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12/07/2022     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Galatians 1 - 3

Galatians 1


Galatians 1:1     Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:  Present day Turkey)

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. ( 1 Cor 15:1-3 ) 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be  accursed . 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be  accursed .   ( Greek word means damnation, Paul is saying they will go to hell. )

( Pastor Brett says 1 Kings 13 is what Paul is talking about. The OT prophet of God had a good start, but then he turned away. Paul is thus warning the Galatians. Read in 1 Kings 13 what happened to that prophet. )

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul Called by God

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

Galatians 2

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

Galatians 2:1     Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Paul Opposes Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Galatians 3

By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

Galatians 3:1     O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Nevertheless, we need to be alert to the dangers of law-language and to the inadequacy of likening God’s moral law either to the civil laws of the country or to the physical laws of the universe. True, a part of the glory of a constitutional monarchy is that even the monarch is not above the law but under it, being required to obey its provisions and (if in breach of them) to bear its penalties. ... We cannot think of God as caught in a technical legal muddle of this kind. Nor is it wise to liken God’s moral laws to his physical laws and then declare them equally inflexible. For example, ‘if you put your hand in the fire it will be burnt, and if you break the ten commandments you will be punished’. There is truth in the analogy, but the concept of mechanical penalties is misleading. It may be true of the laws of nature, even though strictly they are not ‘laws’ which bind God’s action but a description of the normal uniformity of his action which human beings have observed. The real reason why disobedience of God’s moral laws brings condemnation is not that God is their prisoner, but that he is their creator.
     As R. W. Dale put it, God’s connection with the law is ‘not a relation of subjection but of identity...In God the law is alive; it reigns on his throne, sways his sceptre, is crowned with his glory’. ( The Atonement: The Congregational Union Lecture for 1875 (Classic Reprint) ) For the law is the expression of his own moral being, and his moral being is always self-consistent. Nathaniel Dimock captures this truth well in the following words:
     There can be nothing...in the demands of the law, and the severity of the law, and the condemnation of the law, and the death of the law, and the curse of the law, which is not a reflection (in part) of the perfections of God. Whatever is due to the law is due to the law because it is the law of God, and is due therefore to God himself. ( The Doctrine Of The Death Of Christ... )
   ( The Cross of Christ )

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The Law and the Promise

15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

 ... what are the effects of our justification? I think we can deduce them from another, and sometimes neglected, Pauline expression, namely that we are justified in Christ. (Gal. 2:17. Cf. Rom. 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:6.) To say that we are justified ‘through Christ’ points to his historical death; to say that we are justified ‘in Christ’ points to the personal relationship with him which by faith we now enjoy. This simple fact makes it impossible for us to think of justification as a purely external transaction; it cannot be isolated from our union with Christ and all the benefits which this brings. The first is membership of the Messianic community of Jesus. If we are in Christ and therefore justified, we are also the children of God and the true (spiritual) descendants of Abraham. Further, no racial, social or sexual barrier can come between us. This is the theme of Galatians 3:26–29. Tom Wright is surely correct in his emphasis that ‘justification is not an individualist’s charter, but God’s declaration that we belong to the covenant community’. (Great Acquittal) Secondly, this new community, to create which Christ gave himself on the cross, is to be ‘eager to do what is good’, and its members are to devote themselves to good works. (Titus 2:14; 3:8) So there is no ultimate conflict between Paul and James. They may have been using the verb ‘justify’ in different senses. They were certainly writing against different heresies, Paul against the self-righteous legalism of the Judaizers and James against the dead orthodoxy of the intellectualizers. Yet both teach that an authentic faith works, Paul stressing the faith that issues in works, and James the works that issue from faith. (E.g. Gal. 5:6; 1 Thess. 1:3; Jas 2:14–26.)    ( The Cross of Christ )
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What I'm Reading

Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Gospel of the Egyptians”?

