/08/2015
If Jesus really were a non-existent figure of history it would be expected that some anti-Christian group would have made this known at some point. In fact the most hostile group towards Jesus and early Christianity were the Jews, yet they affirmed Jesus’ existence by trying to accuse the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body from the tomb (Matthew 28:13, Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, 108; Tertullian’s On Spectacles, 30)). We also find anti-Jesus material in the much later Jewish Talmud accusing him of treachery and leading Israel astray. Those that hated Christianity the most just had to discover that Jesus was a figment of the early Christians imagination and expose it, and that would be the end of Christianity, however, not once does this ever happen.
Take, for example, the polemic against the empty tomb. Paul Maier in his work ‘In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church’ tells us that: “Jewish polemic shared with Christians the conviction that the sepulcher was empty, but gave natural explanations for it. And such positive evidence within a hostile source is the strongest kind off evidence.”
We should ask ourselves, why did the Jews try to explain away Jesus’ tomb if there was no Jesus in the first place? It’s almost certainly because Jesus existed. To continue with Paul Maier: “Now you can argue about whether he was the Son of God or not, you can argue about the supernatural aspects of his life, but in terms of the historical character there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary and all the evidence is in the favor.”
The most credible New Testament, Biblical, historical, and early Christianity scholars today, from all backgrounds of belief, agree wholeheartedly that Jesus once existed. Of course the debate arises in what we can know about Jesus but that is beyond our purposes here. As Professor Bultmann, Professor of New Testament studies, once remarked:
“Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.”
James is a graduate from Vega School of Brand Leadership specialising in Multimedia Design and Brand Communications. He is currently enrolled at Cornerstone Institute studying Theology and majoring in Psychology. His theological interests encompass comparative religion and the links between science and religion.
A More Elemental Atonement (A Review of Leithart)
By Derek Rishmawy 12/08/16
This review was originally written for Books and Culture before its unfortunate closing. Thanks to John Wilson for encouraging me to write it.
One mark of a constructive theologian is to ask the perennial questions of Christian theology in a contemporary key. In Peter Leithart’s new work Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, and Mission, he reframes St. Anselm’s famous question, “Why did God become man?” as,
“How can the death and resurrection of a Jewish rabbi of the first century, an event in the putative backwaters of the Roman Empire, be the decisive event in the history of humanity, the hinge and crux and cross-roads for everything?”
To answer that question, Leithart believes we must reconstrue atonement theology as “as social theory”, making social and political questions and consequences central to our understanding of Christ’s work. In that sense, it must be a “theory of everything”, if it is to be a successful rendering of the events that changed everything.
Indefatigable polymath that he is, Leithart is “cheerful, even giddy” about his limitations as he sets about constructing the argument of his self-described “Big Red Book About Everything”, drawing broadly upon a variety of discourses to get the job done. Within its pages, one can find forays into comparative anthropology, religious theories of sacrifice, OT studies, Pauline studies, Gospel studies, theories of secularization, Medieval and Reformation metaphysics, and so much more. The through-line connecting the disparate fragments is Leithart’s typological reading of the whole of Scripture and even human history. Indeed, you can characterize the work as a “systematic typology.”
Derek Rishmawy - I’m a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School attempting to study Systematic Theology. Adopted by the Triune God. Husband of McKenna. Former college pastor. Beyond that, I am an admitted cliche: books, beer, beard, and a blog that takes too much of my time. I'm a regular
By Peter J. Leithart 12/08/16
“Come out from her!” says a heavenly voice to the saints (Revelation 18). Come out from Babylon, the harlot city, the doomed city.
Commentators hasten to spiritualize: The command doesn’t require a change of place but only a metaphorical exodus, an exodus of the heart. It’s a flight from pagan culture, not from one location to another.
There’s a point to this, of course. You can leave Babylon and take Babylon with you. You can flee Babylon and remain a Babylonian harlot through and through.
But the haste to spiritualize gives one pause. We human beings are bodily creatures, and so occupy space. Our cultural habits and practices are bodily habits and practices, and so they take up space too. If we abandon certain cultural practices, we will normally also abandon the places where they are performed.
A pagan who converts to Christianity and abandons paganism doesn’t necessarily move away from his home city. But he will stop visiting some places in the city and start frequenting others.
Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).
Faith in a Time of Crisis
By Peter J. Leithart 12/08/16
King Ahaz of Judah is in a panic. Israel and Aram have allied to resist Assyria's expansion, and they are pressuring Ahaz to join the alliance. If he refuses, they will overthrow Judah and replace him with another king. The result may be the end of the Davidic line.
Isaiah assures Ahaz that he doesn’t have to worry about Israel and Aram (Isaiah 7). The Lord will take care of them, and, besides, Assyria poses a greater danger.
But that’s not the heart of the prophet’s message. Like Ahaz, Isaiah knows that the house of David is threatened. He knows that the land of Judah is afflicted. But the threat doesn’t come from Aram and Israel, and it doesn’t fundamentally come from Assyria either. The main threat to the house of David is the king who sits on David’s throne. The one who is really afflicting the land is not Aram or Israel or Assyria, but Ahaz, the Davidic king (7:16).
Ahaz’s is not a political failure. It’s not that he hasn’t played the political game cleverly enough. His failure is a failure of faith.
Isaiah 7:9 has been called one of the main statements about faith in the Old Testament. Yahweh threatens to shatter Ephraim so that she is no longer a people, within 65 years. And that is a warning to Ahaz. If he does not believe, does not trust, his kingdom too will not fall.
Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 140Deliver Me, O LORD, from Evil Men
140 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
1 Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men;
preserve me from violent men,
2 who plan evil things in their heart
and stir up wars continually.
3 They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s,
and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah
4 Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net;
beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah
6 I say to the LORD, You are my God;
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
7 O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
8 Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked;
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah
Pixels Are People
By Nathan W. Bingham 9/01/2016
Four-and-a-half years ago, our lives radically changed. My wife and I, with our three children, moved from Australia to the United States. This decision to relocate and serve at Ligonier Ministries was significant. Our children were all under five years of age. We said goodbye to our family and friends and sold almost everything we owned. This was “starting over.” But more significant was that we had never been to the United States and had never met anyone from Ligonier in person.
We arrived late one February evening in 2012. The next day, we shared a meal with some of Ligonier’s leadership team. I was suffering from severe jet lag, but I didn’t miss an important lesson: pixels are people. Our previous online interactions had not been between mere pixels on a screen; they were between people. They remembered things I had said (typed) as if I had said them face-to-face. It was also clear that this wasn’t the beginning of our friendship. It was the continuation of a preexisting relationship. They knew me. I knew them. Pixels are people.
The Internet has changed the way we communicate. The ability of an individual to share a message has never been as easy or as far reaching. In March 2015, the world began watching NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spend a year aboard the International Space Station. He documented his experience through images he posted on Instagram. And last night, my parents blew kisses and said goodnight to their grandchildren. They live almost ten thousand miles away in Australia. Thank you, FaceTime.
Yes, the Internet can draw us closer together. But because of our sinful hearts, it can also push us apart. People—even those of us inside the church—easily twist God’s good gifts.
Christians must remember that to connect to the Internet is not to disconnect from Christ’s lordship. Since Scripture is our only rule for faith and life, we must answer to Christ for everything we do and say both online and offline. God’s Word remains sufficient for our day even as the technological landscape changes.
It seems our thinking can get distorted when our actions are mediated through a screen. I call it the “digital deception.” Words we would not dare say in person, we tweet or post as a comment. Instead of taking a matter to our elders or the church courts, we take it to the blogosphere. It’s almost as if we believe that if it happens online, the Word of God doesn’t apply. Would the Internet look any different if Christians read John 13:35 before posting online? “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus’ words here should lead us to repent of our sinful rhetoric. If the pen is mightier than the sword, pixels have proven to be nuclear weapons. One of the greatest threats to the peace, purity, and unity of the twenty-first-century church is a Christian with an Internet connection and a keyboard.
In light of its potentially destructive power, why would any Christian use social media? The short answer is because the Lord is sovereign and pixels are people. There are more than three billion Internet users around the world. This is not by accident. The Lord is the author of history, and the church finds herself with unique opportunities to do good in this world and bring Him glory.
When God commanded Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over creation in Genesis 1:28 and when Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18–20, the use of technology was assumed. It took advancements in agriculture and farming to help sustain a growing population, and advancements in transportation and communications to help edify and support a growing worldwide church. Whether it is the plow or the printing press, the steam engine or social media, technology is a God-given tool for our good and His glory.
By the end of the decade, more than half of the world’s population will have Internet access. What a digital mission field! We should ask ourselves: When they see the words and actions of Christians online, do they know we are Jesus’ disciples because of our love for one another? When a non-Christian asks Google, “Who is God?” or “Is Jesus really the Savior?” will they find trustworthy articles and sermons? When a resident of a town searches for a local church to attend this Christmas, will he find one that preaches the gospel?
We fail when we neglect the technology the Lord has given us. The church is responsible to steward both the message of the gospel and the Great Commission opportunities that present themselves. Christians had to be taught how to use the printing press and broadcast radio. Likewise, we must be willing to learn how to use today’s technology well.
As I shared that meal back in 2012, I learned something else: people are better than pixels. Yes, we already knew each other and had a relationship, but that evening was a superlative moment. It was edifying in a way our prior pixel-based interactions could never be.
The Apostle John wrote, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Like John, may we also prefer to talk face-to-face, not displacing human contact or the ordinary means of grace found in the local church. But also like John, may we not neglect God’s gift of technology and the paper-and-ink equivalent of our digital age. Remember, pixels are people.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
4. But our definition of the image seems not to be complete until it appears more clearly what the faculties are in which man excels, and in which he is to be regarded as a mirror of the divine glory. This, however, cannot be better known than from the remedy provided for the corruption of nature. It cannot be doubted that when Adam lost his first estate he became alienated from God. Wherefore, although we grant that the image of God was not utterly effaced and destroyed in him, it
was, however, so corrupted, that any thing which remains is fearful deformity; and, therefore, our deliverance begins with that renovation which we obtain from Christ, who is, therefore, called the second Adam, because he restores us to true and substantial integrity. For although Paul, contrasting the quickening Spirit which believers receive from Christ, with the living soul which Adam was created (1 Cor. 15:45), commends the richer measure of grace bestowed in regeneration, he does not, however, contradict the statement, that the end of regeneration is to form us anew in the image of God. Accordingly, he elsewhere shows that the new man is renewed after the image of him that created him (Col. 3:19). To this corresponds another passage, "Put ye on the new man, who after God is created," (Eph. 4:24). We must now see what particulars Paul comprehends under this renovation. In the first place, he mentions knowledge, and in the second, true righteousness and holiness. Hence we infer, that at the beginning the image of God was manifested by light of intellect, rectitude of heart, and the soundness of every part. For though I admit that the forms of expression are
elliptical, this principle cannot be overthrown--viz. that the leading feature in the renovation of the divine image must also have held the
highest place in its creation. To the same effect Paul elsewhere says, that beholding the glory of Christ with unveiled face, we are
transformed into the same image. We now see how Christ is the most perfect image of God, into which we are so renewed as to bear the image
of God in knowledge, purity, righteousness, and true holiness. This being established, the imagination of Osiander, as to bodily form,
vanishes of its own accord. As to that passage of St Paul (1 Cor. 11:7), in which the man alone to the express exclusion of the woman, is
called the image and glory of God, it is evident from the context, that it merely refers to civil order. I presume it has already been
sufficiently proved, that the image comprehends everything which has any relation to the spiritual and eternal life. The same thing, in
different terms, is declared by St John when he says, that the light which was from the beginning, in the eternal Word of God, was the light
of man (John 1:4). His object being to extol the singular grace of God in making man excel the other animals, he at the same time shows how he
was formed in the image of God, that he may separate him from the common herd, as possessing not ordinary animal existence, but one which
combines with it the light of intelligence. Therefore, as the image of God constitutes the entire excellence of human nature, as it shone in
Adam before his fall, but was afterwards vitiated and almost destroyed, nothing remaining but a ruin, confused, mutilated, and tainted with
impurity, so it is now partly seen in the elect, in so far as they are regenerated by the Spirit. Its full lustre, however, will be displayed
in heaven. But in order to know the particular properties in which it consists, it will be proper to treat of the faculties of the soul. For
there is no solidity in Augustine's speculation,  that the soul is a mirror of the Trinity, inasmuch as it comprehends within itself,
intellect, will, and memory. Nor is there probability in the opinion of those who place likeness to God in the dominion bestowed upon man, as
if he only resembled God in this, that he is appointed lord and master of all things. The likeness must be within, in himself. It must be
something which is not external to him but is properly the internal good of the soul.
