2 Thessalonians 1
Greeting2 Thessalonians 1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
The Judgment at Christ’s Coming5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul explains, or extends, the meaning of “punished with everlasting [eternal, aionios] destruction” by adding “and shut out from the presence of the Lord”—which, by affirming exclusion, rules out the idea that “destruction” meant extinction. Only those who exist can be excluded. It’s often been pointed out that in Greek the natural meaning of the destruction vocabulary (noun, olethros; verb, apollumi) is “wrecking,” so that what’s destroyed is henceforth nonfunctional rather than annihilated altogether. --- Gavin Ortlund
10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2
The Man of Lawlessness2 Thessalonians 2 1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Stand Firm13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 3
Pray for Us2 Thessalonians 3 1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Warning Against Idleness6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
Benediction16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
What I'm Reading
To Live Is Christ — What Does That Mean?
By John Piper 12/13/2017
Well there aren’t many things I love to think about more than the context of Philippians 1. And you’re going to see why before we’re done. I’m a Christian Hedonist through and through. And it doesn’t get any better than these verses and the parallels in chapter Philippians 3.
To Live and To Die | There are two ways to define “for me to live is Christ”: first, from the immediate context of Philippians 1:20–26; secondly, from Philippians 3. You’ll see why both of those are so relevant.
Paul says, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored” (Philippians 1:20). Now there is his central passion in life, that Christ will be honored or magnified — that is, shown to be magnificent.
He continues, “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” — and here come these two phrases. “For me to live is Christ”, and the other one is “and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20–21).
So, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” are two ways of Paul’s magnifying Christ with his body. So what we want to know is how is Christ magnified in Paul’s life, because that’s what he’s aiming at in this text.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
Evangelizing The Nones
By Robert Brown 1/2018
By far the fastest-growing “religious” group in the United States is the “nones,” that is, those who claim no religious affiliation. In the latest Pew Research Center survey, fully 25 percent of the country—80 million people—say that they have no formal religion, and the growth of this cohort is nothing short of startling. In 1970, only 3 percent of the country self-identified as nones. In the last ten years, the number has gone from 16 percent to the current 25 percent. When we focus on young people, the picture is even more bleak. Almost 40 percent of those under thirty are nones, and among Catholics in that age group, the number rises to 50 percent. Of all the Catholic children baptized or confirmed these last thirty years, half no longer participate in the life of the Church.
These statistics are, in many ways, an unnerving commentary on the effectiveness of our evangelical strategies, despite all the encouragement from popes, councils, and encyclicals. They are certainly a wake-up call for teachers, catechists, evangelists, apologists, priests, and bishops. I would like to propose a number of paths that effective evangelization should follow. My suggestions are born not only of theoretical musing, but also of my nearly fifteen years of practical experience evangelizing nones, atheists, agnostics, and seekers who dwell in the shadowy but fascinating space of the virtual world, our version of Paul’s Areopagus.
In his theological triptych, Hans Urs von Balthasar purposely reversed the Kantian arrangement of the transcendentals. Whereas Kant had moved from the true (The Critique of Pure Reason) to the good (The Critique of Practical Reason) to the beautiful (The Critique of Judgment), Balthasar turned it around, commencing with the beautiful (The Glory of the Lord), moving through the good (The Theo-Drama), and ending with the true (The Theo-Logic). As Balthasar demonstrated, the beautiful has been a theme in classical Christian theology at least from the time of the Pseudo-Dionysius, but typically it had been subordinated to the good and especially the true. Balthasar intuited something in the middle of the twentieth century, just as the postmodern critique was getting under way: that initiating the theological project with truth or goodness was a nonstarter, since relativism and skepticism in regard to those transcendentals was powerful indeed. If such subjectivism was strong in the fifties of the last century, it has become overwhelming at the beginning of the twenty-first, with Joseph Ratzinger’s “dictatorship of relativism” now taken for granted. Any claim to know objective truth or attempt to propose objective goodness tends to meet now with incredulity at best and defensiveness at worst: “Who are you to tell me what to think or how to behave?” But there is something less threatening, more winsome, about the beautiful.
Balthasar was deeply influenced by Paul Claudel, who famously underwent a conversion to Catholicism on Christmas Day 1886, while he was standing in Notre Dame Cathedral, gazing at the north rose window and listening to sung vespers. It was not argumentation that brought Claudel to faith, but a visceral experience of the beautiful. We find a similar dynamic in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Charles Ryder, the narrator of the story, is a skeptic, a professed agnostic, convinced that religion is outmoded mythology and a function of “complexes and inhibitions.” But he finds himself drawn in by the physical beauty of his Oxford companion Sebastian, who in turn leads Charles to his family home, a country estate called Brideshead. St. Paul referred to Christ as head of his bride the Church, and thus the manor is evocative of the Church in its various dimensions. Recalling his first summer sojourn at Brideshead, Charles remarks, “It was an aesthetic education to live within those walls.” Many people across the centuries have been led to the gospel along the aesthetic path. As the novel progresses, we see Charles drawn into the moral world of the house and finally, after a long struggle, into acceptance of the truth that it represents. The Balthasar rhythm, from the beautiful to the good to the true, is on display.
Now, why precisely should this work? How does the beautiful evangelize? Following Dietrich von Hildebrand, we should say that the truly beautiful is an objective value, to be distinguished from what is merely subjectively satisfying. This means that the beautiful does not merely entertain; rather, it invades, chooses, and changes the one to whom it deigns to appear. It is not absorbed into subjectivity; it rearranges and redirects subjectivity, sending it on a trajectory toward the open sea of the beautiful itself. I am taking this image, of course, from the Diotima speech in Plato’s Symposium, according to which the particular beautiful thing opens the mind to a consideration of ever higher forms of beauty, conducing finally to the source and ground of all beauty, the form of the beautiful.
Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
God Loves Ministry No One Else Sees
By Stacy Reaoch 12/13/2017
God showed me the beauty of unseen ministries while visiting my grandmother in a nursing home.
This past summer we were visiting my family in Michigan. On Sunday morning, we were worshiping at a local church and met a lovely family after the service. The husband served as an elder, and their five children also attended the church. They warmly greeted our family and talked with us about our summer plans and our visit to our hometown.
After church, we walked in to visit my grandmother at the assisted living facility only to see this very same family sitting in chairs with their Bibles open, the husband teaching through a passage of Scripture, and my grandmother intently listening in her wheelchair. She was the only resident there.
The family smiled broadly at my husband and me and motioned us in. “We had no idea Bernadine was your grandmother! We love Bernadine! We’ve been worshiping with her for years!” As we talked to my grandma and the sweet family, they explained to us how they originally led a small service at the Alzheimer’s unit, and then felt compelled to lead a second service at my grandma’s unit. It was a way for their family to serve others together, bringing the gospel to those who could no longer attend church themselves.
The Faith Behind Quiet Service | When we returned to the car, tears flooded my eyes. I was astonished that this entire family would spend their Sunday afternoons singing worship songs and teaching Scripture to those who are often forgotten in society: the elderly. And how my very own grandmother, whom I regularly pray for, is receiving solid Bible teaching each week.
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How Could God Command Killing the Canaanites?
By Paul Copan
(Dt 20:16–18) 16 But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God. ESV
Such texts have troubled Bible believers and unbelievers alike. In his book, The God Delusion, atheist Richard Dawkins asserts that Israel engaged in “ethnic cleansing” — those “bloodthirsty massacres” carried out with “xenophobic relish.” ... and in America we murder millions of unborn children. What does Dawkins say about that?
How should we make sense of these kinds of texts? I have written a book on Old Testament ethics (Is God a Moral Monster? — forthcoming with Baker), including four chapters on the Old Testament and violence. I can only here briefly summarize my response to this perennially perplexing question. Keep in mind that I am offering an alternative to the Sunday School version of the Canaanite question.2 First, I will make a few introductory remarks. Then I will sketch out the key points as a preview of the warfare discussion in my forthcoming book.
Contrary to what some Bible believers claim, the Canaanites were not the absolute worst specimens of humanity that ever existed — or the worst that existed in the ancient Near East. And what about the critic’s question, “Who is to say that these accounts are just like that of any army in history attacking another people in the name of God?”
The brief reply is, “This was a unique, unrepeatable historical situation, and we could not justify Israel’s attacking the Canaanites unless God had commanded this by special revelation.” Even so, God had patiently waited over 400 years until the Canaanites would be ripe for judgment (Genesis 15:16) — though this would mean Israel’s enslavement in Egypt in the meantime.
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5 Reasons Why Christians Should Reject Santa Claus
By Nate Sala 12/09/2016
Written by Stephen J Bedard and originally published at Hope’s Reason
There are still some Christians who acknowledge Santa Claus as a part of their Christmas celebrations. This is unacceptable. As you probably know, Santa Claus is based on the historical figure of St. Nicholas (4th century). Once you know a little about St. Nicholas’ life, you will see why Christians should reject him.
(1) St. Nicholas was a Christian. Not only was he a Christian, he was the bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.
(2) St. Nicholas not only believed in Christ, he also suffered for his faith. St. Nicholas experienced both exile and imprisonment.
(3) St. Nicholas was known for his very strong prayer life.
(4) St. Nicholas was known for his concern for the poor and for acting on that concern.
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Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 140Deliver Me, O LORD, from Evil Men
140 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.
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
9 As for the head of those who surround me,
let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
10 Let burning coals fall upon them!
Let them be cast into fire,
into miry pits, no more to rise!