By J. Warner Wallace 12/06/2017

     There are a number of ancient, non-canonical texts used by sect leaders or heretical groups in the early history of Christianity. One of these is called The Gospel of the Egyptians. Is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it written by an eyewitness who accurately captured the actions and statements of Jesus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Gospel of the Egyptians was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who could have actually seen the ministry of Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Gospel of the Egyptians may have contained small nuggets of truth related to Jesus.  Although it is a legendary fabrication altered by an author who wanted to craft a version of the Jesus story that suited the purposes of his religious community, it likely reflected many truths about Jesus:

     The (Greek) Gospel of the Egyptians (120-150AD) | Like other early heretical Gnostic works, The Gospel of the Egyptians (also known as The Greek Gospel of the Egyptians) is presently lost to us. What we do know about the text is what is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus and Epiphanius of Salamis. From what little we have, it is impossible to know if the text was a narrative about Jesus or simply a collection of sayings.

     Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable? | The Gospel of the Egyptians appears in history too late to have been corroborated by the eyewitnesses and makes no claim to eyewitness authority. Scholars place the writing of the book in the mid-2nd century and early Church Fathers cite the book as a late heretical work. Hippolytus connect The Gospel of the Egyptians to the Gnostic sect known as the Naassenes, and Epiphanius connects the text to the heretical group called the Sabellians. The text was most likely used by groups in Egypt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

     How Does It Corroborate the Life of Jesus? | Once again, Jesus is recognized as a wise teacher who had disciples who considered His words to be the source of life. Jesus is described as the “Word”, the “Lord” and the “Savior” who affirms the dualistic reality of the body and soul and the Trinitarian reality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is seen as someone who is interested in teaching women specifically (an unusual attribute given the time and culture) and Salome is described as a target of His attention.

     Where (and Why) Does It Differ from the Reliable Accounts? | The fragments of The Gospel of the Egyptians that are available to us consist primarily of a dialogue between Jesus and Salome. The discussion appears to be advocating celibacy as a means to unite men and women and return them to a form of spirituality that would be pleasing to God. Gnosticism taught that the body was entrapping the soul and generally encouraged a denial of physical pleasures as a way in which to attain spiritual enlightenment. For this reason, many Gnostic sects rejected marriage altogether. This view is clearly expressed in the heretical text of the Gospel of the Egyptians.

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

How to Make Sense of Things We Can’t Control

By Kenneth Samples 6/14/16

     How are we to think about our inability to control certain facts of our lives (e.g., our conception, time of birth, place of birth, family, and culture)? These “givens” in life powerfully remind us that we humans have genuine limitations and boundaries. Our lives are dependent upon many causal factors. Life itself is fragile, short, and there is a clear limit to what we can control through willful decisions. Here are three practical ways we can make sense of our lack of input in life:

     1. We Are Not the Masters of Our Lives

     Suffering often shatters the illusion that we are masters of our own fate. Human volition is still amazingly powerful in life, but choices are often made in response to the givens that first shaped our lives. From a secular viewpoint, the lack of requisite control over the givens (so-called accidents of nature) seems to mean that human beings aren’t able to create personal meaning in life when the world and life as a whole have no objective meaning. From a Christian point of view, believers recognize that God’s providential hand guides nature (Psalm 147:8–9), human history (Psalm 22:28), and even the personal circumstances of our own lives (Psalm 139:16).

     2. We Need to Think for Ourselves

     Because people and their beliefs are so deeply influenced by the givens in life, it is very important to reflect upon the assumptions and presuppositions we bring to the significant issues of existence. The power of these events beyond our control reminds us how limited our knowledge and perspective can be. Thus, the reflective person will want to learn to think for himself or herself and consistently inquire as to the best arguments on all sides of controversial issues. Religious and secular people alike seem susceptible to being too accepting of tradition. We need to think outside of our own worldview and look broadly at how different people make sense of the world. When positions conflict, logically testing truth-claims becomes crucial. Whether a belief is true is more important than when and where a belief was encountered. It seems, however, that in the modern world there is a global community that makes it less likely that people are trapped by these so-called accidents of birth. For example, the Internet has shrunk the world and made it possible for people to hear and consider alternative points of view.

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     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.

Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Do Our Genes Dictate Our Choices?

By Dr. Anjeanette Roberts 12/1/15

     I have two older sisters, and I love them both, but I am often stumped by how very different the three of us are from each other. Although our ages are several years apart, I still find it astonishing that I am genetically more similar to them than to anyone else on this planet. In fact, only if we were identical triplets would we have greater genetic identity.