5. But before I proceed further, it is necessary to advert to the dream of the Manichees, which Servetus has attempted in our day to revive. Because it is said that God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), they thought that the soul was a transmission of the substance of God; as if some portion of the boundless divinity had passed into man. It cannot take long time to show how many gross and foul absurdities this devilish error carries in its train. For if the soul of man is a portion transmitted from the essence of God, the divine nature must not only be liable to passion and change, but also to ignorance, evil desires, infirmity, and all kinds of vice. There is nothing more inconstant than man, contrary movements agitating and distracting his soul. He is ever and anon deluded by want of skill, and overcome by the slightest temptations; while every one feels that the soul itself is a receptacle for all kinds of pollution. All these things must be attributed to the divine nature, if we hold that the soul is of the essence of God, or a secret influx of divinity. Who does not shudder at a thing so monstrous? Paul, indeed, quoting from Aratus, tells us we are his offspring (Acts 17:28); not in substance, however, but in quality, in as much as he has adorned us with divine endowments. Meanwhile, to lacerate the essence of the Creator, in order to assign a portion to each individual, is the height of madness. It must, therefore, be held as certain, that souls, notwithstanding of their having the divine image engraven on them, are created just as angels are. Creation, however, is not a transfusion of essence,  but a commencement of it out of nothing. Nor, though the spirit is given by God, and when it quits the flesh again returns to him, does it follow that it is a portion withdrawn from his essence.  Here, too, Osiander, carried away by his illusions entangled himself in an impious error, by denying that the image of God could be in man without his essential righteousness; as if God were unable, by the mighty power of his Spirit, to render us conformable to himself, unless Christ were substantially transfused into us. Under whatever colour some attempt to gloss these delusions, they can never so blind the eyes of intelligent readers as to prevent them from discerning in them a revival of Manicheism. But from the words of Paul, when treating of the renewal of the image (2 Cor. 3:18), the inference is obvious, that man was conformable to God, not by an influx of substance, but by the grace and virtue of the Spirit. He says, that by beholding the glory of Christ, we are transformed into the same image as by the Spirit of the Lord; and certainly the Spirit does not work in us so as to make us of the same substance with God.
6. It were vain to seek a definition of the soul from philosophers, not one of whom, with the exception of Plato, distinctly maintained its immortality. Others of the school of Socrates, indeed, lean the same way, but still without teaching distinctly a doctrine of which they were not fully persuaded. Plato, however, advanced still further, and regarded the soul as an image of God. Others so attach its powers and faculties to the present life, that they leave nothing external to the body. Moreover, having already shown from Scripture that the substance of the soul is incorporeal, we must now add, that though it is not properly enclosed by space, it however occupies the body as a kind of habitation, not only animating all its parts, and rendering the organs fit and useful for their actions, but also holding the first place in regulating the conduct. This it does not merely in regard to the offices of a terrestrial life, but also in regard to the service of God. This, though not clearly seen in our corrupt state, yet the impress of its remains is seen in our very vices. For whence have men such a thirst for glory but from a sense of shame? And whence this sense of shame but from a respect for what is honourable? Of this, the first principle and source is a consciousness that they were born to cultivate righteousness,--a consciousness akin to religion. But as man was undoubtedly created to meditate on the heavenly life, so it is certain that the knowledge of it was engraven on the soul. And, indeed, man would want the principal use of his understanding if he were unable to discern his felicity, the perfection of which consists in being united to God. Hence, the principal action of the soul is to aspire thither, and, accordingly, the more a man studies to approach to God, the more he proves himself to be endued with reason.
Though there is some plausibility in the opinion of those who maintain that man has more than one soul, namely, a sentient and a rational, yet as there is no soundness in their arguments, we must reject it, unless we would torment ourselves with things frivolous and useless. They tell us (see chap. 5 sec. 4), there is a great repugnance between organic movements and the rational part of the soul. As if reason also were not at variance with herself, and her counsels sometimes conflicting with each other like hostile armies. But since this disorder results from the depravation of nature, it is erroneous to infer that there are two souls, because the faculties do not accord so harmoniously as they ought. But I leave it to philosophers to discourse more subtilely of these faculties. For the edification of the pious, a simple definition will be sufficient. I admit, indeed, that what they ingeniously teach on the subject is true, and not only pleasant, but also useful to be known; nor do I forbid any who are inclined to prosecute the study. First, I admit that there are five senses, which Plato (in Theæteto) prefers calling organs, by which all objects are brought into a common sensorium, as into a kind of receptacle:  Next comes the imagination (phantasia), which distinguishes between the objects brought into the sensorium: Next, reason, to which the general power of Judgment belongs: And, lastly, intellect, which contemplates with fixed and quiet look whatever reason discursively revolves. In like manner,  to intellect, fancy, and reason, the three cognitive faculties of the soul, correspond three appetite faculties--viz. will--whose office is to choose whatever reason and intellect propound; irascibility, which seizes on what is set before it by reason and fancy; and concupiscence, which lays hold of the objects presented by sense and fancy.
Though these things are true, or at least plausible, still, as I fear they are more fitted to entangle, by their obscurity, than to assist us, I think it best to omit them. If any one chooses to distribute the powers of the mind in a different manner, calling one appetive, which, though devoid of reason, yet obeys reason, if directed from a different quarter, and another intellectual, as being by itself participant of reason, I have no great objection. Nor am I disposed to quarrel with the view, that there are three principles of action--viz. sense, intellect, and appetite. But let us rather adopt a division adapted to all capacities--a thing which certainly is not to be obtained from philosophers. For they,  when they would speak most plainly, divide the soul into appetite and intellect, but make both double. To the latter they sometimes give the name of contemplative, as being contented with mere knowledge and having no active powers (which circumstance makes Cicero designate it by the name of intellect, ingenii) (De Fin. lib. 5). At other times they give it the name of practical, because it variously moves the will by the apprehension of good or evil. Under this class is included the art of living well and justly. The former--viz. appetite--they divide into will and concupiscence, calling it bou'lesis, so whenever the appetite, which they call orme', obeys the reason. But when appetite, casting off the yoke of reason, runs to intemperance, they call it pa'teos. Thus they always presuppose in man a reason by which he is able to guide himself aright.
7. From this method of teaching we are forced somewhat to dissent. For philosophers, being unacquainted with the corruption of nature, which is the punishment of revolt, erroneously confound two states of man which are very different from each other. Let us therefore hold, for the purpose of the present work, that the soul consists of two parts, the intellect and the will (Book 2 chap. 2 sec. 2, 12),--the office of the intellect being to distinguish between objects, according as they seem deserving of being approved or disapproved; and the office of the will, to choose and follow what the intellect declares to be good, to reject and shun what it declares to be bad (Plato, in Phædro). We dwell not on the subtlety of Aristotle, that the mind has no motion of itself; but that the moving power is choice, which he also terms the appetite intellect. Not to lose ourselves in superfluous questions, let it be enough to know that the intellect is to us, as it were, the guide and ruler of the soul; that the will always follows its beck, and waits for its decision, in matters of desire. For which reason Aristotle truly taught, that in the appetite there is a pursuit and rejection corresponding in some degree to affirmation and negation in the intellect (Aristot. Ethic. lib. 6 sec. 2). Moreover, it will be seen in another place (Book 2 c. 2 see. 12-26), how surely the intellect governs the will. Here we only wish to observe, that the soul does not possess any faculty which may not be duly referred to one or other of these members. And in this way we comprehend sense under intellect. Others distinguish thus: They say that sense inclines to pleasure in the same way as the intellect to good; that hence the appetite of sense becomes concupiscence and lust, while the affection of the intellect becomes will. For the term appetite, which they prefer, I use that of will, as being more common.
8. Therefore, God has provided the soul of man with intellect, by which he might discern good from evil, just from unjust, and might know what to follow or to shun, reason going before with her lamp; whence philosophers, in reference to her directing power, have called her to` egemoniko`n. To this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and Judgment, not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness. Thereafter choice was added to direct the appetites, and temper all the organic motions; the will being thus perfectly submissive to the authority of reason. In this upright state, man possessed freedom of will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life. It were here unseasonable to introduce the question concerning the secret predestination of God, because we are not considering what might or might not happen, but what the nature of man truly was. Adam, therefore, might have stood if he chose, since it was only by his own will that he fell; but it was because his will was pliable in either directions and he had not received constancy to persevere, that he so easily fell. Still he had a free choice of good and evil; and not only so, but in the mind and will there was the highest rectitude, and all the organic parts were duly framed to obedience, until man corrupted its good properties, and destroyed himself. Hence the great darkness of philosophers who have looked for a complete building in a ruin, and fit arrangement in disorder. The principle they set out with was, that man could not be a rational animal unless he had a free choice of good and evil. They also imagined that the distinction between virtue and vice was destroyed, if man did not of his own counsel arrange his life. So far well, had there been no change in man. This being unknown to them, it is not surprising that they throw every thing into confusion. But those who, while they profess to be the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual destruction, labour under manifold delusion, making a heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both. But it will be better to leave these things to their own place (see Book 2 chap. 2) At present it is necessary only to remember, that man, at his first creation, was very different from all his posterity; who, deriving their origin from him after he was corrupted, received a hereditary taint. At first every part of the soul was formed to rectitude. There was soundness of mind and freedom of will to choose the good. If any one objects that it was placed, as it were, in a slippery position, because its power was weak, I answer, that the degree conferred was sufficient to take away every excuse. For surely the Deity could not be tied down to this condition,--to make man such, that he either could not or would not sin. Such a nature might have been more excellent;  but to expostulate with God as if he had been bound to confer this nature on man, is more than unjust, seeing he had full right to determine how much or how little He would give. Why He did not sustain him by the virtue of perseverance is hidden in his counsel; it is ours to keep within the bounds of soberness. Man had received the power, if he had the will, but he had not the will which would have given the power; for this will would have been followed by perseverance. Still, after he had received so much, there is no excuse for his having spontaneously brought death upon himself. No necessity was laid upon God to give him more than that intermediate and even transient will, that out of man's fall he might extract materials for his own glory.