11 Let not the slanderer be established in the land;
let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!
12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and will execute justice for the needy.
13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.
The Holy Bible: ESV Reformation Study Bible, Condensed Edition (2017) - Black, Genuine Leather. (2016). (ESV). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
If I Only Knew Why
By Vaneetha Rendall Risner 12/09/2015
I contracted polio long after it was supposedly eradicated. The doctor misdiagnosed my symptoms because she had never seen polio before. And the wrong diagnosis led to widespread paralysis. With a childhood spent largely in hospitals, marked by painful surgeries.
Over thirty years later, my infant son died because the substitute doctor was unfamiliar with his heart condition. The doctor took him off his life-saving medicine. Within two days, my son was gone.
How could I possibly reconcile these losses? They were unspeakable. Preventable. Unexpected. And in the face of such catastrophes, my natural question was “Why?” Why did this happen? If God was in control, why did he allow it? Why didn’t he stop it? Why? Why? Why?
That question haunted me for years.
That Elusive Explanation | I was certain that if I had an explanation for my trials, if I could understand God’s purposes in them, if I just had a reason, then I could have accepted my losses with more grace. And I’ve heard countless others say the same thing: If they only knew why, they would be able to move on.
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The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
CHAPTER 16. (Ps 104:27–30) 27 These all look to you,
THE WORLD, CREATED BY GOD, STILL CHERISHED AND PROTECTED BY HIM. EACH AND ALL OF ITS PARTS GOVERNED BY HIS PROVIDENCE.
The divisions of this chapter are, I. The doctrine of the special providence of God over all the creatures, singly and collectively, as opposed to the dreams of the Epicureans about fortune and fortuitous causes. II. The fiction of the Sophists concerning the omnipotence of God, and the error of philosophers, as to a confused and equivocal government of the world, sec. 1-5. All animals, but especially mankind, from the peculiar superintendence exercised over them, are proofs, evidences, and examples of the providence of God, sec. 6, 7. III. consideration of fate, fortune, chance, contingence, and uncertain events (on which the matter here under discussion turns).
1. Even the wicked, under the guidance of carnal sense, acknowledge that God is the Creator. The godly acknowledge not this only, but that he is a most wise and powerful governor and preserver of all created objects. In so doing, they lean on the Word of God, some passages from which are produced.
2. Refutation of the Epicureans, who oppose fortune and fortuitous causes to Divine Providence, as taught in Scripture. The sun, a bright manifestation of Divine Providence.
3. Figment of the Sophists as to an indolent Providence refuted. Consideration of the Omnipotence as combined with the Providence of God. Double benefit resulting from a proper acknowledgement of the Divine Omnipotence. Cavils of Infidelity.
4. A definition of Providence refuting the erroneous dogmas of Philosophers. Dreams of the Epicureans and Peripatetics.
5. Special Providence of God asserted and proved by arguments founded on a consideration of the Divine Justice and Mercy. Proved also by passages of Scripture, relating to the sky, the earth, and animals.
6. Special Providence proved by passages relating to the human race, and the more especially that for its sake the world was created.
7. Special Providence proved, lastly, from examples taken from the history of the Israelites, of Jonah, Jacob, and from daily experience.
8. Erroneous views as to Providence refuted:--I. The sect of the Stoics. II. The fortune and chance of the Heathen.
9. How things are said to be fortuitous to us, though done by the determinate counsel of God. Example. Error of separating contingency and event from the secret, but just, and most wise counsel of God. Two examples.
1. It were cold and lifeless to represent God as a momentary Creator, who completed his work once for all, and then left it. Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation. For, although even wicked men are forced, by the mere view of the earth and sky, to rise to the Creator, yet faith has a method of its own in assigning the whole praise of creation to God. To this effect is the passage of the Apostle already quoted that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God (Heb. 11:3); because, without proceeding to his Providence, we cannot understand the full force of what is meant by God being the Creator, how much soever we may seem to comprehend it with our mind, and confess it with our tongue. The carnal mind, when once it has perceived the power of God in the creation, stops there, and, at the farthest, thinks and ponders on nothing else than the wisdom, power, and goodness displayed by the Author of such a work (matters which rise spontaneously, and force themselves on the notice even of the unwilling), or on some general agency on which the power of motion depends, exercised in preserving and governing it. In short, it imagines that all things are sufficiently sustained by the energy divinely infused into them at first. But faith must penetrate deeper. After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow. Thus David, after briefly premising that the world was created by God, immediately descends to the continual course of Providence, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens framed, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth;" immediately adding, "The Lord looketh from heaven, he beholdeth the children of men," (Ps. 33:6, 13, &c). He subjoins other things to the same effect. For although all do not reason so accurately, yet because it would not be credible that human affairs were superintended by God, unless he were the maker of the world, and no one could seriously believe that he is its Creator without feeling convinced that he takes care of his works; David with good reason, and in admirable order, leads us from the one to the other. In general, indeed, philosophers teach, and the human mind conceives, that all the parts of the world are invigorated by the secret inspiration of God. They do not, however reach the height to which David rises taking all the pious along with him, when he says,
to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground. ESV
2. That this distinction may be the more manifest, we must consider that the Providence of God, as taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous causes. By an erroneous opinion prevailing in all ages, an opinion almost universally prevailing in our own day--viz. that all things happen fortuitously, the true doctrine of Providence has not only been obscured, but almost buried. If one falls among robbers, or ravenous beasts; if a sudden gust of wind at sea causes shipwreck; if one is struck down by the fall of a house or a tree; if another, when wandering through desert paths, meets with deliverance; or, after being tossed by the waves, arrives in port, and makes some wondrous hair-breadth escape from death--all these occurrences, prosperous as well as adverse, carnal sense will attribute to fortune. But whose has learned from the mouth of Christ that all the hairs of his head are numbered (Mt. 10:30), will look farther for the cause, and hold that all events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God. With regard to inanimate objects again we must hold that though each is possessed of its peculiar properties, yet all of them exert their force only in so far as directed by the immediate hand of God. Hence they are merely instruments, into which God constantly infuses what energy he sees meet, and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure. No created object makes a more wonderful or glorious display than the sun. For, besides illuminating the whole world with its brightness, how admirably does it foster and invigorate all animals by its heat, and fertilise the earth by its rays, warming the seeds of grain in its lap, and thereby calling forth the verdant blade! This it supports, increases, and strengthens with additional nurture, till it rises into the stalk; and still feeds it with perpetual moisture, till it comes into flower; and from flower to fruit, which it continues to ripen till it attains maturity. In like manner, by its warmth trees and vines bud, and put forth first their leaves, then their blossom, then their fruit. And the Lord, that he might claim the entire glory of these things as his own, was pleased that light should exist, and that the earth should be replenished with all kinds of herbs and fruits before he made the sun. No pious man, therefore, will make the sun either the necessary or principal cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun, but only the instrument which God employs, because he so pleases; though he can lay it aside, and act equally well by himself: Again, when we read, that at the prayer of Joshua the sun was stayed in its course (Josh. 10:13); that as a favour to Hezekiah, its shadow receded ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11); by these miracles God declared that the sun does not daily rise and set by a blind instinct of nature, but is governed by Him in its course, that he may renew the remembrance of his paternal favour toward us. Nothing is more natural than for spring, in its turns to succeed winter, summer spring, and autumn summer; but in this series the variations are so great and so unequal as to make it very apparent that every single year, month, and day, is regulated by a new and special providence of God.
3. And truly God claims omnipotence to himself, and would have us to acknowledge it,--not the vain, indolent, slumbering omnipotence which sophists feign, but vigilant, efficacious, energetic, and ever active,--not an omnipotence which may only act as a general principle of confused motion, as in ordering a stream to keep within the channel once prescribed to it, but one which is intent on individual and special movements. God is deemed omnipotent, not because he can act though he may cease or be idle, or because by a general instinct he continues the order of nature previously appointed; but because, governing heaven and earth by his providence, he so overrules all things that nothing happens without his counsel. For when it is said in the Psalms, "He has done whatsoever he has pleased," (Ps. 115:3), the thing meant is his sure and deliberate purpose. It were insipid to interpret the Psalmist's words in philosophic fashion, to mean that God is the primary agent, because the beginning and cause of all motion. This rather is the solace of the faithful, in their adversity, that every thing which they endure is by the ordination and command of God, that they are under his hand. But if the government of God thus extends to all his works, it is a childish cavil to confine it to natural influx.  Those moreover who confine the providence of God within narrow limits, as if he allowed all things to be borne along freely according to a perpetual law of nature, do not more defraud God of his glory than themselves of a most useful doctrine; for nothing were more wretched than man if he were exposed to all possible movements of the sky, the air, the earth, and the water. We may add, that by this view the singular goodness of God towards each individual is unbecomingly impaired. David exclaims (Ps. 8:3), that infants hanging at their mothers breasts are eloquent enough to celebrate the glory of God, because, from the very moment of their births they find an aliment prepared for them by heavenly care. Indeed, if we do not shut our eyes and senses to the fact, we must see that some mothers have full provision for their infants, and others almost none, according as it is the pleasure of God to nourish one child more liberally, and another more sparingly. Those who attribute due praise to the omnipotence of God thereby derive a double benefit. He to whom heaven and earth belong, and whose nod all creatures must obey, is fully able to reward the homage which they pay to him, and they can rest secure in the protection of Him to whose control everything that could do them harm is subject, by whose authority, Satan, with all his furies and engines, is curbed as with a bridle, and on whose will everything adverse to our safety depends. In this way, and in no other, can the immoderate and superstitious fears, excited by the dangers to which we are exposed, be calmed or subdued. I say superstitious fears. For such they are, as often as the dangers threatened by any created objects inspire us with such terror, that we tremble as if they had in themselves a power to hurt us, or could hurt at random or by chance; or as if we had not in God a sufficient protection against them. For example, Jeremiah forbids the children of God " to be dismayed at the signs of heaven, as the heathen are dismayed at them," (Jer. 10:2). He does not, indeed, condemn every kind of fear. But as unbelievers transfer the government of the world from God to the stars, imagining that happiness or misery depends on their decrees or presages, and not on the Divine will, the consequence is, that their fear, which ought to have reference to him only, is diverted to stars and comets. Let him, therefore, who would beware of such unbelief, always bear in mind, that there is no random power, or agency, or motion in the creatures, who are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed. 