     At a genetic level, we are 99.9 percent identical to other humans and 98 percent identical to chimps. When we look at similarities and obvious differences in appearance and behavior many find this hard to believe. What does it mean to be 99.9 percent genetically identical to someone who is much more different than I am to my sisters?

     Figures like these and a common perception of genes and heredity has precipitated the view that we are simply biological byproducts of our DNA. As a result, many conclude that our DNA dictates our behavior, as popularized lyrics tout, “I was born this way.” This view is broadly known as genetic determinism.

     Genetic determinism is a reductionistic view of human behavior and identity. In its extreme, it says that my molecular components and physiology determine my personality, behavior, preferences, reactions, and choices. If this view is right—if we are genetically determined and if we are 99.9 percent identical—where is all our diversity coming from?

     As a Christian who is well-versed in the molecular biology of human genetics, I wholeheartedly reject this view of genetic determinism. I believe the core of what makes us human is that we are made in the image of God. This is what makes us unique despite our genetic similarities.

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          Dr. Anjeanette Roberts | Dr. Anjeanette (AJ) Roberts received her PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, and currently serves as a Visiting Fellow with the Rivendell Institute at Yale University in New Haven, CT.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     15. Nor does the Scripture, in speaking of him, withhold the name of God. Paul infers that we are the temple of God, from the fact that "the Spirit of God dwelleth in us," (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; and 2 Cor. 6:16). Now it ought not to be slightly overlooked, that all the promises which God makes of choosing us to himself as a temple, receive their only fulfilment by his Spirit dwelling in us. Surely, as it is admirably expressed by Augustine (Ad Maximinum, Ep. 66), "were we ordered to make a temple of wood and stone to the Spirit, inasmuch as such worship is due to God alone, it would be a clear proof of the Spirit's divinity; how much clearer a proof in that we are not to make a temple to him, but to be ourselves that temple." And the Apostle says at one time that we are the temple of God, and at another time, in the same sense, that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Peter, when he rebuked Ananias for having lied to the Holy Spirit, said, that he had not lied unto men, but unto God. And when Isaiah had introduced the Lord of Hosts as speaking, Paul says, it was the Holy Spirit that spoke (Acts 28:25, 26). Nay, words uniformly said by the prophets to have been spoken by the Lord of Hosts, are by Christ and his apostles ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Hence it follows that the Spirit is the true Jehovah who dictated the prophecies. Again, when God complains that he was provoked to anger by the stubbornness of the people, in place of Him, Isaiah says that his Holy Spirit was grieved (Isa. 63:10). Lastly, while blasphemy against the Spirit is not forgiven, either in the present life or that which is to come, whereas he who has blasphemed against the Son may obtain pardon, that majesty must certainly be divine which it is an inexpiable crime to offend or impair. I designedly omit several passages which the ancient fathers adduced. They thought it plausible to quote from David, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath (Spirit) of his mouth," (Ps. 33:6), in order to prove that the world was not less the work of the Holy Spirit than of the Son. But seeing it is usual in the Psalms to repeat the same thing twice, and in Isaiah the spirit (breath) of the mouth is equivalent to word, that proof was weak; and, accordingly, my wish has been to advert briefly to those proofs on which pious minds may securely rest.

     16. But as God has manifested himself more clearly by the advent of Christ, so he has made himself more familiarly known in three persons. Of many proofs let this one suffice. Paul connects together these three, God, Faith, and Baptism, and reasons from the one to the other--viz. because there is one faith he infers that there is one God; and because there is one baptism he infers that there is one faith. Therefore, if by baptism we are initiated into the faith and worship of one God, we must of necessity believe that he into whose name we are baptised is the true God. And there cannot be a doubt that our Saviour wished to testify, by a solemn rehearsal, that the perfect light of faith is now exhibited, when he said, "Go and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," (Mt. 28:19), since this is the same thing as to be baptised into the name of the one God, who has been fully manifested in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Hence it plainly appears, that the three persons, in whom alone God is known, subsist in the Divine essence. And since faith certainly ought not to look hither and thither, or run up and down after various objects, but to look, refer, and cleave to God alone, it is obvious that were there various kinds of faith, there behaved also to be various gods. Then, as the baptism of faith is a sacrament, its unity assures us of the unity of God. Hence also it is proved that it is lawful only to be baptised into one God, because we make a profession of faith in him in whose name we are baptised. What, then, is our Saviour's meaning in commanding baptism to be administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, if it be not that we are to believe with one faith in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit? [96] But is this any thing else than to declare that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God? Wherefore, since it must be held certain that there is one God, not more than one, we conclude that the Word and Spirit are of the very essence of God. Nothing could be more stupid than the trifling of the Arians, who, while acknowledging the divinity of the Son, denied his divine essence. Equally extravagant were the ravings of the Macedonians, who insisted that by the Spirit were only meant the gifts of grace poured out upon men. For as wisdom understanding, prudence, fortitude, and the fear of the Lord, proceed from the Spirit, so he is the one Spirit of wisdom, prudence, fortitude, and piety. He is not divided according to the distribution of his gifts, but, as the Apostle assures us (1 Cor. 12:11), however they be divided, he remains one and the same.