 On man's first original, see Calvin against Pighius; and on the immortality of the soul, see Calvin's Psychopannychia and Instructio adv. Libertinos, c. 9 11, 12. It is curious to see how widely the opinion of Pliny differs from the Christian doctrine: "Omnibus a suprema die eadem quæ ante primam; hic magis a morte sensus ullus aut corpori aut animæ quam ante natales. Eadem enim vanitas in futurum etiam se propagat et in mortis quoque tempora ipsa sibi vitam mentitur."--Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. 7 c. 56.
 Job 4:19; 2 Cor. 5:4; 2 Pet. 1:13, 14; 2 Cor. 5:10; 7:1; 1 Pet. 2:25; 1:9; 2:11; Heb. 13:17; 2 Cor. 1:23; Mt. 10:28; Luke 12:5; Heb 12:9; Luke 16:22; 2 Cor. 5:6; 8; Acts 23:8.
 Ovid, Metam. Lib. I.--Dryden's Translation.
 As to Osiander's absurd fancy, see Book 2. cap 12. sec. 5, squ. In Rom. 8:3, Christ is said to have been sent by the Father in the likeness of sinful flesh, but nowhere is Adam said to have been formed in the likeness of Christ's future flesh, although Tertullian somewhere says so.
 See Aug. Lib. de Trin. 10, et Lib. de Civit. Dei, 11. See farther, Calvin, in Psycho pannychia et Comment. in Genes.
 The French adds, "comme si on tiroit le vin d'un vaisseau en une bouteille; "--as if one were to draw wine out of a cask into a bottle.
 The French is, "qu'il le coupe de sa substance comme une branche d'arbre;"--that he cuts it from his substance like a branch from a tree.
 The French is "Et que par iceux comme par canaux, tous objects qui se presentent à la veuë, au goust, ou au flair, ou a l'attouchement distillent au sens commun, comme en une cisteren qui recoit d'un coté et d'autre."--"And that by them as by channels, all objects which present themselves to the sight, taste, smell, or touch, drop into the common sensorium, as into a cistern which receives on either side."
 See Arist. lib. 1 Ethic. cap. ult.; item, lib. 6 cap. 2.
 See Themist. lib. 3 De Anima, 49, De Dupl. Intellectu.
 See August. lib 11, super Gen. cap. 7,8,9, and De Corrept. et Gratia ad Valent., cap. 11.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Endgame of Secularism
By Albert Mohler 9/01/2016
In his important Massey Lectures delivered in 1991, Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor spoke of “the malaise of modernity.” The modern age, he argued, is marked by two great intellectual moves. The first intellectual move is a pervasive individualism. The second is the reduction of all public discourse to the authority of instrumental reason. The rise of modern individualism came at the cost of rejecting all other moral authorities. “Modern freedom was won by our breaking loose from older moral horizons,” Taylor explained. This required the toppling of all hierarchical authorities and their established moral orders. “People used to see themselves as part of a larger order,” he observed. “Modern freedom came about through the discrediting of such orders.”
The primacy of instrumental reason means the elimination of the old order and its specifically theological and teleological moral order. As Taylor explained:
No doubt sweeping away the old orders has immensely widened the scope of instrumental reason. Once society no longer has a sacred structure, once social arrangements and modes of action are no longer grounded in the order of things or the will of God, they are in a sense up for grabs. They can be redesigned with their consequences for the happiness or well-being of individuals as our goal.
More recently, Taylor has written the greatest work yet completed on the secular reality of our times. In A Secular Age, he describes three successive sets of intellectual conditions. In the first, associated with the premodern age of antiquity and the medieval synthesis, it was impossible not to believe. There was simply no intellectual alternative to theism in the West. There was no alternative set of explanations for the world and its operations, or for moral order.
All that changed with the arrival of modernity. In the modern age, it became possible not to believe. A secular alternative to Christian theism emerged as a real choice. As a matter of fact, choice now ruled the intellectual field. As Peter Berger famously observed decades ago, this is the “heretical imperative,” the imperative to choose one’s worldview.
The third set of intellectual conditions is identified with late modernity and our own intellectual epoch. For most people living in the context of self-conscious late modernity, it is now impossible to believe. That means, especially in terms of the intellectual elites and the culture-forming sectors of society, theism is not an available worldview—if not personally, then at least culturally.
Significantly, Taylor pinpoints this unbelief as a lack of cognitive commitment to a self-existent, self-revealing God. Secularization is not about rejecting all religion. Taylor notes that people in the current hyper-secularized culture in America often consider themselves to be religious or spiritual. Secularization, according to Taylor, is about unbelief in a personal God, one who holds and exerts authority. He describes the secular age as deeply “cross-pressured” in its personal experience of religion and rejection of the personal authority of God. The issue is binding authority.
Christians are the intellectual outlaws under the current secular conditions. Entering a discussion on the basis of a theistic or theological claim is to break a cardinal rule of late modernity by moving from a proposition or question to a command and law and authority, and to do so in the context of a culture now explicitly secularized, and a culture that either reduces such claims to something below a genuine theistic claim or rejects them entirely. Secularization in America has been attended by a moral revolution without precedent and without endgame. The cultural engines of progress that drive toward personal autonomy and fulfillment will not stop until the human being is completely self-defining. This progress requires the explicit rejection of Christian morality for the project of human liberation.
The story of the rise of secularism is the story of a stunning intellectual and moral revolution. It defies exaggeration. We must recognize that it is far more pervasive than we might want to believe, for this intellectual revolution has changed the worldviews of even those who believe themselves to be opposed to it. Everything is now reduced to choice, and choice is, as Taylor reminds us, central to the moral project of late modernity, the project of “individual authenticity.” As he explains this project:
I am called upon to live my life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else’s life. But this notion gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life; I miss what being human is for me.
Can any sustainable moral order survive this scale of intellectual revolution? We hear in today’s intellectual and ideological chorus the refrains of Karl Marx’s threat and promise in The Communist Manifesto: “All that is solid melts into air.”
As Augustine reminded us roughly sixteen hundred years ago, Christians are simultaneously citizens of two cities: a heavenly city and an earthly city. The first is eternal, the other is passing. But, even as the earthly city is a mere vapor, it is also a city of God’s good pleasure and divine compassion. As Christians, we must work for the good and flourishing of this earthly city, even as we work to see as many as possible also become citizens of the heavenly city through faith in Christ Jesus. Indeed, in the earthly city, all that is solid melts into thin air. But in the heavenly city, God’s throne is unmoved and His kingdom is unshakable.
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The Whole Christ
By Sinclair Ferguson 9/01/2016
Antinomianism takes various forms. People do not always fit neatly into our categorizations, nor do they necessarily hold all the logical implications of their presuppositions. Here we are using “antinomianism” in the theological sense: rejecting the obligatory (“binding on the conscience”) nature of the Decalogue for those who are in Christ. Antinomianism, it was widely assumed in the eighteenth century, is essentially a failure to understand and appreciate the place of the law of God in the Christian life. But just as there is more to legalism than first meets the eye, the same is true of antinomianism. Thus gospel-grace and law-commands No strength of nature can suffice
Perhaps the greatest misstep in thinking about antinomianism is to think of it simpliciter as the opposite of legalism.
It would be an interesting experiment for a budding doctoral student in psychology to create a word-association test for Christians. It might include:
Old Testament: Anticipated answer → New Testament
Sin: Anticipated answer → Grace
David: Anticipated answer → Goliath
Jerusalem: Anticipated answer → Babylon
Antinomianism: Anticipated answer → ?
Would it be fair to assume that the instinctive response there at the end would be “Legalism”?
Is the “correct answer” really “Legalism”? It might be the right answer at the level of common usage, but it would be unsatisfactory from the standpoint of theology, for antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why Scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both.
This is an observation of major significance, for some of the most influential antinomians in church history acknowledged they were on a flight from the discovery of their own legalism.
According to John Gill, the first biographer of Tobias Crisp, one of the father figures of English antinomianism: “He set out first in the legal way of preaching in which he was exceeding jealous.”
Benjamin Brook sets this in a larger context:
Persons who have embraced sentiments which afterwards appear to them erroneous, often think they can never remove too far from them; and the more remote they go from their former opinions the nearer they come to the truth. This was unhappily the case with Dr. Crisp. His ideas of the grace of Christ had been exceedingly low, and he had imbibed sentiments which produced in him a legal and self-righteous spirit. Shocked at the recollection of his former views and conduct, he seems to have imagined that he could never go far enough from them.
But Crisp, in keeping with others, took the wrong medicine. The antinomian is by nature a person with a legalistic heart. He or she becomes an antinomian in reaction. But this implies only a different view of law, not a more biblical one.
Richard Baxter’s comments are therefore insightful:
Antinomianism rose among us from an obscure Preaching of Evangelical Grace, and insisting too much on tears and terrors.
The wholescale removal of the law seems to provide a refuge. But the problem is not with the law, but with the heart—and this remains unchanged. Thinking that his perspective is now the antithesis of legalism, the antinomian has written an inappropriate spiritual prescription. His sickness is not fully cured. Indeed the root cause of his disease has been masked rather than exposed and cured.
There is only one genuine cure for legalism. It is the same medicine the gospel prescribes for antinomianism: understanding and tasting union with Jesus Christ himself. This leads to a new love for and obedience to the law of God, which he now mediates to us in the gospel. This alone breaks the bonds of both legalism (the law is no longer divorced from the person of Christ) and antinomianism (we are not divorced from the law, which now comes to us from the hand of Christ and in the empowerment of the Spirit, who writes it in our hearts).
Without this both legalist and antinomian remain wrongly related to God’s law and inadequately related to God’s grace. The marriage of duty with delight in Christ is not yet rightly celebrated.
Ralph Erskine, one of the leading Marrow Brethren, once said that the greatest antinomian was actually the legalist. His claim may also be true the other way around: the greatest legalist is the antinomian.
But turning from legalism to antinomianism is never the way to escape the husband whom we first married. For we are not divorced from the law by believing that the commandments do not have binding force, but only by being married to Jesus Christ in union with whom it is our pleasure to fulfill them. Thomas Boston himself is in agreement with this general analysis:
This Antinomian principle, that it is needless for a man, perfectly justified by faith, to endeavour to keep the law, and do good works, is a glaring evidence that legality is so engrained in man’s corrupt nature, that until a man truly come to Christ, by faith, the legal disposition will still be reigning in him; let him turn himself into what shape, or be of what principles he will in religion; though he run into Antinomianism he will carry along with him his legal spirit, which will always be a slavish and unholy spirit.
A century later, the Southern Presbyterian pastor and theologian James Henley Thornwell (1812–1862) noted the same principle:
Whatever form, however, Antinomianism may assume, it springs from legalism. None rush into the one extreme but those who have been in the other. Here, again, is John Colquhoun, speaking of the manifestation of this in the life of the true believer:
Some degree of a legal spirit or of an inclination of heart to the way of the covenant of works still remains in believers and often prevails against them. They sometimes find it exceedingly dificult for them to resist that inclination, to rely on their own attainments and performances, for some part of their title to the favor and enjoyment of God.
If antinomianism appears to us to be a way of deliverance from our natural legalistic spirit, we need to refresh our understanding of Romans 7. In contrast to Paul, both legalists and antinomians see the law as the problem. But Paul is at pains to point out that sin, not the law is the root issue. On the contrary, the law is “good” and “righteous” and “spiritual” and “holy.” The real enemy is indwelling sin. And the remedy for sin is neither the law nor its overthrow. It is grace, as Paul had so wonderfully exhibited in Romans 5:12–21, and that grace set in the context of his exposition of union with Christ in Romans 6:1–14. To abolish the law, then, would be to execute the innocent.