4. First, then, let the reader remember that the providence we mean is not one by which the Deity, sitting idly in heaven, looks on at what is taking place in the world, but one by which he, as it were, holds the helms and overrules all events. Hence his providence extends not less to the hand than to the eye.  When Abraham said to his son, God will provide (Gen. 22:8), he meant not merely to assert that the future event was foreknown to God but to resign the management of an unknown business to the will of Him whose province it is to bring perplexed and dubious matters to a happy result. Hence it appears that providence consists in action. What many talk of bare prescience is the merest trifling. Those do not err quite so grossly who attribute government to God, but still, as I have observed, a confused and promiscuous government which consists in giving an impulse and general movement to the machine of the globe and each of its parts, but does not specially direct the action of every creature. It is impossible, however, to tolerate this error. For, according to its abettors, there is nothing in this providence, which they call universal, to prevent all the creatures from being moved contingently, or to prevent man from turning himself in this direction or in that, according to the mere freedom of his own will. In this ways they make man a partner with God,--God, by his energy, impressing man with the movement by which he can act, agreeably to the nature conferred upon him while man voluntarily regulates his own actions. In short, their doctrine is, that the world, the affairs of men, and men themselves, are governed by the power, but not by the decree of God. I say nothing of the Epicureans (a pest with which the world has always been plagued), who dream of an inert and idle God,  and others, not a whit sounder, who of old feigned that God rules the upper regions of the air, but leaves the inferior to Fortune. Against such evident madness even dumb creatures lift their voice.
My intention now is, to refute an opinion which has very generally obtained--an opinion which, while it concedes to God some blind and equivocal movement, withholds what is of principal moment--viz. the disposing and directing of every thing to its proper end by incomprehensible wisdom. By withholding government, it makes God the ruler of the world in name only, not in reality. For what, I ask, is meant by government, if it be not to preside so as to regulate the destiny of that over which you preside? I do not, however, totally repudiate what is said of an universal providence, provided, on the other hand, it is conceded to me that the world is governed by God, not only because he maintains the order of nature appointed by him, but because he takes a special charge of every one of his works. It is true, indeed, that each species of created objects is moved by a secret instinct of nature, as if they obeyed the eternal command of God, and spontaneously followed the course which God at first appointed. And to this we may refer our Saviour's words, that he and his Father have always been at work from the beginning (John 5:17); also the words of Paul, that "in him we live, and move, and have our being," (Acts 17:28); also the words of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who, when wishing to prove the divinity of Christ, says, that he upholdeth "all things by the word of his power," (Heb. 1:3). But some, under pretext of the general, hide and obscure the special providence, which is so surely and clearly taught in Scripture, that it is strange how any one can bring himself to doubt of it. And, indeed, those who interpose that disguise are themselves forced to modify their doctrine, by adding that many things are done by the special care of God. This, however, they erroneously confine to particular acts. The thing to be proved, therefore, is, that single events are so regulated by God, and all events so proceed from his determinate counsel, that nothing happens fortuitously.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
(Ps 104:27–30) 27 These all look to you,
The Most Valuable Aim of Apologetics
By R.C. Sproul 10/01/2016
Exodus 3 narrates the well-known account of God’s revealing Himself to Moses in the burning bush and commissioning him to tell Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. But that was only part of Moses’ mission. The other task to which the Lord called Moses was to address the Israelites. He was to command the Israelites in the name of God to engage in the largest strike in history. In absolute defiance of the power and authority of Pharaoh, they were to leave Egypt and go out to the desert to worship God at His mountain. And, of course, these events ended in the exodus.
Just think of Moses’ task. Moses, an old man who had been tending sheep in the wilderness for years, was to somehow get an appointment with Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler on earth in that day. But in many respects it was even more difficult to go to the people of Israel and say, “Never mind the chariots of Egypt and the armies of Pharaoh. Follow me and I will lead you to the Promised Land.” What slave in his right mind would take Moses at his word? And that is the problem that is addressed particularly in Exodus 4, where Moses says to God, “They will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” And the Lord gave Moses many proofs to show the Israelites that his claims were credible.
In this encounter, Moses raised the question of apologetics, the question of how the believer is to defend the faith as reasonable. He had to convince the Israelites of the truth of the mandate and that it came from God. He was dealing with the in-house problem of apologetics, namely, that he had to persuade the church — the people of God — of the veracity of the Word of God and its claim on their lives.
The task of apologetics, of defending the truth of Christianity, has at least three main aims. I think most Christians are familiar with two of these. First, apologetics is to provide an answer to the critics of the Christian faith, to those who seek to undermine the rational basis for Christianity or who critique it from the standpoint of another philosophy or religion. Paul did that in Acts 17 when he confronted the Epicureans and the Stoics, followers of two popular philosophical schools in his day. Early Christian apologists such as Justin Martyr wrote to the Roman emperor to defend Christians against false accusations of atheism (because Christians did not worship the Roman gods) and cannibalism (because pagans misunderstood the Lord’s Supper).
The second major aim of apologetics is to tear down the intellectual idols of our culture. Here, apologetics operates on the offensive, pointing out the inconsistencies and errors of other faiths and worldviews. The third, and what I believe is the most valuable, aim of apologetics is to encourage the saints, to shore up the church — just as the first concern that Moses had was to be able to demonstrate that God had called him to go to the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. Moses was an apologist to his own people.
The toughest three years of my life were my seminary years, because I was a zealous Christian studying in a citadel of unbelief. Every day, the precious doctrines of our faith were attacked viciously by my professors. One professor lashed out at a student in my class for coming to seminary with too many preconceived ideas, such as the deity of Christ. Another professor attacked a student when he preached on the cross. “How dare you preach the substitutionary atonement in this day and age!” the professor said. There was a hostility that was palpable in the air, and it was discouraging. All kinds of questions were raised, and even though I understood the philosophical assumptions behind the critics’ attacks, there were still many questions I was not equipped to answer. Intuitively I knew these men were wrong, but I couldn’t answer them.
At that time, there was basically one major seminary in the United States that was faithful to historic Reformed theology — Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. After classes were over at my seminary for the day, I used to read Westminster professors such as J. Gresham Machen, John Murray, Ed Stonehouse, Ed Young, and others. And they would give me answers to the questions I had. After a while, when I heard a question I wasn’t able to answer, I had confidence that God had raised up great men of learning who knew far more than I did and were able to answer these skeptical questions.
I said to the Ligonier staff many years ago: “The work that we do in apologetics may not be understood in all of the details by all the Christians who hear it. But if we can answer these questions and show the credibility of Christianity, the folks in the church will not be devastated by the voices of skepticism that surround them.” We’ve known students in our churches who’ve gone to college — even professedly “Christian” institutions — and had a crisis of faith. In many cases, they’ve hung on by their fingernails because they were being beaten down every day, ridiculed and scorned for their faith in Christ. What such kids need is the task of apologetics inside the church, to calm their fears. And it is not just college students, it is all of us who live in this fallen world. Because if Satan can’t take away our faith, he might be able to intimidate us to such a degree that we are paralyzed, that we are not quite as bold as we were before. And so, not everybody is called to be a professional apologist, but we are all called to study apologetic issues and to see that there are reasons for the hope that is within us.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
The Context for the Sexual Revolution
By Albert Mohler 10/01/2016
When we look at the sexual revolution, we must honestly ask, how did all this happen? As noted in previous essays, the sexual revolution did not emerge in a vacuum. Modern societies created a context for moral revolution that had never before been available. In other words, certain cultural conditions had to prevail in order for the revolution to get the traction it needed to succeed. Let’s consider a few of the cultural factors that led to our current situation. Urbanization, Technology, And The Weakening Of The Family Science And The Sexual Revolution The Withering Of Vice
Technological advances also fueled the sexual revolution. Pornographers, for example, have taken advantage of every new technology from the printing press to the latest digital advances. Of course, the most essential technological achievement for the new sexual morality was the arrival of contraceptives and antibiotics. Put bluntly, so long as sex between a man and a woman implied the likelihood of pregnancy, there was a certain check on extramarital sexual activity. Once the birth-control pill arrived, with all of its promises of reproductive control, a biological check on sexual immorality that had shaped human existence from Adam and Eve forward was almost instantly removed. The sexual revolution could not have taken place without the arrival of effective, cheap, and widely available contraceptives.