     17. On the other hand, the Scriptures demonstrate that there is some distinction between the Father and the Word, the Word and the Spirit; but the magnitude of the mystery reminds us of the great reverence and soberness which ought to he employed in discussing it. It seems to me, that nothing can be more admirable than the words of Gregory Nanzianzen: " Ou phtha'no to e'i noesai, kai` tois trisi` perila'mpomai ou phtha'no ta` tri'a dielein kai` ei`s to` en anaphe'romai" (Greg. Nanzian. in Serm. de Sacro Baptis.). "I cannot think of the unity without being irradiated by the Trinity: I cannot distinguish between the Trinity without being carried up to the unity." [97] Therefore, let us beware of imagining such a Trinity of persons as will distract our thoughts, instead of bringing them instantly back to the unity. The words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, certainly indicate a real distinction, not allowing us to suppose that they are merely epithets by which God is variously designated from his works. Still they indicate distinction only, not division. The passages we have already quoted show that the Son has a distinct subsistence from the Father, because the Word could not have been with God unless he were distinct from the Father; nor but for this could he have had his glory with the Father. In like manner, Christ distinguishes the Father from himself when he says that there is another who bears witness of him (John 5:32; 8:16). To the same effect is it elsewhere said, that the Father made all things by the Word. This could not be, if he were not in some respect distinct from him. Besides, it was not the Father that descended to the earth, but he who came forth from the Father; nor was it the Father that died and rose again, but he whom the Father had sent. This distinction did not take its beginning at the incarnation: for it is clear that the only begotten Son previously existed in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). For who will dare to affirm that the Son entered his Father's bosom for the first time, when he came down from heaven to assume human nature? Therefore, he was previously in the bosom of the Father, and had his glory with the Father. Christ intimates the distinction between the Holy Spirit and the Father, when he says that the Spirit proceedeth from the Father, and between the Holy Spirit and himself, when he speaks of him as another as he does when he declares that he will send another Comforter; and in many other passages besides (John 14:6; 15:26; 14:16).

     18. I am not sure whether it is expedient to borrow analogies from human affairs to express the nature of this distinction. The ancient fathers sometimes do so, but they at the same time admits that what they bring forward as analogous is very widely different. And hence it is that I have a great dread of any thing like presumption here, lest some rash saying may furnish an occasion of calumny to the malicious, or of delusion to the unlearned. It were unbecoming, however, to say nothing of a distinction which we observe that the Scriptures have pointed out. This distinction is, that to the Father is attributed the beginning of action, the fountain and source of all things; to the Son, wisdom, counsel, and arrangement in action, while the energy and efficacy of action is assigned to the Spirit. Moreover, though the eternity of the Father is also the eternity of the Son and Spirit, since God never could be without his own wisdom and energy; and though in eternity there can be no room for first or last, still the distinction of order is not unmeaning or superfluous, the Father being considered first, next the Son from him, and then the Spirit from both. For the mind of every man naturally inclines to consider, first, God, secondly, the wisdom emerging from him, and, lastly, the energy by which he executes the purposes of his counsel. For this reason, the Son is said to be of the Father only; the Spirit of both the Father and the Son. This is done in many passages, but in none more clearly than in the eighth chapter to the Romans, where the same Spirit is called indiscriminately the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of him who raised up Christ from the dead. And not improperly. For Peter also testifies (1 Pet. 1:21), that it was the Spirit of Christ which inspired the prophets, though the Scriptures so often say that it was the Spirit of God the Father.