For this reason it is important to notice the dynamic of Paul’s argument in Romans 7:1–6. We have been married to the law. A woman is free to marry again when her husband dies. But Paul is careful to say not that the law has died so that we can marry Christ. Rather, it is the believer who was married to the law who has died in Christ. But being raised with Christ, she is now (legally!) free to marry Christ as the husband with whom fruit for God will be brought to the birth. The entail of this second marriage is, in Paul’s language, that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
This is the sense in which the Christian’s relationship to the law is that of being an “in-law”! We are not related to the law directly as it were, or the law in isolation as bare commandments. The relationship is dependent on and the new fruit of our prior relationship to Christ. In simple terms, just as Adam received the law from the Father, from whose hand it should never have been abstracted (as it was by the Serpent and then by Eve), so the new-covenant believer never looks at the law without understanding that his relationship to it is the fruit of his union with Christ.
Bunyan saw the meaning of Romans 7. An “inclination to Adam the First” remains in all of us. The believer has died to the law, but the law does not die. The law still exists to the believer. But united to Christ the believer is now able to fulfill the law of marriage and bear fruit!
Thus grace, not law, produces what the law requires; yet at the same time it is what the law requires that grace produces. Ralph Erskine sought to put this in verse form:
Both bind and loose each other’s hands;
They can’t agree on any terms,
Yet hug each other in their arms.
Those that divide them cannot be
The friends of truth and verity;
Yet those that dare confound the two
Destroy them both, and gender woe.
This paradox none can decipher,
That plow not with the gospel heifer.
So, he adds,
To run, to work, the law commands,
The gospel gives me feet and hands.
The one requires that I obey,
The other does the power convey.
Head and Heart
Olney Hymns, the hymnbook composed by John Newton and William Cowper, contains the latter’s hymn “Love Constraining to Obedience,” which states the situation well:
To serve [the] Lord aright;
And what she has, she misapplies,
For want of clearer light.
How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress!
I toil’d the precept to obey,
But toil’d without success.
Then to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its pow’r within,
I feel I hate it too.
Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose his ways.
What shall I do was then the word,
That I may worthier grow?
What shall I render to the Lord
Is my enquiry now.
To see the Law by Christ fulfil’d,
And hear his pard’ning voice;
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.
Taken from The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance by Sinclair B. Ferguson, © 2016, pp. 155–162. Used by permission of Crossway.
Thus gospel-grace and law-commands
No strength of nature can suffice
Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 21)
By John Foxe 1563
Persecutions of the French Protestants in the South of France, During the Years 1814 and 1820The persecution in this Protestant part of France continued with very little intermission from the revocation of the edict of Nantes, by Louis XIV until a very short period previous to the commencement of the late French Revolution. In the year 1785, M. Rebaut St. Etienne and the celebrated M. de la Fayette were among the first persons who interested themselves with the court of Louis XVI in removing the scourge of persecution from this injured people, the inhabitants of the south of France.
Such was the opposition on the part of the Catholics and the courtiers, that it was not until the end of the year 1790, that the Protestants were freed from their alarms.
Previously to this, the Catholics at Nismes in particular, had taken up arms;
Nismes then presented a frightful spectacle; armed men ran through the city, fired from the corners of the streets, and attacked all they met with swords and forks.
A man named Astuc was wounded and thrown into the aqueduct;
Baudon fell under the repeated strokes of bayonets and sabers, and his body was also thrown into the water; Boucher, a young man only seventeen years of age, was shot as he was looking out of his window; three electors wounded, one dangerously; another elector wounded, only escaped death by repeatedly declaring he was a Catholic; a third received four saber wounds, and was taken home dreadfully mangled. The citizens that fled were arrested by the Catholics upon the roads, and obliged to give proofs of their religion before their lives were granted. M. and Madame Vogue were at their country house, which the zealots broke open, where they massacred both, and destroyed their dwelling. M. Blacher, a Protestant seventy years of age, was cut to pieces with a sickle; young Pyerre, carrying some food to his brother, was asked, "Catholic or Protestant?" "Protestant," being the reply, a monster fired at the lad, and he fell. One of the murderer's compansions said, "You might as well have killed a lamb." "I have sworn," replied he, "to kill four Protestants for my share, and this will count for one." However, as these atrocities provoked the troops to unite in defence of the people, a terrible vengeance was retaliated upon the Catholic party that had used arms, which with other circumstances, especially the toleration exercised by Napoleon Bonaparte, kept them down completely until the year 1814, when the unexpected return of the ancient government rallied them all once more round the old banners.
The Arrival of King Louis XVIII at Paris | This was known at Nismes on the thirteenth of April, 1814.In a quarter of an hour, the white cockade was seen in every direction, the white flag floated on the public buildings, on the splendid monuments of antiquity, and even on the tower of Mange, beyond the city walls. The Protestants, whose commerce had suffered materially during the war, were among the first to unite in the general joy, and to send in their adhesion to the senate, and the legislative body; and several of the Protestant departments sent addresses to the throne, but unfortunately, M. Froment was again at Nismes at the moment, when many bigots being ready to join him, the blindness and fury of the sixteenth century rapidly succeeded the intelligence and philanthropy of the nineteenth. A line of distinction was instantly traced between men of different religious opinions; the spirit of the old Catholic Church was again to regulate each person's share of esteem and safety.
The difference of religion was now to govern everything else; and even Catholic domestics who had served Protestants with zeal and affection began to neglect their duties, or to perform them ungraciously, and with reluctance. At the fetes and spectacles that were given at the public expense, the absence of the Protestants was charged on them as a proof of their disloyalty; and in the midst of the cries of Vive le Roi! the discordant sounds of A bas le Maire, down with the mayor, were heard. M. Castletan was a Protestant; he appeared in public with the prefect M. Ruland, a Catholic, when potatoes were thrown at him, and the people declared that he ought to resign his office. The bigots of Nismes, even succeeded in procuring an address to be presented to the king, stating that there ought to be in France but one God, one king, and one faith. In this they were imitated by the Catholics of several towns.
The History of the Silver ChildAbout this time, M. Baron, counsellor of the Cour Royale of Nismes, formed the plan of dedicating to God a silver child, if the Duchess d'Angouleme would give a prince to France. This project was converted into a public religious vow, which was the subject of conversation both in public and private, whilst persons, whose imaginations were inflamed by these proceedings, ran about the streets crying Vivent les Boubons, or "the Bourbons forever." In consequence of this superstitious frenzy, it is said that at Alais women were advised and insigated to poison their Protestant husbands, and at length it was found convenient to accuse them of political crimes. They could no longer appear in public without insults and injuries. When the mobs met with Protestants, they seized them, and danced round them with barbarous joy, and amidst repeated cries of Vive le Roi, they sang verses, the burden of which was, "We will wash our hands in Protestant blood, and make black puddings of the blood of Calvin's children."
The citizens who came to the promenades for air and refreshment from the close and dirty streets were chased with shouts of Vive le Roi, as if those shouts were to justify every excess. If Protestants referred to the charter, they were directly assured it would be of no use to them, and that they had only been managed to be more effectually destroyed. Persons of rank were heard to say in the public streets, "All the Huguenots must be killed; this time their children must be killed, that none of the accursed race may remain."
Still, it is true, they were not murdered, but cruelly treated; Protestant children could no longer mix in the sports of Catholics, and were not even permitted to appear without their parents. At dark their families shut themselves up in their apartments; but even then stones were thrown against their windows. When they arose in the mornin it was not uncommon to find gibbets drawn on their doors or walls; and in the streets the Catholics held cords already soaped before their eyes, and pointed out the insruments by which they hoped and designed to exterminate them. Small gallows or models were handed about, and a man who lived opposite to one of the pastors, exhibited one of these models in his window, and made signs sufficiently intelligible when the minister passed. A figure representing a Protestant preacher was also hung up on a public crossway, and the most atrocious songs were sung under his window.
Towards the conclusion of the carnival, a plan had even been formed to make a caricature of the four ministers of the place, and burn them in effigy; but this was prevented by the mayor of Nismes, a Protestant. A dreadful song presented to the prefect, in the country dialect, with a false translation, was printed by his approval, and had a great run before he saw the extent of the rror into which he had been betrayed. The sixty-third regiment of the line was publicly censured and insulted, for having, according to order, protected Protestants. In fact, the Protestants seemed to be as sheep destined for the slaughter.
The Catholic Arms at BeaucaireIn May, 1815, a federative association, similar to that of Lyons, Grenoble, Paris, Avignon, and Montpelier, was desired by many persons at Nismes; but this federation terminated here after an ephemeral and illusory existence of fourteen days. In the meanwhile a large party of Catholic zealots were in arms at Beaucaire, and who soon pushed their patroles so near the walls of Nismes, "so as to alarm the inhabitants." These Catholics applied to the English off Marseilles for assistance, and obtained the grant of one thousand muskets, ten thousand cartouches, etc. General Gilly, however, was soon sent against these partizans, who prevented them from coming to extremes by granting them an armistice; and yet when Louis XVIII had returned to Paris, after the expiration of Napoleon's reign of a hundred days, and peace and party spirit seemed to have been subdued, even at Nismes, bands from Beaucaire joined Trestaillon in this city, to glut the vengeance they had so long premeditated. General Gilly had left the department several days: the troops of the line left behind had taken the white cockade, and waited further orders, whilst the new commissioners had only to proclaim the cessation of hostilities and the complete establishment of the king's authority. In vain, no commissioners appeared, no despatches arrived to calm and regulate the public mind; but towards evening the advanced guard of the banditti, to the amount of several hundreds, entered the city, undesired but unopposed.
As they marched without order or discipline, covered with clothes or rags of all colors, decorated with cockades, not white, but white and green, armed with muskets, sabers, forks, pistols and reaping hooks, intoxicated with wine, and stained with the blood of the Protestants whom they had murdered on their route, they presented a most hideous and appealling spectacle. In the open place in the front of the barracks, this banditti was joined by the city armed mob, headed by Jaques Dupont, commonly called Trestaillon. To save the effusion of blood, this garrison of about five hundred men consented to capitulate, and marched out sad and defenceless; but when about fifty had passed, the rabble commenced a tremendous fire on their confiding and unprotected victims; nearly all were killed or wounded, and but very few could re-enter the yard before the garrison gates were again closed. These were again forced in an instant, and all were massacred who could not climb over roofs, or leap into the adjoining gardens. In a word, death met them in every place and in every shape, and this Catholic massacre rivalled in cruelty and surpassed in treachery the crimes of the September assassins of Paris, and the Jacobinical butcheries of Lyons and Avignon. It was marked not only by the fervor of the Revolution but by the subtlety of the league, and will long remain a blot upon the history of the second restoration.