Whereas many scholars recognize the importance of new contraceptive technology in the sexual revolution, fewer scholars have noted that the sexual revolution would not have progressed at the same speed without the emergence of antibiotics. This is because another major check on sexual immorality throughout human history has been disease. As Emory University economist Andrew Francis has observed: “The evidence . . . strongly indicates that the widespread use of penicillin, leading to a rapid decline of syphilis during the 1950s, is what launched the modern sexual era.” Clearly, we do not want to go back to an age without antibiotics. We are thankful for lifesaving drugs and medical technologies. We certainly do not reject all that modernity has brought. At the same time, Christians must recognize that every new technology brings new ethical and moral challenges — and often unintended consequences as well.
As we now know, Kinsey’s research was fraudulent from the start. For one thing, he drew his research sample from those who eagerly volunteered for his studies, including a sizable percentage of men in prisons. No credible researcher would give any credence whatsoever to the statistical claims Kinsey made concerning sexual behavior, but the media does. Nevertheless, the actual text of Kinsey’s book was far less important to the sexual revolutionaries than its cultural effect. Those who read the book carefully would have come to the horrifying recognition that Kinsey was tilting his research toward the population most likely to be living outside of what both Christianity and the larger society understood to be proper sexuality.
The modern or postmodern quest for sexual emancipation cannot be neutral when it comes to the teachings of the Bible and the moral witness of historic Christianity. It must not only be revised, as was the claim at the midpoint of the twentieth century and even into the 1960s, but it must be supplanted.
In terms of understanding the challenge we now face, I began my book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong with a quotation from Flannery O’ Connor, who says, “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.” To understand what we are up against is at least part of the challenge. Understanding the roots of the moral revolution requires some very careful thinking and the acknowledgment that the sexual revolution could not have happened without secularization and that secularization could not have progressed without producing the sexual revolution.
Urbanization, Technology, And The Weakening Of The FamilyModernity and modernization brought urbanization such that increased numbers of people were now living in cities, and the cities shaped the culture. Many observers of the sexual revolution point to the fact that, from the very beginning, this was a cosmopolitan revolution—emerging first in cities and then spreading out to the rest of the culture.
Science And The Sexual RevolutionThe sexual revolution could also not have taken place without the fundamental intellectual change that would lead Americans to believe that a revolution in sexual morality was inevitable and right. The most important figure in this aspect of the revolution was Alfred C. Kinsey. In two books, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, published in 1948 and 1953, respectively, Kinsey became one of the major agents of moral revolution.
The Withering Of VicePhilosopher Philip Kitcher makes the very important observation that the sexual revolution could not have happened without what he calls “the withering of vice.” What Kitcher also understands is that the withering of vice could not have happened without the withering of theism that came before it.
Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 21)
By John Foxe 1563
Petition of the Protestant RefugeesTo these reproaches it is proper to oppose the petition which the Protestant refugees in Paris presented to Louis XVIII in behalf of their brethren at Nismes.
"We lay at your feet, sire, our acute sufferings. In your name our fellow citizens are slaughtered, and their property laid waste. Misled peasants, in pretended obedience to your orders, had assembled at the command of a commissioner appointed by your august nephew. Although ready to attack us, they were received with the assurances of peace. On the fifteenth of July, 1815, we learned your majesty's entrance into Paris, and the white flag immediately waved on our edifices. The public tranquillity had not been disturbed, when armed peasants introduced themselves. The garrison capitulated, but were assailed on their departure, and almost totally massacred. Our national guard was disarmed, the city filled with strangers, and the houses of the principal inhabitants, professing the reformed religion, were attacked and plundered. We subjoin the list. Terror has driven from our city the most respectable inhabitants.
"Your majesty has been deceived if there has not been placed before you the picture of the horrors which make a desert of your good city of Nismes. Arrests and proscriptions are continually taking place, and difference of religious opinions is the real and only cause. The calumniated Protestants are the defenders of the throne. You nephew has beheld our children under his banners; our fortunes have been placed in his hands. Attacked without reason, the Protestants have not, even by a just resistance, afforded their enemies the fatal pretext for calumny. Save us, sire! extinguish the brand of civil war; a single act of your will would restore to political existence a city interesting for its population and its manufactures. Demand an account of their conduct from the chiefs who had brought our misfortunes upon us. We place before your eyes all the documents that have reached us. Fear paralyzes the hearts, and stifles the complaints of our fellow citizens. Placed in a more secure situation, we venture to raise our voice in their behalf," etc., etc.
Monstrous Outrage Upon FemalesAt Nismes it is well known that the women wash their clothes either at the fountains or on the banks of streams. There is a large basin near the fountain, where numbers of women may be seen every day, kneeling at the edge of the water, and beating the clothes with heavy pieces of wood in the shape of battledores. This spot became the scene of the most shameful and indecent practices. The Catholic rabble turned the women's petticoats over their heads, and so fastened them as to continue their exposure, and their subjection to a newly invented species of chastisement; for nails being placed in the wood of the battoirs in the form of fleur-de-lis, they beat them until the blood streamed from their bodies, and their cries rent the air. Often was death demanded as a commutation of this ignominious punishment, but refused with a malignant joy. To carry their outrage to the highest possible degree, several who were in a state of pregnancy were assailed in this manner. The scandalous nature of these outrages prevented many of the sufferers from making them public, and, especially, from relating the most aggravating circumstances. "I have seen," says M. Duran, "a Catholic advocat, accompanying the assassins of the fauxbourg Bourgade, arm a battoir with sharp nails in the form of fleur-de-lis; I have seen them raise the garments of females, and apply, with heavy blows, to the bleeding body this battoir or battledore, to which they gave a name which my pen refuses to record. The cries of the sufferers-the streams of blood-the murmurs of indignation which were suppressed by fear-nothing could move them. The surgeons who attended on those women who are dead, can attest, by the marks of their wounds, the agonies which they must have endured, which, however horrible, is most strictly true."
Nevertheless, during the progress of these horrors and obscenities, so disgraceful to France and the Catholic religion, the agents of government had a powerful force under their command, and by honestly employing it they might have restored tranquillity. Murder and robbery, however, continued, and were winked at, by the Catholic magistrates, with very few exceptions; the administrative authorities, it is true, used words in their proclamations, etc., but never had recourse to actions to stop the enormities of the persecutors, who boldly declared that, on the twenty-fourth, the anniversary of St. Bartholomew, they intended to make a general massacre. The members of the Reformed Church were filled with terror, and, instead of taking part in the election of deputies, were occupied as well as they could in providing for their own personal safety.
Outrages Committed in the Villages, etc.We now quit Nismes to take a view of the conduct of the persecutors in the surrounding country. After the re-establishment of the royal government, the local authorities were distinguished for their zeal and forwardness in supporting their employers, and, under pretence of rebellion, concealment of arms, nonpayment of contributions, etc., troops, national guards, and armed mobs, were permitted to plunder, arrest, and murder peaceable citizens, not merely with impunity, but with encouragement and approbation. At the village of Milhaud, near Nismes, the inhabitants were frequently forced to pay large sums to avoid being pillaged. This, however, would not avail at Madame Teulon's: On Sunday, the sixteenth of July, her house and grounds were ravaged; the valuable furniture removed or destroyed, the hay and wood burnt, and the corpse of a child, buried in the garden, taken up and dragged round a fire made by the populace. It was with great difficulty that M. Teulon escaped with his life.
M. Picherol, another Protestant, had deposited some of his effects with a Catholic neighbor; this house was attacked, and though all the property of the latter was respected, that of his friend was seized and destroyed. At the same village, one of a party doubting whether M. Hermet, a tailor, was the man they wanted, asked, "Is he a Protestant?" this he acknowledged. "Good," said they, and he was instantly murdered. In the canton of Vauvert, where there was a consistory church, eighty thousand francs were extorted.
In the communes of Beauvoisin and Generac similar excesses were committed by a handful of licentious men, under the eye of the Catholic mayor, and to the cries of Vive le Roi! St. Gilles was the scene of the most unblushing villainy. The Protestants, the most wealthy of the inhabitants, were disarmed, whilst their houses were pillaged. The mayor was appealed to; but he laughed and walked away. This officer had, at his disposal, a national guard of several hundred men, organized by his own orders. It would be wearisome to read the lists of the crimes that occurred during many months. At Clavison the mayor prohibited the Protestants the practice of singing the Psalms commonly used in the temple, that, as he said, the Catholics might not be offended or disturbed.
At Sommieres, about ten miles from Nismes, the Catholics made a splendid procession through the town, which continued until evening and was succeeded by the plunder of the Protestants. On the arrival of foreign troops at Sommieres, the pretended search for arms was resumed; those who did not possess muskets were even compelled to buy them on purpose to surrender them up, and soldiers were quartered on them at six francs per day until they produced the articles in demand. The Protestant church which had been closed, was converted into barracks for the Austrians. After divine service had been suspended for six months at Nismes, the church, called the Temple by the Protestants, was re-opened, and public worship performed on the morning of the twenty-fourth of December. On examining the belfry, it was discovered that some persons had carried off the clapper of the bell. As the hour of service approached, a number of men, women, and children collected at the house of M. Ribot, the pastor, and threatened to prevent the worship. At the appointed time, when he proceeded towards the church, he was surrounded; the most savage shouts were raised against him; some of the women seized him by the collar; but nothing could disturb his firmness, or excite his impatience; he entered the house of prayer, and ascended the pulpit. Stones were thrown in and fell among the worshippers; still the congregation remained calm and attentive, and the service was concluded amidst noise, threats, and outrage.
On retiring many would have been killed but for the chasseurs of the garrison, who honorably and zealously protected them. From the captain of these chasseurs, M. Ribot soon after received the following letter:
January 2, 1816.
"I deeply lament the prejudices of the Catholics against the Protestants, who they pretend do not love the king. Continue to act as you have hitherto done, and time and your conduct will convince the Catholics to the contrary: should any tumult occur similar to that of Saturday last inform me. I preserve my reports of these acts, and if the agitators prove incorrigible, and forget what they owe to the best of kings and the charter, I will do my duty and inform the government of their proceedings. Adieu, my dear sir; assure the consistory of my esteem, and of the sense I entertain of the moderation with which they have met the provocations of the evil-disposed at Sommieres. I have the honor to salute you with respect.
SUVAL DE LAINE."
Another letter to this worthy pastor from the Marquis de Montlord, was received on the sixth of January, to encourage him to unite with all good men who believe in God to obtain the punishment of the assassins, brigands, and disturbers of public tranquillity, and to read the instructions he had received from the government to this effect publicly. Notwithstanding this, on the twentieth of January, 1816, when the service in commemoration of the death of Louis XVI was celebrated, a procession being formed, the National Guards fired at the white flag suspended from the windows of the Protestants, and concluded the day by plundering their houses.
In the commune of Anguargues, matters were still worse; and in that of Fontanes, from the entry of the king in 1815, the Catholics broke all terms with the Protestants; by day they insulted them, and in the night broke open their doors, or marked them with chalk to be plundered or burnt. St. Mamert was repeatedly visited by these robberies; and at Montmiral, as lately as the sixteenth of June, 1816, the Protestants were attacked, beaten, and imprisoned, for daring to celebrate the return of a king who had sworn to preserve religious liberty and to maintain the charter.
Further Account of the Proceedings of the Catholics at NismesThe excesses perpetrated in the country it seems did not by any means divert the attention of the persecutors from Nismes. October, 1815, commenced without any improvement in the principles or measures of the government, and this was followed by corresponding presumption on the part of the people. Several houses in the Quartier St. Charles were sacked, and their wrecks burnt in the streets amidst songs, dances, and shouts of Vive le Roi! The mayor appeared, but the merry multitude pretended not to know him, and when he ventured to remonstrate, they told him, 'his presence was unnecessary, and that he might retire.' During the sixteenth of Oc tober, every preparation seemed to announce a night of carnage; orders for assembling and signals for attack were circulated with regularity and confidence; Trestaillon reviewed his satellites, and urged them on to the perpetration of crimes, holding jwith one of those wretches the following dialogue:
Satellite. "If all the Protestants, without one exception, are to be killed, I will cheerfully join; but as you have so often deceived me, unless they are all to go I will not stir."
Trestaillon. "Come along, then, for this time not a single man shall escape."
This horrid purpose would have been executed had it not been for General La Garde, the commandant of the department. It was not until ten o'clock at night that he perceived the danger; he now felt that not a moment could be lost. Crowds were advancing through the suburbs, and the streets were filling with ruffians, uttering the most horrid imprecations. The generale sounded at eleven o'clock, and added to the confusion that was now spreading through the city. A few troops rallied round the Count La Garde, who was wrung with distress at the sight of the evil which had arrived at such a pitch. Of this M. Durand, a Catholic advocate, gave the following account:
"It was near midnight, my wife had just fallen asleep; I was writing by her side, when we were disturbed by a distant noise; drums seemed crossing the town in every direction. What could all this mean! To quiet her alarm, I said it probably announced the arrival or departure of some troops of the garrison. But firing and shouts were immediately audible; and on opening my window I distinguished horrible imprecations mingled with cries of Vive le Roi! I roused an officer who lodged in the house, and M. Chancel, Director of the Public Works. We went out together, and gained the Boulevarde. The moon shone bright, and almost every object was nearly as distinct as day; a furious crowd was pressing on vowing extermination, and the greater part half naked, armed with knives, muskets, sticks, and sabers. In answer to my inquiries I was told the massacre was general, that many had been already killed in the suburbs. M. Chancel retired to put on his uniform as captain of the Pompiers; the officers retired to the barracks, and anxious for my wife I returned home. By the noise I was convinced that persons followed. I crept along in the shadow of the wall, opened my door, entered, and closed it, leaving a small aperture through which I could watch the movements of the party whose arms shone in the moonlight. In a few moments some armed men appeared conducting a prisoner to the very spot where I was concealed. They stopped, I shut my door gently, and mounted on an alder tree planted against the garden wall. What a scene! a man on his knees imporing mercy from wretches who mocked his agony, and loaded him with abuse. 'In the name of my wife and children,' he said, 'spare me! What have I done? Why would you murder me for nothing?' I was on the point of crying out and menacing the murderers with vengeance. I had not long to deliberate, the discharge of several fusils terminated my suspense; the unhappy supplicant, struck in the loins and the head, fell to rise no more. The backs of the assassins were towards the tree; they retired immediately, reloading their pieces. I descended and approached the dying man, uttering some deep and dismal groans. Some national guards arrived at the moment, and I again retired and shut the door. 'I see,' said one, 'a dead man.' 'He sings still,' said another. 'It will be better,' said a third, 'to finish him and put him out of his misery.' Five or six muskets were fired instantly, and the groans ceased. On the following day crowds came to inspect and insult the deceased. A day after a massacre was always observed as a sort of fete, and every occupation was left to go and gaze upon the victims." This was Louis Lichare, the father of four children; and four years after the event, M. Durand verified this account by his oath upon the trial of one of the murderers.
Attack Upon the Protestant ChurchesSome time before the death of General La Garde, the duke d'Angouleme had visited Nismes, and other cities in the south, and at the former place honored the members of the Protestant consistory with an interview, promising them protection, and encouraging them to re-open their temple so long shut up. They have two churches at Nismes, and it was agreed that the small one should be preferred on this occasion, and that the ringing of the bell should be omitted, General La Garde declared that he would answer with his head for the safety of his congregation. The Protestants privately informed each other that worship was once more to be celebrated at ten o'clock, and they began to assemble silently and cautiously. It was agreed that M. Juillerat Chasseur should perform the service, though such was his conviction of danger that he entreated his wife, and some of his flock, to remain with their families. The temple being opened only as a matter of form, and in compliance with the orders of the duke d'Angouleme, this pastor wished to be the only victim. On his way to the place he passed numerous groups who regarded him with ferocious looks. "This is the time," said some, "to give them the last blow." "Yes," added others, "and neither women nor children must be spared." One wretch, raising his voice above the rest, exclaimed, "Ah, I will go and get my musket, and ten for my share." Through these ominous sounds M. Juillerat pursued his course, but when he gained the temple the sexton had not the courage to open the door, and he was obliged to do it himself. As the worshippers arrived they found strange persons in possession of the adjacent streets, and upon the steps of the church, vowing their worship should not be performed, and crying, "Down with the Protestants! kill them! kill them!" At ten o'clock the church being nearly filled, M.J. Chasseur commenced the prayers; a calm that succeeded was of short duration. On a sudden the minister was interrupted by a violent noise, and a number of persons entered, uttering the most dreadful cries, mingled with Vive le Roi! but the gendarmed succeeded in excluding these fanatics, and closing the doors. The noise and tumult without now redoubled, and the blows of the populace trying to break open the doors, caused the house to resound with shrieks and groans. The voice of the pastors who endeavored to console their flock, was inaudible; they attempted in vain to sing the Forty-second Psalm.
Three quarters of an hour rolled heavily away. "I placed myself," said Madame Juillerat, "at the bottom of the pulpit, with my daughter in my arms; my husband at length joined and sustained me; I remembered that it was the anniversary of my marriage. After six years of happiness, I said, I am about to die with my husband and my daughter; we shall be slain at the altar of our God, the victims of a sacred duty, and heaven will open to receive us and our unhappy brethren. I blessed the Redeemer, and without cursing our murderers, I awaited their approach."
M. Oliver, son of a pastor, an officer in the royal troops of the line, attempted to leave the church, but the friendly sentinels at the door advised him to remain besieged with the rest. The national guards refused to act, and the fanatical crowd took every advantage of the absence of General La Garde, and of their increasing numbers. At length the sound of martial music was heard, and voices from without called to the beseiged, "Open, open, and save yourselves!" Their first impression was a fear of treachery, but they were soon assured that a detachment returning from Mass was drawn up in front of the church to favor the retreat of the Protestants. The door was opened, and many of them escaped among the ranks of the soldiers, who had driven the mob before them; but this street, as well as others through which the fugitives had to pass, was soon filled again. The venerable pastor, Olivier Desmond, between seventy and eighty years of age, was surrounded by murderers; they put their fists in his face, and cried, "Kill the chief of brigands." He was preserved by the firmness of some officers, among whom was his own son; they made a bulwark round him with their bodies, and amidst their naked sabers conducted him to his house. M. Juillerat, who had assisted at drivine service with his wife at his side and his child in his arms, was pursued and assailed with stones, his mother received a blow on the head, and her life was some time in danger. One woman was shamefully whipped, and several wounded and dragged along the streets; the number of Protestants more or less ill treated on this occasion amounted to between seventy and eighty.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Do what God has told you (4)
12/14/2017 Bob Gass
‘Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD.’