Massacre and Pillage at NismesNismes now exhibited a most awful scene of outrage and carnage, though many of the Protestants had fled to the Convennes and the Gardonenque. The country houses of Messrs. Rey, Guiret, and several others, had been pillaged, and the inhabitants treated with wanton barbarity. Two parties had glutted their savage appetites on the farm of Madame Frat: the first, after eating, drinking, and breaking the furniture, and stealing what they thought proper, took leave by announcing the arrival of their comrades, 'compared with whom,' they said, 'they should be thought merciful.' Three men and an old woman were left on the premises: at the sight of the second company two of the men fled. "Are you a Catholic?" said the banditti to the old woman. "Yes." "Repeat, then, your Pater and Ave." Being terrified, she hesitated, and was instantly knocked down with a musket. On recovering her senses, she stole out of the house, but met Ladet, the old valet de ferme, bringing in a salad which the depredators had ordered him to cut. In vain she endeavored to persuade him to fly. "Are you a Protestant?" they exclaimed; "I am." A musket being discharged at him, he fell wounded, but not dead. To consummate their work, the monsters lighted a fire with straw and boards, threw their living victim into the flames, and suffered him to expire in the most dreadful agonies. They then ate their salad, omelet, etc. The next day, some laborers, seeing the house open and deserted, entered, and discovered the half consumed body of Ladet. The prefect of the Gard, M. Darbaud Jouques, attempting to palliate the crimes of the Catholics, had the audacity to assert that Ladet was a Catholic; but this was publicly contradicted by two of the pastors at Nismes.
Another party committed a dreadful murder at St. Cezaire, upon Imbert la Plume, the husband of Suzon Chivas. He was met on returning from work in the fields. The chief promised him his life, but insisted that he must be conducted to the prison at Nismes. Seeing, however, that the party was determined to kill him, he resumed his natural character, and being a powerful and courageous man advanced and exclaimed, "You are brigands-fire!" Four of them fired, and he fell, but he was not dead; and while living they mutilated his body; and then passing a cord round it, drew it along, attached to a cannon of which they had possession. It was not until after eight days that his relatives were apprised of his death. Five individuals of the family of Chivas, all husbands and fathers, were massacred in the course of a few days.
The merciless treatment of the women, in this persecution at Nismes, was such as would have disgraced any savages ever heard of. The widows Rivet and Bernard were forced to sacrifice enormous sums; and the house of Mrs. Lecointe was ravaged, and her goods destroyed. Mrs. F. Didier had her dwelling sacked and nearly demolished to the foundation. A party of these bigots visited the widow Perrin, who lived on a litle farm at the windmills; having committed every species of devastation, they attacked even the sanctuary of the dead, which contained the relics of her family. They dragged the coffins out, and scattered the contents over the adjacent grounds. In vain this outraged widow collected the bones of her ancestors and replaced them: they were again dug up; and, after several useless efforts, they were reluctantly left spread over the surface of the fields.
Royal Decree in Favor of the PersecutedAt length the decree of Louis XVIII which annulled all the extraordinary powers conferred either by the king, the princes, or subordinate agents, was received at Nismes, and the laws were now to be administered by the regular organs, and a new prefect arrived to carry them into effect; but in spite of proclamations, the work of destruction, stopped for a moment, was not abandoned, but soon renewed with fresh vigor and effect. On the thirtieth of July, Jacques Combe, the father of a family, was killed by some of the natonal guards of Rusau, and the crime was so public, that the commander of the party restored to the family the pocketbook and papers of the deceased. On the following day tumultuous crowds roamed about the city and suburbs, threatening the wretched peasants; and on the first of August they butchered them without opposition.
About noon on the same day, six armed men, headed by Truphemy, the butcher, surrounded the house of Monot, a carpenter; two of the party, who were smiths, had been at work in the house the day before, and had seen a Protestant who had taken refuge there, M. Bourillon, who had been a lieutenant in the army, and had retired on a pension. He was a man of an excellent character, peaceable and harmless, and had never served the emperor Napoleon. Truphemy not knowin him, he was pointed out partaking of a frugal breakfast with the family. Truphemy ordered him to go along with him, adding, "Your friend, Saussine, is already in the other world." Truphemy placed him in the middle of his troop, and artfully ordered him to cry Vive l'Empereur he refused, adding, he had never served the emperor. In vain did the women and children of the house intercede for his life, and praise his amiable and virtuous qualities. He was marched to the Esplanade and shot, first by Truphemy and then by the others. Several persons, attracted by the firing approached, but were threatened with a similar fate.
After some time the wretches departed, shouting Vive le Roi. Some women met them, and one of them appearing affected, said, "I have killed seven to-day, for my share, and if you say a word, you shall be the eighth." Pierre Courbet, a stocking weaver, was torn from his loom by an armed band, and shot at his own door. His eldest daughter was knocked down with the butt end of a musket; and a poignard was held at the breast of his wife while the mob plundered her apartments. Paul Heraut, a silk weaver, was literally cut in pieces, in the presence of a large crowd, and amidst the unavailing cries and tears of his wife and four young children. The murderers only abandoned the corpse to return to Heraut's house and secure everything valuable. The number of murders on this day could not be ascertained. One person saw six bodies at the Cours Neuf, and nine were carried to the hospital.
If murder some time after, became less frequent for a few days, pillage and forced contributions were actively enforced. M. Salle d'Hombro, at several visits was robbed of seven thousand francs; and on one occasion, when he pleaded the sacrifices he had made, "Look," said a bandit, pointing to his pipe, "this will set fire to your house; and this," brandishing his sword, "will finish you." No reply could be made to these arguments. M. Feline, a silk manufacturer, was robbed of thirty-two thousand francs in gold, three thousand francs in silver, and several bales of silk.
The small shopkeepers were continually exposed to visits and demands of provisions, drapyery, or whatever they sold; and the same hands that set fire to the houses of the rich, and tore up the vines of the cultivator, broke the looms of the weaver; and stole the tools of the artisan. Desolation reigned in the sanctuary and in the city. The armed bands, instead of being reduced, were increased; the fugitives, instead of returning, received constant accessions, and their friends who sheltered them were deemed rebellious. Those Protestants who remained were deprived of all their civil and religious rights, and even the advocates and huissiers entered into a resolution to exclude all of "the pretended reformed religion" from their bodies. Those who were employed in selling tobacco were deprived of their licenses. The Protestant deacons who had the charge of the poor were all scattered. Of five pastors only two remained; one of these was obliged to change his residence, and could only venture to admnister the consolations of religion, or perform the functions of his ministry under cover of the night.
Not content with these modes of torment, calumnious and inflammatory publications charged the Protestants with raising the proscribed standard in the communes, and invoking the fallen Napoleon; and, of course, as unworthy the protection of the laws and the favor of the monarch.
Hundreds after this were dragged to prison without even so much as a written order; and though an official newspaper, bearing the title of the Journal du Gard, was set up for five months, while it was influenced by the prefect, the mayor, and other functionaries, the word "charter" was never once used in it. One of the first numbers, on the contrary, represented the suffering Protestants, as "Crocodiles, only weeping from rage and regret that they had no more victims to devour; as persons who had surpassed Danton, Marat, and Robespierre, in doing mischief; and as having prostituted their daughters to the garrison to gain it over to Napoleon." An extract from this article, stamped with the crown and the arms of the Bourbons, was hawked about the streets, and the vender was adorned with the medal of the police.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Continual Burnt Offering (1 Peter 3:17)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
December 131 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, ESV
My sins put Christ on the cross where He suffered in fullest measure. He bore everything I deserved that I might be freed forever from the suffering I had so richly earned. Now I am called to live and witness for Him in the world that rejected Him and to which I once belonged, but out of which He has saved me. Henceforth, holiness and righteousness are to characterize me. I am now to walk as He walked — in fellowship with Him, as enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else is worthy of one who has been so gloriously redeemed at so great a cost. Nor need I expect mankind to understand. I know I must encounter their enmity and scorn. But I can conquer through Christ.
Be patient then, with such a rest in view,
Blessed are they who Zion’s ways pursue;
Each faithful pilgrim, through His mighty grace,
Shall there appear, and see Him face to face.
He is their Sun, to chase the shades of night,
And cheer their souls with heavenly warmth and light.
“God of all grace,” each day’s march Hell bestow
The suited grace for all they meet below;
The “God of glory” when their journey’s done,
Will crown with glory what His grace begun,
Rich in the treasures of eternal love,
His watchful goodness all His people prove;
Through time’s short day, and through eternity,
“Blest is the man, O Lord, who trusts in Thee.”
--- J. G. Deck
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Do what God has told you (3)
12/13/2017 Bob Gass
‘Noah walked with God.’
(Ge 6:9) 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. ESV
What went through Noah’s mind when God told him to build a boat in the middle of dry land? Nobody had ever done it before. Yet the Bible says, ‘Noah did everything just as God commanded him’ (v. 22 NIV 2011 Edition). How did he do it? Answer: ‘Noah walked with God.’ Walking takes place step by step. The trouble is, we want God to reveal the second step before we take the first step of faith. But until we take the first step, He won’t reveal the next step. We’ve got to be obedient to the measure of revelation He has given us, if we want more of it. That’s why we get stuck spiritually. We only want to follow Christ to the point of precedence – the place where we have been before – but no farther. We’re afraid of doing what we’ve never done before because it’s unfamiliar territory. So we leave unclaimed the new gifts, new anointings, and new dreams God wants to give us. You’ve got to push past the fear of the unknown. You’ve got to do something different. The African impala can jump ten feet high and thirty feet long, yet it can be contained in a small enclosure with four-foot-high walls. Why? Because it will not jump if it cannot see where it’s going to land. We have the same problem, don’t we? We want a money-back guarantee before we take a leap of faith, but that eliminates faith from the equation. We are called to ‘walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV). So the word for you today is: do what God has told you.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Phillips Brooks was born this day, December 13, 1835. At Harvard, he was taught by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes. He later became bishop of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. But Phillips Brooks is probably best remembered for a song he wrote two years after the Civil War, which goes: “O little town of Bethlehem! How still we see thee lie; Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by; Yet in thy dark streets shineth, The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight.”
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Chapter 17 December 13
It’s comical that you, of all people, should ask my views about prayer as worship or adoration. On this subject you yourself taught me nearly all I know. On a walk in the Forest of Dean. Can you have forgotten?
You first taught me the great principle "Begin where you are." I had thought one had to start by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and "all the blessings of this life." You turned to the brook and once more splashed your burning face and hands in the little waterfall and said, "Why not begin with this?"
And it worked. Apparently you have never guessed how much. That cushiony moss, that coldness and sound and dancing light were no doubt very minor blessings compared with "the means of grace and the hope of glory." But then they were manifest. So far as they were concerned, sight had replaced faith. They were not the hope of glory, they were an exposition of the glory itself.
Yet you were not-or so it seemed to me-telling me that "Nature," or "the beauties of Nature," manifest the glory. No such abstraction as "Nature" comes into it. I was learning the far more secret doctrine that pleasures are shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility. As it impinges on our will or our understanding, we give it different names-goodness or truth or the like. But its flash upon our senses and mood is pleasure.
But aren't there bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly there are. But in calling them "bad pleasures" I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean "pleasures snatched by unlawful acts." It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse. There is sacrilege in the theft. We have abused a holy thing.
I have tried, since that moment, to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don't mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different. How shall I put it?
We can't-or I can't-hear the song of a bird simply as a sound. Its meaning or message ("That's a bird") comes with it inevitably-just as one can't see a familiar word in print as a merely visual pattern. The reading is as involuntary as the seeing. When the wind roars I don't just hear the roar; I "hear the wind." In the same way it is possible to "read" as well as to "have" a pleasure. Or not even "as well as." The distinction ought to become, and sometimes is, impossible; to receive it and to recognize its divine source are a single experience. This heavenly fruit is instantly redolent of the orchard where it grew. This sweet air whispers of the country from whence it blows. It is a message. We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore. There need be no question of thanks or praise as a separate event, something done after wards. To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore.