(Ge 6:8) 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. ESV
You ask, ‘What is the favour of God?’ It’s God doing for you what you cannot do for yourself. It opens doors of opportunity. It turns opposition into support. It can help you land a promotion, make the list, or seal the deal. The Bible says, ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men’ (Luke 2:52 NIVUK 1984 Edition). Note, just as you can grow in wisdom and stature, you can also grow in favour with God and men. So instead of being content with the level of favour you enjoy, ask God for an increase. You ask, ‘How do I find favour?’ Obedience! It begins by surrendering your life to Christ. ‘No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11 NASB). And God’s favour is not limited to the spiritual realm; it extends to the material realm as well. In Noah’s life, it translated into ingenious inventions. He didn’t just build the first boat and pioneer the shipbuilding industry, he also held a wide variety of patents. According to Jewish tradition, Noah invented the plough, the scythe, the hoe, and a number of other implements used for cultivating the ground. The favour of God translated into good ideas. It doesn’t matter what you do, God wants to help you do it. He wants to favour your business plan, your manuscript, your lesson plan, your legal brief, your sales pitch, etc. But you’ve got to position yourself for that favour by acting in obedience. If God knows He’ll get the glory, He will bless you beyond your ability and beyond your resources.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Chapter 17 December 14
Gratitude exclaims, very properly, "How good of God to give me this." Adoration says, "What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!" One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
If I could always be what I aim at being, no pleasure would be too ordinary or too usual for such reception; from the first taste of the air when I look out of the window-one's whole cheek becomes a sort of palate-down to one's soft slippers at bed-time.
I don't always achieve it. One obstacle is inattention. Another is the wrong kind of attention. One could, if one practised, hear simply a roar and not the roaring-of-the-wind. In the same way, only far too easily, one can concentrate on the pleasure as an event in one's own nervous system-subjectify it-and ignore the smell of Deity that hangs about it. A third obstacle is greed. Instead of saying "This also is Thou," one may say the fatal word Encore. There is also conceit: the dangerous reflection that not everyone can find God in a plain slice of bread and butter, or that others would condemn as simply "grey" the sky in which I am delightedly observing such delicacies of pearl and dove and silver.
You notice that I am drawing no distinction between sensuous and aesthetic pleasures. But why should I? The line is almost impossible to draw and what use would it be if one succeeded in drawing it?
If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labor: for in so far as it succeeds, almost every day furnishes us with, so to speak, "bearings" on the Bright Blur. It becomes brighter but less blurry.
William Law remarks that people are merely "amusing themselves" by asking for the patience which a famine or a persecution would call for if, in the meantime, the weather and every other inconvenience sets them grumbling. One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We--or at least I-shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have "tasted and seen." Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are "patches of Godlight" in the woods of our experience.
Of course one wants the books too. One wants a great many things besides this "adoration in infinitesimals" which I am preaching. And if I were preaching it in public, instead of feeding it back to the very man who taught it me (though he may by now find the lesson nearly unrecognizable?), I should have to pack it in ice, enclose it in barbed-wire reservations, and stick up warning notices in every direction.
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Anything you have that you cannot give away,
you do not really own;
it owns you.
--- Albert Schweitzer
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
legions of angels can't confine me there.
--- Edward Young
People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
--- Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
A word to the wise is enough.
--- Miguel de Cervantes
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
and scorns obeying his mother
will be pecked out by the ravens in the valley,
and the vultures will eat it.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Cyrus and the prophecy
Cyrus said that Yahweh, the God of heaven, had appointed him to build a temple … at Jerusalem. Part of this decree is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:23. Also the decree was filed in Ecbatana, where Darius I found it about 520-518 b.c. (Ezra 6:1-5). God had promised the Jewish remnant that He would raise up Cyrus as His servant to restore the fortunes of His people (Isa. 44:28; 45:1, 13). Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the Prophet Isaiah referred to Cyrus by name about 150 years before the king made his decree. Josephus wrote that Cyrus was shown the prophecy in Isaiah 44:28 and wanted to fulfill it (The Antiquities of the Jews 11. 1. 1).
”The God of heaven” is a title of God used 9 times in Ezra (1:2; 5:11-12; 6:9-10; 7:12, 21, 23 [twice]—more than in any other Bible book—and 10 times in other exilic and postexilic books (2 Chron. 36:23; Neh. 1:4-5; 2:4, 20; Dan. 2:18-19, 28, 37, 44).
Elsewhere in the Old Testament that phrase occurs only four times (Gen. 24:3, 7; Ps. 136:26; Jonah 1:9). It points to God’s sovereignty. He is the One who made heaven (Gen. 14:19, 22; 2 Chron. 2:12; Ps. 115:15), who is in heaven (Deut. 4:39; 1 Kings 8:30, 39, 43, 49; Ecc. 5:2), and who reigns from His throne in heaven (Isa. 66:1). Though Cyrus was a monarch over an extensive empire, Yahweh is far greater for He rules from heaven.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty [New Testament Edition]
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.… Let not your heart be troubled.
The Great Life
--- John 14:27.
Whenever a thing becomes difficult in personal experience, we are in danger of blaming God, but it is we who are in the wrong, not God, there is some perversity somewhere that we will not let go. Immediately we do, everything becomes as clear as daylight. As long as we try to serve two ends, ourselves and God, there is perplexity. The attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. When once we get there, there is nothing easier than living the saintly life; difficulty comes in when we want to usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit for our own ends.
Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace, the witness of an unfathomable peace, which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry till it does or find out the reason why it does not. If you are acting on an impulse, or from a sense of the heroic, the peace of Jesus will not witness; there is no simplicity or confidence in God, because the spirit of simplicity is born of the Holy Ghost, not of your decisions. Every decision brings a reaction of simplicity.
My questions come whenever I cease to obey. When I have obeyed God, the problems never come between me and God, they come as probes to keep the mind awake and amazed at the revelation of God. Any problem that comes between God and myself springs out of disobedience; any problem, and there are many, that is alongside me while I obey God, increases my ecstatic delight, because I know that my Father knows, and I am going to watch and see how He unravels this thing.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Men, who in their day
went down acknowledging
defeat, what would they say
now, where no superlatives
have meaning? What was failure
to them, our abandonment
of an ideal has turned
into high art. Could
they with foreknowledge have
been happy? Can we,
because there are levels
not yet descended to,
take comfort? Is it
sufficient for us
that we, like that minority
of our fellows in the hurrying
centuries, turning aside
re-enter the garden? What
is the serenity of art
worth without the angels
at the hot gates, whose sword
is time and our uneasy conscience?
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
I have spoken openly to the world.… I said nothing in secret. --- John 18:20.
In our text our Lord lays claim to a great openness, and it is a claim that cannot be disputed. George H. Morrison, “The Candor of Christ,” in The Wings of the Morning (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1994), 47–51. The whole impression made by the life of Jesus is that of a teacher who was frank and bold; of one who would not hesitate to speak, whatever the consequences to himself might be.
Of course this candor of our Lord and Master was always at the service of his love. It was the instrument of a pure and perfect sympathy that knew that there were seasons to be silent. The perfect candor of our Redeemer’s talk was ever subservient to that noblest love which dares to speak when other lips are silent and to be silent when other voices speak. There is a candor that is the child of ignorance, for fools rush in where angels fear to tread. There is a candor that betrays the bitter heart, for it speaks the truth—but does not speak in love. But the candor of Jesus goes hand in hand with reticence, and both look up to catch their inspiration from the most loving and sympathetic eyes that ever beamed on a sinful world.
Now there are times in every life when it takes a certain courage to be quiet. To every man and woman there come seasons when the path of duty is the path of silence. All that is basest in us bids us speak, for there is a candor that is the child of hell; but all that is noblest in us checks our speech, lest to someone we do irreparable harm. But remember if it takes courage to be quiet, it also may call for courage to be frank.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
A Good Monument
The area around Wheaton, Illinois, was first settled by Erastus Gray from Connecticut in 1831. Six years later Warren Wheaton, another Connecticut native, arrived and built a home at the corner of what is now Roosevelt Road at Naperville Street. The railroad came through, a grocery store was built, then an inn and a liquor store. Soon the population reached 800.
A number of slavery-hating Wesleyan Methodists settled in Wheaton. Horrified that their children might be trained by professors sympathetic to slavery, they decided to establish a school of their own. On a sizzling summer’s day in 1852, a group of them knelt in the grass on the crest of a small hill overlooking the rolling prairie about a mile from the train station. They prayed that “the hill and all that should be built upon it” would be dedicated to God. A plain, three-story limestone building (now Blanchard Hall) went up for $10,000, and on December 14, 1853 Illinois Institute opened under the direction of Rev. John Cross. It soon filled with students—and with smoke, for the stoves vented improperly. All smoking was prohibited at the school, students said, stoves excepted.
But the Wesleyan founders were “mostly men who had little of this world’s goods,” wrote one of their sons a generation later. “They were reformers, especially interested in the anti-slavery struggle. The purpose was not so much to start a denominational school as to provide a place where their principles should not be smothered out.”
Because they possessed so little of “this world’s goods,” the Institute failed financially, and in 1860 the trustees requested help from the wealthier Congregationalists. Jonathan Blanchard, Presbyterian pastor and academic, was appointed president. He approached Warren Wheaton for a large donation of property and offered to name the school Wheaton College. “That will at least save your heirs the expense of a good monument,” Blanchard said.
The school reopened under the Congregationalists with the support of the Wesleyans and with a Presbyterian president. And for over a century since, Wheaton College has been training young people “for Christ and His Kingdom.”
If you are smart, you will learn to understand
Proverbs and sayings, as well as words of wisdom
And all kinds of riddles.
Respect and obey the LORD!
This is the beginning of knowledge.
Only a fool rejects wisdom and good advice.
--- Proverbs 1:5b-7.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (Day 4)
Look Up, Your Redemption Is Drawing Near
Becoming Guilty - Let's not deceive ourselves. "Your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28), whether we know it or not, and the only question is: Are we going to let it come to us too, or are we going to resist it? Are we going to join in this movement that comes down from heaven to earth, or are we going to close ourselves off? Christmas is coming-whether it is with us or without us depends on each and every one of us.
Such a true Advent happening now creates some¬thing different from the anxious, petty, depressed, feeble Christian spirit that we see again and again, and that again and again wants to make Christian¬ity contemptible. This becomes clear from the two powerful commands that introduce our text: "Look up and raise your heads" (Luke 21:28 RSV). Advent creates people, new people. We too are supposed to become new people in Advent. Look up, you whose gaze is fixed on this earth, who are spellbound by the little events and changes on the face of the earth. Look up to these words, you who have turned away from heaven disappointed. Look up, you whose eyes are heavy with tears and who are heavy and who are crying over the fact that the earth has gracelessly torn us away. Look up, you who, burdened with guilt, cannot lift your eves. Look up, your redemption is drawing near. Something different from what you see daily will happen. Just be aware, be watchful, wait just another short moment. Wait and something quite new will break over you: God will come.
You know what a mine disaster is. In recent weeks we have had to read about one in the newspapers.
The moment even the most courageous miner has dreaded his whole life long is here. It is no use running into the walls; the silence all around him remains.... The way out for him is blocked. He knows the people up there are working feverishly to reach the miners who are buried alive. Perhaps someone will be rescued, but here in the last shaft? An agonizing period of waiting and dying is all that remains.
But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breaking in the rock can be heard. Unexpectedly, voices cry out, "Where are you, help is on the way!" Then the disheartened miner picks himself up, his heart leaps, he shouts, "Here I am, come on through and help me! I'll hold out until you come! Just come soon!" A final, desperate hammer blow to his ear, now the rescue is near, just one more step and he is free.
We have spoken of Advent itself. That is how it is with the coming of Christ: "Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Bonhoeffer's Advent sermon
in a London church, December 3, 1933
(Lk 21:28) 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” ESV
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 14
“They go from strength to strength." Psalm 84:7.
They go from strength to strength. There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress.
Our own good translation of the authorized version is enough for us this Morning. “They go from strength to strength.” That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking, we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by-and-by the road is rough, and the sun is hot, we sit down by the wayside, and then again painfully pursue our weary way. But the Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elate and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly, far more surely. Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds, but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise which still holds good: “The youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. “Alas!” say they, “we go from affliction to affliction.” Very true, O thou of little faith, but then thou goest from strength to strength also. Thou shalt never find a bundle of affliction which has not bound up in the midst of it sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe manhood with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.
Evening - December 14
“I am crucified with Christ.” --- Galatians 2:20.
The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what he did as a great public representative person, and his dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all his people. Then all his saints rendered unto justice what was due, and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ’s chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally, he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ’s death, he had satisfied divine justice, and found reconciliation with God. Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ, and feel, “I am dead; the law has slain me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in my Surety I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute the whole that the law could do, by way of condemnation, has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ.”
But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ’s death, and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself in causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, “I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them.” Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can, at the same time, exclaim with the apostle, “Nevertheless I live.” He is fully alive unto God. The Christian’s life is a matchless riddle. No worldling can comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Saviour, and death to the world and sin, are soul-cheering things. O for more enjoyment of them!
Morning and Evening
ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH
Traditional French Carol
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests. (Luke 2:14)
The leading angel drifted slightly downward so that he could be seen by the shepherds below. They were terrified! Each one of them covered his face in the brilliance of the light but earnestly listened with awe as the vision before them began to speak in their own language:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”
Instantly surrounding the angel was the brilliant heavenly host, and echoing through the sky was the most beautiful singing that the shepherds had ever heard, exulting and praising God for the long-awaited gift of His Son. They made haste to see the Savior with their own eyes.
The Bible teaches that angels are the ministering servants of God and that they are continually being sent to help and protect us, the heirs of salvation. Certainly their most important task, however, was this momentous occasion announcing Christ’s arrival on earth!
Although little is known of its origins, this inspiring 18th century French carol has become a universal favorite.
Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains, and the mountains, in reply, echoing their joyous strains.
Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heav’nly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing; come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the new-born King.
See Him in a manger laid, Jesus, Lord of heav’n and earth; Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, with us sing our Savior’s birth.
Refrain: Gloria in excelsis Deo!
For Today: Luke 1:46–55; Luke 2:7–20
Rejoice that His angels are concerned about you and are sent to protect you personally. Sing this musical refrain ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Use 1. For instruction.
1. How great is the contempt of this sovereignty of God! Man naturally would be free from God’s empire, to be a slave under the dominion of his own lust; the sovereignty of God, as a Lawgiver, is most abhorred by man (Lev. 26:43). The Israelites, the best people in the world, were apt, by nature, not only to despise, but abhor, his statutes; there is not a law of God but the corrupt heart of man hath an abhorrency of: how often do men wish that God had not enacted this or that law that goes against the grain! and, in wishing so, wish that he were no sovereign, or not such a sovereign as he is in his own nature, but one according to their corrupt model. This is the great quarrel between God and man, whether he or they shall be the Sovereign Ruler. He should not, by the will of man, rule in any one village in the world; God’s vote should not be predominant in any one thing. There is not a law of his but is exposed to contempt by the perverseness of man (Prov. 1:21): “Ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof:” Septuag. “Ye have made all my counsels without authority.” The nature of man cannot endure one precept of God, nor one rebuke from him; and for this cause God is at the expense of judgments in the world, to assert his own empire to the teeth and consciences of men (Psalm 59:13): “Lord, consume them in wrath, and let them know that God rules in Jacob, to the ends of the earth.” The dominion of God is not slighted by any creature of this world but man; all others observe it by observing his order, whether in their natural motions or preternatural irruptions; they punctually act according to their commission. Man only speaks a dialect against the strain of the whole creation, and hath none to imitate him among all the creatures in heaven and earth, but only among those in hell: man is more impatient of the yoke of God than of the yoke of man. There are not so many rebellions committed by inferiors against their superiors and fellow-creatures, as are committed against God. A willing and easy sinning is an equalling the authority of God to that of man (Hos. 6:7): “They, like men, have transgressed my covenant;” they have made no more account of breaking my covenant than if they had broken some league or compact made with a mere man; so slightly do they esteem the authority of God; such a disesteem of the Divine authority is a virtual undeifying of him. To slight his sovereignty is to stab his Deity; since the one cannot be preserved without the support of the other, his life would expire with his authority. How base and brutish is it for vile dust and mouldering clay to lift up itself against the majesty of God, whose throne is in the heavens, who sways his sceptre over all parts of the world—a Majesty before whom the devils shake, and the highest cherubims tremble! It is as if the thistle, that can presently be trod down by the foot of a wild beast, should think itself a match for the cedar of Lebanon, as the phrase is, 2 Kings 14:9.
Let us consider this in general; and, also, in the ordinary practice of men. First, In general.
(1.) All sin in its nature is a contempt of the Divine dominion. As every act of obedience is a confirmation of the law, and consequently a subscription of the authority of the Lawgiver (Deut. 27:26), so every breach to it is a conspiracy against the sovereignty of the Lawgiver; setting up our will against the will of God is an articling against his authority, as setting up our reason against the methods of God is an articling against his wisdom; the intendment of every act of sin is to wrest the sceptre out of God’s hand. The authority of God is the first attribute in the Deity which it directs its edge against; it is called, therefore, a “transgression of his law” (1 John 3:4), and, therefore, a slight, or neglect, of the majesty of God; and the not keeping his commands is called a “forgetting God” (Deut. 8:11), i. e. a forgetting him to be our absolute Lord. As the first notion we have of God as a Creator is that of his sovereignty, so the first perfection that sin struck at, in the violation of the law, was his sovereignty as a Lawgiver. “Breaking the law is a dishonoring God” (Rom. 2:23), a snatching off his crown; to obey our own wills before the will of God, is to prefer ourselves as our own sovereigns before him. Sin is a wrong, and injury to God, not in his essence, that is above the reach of a creature, nor in anything profitable to him, or pertaining to his own intrinsic advantage; not an injury to God in himself, but in his authority, in those things which pertain to his glory; a disowning his due right, and not using his goods according to his will. Thus the whole world may be called, as God calls Chaldea, “a land of rebels” (Jer. 50:21): “Go up against the land of Merathaim,” or rebels: rebels, not against the Jews, but against God. The mighty opposition in the heart of man to the supremacy of God is discovered emphatically by the apostle (Rom. 8:7) in that expression, “The carnal mind is enmity against God,” i. e. against the authority of God, because “it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” It refuseth not subjection to this or that part, but to the whole; to every mark of Divine authority in it; it will not lay down its arms against it, nay, it cannot but stand upon its terms against it; the law can no more be fulfilled by a carnal mind, than it can be disowned by a sovereign God. God is so holy, that he cannot alter a righteous law, and man is so averse, that he cares not for, nay, cannot fulfil, one title; so much doth the nature of man swell against the majesty of God. Now an enmity to the law, which is in every sin, implies a perversity against the authority of God that enacted it.