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The world is not a mere stage for a brief play.
It is lit by our triumphs,
shadowed by our guilt,
touched by our sorrows,
watered by our tears.
--- George H. Morrison
I can only say, let us be tolerant wherever we can be, and let us be charitable toward all those we cannot tolerate. But let us not imagine for a minute that we are called upon to take a top-of-the-fence stand, never knowing exactly what we believe.
--- A.W. Tozer
The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.
--- John Ruskin
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate; to have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
four never say, “Enough!”—
16 Sh’ol and a barren womb;
the earth, never satisfied with water;
and fire, which never says, “Enough!”
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
From The Book Of Daniel
Gabriel had been on his way from heaven with a message for Daniel but had been prevented by the prince of Persia. Michael had helped him to have victory over this foe, and Gabriel was then able to continue his journey. Jeffery seems correct in stating that the conflict probably was not an attempt to prevent the angel from bringing the message to Daniel (though this was the result), for the conflict was resumed after the revelation was delivered (cf. 10:20), but rather this warfare involved “something apart from the message.”
The Interpreter's Bible: The Holy Scriptures in the King James and Revised Standard Versions with General Articles and Introduction, Exegesis, Exposition for Each Book of the Bible. 12 Volumes
and then there was Michael
Michael is introduced in this verse and is also mentioned in Dan 10:21; 12:1; Jude 9; and Rev 12:7 in Scripture. In Jude 9 he is called the “archangel,” which means “first (chief) angel.” Michael has been assigned by God as Israel’s prince (cf. 10:21); he is “great” in power and protects the Jewish people (cf. 12:1). The implications of these statements are clear. Israel has a mighty angelic supporter in the heavenly realm. Therefore, regardless of Israel’s political, military, and economic weaknesses, its existence is assured because no earthly power can resist their great prince.
Who was this “prince of the Persian kingdom” who resisted Gabriel for three weeks? (1) He must have been an angel since no human prince could have withstood Gabriel. Moreover, Israel’s “prince” was the angel Michael (10:21), and it is reasonable to suppose that in the same context the “prince” of Persia was also an angel. (2) Since this prince opposed God’s angel, he may safely be assumed to have been an evil angel, that is, a demon. (3) He is called the “prince of the Persian kingdom,” so Persia must have been his special area of activity. Therefore this demon was either a powerful angel assigned to Persia by Satan or possibly he was Satan himself. Persia ruled the world in that day, and Satan would surely have concentrated his personal efforts in this most influential area. If the demon was Satan, it would explain why Michael, one of God’s most powerful angels, was needed to fight against him. The angelic warfare continued, for v. 20 reveals that the good angel would return to fight against this demon. Young suggests that it was this evil angel who “influenced the kings of Persia to support the Samaritans against Israel.”
From this passage several important facts are evident concerning angels: (1) angels are real; (2) there are good and evil angels; (3) angels can influence the affairs of human beings. Particularly this passage teaches that angels inspire human governments and their leaders. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was described in chap. 8 (also chap. 11), was certainly encouraged by demonic forces in his attempts to eradicate the Jewish religion. Antichrist, depicted in chaps. 7; 9; and 11 of this book, also will be satanically inspired (cf. 2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:2). In Daniel’s day Persia ruled the earth. Satan would naturally have attempted to influence the decisions made by the Persian government because policies made there would affect the world. Today Satan continues his attempts to sway earthly powers, and he focuses his attention on nations of the world with the most influence. On the other hand, Dan 10:13, 20 and 11:1 demonstrate the positive activity of holy angels on governments. (4) There is an invisible, spiritual warfare being waged that involves angels and believers. The apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”
Daniel (New American Commentary, 18)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
What To Pray For
Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. --- Luke 18:11.
You cannot intercede if you do not believe in the reality of the Redemption; you will turn intercession into futile sympathy with human beings which will only increase their submissive content to being out of touch with God. In intercession you bring the person, or the circumstance that impinges on you, before God until you are moved by His attitude towards that person or circumstance. Intercession means filling up “that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ,” and that is why there are so few intercessors. Intercession is put on the line of—‘Put yourself in his place.’ Never! Try to put yourself in God’s place.
As a worker, be careful to keep pace with the communications of reality from God or you will be crushed. If you know too much, more than God has engineered for you to know, you cannot pray, the condition of the people is so crushing that you cannot get through to reality.
Our work lies in coming into definite contact with God about everything, and we shirk it by becoming active workers. We do the things that can be tabulated, but we will not intercede. Intercession is the one thing that has no snares, because it keeps our relationship with God completely open.
The thing to watch in intercession is that no soul is patched up, a soul must get through into contact with the life of God. Think of the number of souls God has brought about our path and we have dropped them! When we pray on the ground of Redemption, God creates something He can create in no other way than through intercessory prayer.
My Utmost for His Highest
Shouldn't We Know These?
1 Nissan March-April 30d
2 Iyar April-May 29d
3 Sivan May-June 30d
4 Tammuz June-July 29d
5 Av July-Aug 30d
6 Elul Aug-Sept 29d
7 Tishri Sept-Oct 30d
8 Cheshvan Oct-Nov 29-30d
9 Kislev Nov-Dec 30-29d
10 Tevet Dec-Jan 29d
11 Shevat Jan-Feb 30d
12 Adar Feb-March 29d
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
It is said that he went gaily
to that scaffold,
as a bridegroom,
his lace lying on him like white frost
in the windless Morning
of his courage.
His red blood was the water of life,
changed to wine
at the wedding banquet;
the bride Scotland,
the spirit dependent on
such for the consummation
of her marriage.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
--- John 1:1.
He came, to whom it is said, “Show signs”; to whom it is said, “Show forth your marvelous mercies”; for dispensing them he ever was; he dispensed them, and no one marveled. Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament Therefore he came a little one to the little, he came a physician to the sick—he who was able to come when he would, to return when he would, to do whatever he would, to judge as he would.
These things he did, yet he was despised by the many, who did not consider so much what great things he did as how small he was, as though they said to themselves, These are divine things, but he is human. You see then two things: divine works and a human being. If divine works cannot be done except by God, take heed for fear that in this man God lies concealed. Pay attention to what you see; believe what you do not see. He who has called you to believe has not abandoned you; though he enjoins you to believe that which you cannot see, he has given you something to see by which you may be able to believe what you do not see. Is the creation itself a small indication of the Creator? You could not see God; so God became human, that in one being you might have both something to see and something to believe. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He who made man and woman comes forth from a woman. He who made man and woman was not made by man and woman. In this very birth there are at once two things, one you may see and another you may not see, so that by what you see you may believe what you do not see. You had begun to despise, because you see him who was born; believe what you do not see—that he was born of a virgin. “How trifling a person,” you say, “is one who is born!” But how great is he who was of a virgin born! And he who was born of a virgin brought you a temporal miracle—he was not born of a father, of any man, yet he was born of the flesh. But let it not seem impossible to you that he, who made a man before father and mother, was born by his mother only.
He brought you then a temporal miracle, that you may seek and admire him who is eternal. He is coeternal with the Father, he it is who “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He did for you that by which you might be cured, that you might be able to see what you did not see.
--- Augustine of Hippo
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Peter of Morone craved a hermit’s life. His asceticism appealed to certain others, and in 1254 he founded an order known as the Hermits of St. Damian. He lived as a recluse in a mountain cave until his eighties.
Meanwhile in Rome, Pope Nicholas IV died and church officials spent 27 months trying to choose a replacement. Unable to agree, they finally pulled Peter’s name from the hat. Three bishops traveled 150 miles and clawed their way up the rocky side of the hermit’s mountain to tell him of his election. Panting and sweating, they inched around the narrow ledge and spied Peter peeking curiously through the bars of his makeshift door. He was unkempt, pale, disheveled, sick, aged, and hardly able to understand them.
Peter gathered a knapsack, wrapped himself in a tunic, mounted a donkey, and accompanied the bishops to Aquila, Italy, where he was crowned before 2,000 people. He took up residence in Naples, calling himself Pope Celestine V. He built a tiny wooden cell to hide in and wandered through his palace nibbling crusts of bread.
Celestine knew nothing of church government, world affairs, or political intrigue. His misjudgments multiplied like rabbits, and he soon found himself hopelessly entangled. The church descended into crisis. “O God!” he cried, “While I rule over other men’s souls, I am losing my own!” Churchmen trembled at his ineptitude; and, according to one story, Cardinal Gaetani finally inserted a reed through the wall of Celestine’s private room and spoke as a voice from heaven, telling him it was God’s will for him to resign.
In the last act of his pontificate, Celestine issued a constitution giving popes the right to quit, then shocked the world by resigning on December 13, 1294, just fifteen weeks after his coronation. It was explained that he was abdicating in the quest of a better life and an easy conscience, and on account of the frailty of his body and the badness of men.
The “voice from heaven,” Gaetani, was elected Pope Boniface VIII. He imprisoned Celestine in the castle of Fumone until the old man died in 1296.
I wish I had wings like a dove,
So I could fly far away and be at peace.
I would go and live in some distant desert.
I would quickly find shelter
From howling winds and raging storms.
--- Psalm 55:6-8.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (Day 3)
Because Jesus took upon himself the guilt of all people. everyone who acts responsibly becomes guilty. Those who want to extract themselves from the responsibility for this guilt, also remove themselves from the ultimate reality of human existence. Moreover, they also remove themselves from the redeeming mystery of' the sinless guilt bearing of Jesus Christ and have no share in the divine justification that covers this event. They place their personal innocence above their responsibility for humankind, and they are blind to the unhealed guilt that they load on themselves in this very way. They are also blind to the fact that real innocence is revealed in the very fact that for the sake of other people it enters into the communion of their guilt. Through Jesus Christ, the nature of responsible action includes the idea that the sinless, the selflessly loving become the guilty.
In eight days, we shall celebrate Christmas and now for once let us make it really a festival of Christ in our world ... It is not a light thing to God that every year we celebrate Christmas and do not take it seriously. His word holds and is certain. When he comes in his glory and power into the world in the manger, he will put down the mighty from their seats, unless ultimately, ultimately they repent.
Sermon to a London church on the third
Sunday of Advent, December 17, 1933
Go to Isaiah 1:18 Click Here
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 13
“Salt without prescribing how much." Ezra 7:22.
Salt was used in every offering made by fire unto the Lord, and from its preserving and purifying properties it was the grateful emblem of divine grace in the soul. It is worthy of our attentive regard that, when Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest, he set no limit to the quantity, and we may be quite certain that when the King of kings distributes grace among his royal priesthood, the supply is not cut short by him. Often are we straitened in ourselves, but never in the Lord. He who chooses to gather much manna will find that he may have as much as he desires. There is no such famine in Jerusalem that the citizens should eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure. Some things in the economy of grace are measured; for instance our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much, but of the salt of grace no stint is made, “Ask what thou wilt and it shall be given unto thee.” Parents need to lock up the fruit cupboard, and the sweet jars, but there is no need to keep the salt-box under lock and key, for few children will eat too greedily from that. A man may have too much money, or too much honour, but he cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun waxed fat in the flesh, he kicked against God, but there is no fear of a man’s becoming too full of grace: a plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care, but more grace brings more joy. Increased wisdom is increased sorrow, but abundance of the Spirit is fulness of joy. Believer, go to the throne for a large supply of heavenly salt. It will season thine afflictions, which are unsavoury without salt; it will preserve thy heart which corrupts if salt be absent, and it will kill thy sins even as salt kills reptiles. Thou needest much; seek much, and have much.