(2.) All sin, in its nature, is the despoiling God of his sole sovereignty, which was probably the first thing the devil aimed at. That pride was the sin of the devil, the Scripture gives us some account of, when the apostle adviseth not a novice, or one that hath but lately embraced the faith, to be chosen a bishop (1 Tim. 3:6), “Lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil;” lest he fall into the same sin for which the devil was condemned. But in what particular thing this pride was manifest, is not so easily discernible; the ancients generally conceived it to be an affecting the throne of God, grounding it on Isa. 14:12: “How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning! for thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” It is certain the prophet speaks there of the king of Babylon, and taxeth him for his pride, and gives to him the title of “Lucifer,” perhaps likening him in his pride to the devil, and then it notes plainly the particular sin of the devil, attempting a share in the sovereignty of God; and some strengthen their conjecture from the name of the archangel who contended against Satan (Jude 9), which is Michael, which signifies, “Who as God?” or, “Who like God?” the name of the angel giving the superiority to God, intimating the contrary disposition in the devil, against whom he contended. It is likely his sin was an affecting equality with God in empire, or a freedom from the sovereign authority of God; because he imprinted such a kind of persuasion on man at his first temptation: “Ye shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5); and though it be restrained to the matter of knowledge, yet that being a fitness for government, it may be extended to that also. But it is plainly a persuading them, that they might be, in some sort, equal with God, and independent on him as their superior. What he had found so fatal to himself, he imagined would have the same success in the ruin of man. And since the devil hath, in all ages of the world, usurped worship to himself which is only due to God, and would be served by man, as if he were the God of the world; since all his endeavor was to be worshipped as the Supreme God on earth, it is not unreasonable to think, that he invaded the supremacy of God in heaven, and endeavored to be like the Most High before his banishment, as he hath attempted to be like the Most High since. And since the devil and antichrist are reputed by John, in the Revelation, to be so near of kin, and so like in disposition, why might not that, which is the sin of antichrist, the image of him, be also the sin of Satan, “to exalt himself above all that is called God” (2 Thess. 2:4), and “sit as God in his temple,” affecting a partnership in his throne and worship? Whether it was this, or attempting an unaccountable dominion over created things, or because he was the prime angel, and the most illustrious of that magnificent corporation, he might think himself fit to reign with God over all things else? Or if his sin were envy, as some think, at the felicity of man in paradise, it was still a quarrelling with God’s dominion, and right of disposing his own goods and favors; he is, therefore, called “Belial” (2 Cor. 6:14, 15): “What concord hath Christ with Belial?” i. e. with the devil, one “without yoke,” as the word “Belial” signifies.
(3.) It is more plain, that this was the sin of Adam. The first act of Adam was to exercise a lordship over the lower creatures, in giving names to them,—a token of dominion (Gen. 2:19). The next was to affect a lordship over God, in rebelling against him. After he had writ the first mark of his own delegated dominion, in the names he gave the creatures, and owned their dependence on him as their governor, he would not acknowledge his own dependence on God. As soon as the Lord of the world had put him into possession of the power he had allotted him, he attempted to strip his Lord of that which he had reserved to himself; he was not content to lay a yoke upon the other creatures, but desirous to shake off the Divine yoke from himself, and be subject to none but his own will; hence Adam’s sin is more particularly called “disobedience” (Rom. 5:19): for, in the eating the apple, there was no moral evil in itself, but a contradiction to the positive command and order of God, whereby he did disown God’s right of commanding him, or reserving anything from him to his own use. The language all his posterity speaks, “Let us break his bands, and cast away his cords from us” (Psalm 2:3), was learned from Adam in that act of his. The next act we read of; was that of Cain’s murdering Abel, which was an invading God’s right, in assuming an authority to dispose of the life of his brother, — a life which God had given him, and reserved the period of it in his own hands. And he persists in the same usurpation when God came to examine him, and ask him where his brother was; how scornful was his answer! (Gen. 4:9): “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as much as if he had said, What have you to do to examine me? or, What obligation is there upon me to render an account of him? or, as one saith, it is as much as if he had said, “Go, look for him yourself.” The sovereignty of God did not remain undisturbed as soon as ever it appeared in creation; the devils rebelled against it in heaven, and man would have banished it from the earth.
(4.) The sovereignty of God hath not been less invaded by the usurpations of men. One single order of the Roman episcopacy hath endeavored to usurp the prerogatives of God; the Pope will prohibit what God hath allowed; the marriage of priests; the receiving of the cup, as well as of the bread, in the sacrament; the eating of this or that sort of meat at special times, meats which God hath sanctified; and forbid them, too, upon pain of damnation. It is an invasion of God’s right to forbid the use of what God hath granted, as though the earth, and the fulness thereof, were no longer the Lord’s, but the Pope’s; much more to forbid what God hath commanded, as if Christ overreached his own authority, when he enjoined all to drink of the sacramental wine, as well as eat of the sacramental bread. No lord but will think his right usurped by that steward who shall permit to others what his lord forbids, and forbid that which his master allows, and act the lord instead of the servant. Add to this the pardons of many sins, as if he had the sole key to the treasures of Divine mercy; the disposing of crowns and dominions at his pleasure, as if God had divested himself of the title of King of kings, and transferred it upon the see of Rome. The allowing public stews, dispensing with incestuous marriages, as if God had acted more the part of a tyrant than of a righteous Sovereign in forbidding them, depriving the Jews of the propriety in their estates upon their conversion to Christianity, as if the pilfering men’s goods were the way to teach them self-denial, the first doctrine of Christian religion; and God shall have no honor from the Jew without a breach of his law by theft from the Christian. Granting many years’ indulgences upon slight performances, the repeating so many Ave-Marias and Pater-Nosters in a day, canonizing saints, claiming the keys of heaven, and disposing of the honors and glory of it, and proposing creatures as objects of religious worship, wherein he answers the character of the apostle (2 Thess. 2:4), “showing himself that he is God,” in challenging that power which is only the right of Divine sovereignty; exalting himself above God, in indulging those things which the law of God never allowed, but hath severely prohibited. This controlling the sovereignty of God, not allowing him the rights of his crown, is the soul and spirit of many errors. Why are the decrees of election and preterition denied? Because men will not acknowledge God the Sovereign Disposer of his creature. Why is effectual calling and efficacious grace denied? Because they will not allow God the proprietor and distributer of his own goods. Why is the satisfaction of Christ denied? Because they will not allow God a power to vindicate his own law in what way he pleaseth. Most of the errors of men may be resolved into a denial of God’s sovereignty; all have a tincture of the first evil sentiment of Adam.
Secondly. The sovereignty of God is contemned in the practices of men—(1.) As he is a Lawgiver.
[1.] When laws are made, and urged in any state contrary to the law of God. It is part of God’s sovereignty to be a Lawgiver; not to obey his law is a breach made upon his right of government; but it is treason in any against the crown of God, to mint laws with a stamp contrary to that of heaven, whereby they renounce their due subjection, and vie with God for dominion, snatch the supremacy from him, and account themselves more lords than the Sovereign Monarch of the world. When men will not let God be the judge of good and evil, but put in their own vote, controlling his to establish their own; such are not content to be as gods, subordinate to the supreme God, to sit at his feet; nor co-ordinate with him, to sit equal upon his throne; but paramount to him, to over-top and shadow his crown;—a boldness that leaves the serpent, in the first temptation, under the character of a more commendable modesty; who advised our first parents to attempt to be as gods, but not above him, and would enervate a law of God, but not enact a contrary one to be observed by them. Such was the usurpation of Nebuchadnezzar, to set up a golden image to be adored (Dan. 3.), as if he had power to mint gods, as well as to conquer men; to set the stamp of a Deity upon a piece of gold, as well as his own effigies upon his current coin. Much of the same nature was that of Darius, by the motion of his flatterers, to prohibit any petition to be made to God for the space of thirty days, as though God was not to have a worship without a license from a doting piece of clay (Dan. 6:7). So Henry the Third of France, by his edict, silenced masters of families from praying with their households. And it is a farther contempt of God’s authority, when good men are oppressed by the sole weight of power, for not observing such laws, as if they had a real sovereignty over the consciences of men, more than God himself.210 When the apostles were commanded by an angel from God, to preach in the Temple the doctrine of Christ (Acts 5:19, 20), they were fetched from thence with a guard before the council (ver. 26). And what is the language of those statesmen to them? as absolute as God himself could speak to any transgressors of his law. [Did not we straitly command you, that you should not teach in this name?] (ver. 28). It is sufficient that we gave you a command to be silent, and publish no more this doctrine of Jesus; it is not for you to examine our decrees, but rest in our order as loyal subjects, and comply with your rulers; they might have added, — though it be with the damnation of your souls. How would those overrule the apostles by no other reason but their absolute pleasure! And though God had espoused their cause, by delivering them out of the prison, wherein they had locked them the day before, yet not one of all this council had the wit or honesty to entitle it a fighting against God, but Gamaliel (ver. 34). So foolishly fond are men to put themselves in the place of God, and usurp a jurisdiction over men’s consciences: and to presume that laws made against the interest and command of God, must be of more force than the laws of God’s enacting.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
2 Thessalonians 1
Wrath 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
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2 Thessalonians 4:13-18
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
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