Evening - December 13
“I will make thy windows of agates.” --- Isaiah 54:12.
The church is most instructively symbolized by a building erected by heavenly power, and designed by divine skill. Such a spiritual house must not be dark, for the Israelites had light in their dwellings; there must therefore be windows to let the light in and to allow the inhabitants to gaze abroad. These windows are precious as agates: the ways in which the church beholds her Lord and heaven, and spiritual truth in general, are to be had in the highest esteem. Agates are not the most transparent of gems, they are but semi-pellucid at the best:
“Our knowledge of that life is small,
Our eye of faith is dim.”
Faith is one of these precious agate windows, but alas! it is often so misty and beclouded, that we see but darkly, and mistake much that we do see. Yet if we cannot gaze through windows of diamonds and know even as we are known, it is a glorious thing to behold the altogether lovely One, even though the glass be hazy as the agate. Experience is another of these dim but precious windows, yielding to us a subdued religious light, in which we see the sufferings of the Man of Sorrows, through our own afflictions. Our weak eyes could not endure windows of transparent glass to let in the Master’s glory, but when they are dimmed with weeping, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness are tempered, and shine through the windows of agate with a soft radiance inexpressibly soothing to tempted souls. Sanctification, as it conforms us to our Lord, is another agate window. Only as we become heavenly can we comprehend heavenly things. The pure in heart see a pure God. Those who are like Jesus see him as he is. Because we are so little like him, the window is but agate; because we are somewhat like him, it is agate. We thank God for what we have, and long for more. When shall we see God and Jesus, and heaven and truth, face to face?
Morning and Evening
ANGELS, FROM THE REALMS OF GLORY
James Montgomery, 1771–1854
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (Luke 2:9)
All my heart this night rejoices as I hear, far and near,
Sweetest angel voices. “Christ is born” their choirs are singing,
Till the air everywhere now with joy is ringing.
--- Paul Gerhardt
“Angels, From the Realms of Glory” is considered by many students of hymnody to be one of our finest Christmas hymns. In a unique style it addresses first the angelic chorus in the first stanza, then the shepherds in the second stanza, the wise men in the third, and finally today’s believers—calling all to worship Christ our King. Worship is the very essence of the entire Christmas story.
James Montgomery was known as a deeply devoted, noble person who made an important contribution to English hymnody through his many inspiring texts. At the age of 23 he was appointed editor of the weekly Sheffield Register in London, maintaining this position for the next 31 years. As editor of this paper Montgomery championed many different causes, such as the abolition of slavery. “Angels, From the Realms of Glory” first appeared as a poem in Montgomery’s newspaper on December 24, 1816. Later it was published in a hymnal titled Montgomery’s Original Hymns and was known as “Good Tidings of Great Joy to All People.”
Angels, from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth; ye who sang creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Shepherds, in the fields abiding, watching o’er your flocks by night, God with man is now residing; yonder shines the infant Light:
Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam afar; seek the great desire of nations; ye have seen His natal star:
Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear, suddenly the Lord, descending, in His temple shall appear:
Refrain: Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the new-born King.
For Today: Isaiah 7:14; Haggai 2:7; Matthew 2:1–9, 23; Luke 2:7–20; John 1:14
Just as the angels, shepherds, and wise men all bowed their knee in the worship of Christ, may we pause in our busy lives to do the same. Carry this musical reminder with you ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
6. The dominion of God is manifest in appointing to every man his calling and station in the world. If the hairs of every man’s head fall under his sovereign care, the calling of every man, wherein he is to glorify God and serve his generation, which is of a greater concern than the hairs of the head, falls under his dominion. He is the master of the great family, and divides to every one his work as he pleaseth. The whole work of the Messiah, the time of every action, as well as the hour of his passion, was ordered and appointed by God. The separation of Paul to the preaching of the gospel, was by the sovereign disposal of God (Rom. 1:1). By the same exercise of his authority, that he “sets every man the bounds of his habitation” (Acts 17:26), he prescribes also to him the nature of his work. He that ordered Adam, the father of mankind, his work, and the place of it, the “dressing the garden” (Gen. 2:15), doth not let any of his posterity be their own choosers, without an influence of his sovereign direction on them. Though our callings are our work, yet they are by God’s order, wherein we are to be faithful to our great Master and Ruler.
7. The dominion of God is manifest in the means and occasions of men’s conversion. Sometimes one occasion, sometimes another; one word lets a man go, another arrests him, and brings him before God and his own conscience; it is as God gives out the order. He lets Paul be a prisoner at Jerusalem, that his cause should not be determined there; moves him to appeal to Cæsar, not only to make him a prisoner, but a preacher, in Caesar’s court, and render his chains an occasion to bring in a harvest of converts in Nero’s palace. His bonds in or for Christ are “manifest in all the palace” (Phil. 1:12, 13); not the bare knowledge of his bonds, but the sovereign design of God in those bonds, and the success of them; the bare knowledge of them would not make others more confident for the gospel, as it follows, ver. 14, without a providential design of them. Onesimus, running from his master, is guided by God’s sovereign order into Paul’s company, and thereby into Christ’s arms; and he who came a fugitive, returns a Christian (Philem. 10, 15). Some, by a strong affliction, have had by the Divine sovereignty their understandings awakened to consider, and their wills spirited to conversion. Monica being called Meribibula, or toss-pot, was brought to consider her way, and reform her life. A word hath done that at one time, which hath often before fallen without any fruit. Many have come to suck in the eloquence of the minister, and have found in the honey for their ears a sting for their consciences. Austin had no other intent in going to hear Ambrose but to have a taste of his famous oratory. But while Ambrose spake a language to his ear, God spake a heavenly dialect to his heart. No reason can be rendered of the order, and timing, and influence of those things, but the sovereign pleasure of God, who will attend one occasion and season with his blessing, and not another.
8. The dominion of God is manifest in disposing of the lives of men. He keeps the key of death, as well as that of the womb, in his own hand; he hath given man a life, but not power to dispose of it, or lay it down at his pleasure; and therefore he hath ordered man not to murder, not another, not himself; man must expect his call and grant, to dispose of the life of his body. Why doth he cut the thread of this man’s life, and spin another’s out to a longer term? Why doth one die an inglorious death, and another more honorable? One silently drops away in the multitude, while another is made a sacrifice for the honor of God, or the safety of his country. This is a mark of honor he gives to one and not to another. “To you it is given” (Phil. 1:29). The manner of Peter’s death was appointed (John 21:19). Why doth a small and slight disease against the rules of physic, and the judgment of the best practitioners, dislodge one man’s soul out of his body, while a greater disease is mastered in another, and discharges the patient, to enjoy himself a longer time in the land of the living? Is it the effect of means so much as of the Sovereign Disposer of all things? If means only did it, the same means would always work the same effect, and sooner master a dwarfish than a giant-like distemper. “Our times are only in God’s hands” (Psalm 31:15); either to cut short or continue long. As his sovereignty made the first marriage knot, so he reserves the sole authority to himself to make the divorce.
Fourthly. The dominion of God is manifest in his being a Redeemer, as well as Lawgiver, Proprietor, and Governor. His sovereignty was manifest in the creation, in bestowing upon this or that part of matter a form more excellent than upon another. He was a Lawgiver to men and angels, and prescribed them rules according to the counsel of his own will. These were his creatures, and perfectly at his disposal. But in redemption a sovereignty is exercised over the Son, the Second person in the Trinity, one equal with the Father in essence and works, by whom the worlds were created, and by whom they do consist. The whole gospel is nothing else but a declaration of his sovereign pleasure concerning Christ, and concerning us in him; it is therefore called “the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9); the will of God is distinct from the will of Christ, a purpose in himself, not moved thereunto by any; the whole design was framed in the Deity, and as much the purpose of his sovereign will as the contrivance of his immense wisdom. He decreed, in his own pleasure, to have the Second Person assume our nature for to deliver mankind from that misery whereinto it was fallen. The whole of the gospel, and the privileges of it, are in that chapter resolved into the will and pleasure of God. God is therefore called “the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). As Christ is superior to all men, and the man superior to the woman, so is God superior to Christ, and of a more eminent dignity; in regard of the constituting him mediator, Christ is subject to God, as the body to the head. “Head” is a title of government and sovereignty, and magistrates were called the “heads” of the people. As Christ is the head of man, so is God the head of Christ; and as man is subject to Christ, so is Christ subject to God; not in regard of the Divine nature, wherein there is an equality, and consequently no dominion of jurisdiction; nor only in his human nature, but in the economy of a Redeemer, considered as one designed, and consenting to be incarnate, and take our flesh; so that after this agreement, God had a sovereign right to dispose of him according to the articles consented to. In regard of his undertaking, and the advantage he was to bring to the elect of God upon the earth, he calls God by the solemn title of “his Lord” in that prophetic psalm of him (Psalm 16:2): “O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extends not unto thee, but unto the saints that are in the earth.” It seems to be the speech of Christ in heaven, mentioning the saints on earth as at a distance from him. I can add nothing to the glory of thy majesty, but the whole fruit of my meditation and sufferings will redound to the saints on earth. And it may be observed, that God is called the Lord of Hosts in the evangelical prophets, Isaiah, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi, more in reference to this affair of redemption, and the deliverance of the church, than for any other works of his providence in the world.
1. This sovereignty of God appears, in requiring satisfaction for the sin of man. Had he indulged man after his fall, and remitted his offence without a just compensation for the injury he had received by his rebellion, his authority had been vilified, man would always have been attempting against his jurisdiction, there would have been a continual succession of rebellions on man’s part; and if a continual succession of indulgences on God’s part, he had quite disowned his authority over man, and stripped himself of the flower of his crown; satisfaction must have been required some time or other from the person thus rebelling, or some other in his stead; and to require it after the first act of sin, was more preservative to the right of the Divine sovereignty, than to do it after a multitude of repeated revolts. God must have laid aside his authority if he had laid aside wholly the exacting punishment for the offence of man.
2. This sovereignty of God appears, in appointing Christ to this work of redemption. His sovereignty was before manifest over angels and men by the right of creation; there was nothing wanting to declare the highest charge of it, but his ordering his own Son to become a mortal creature; the Lord of all things to become lower than those angels that had, as well as all other things, received their being and beauty from him, and to be reckoned in his death among the dust and refuse of the world: he by whom God created all things, not only became a man, but a crucified man, by the will of his Father (Gal. 1:4), “who gave himself for our sins according to the will of God;” to which may refer that expression (Prov. 8:22), of his being “possessed by God in the beginning of his way.” Possession is the dominion of a thing invested in the possessor; he was possessed, indeed, as a Son by eternal generation; he was possessed also in the beginning of his way or works of creation, as a Mediator by special constitution: to this the expression seems to refer, if you read on to the end of ver. 8:31, wherein Christ speaks of his “rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth,” the earth of the great God, who hath designed him to this special work of redemption. He was a Son by nature, but a Mediator by Divine will; in regard of which Christ is often called God’s servant, which is a relation to God as a Lord. God being the Lord of all things, the dominion of all things inferior to him is inseparable from him; and in this regard, the whole of what Christ was to do, and did actually do, was acted by him as the will of God, and is expressed so by himself in the prophecy (Psalm 40:7), “Lo, I come;” (ver. 8), “I delight to do thy will;” which are put together (Heb. 10:7), “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” The designing Christ to this work was an act of mercy, but founded on his sovereignty. His compassionate bowels might have pitied us without his being sovereign, but without it could not have relieved us. It was the council of his own will, as well as of his bowels: none was his counsellor or persuader to that mercy he showed: (Rom. 11:34), “Who hath been his counsellor?” for it refers to that mercy in “sending the Deliverer out of Sion” (ver. 26), as well as to other things the apostle had been discoursing of. As God was at liberty to create, or not to create, so he was at liberty to redeem or not to redeem, and at his liberty whether to appoint Christ to this work, or not to call him out to it. In giving this order to his Son, his sovereignty was exercised in a higher manner than in all the orders and instructions he hath given out to men or angels, and all the employments he ever sent them upon. Christ hath names which signify an authority over him: he is called “an Angel,” and a “Messenger” (Mal. 3:1); an “Apostle” (Heb. 3:1): declaring thereby, that God hath as much authority over him as over the angels sent upon his messages, or over the apostles commissioned by his authority, as he was considered in the quality of Mediator.
3. This sovereignty of God appears in transferring our sins upon Christ. The supreme power in a nation can only appoint or allow of a commutation of punishment; it is a part of sovereignty to transfer the penalty due to the crime of one upon another, and substitute a sufferer, with the sufferer’s own consent, in the place of a criminal, whom he had a mind to deliver from a deserved punishment. God transferred the sins of men upon Christ, and inflicted on him a punishment for them. He summed up the debts of man, charged them upon the score of Christ, imputing to him the guilt, and inflicting upon him the penalty. (Isa. 53:6): “The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all;” he made them all to meet upon his back: “He hath made him to be sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21); he was made so by the sovereign pleasure of God: a punishment for sin, as most understand it, which could not be righteously inflicted, had not sin been first righteously imputed, by the consent of Christ, and the order of the Judge of the world. This imputation could be the immediate act of none but God, because he was the sole creditor. A creditor is not bound to accept of another’s suretyship, but it is at his liberty whether he will or no; and when he doth accept of him, he may challenge the debt of him, as if he were the principal debtor himself. Christ made himself sin for us by a voluntary submission; and God made him sin for us by a full imputation, and treated him penally, as he would have done those sinners in whose stead he suffered. Without this act of sovereignty in God, we had forever perished: for if we could suppose Christ laying down his life for us without the pleasure and order of God, he could not have been said to have borne our punishment. What could he have undergone in his humanity but a temporal death? But more than this was due to us, even the wrath of God, which far exceeds the calamity of a mere bodily death. The soul being principal in the crime, was to be principal in the punishment. The wrath of God could not have dropped upon his soul, and rendered it so full of agonies, without the hand of God: a creature is not capable to reach the soul, neither as to comfort nor terror; and the justice of God could not have made him a sufferer, if it had not first considered him a sinner by imputation, or by inherency, and actual commission of a crime in his own person. The latter was far from Christ, who was holy, harmless, and undefiled. He must be considered then in the other state of imputation, which could not be without a sovereign appointment, or at least concession of God: for without it, he could have no more authority to lay down his life for us, than Abraham could have had to have sacrificed his son, or any man to expose himself to death without a call; nor could any plea have been entered in the court of heaven, either by Christ for us, or by us for ourselves. And though the death of so great a person had been meritorious in itself, it had not been meritorious for us, or accepted for us; Christ is “delivered up by him” (Rom. 8:32), in every part of that condition wherein he was, and suffered; and to that end, that “we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21): that we might have the righteousness of him that was God imputed to us, or that we might have a righteousness as great and proportioned to the righteousness of God, as God required. It was an act of Divine sovereignty to account him that was righteous a sinner in our stead, and to account us, who were sinners, righteous upon the merit of his death.
4. This was done by the command of God; by God as a Lawgiver, having the supreme legislative and preceptive authority: in which respect, the whole work of Christ is said to be an answer to a law, not one given him, but put into his heart, as the law of nature was in the heart of man at first. (Psalm 40:7, 8): “Thy law is within my heart.” This law was not the law of nature or moral law, though that was also in the heart of Christ, but the command of doing those things which were necessary for our salvation, and not a command so much of doing, as of dying. The moral law in the heart of Christ would have done us no good without the mediatory law; we had been where we were by the sole observance of the precepts of the moral law, without his suffering the penalty of it: the law in the heart of Christ was the law of suffering, or dying, the doing that for us by his death which the blood of sacrifices was unable to effect. Legal “sacrifices thou wouldest not; thy law is within my heart;” i. e. thy law ordered me to be a sacrifice; it was that law, his obedience to which was principally accepted and esteemed,, and that was principally his passive, his obedience to death (Phil. 2:8); this was the special command received from God, that he should die (John 10:18). It is not so clearly manifested when this command was given, whether after the incarnation of Christ, or at the point of his constitution as Mediator, upon the transaction between the Father and the Son concerning the affair of redemption: the promise was given “before the world began” (Tit. 1:2). Might not the precept be given, before the world began, to Christ, as considered in the quality of Mediator and Redeemer? Precepts and promises usually attend one another; every covenant is made up of both. Christ, considered here as the Son of God in the Divine nature, was not capable of a command or promise; but considered in the relation of Mediator between God and man, he was capable of both. Promises of assistance were made before his actual incarnation, of which the Prophets are full: why not precepts for his obedience, since long before his incarnation this was his speech in the Prophet, “Thy law is within my heart!” however, a command, a law it was, which is a fruit of the Divine sovereignty; that as the sovereignty of God was impeached and violated by the disobedience of Adam, it might be owned and vindicated by the obedience of Christ; that as we fell by disloyalty to it, we might rise by the highest submission to it in another head, infinitely superior in his person to Adam, by whom we fell.
5. This sovereignty of God appears in exalting Christ to such a sovereign dignity as our Redeemer. Some, indeed, say, that this sovereignty of Christ’s human nature was natural, and the right of it resulted from its union with the Divine; as a lady of mean condition, when espoused and married to a prince, hath, by virtue of that, a natural right to some kind of jurisdiction over the whole kingdom, because she is one with the king. But to waive this; the Scripture placeth wholly the conferring such an authority upon the pleasure and will of God. As Christ was a gift of God’s sovereign will to us, so this was a gift of God’s sovereign will to Christ (Matt. 28:18): “All power is given me.” And he “gave him to be head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22); “God gave him a name above every name” (Phil. 2:9); and, therefore, his throne he sits upon is called “The throne of his Father” (Rev. 3:21). And be “committed all judgment to the Son,” i. e. all government and dominion; an empire in heaven and earth (John 5:22); and that because he is “the Son of Man” (ver. 27); which may understood, that the Father hath given him authority to exercise that judgment and government as the Son of Man, which he originally had as the Son of God; or rather, because he became a servant, and humbled himself to death, he gives him this authority as the reward of his obedience and humility, conformable to Phil. 2:9. This is an act of the high sovereignty of God, to obscure his own authority in a sense, and take into association with him, or vicarious subordination to him, the human nature of Christ as united to the Divine; not only lifting it above the heads of all the angels, but giving that person in our nature an empire over them, whose nature was more excellent than ours: yea, the sovereignty of God appears in the whole management of this kingly office of Christ; for it is managed in every part of it according to God’s order (Ezek. 37:24, 25): “David, my servant, shall be king over them,” and “my servant David shall be their prince forever:” he shall be a prince over them, but my servant in that principality, in the exercise and duration of it. The sovereignty of God is paramount in all that Christ hath done as a priest, or shall do as a king.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Ponder What Scripture Says
2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. ESV “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. ESV
Luke 10:20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” ESV
Mark 13:32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. ESV
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. ESV
Matthew 24:30-31 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. ESV
Philippians 3:20-21 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ESV
Romans 8:18-19 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. ESV
Acts 1:7-8 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” ESV
Daniel 12:1-2 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. ESV
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. ESV
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. ESV
Luke 17:34-37 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” ESV
Mark 13:24-27 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. ESV
Revelation 20:2-5 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. ESV
Revelation 11:15-19 15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
ESV Study Bible
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
Various | Villanova University
How Did the Universe Begin?
How and when did life begin?
When Did Culture Begin?
The Rapture & Believers' Future
Pts 1 - 3
Pts 4 - 6
Pts 7 - 9
Pt 10 & 11
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Synopsis | This is Part I of our 2009 Prophecy Update on New Year’s Eve where we looked at current events in light of Scripture and Biblical eschatology.
Prophecy Update 2009-Part 1
1 Thessalonians 4
g-148 | 12-31-2009
Only audio available | click here
Synopsis | This evening we start out the new year by taking a closer look at Bible prophecy. Pastor Brett discusses what has taken place in recent months with churches around the globe, current events and how it all relates to what the Bible says about end times.
Prophecy Update 2010-Part III
1 Thessalonians 5:1-4
g-159c | 12-31-2010
Only audio available | click here
Synopsis | In our culture, people are becoming more and more hostile towards Christians. This is something that the Bible predicts about the end times. As we begin our study through 1 Thessalonians, we learn what Paul says about the last days.
The End : Wrath
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
s1-570 | 03-11-2012
Synopsis | Tonight, we delve further into the beginning of Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, where Paul talks to the Thessalonians about the Lord’s return. Pastor Brett talks about Paul’s strong words to the Thessalonians about the “wrath to come”.
1 Thessalonians 1
m1-589 | 03-14-2012
Synopsis | As we continue our series through Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, we focus on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. We learn that God tells us we are not to be ignorant of certain things, specifically the rapture of the church.
The End:The Rapture
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
s1-571 | 03-18-2012
Synopsis | Tonight, we look at 1 Thessalonians 2, where we see Paul explain his ministry to the church. Pastor Brett discusses the manner, message, motive and method of Paul’s ministry, and how this applies to how we spread the gospel today.
1 Thessalonians 2
m1-590 | 03-21-2012
Only audio available | click here
Synopsis | As we continue our eschatological study through Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, we take a closer look at the rapture as it relates to God’s timing. We look at different passages that discuss God’s plan for His people - the Jews.
The End:God's Timing-Part 1
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
s1-572 | 03-25-2012
Only audio available | click here
Synopsis | In our study through 1 Thessalonians, we have seen Paul as an evangelist and as a pastor, and tonight we see him as a pillar. Pastor Brett talks about those who are pillars - people who are solid in their faith and trust in the Lord. We learn the importance of having such individuals in our lives.
1 Thessalonians 3-4
m1-591 | 03-28-2012
Only audio available | click here
Synopsis | Today, we continue our end times series through 1 Thessalonians. Pastor Brett gives us detailed examples of things to be looking for as signs of the time for the Lord’s return.
The End:God's Timing-Part 2
1 Thessalonians 5:2-4
s1-573 | 04-01-2012
Synopsis | Tonight, we wrap up 1 Thessalonians and continue our study of end times. Pastor Brett speaks on why the rapture needs to happen, and he discusses the 22 commandments we see in 1 Thessalonians 5.
1 Thessalonians 5
m1-592 | 04-04-2012
Synopsis | Today, we continue our end times series through 1 Thessalonians. Pastor Brett gives us detailed examples of things to be looking for as signs of the time for the Lord’s return.
The End: Description of the Antichrist
1st & 2nd Thessalonians
s1-574 | 04-15-2012