     19. Moreover, this distinction is so far from interfering with the most perfect unity of God, that the Son may thereby be proved to be one God with the Father, inasmuch as he constitutes one Spirit with him, and that the Spirit is not different from the Father and the Son, inasmuch as he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. In each hypostasis the whole nature is understood the only difference being that each has his own peculiar subsistence. The whole Father is in the Son, and the whole Son in the Father, as the Son himself also declares (John 14:10), "I am in the Father, and the Father in me;" nor do ecclesiastical writers admit that the one is separated from the other by any difference of essence. "By those names which denote distinctions" says Augustine "is meant the relation which they mutually bear to each other, not the very substance by which they are one." In this way, the sentiments of the Fathers, which might sometimes appear to be at variance with each other, are to be reconciled. At one time they teach that the Father is the beginning of the Son, at another they assert that the Son has both divinity and essence from himself, and therefore is one beginning with the Father. The cause of this discrepancy is well and clearly explained by Augustine, when he says, [98] "Christ, as to himself, is called God, as to the Father he is called Son." And again, "The Father, as to himself, is called God, as to the Son he is called Father. He who, as to the Son, is called Father, is not Son; and he who, as to himself, is called Father, and he who, as to himself, is called Son, is the same God." Therefore, when we speak of the Son simply, without reference to the Father, we truly and properly affirm that he is of himself, and, accordingly, call him the only beginning; but when we denote the relation which he bears to the Father, we correctly make the Father the beginning of the Son. Augustine's fifth book on the Trinity is wholly devoted to the explanation of this subject. But it is far safer to rest contented with the relation as taught by him, than get bewildered in vain speculation by subtle prying into a sublime mystery.

     20. Let those, then, who love soberness, and are contented with the measure of faith, briefly receive what is useful to be known. It is as follows:--When we profess to believe in one God, by the name God is understood the one simple essence, comprehending three persons or hypostases; and, accordingly, whenever the name of God is used indefinitely, the Son and Spirit, not less than the Father, is meant. But when the Son is joined with the Father, relation comes into view, and so we distinguish between the Persons. But as the Personal subsistence carry an order with them, the principle and origin being in the Father, whenever mention is made of the Father and Son, or of the Father and Spirit together, the name of God is specially given to the Father. In this way the unity of essence is retained, and respect is had to the order, which, however derogates in no respect from the divinity of the Son and Spirit. And surely since we have already seen how the apostles declare the Son of God to have been He whom Moses and the prophets declared to be Jehovah, we must always arrive at a unity of essence. We, therefore, hold it detestable blasphemy to call the Son a different God from the Father, because the simple name God admits not of relation, nor can God, considered in himself, be said to be this or that. Then, that the name Jehovah, taken indefinitely, may be applied to Christ, is clear from the words of Paul, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice." After giving the answer, "My grace is sufficient for thee," he subjoins, "that the power of Christ may rest upon me," (2 Cor. 12:8, 9). For it is certain that the name of Lord (Kuri'os) is there put for Jehovah, and, therefore, to restrict it to the person of the Mediator were puerile and frivolous, the words being used absolutely, and not with the view of comparing the Father and the Son. And we know that, in accordance with the received usage of the Greeks, the apostles uniformly substitute the word Kuri'os for Jehovah. Not to go far for an example, Paul besought the Lord in the same sense in which Peter quotes the passage of Joel, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:28). Where this name is specially applied to the Son, there is a different ground for it, as will be seen in its own place; at present it is sufficient to remember, that Paul, after praying to God absolutely, immediately subjoins the name of Christ. Thus, too, the Spirit is called God absolutely by Christ himself. For nothing prevents us from holding that he is the entire spiritual essence of God, in which are comprehended Father, Son, and Spirit. This is plain from Scripture. For as God is there called a Spirit, so the Holy Spirit also, in so far as he is a hypostasis of the whole essence, is said to be both of God and from God.

     21. But since Satan, in order to pluck up our faith by the roots, has always provoked fierce disputes, partly concerning the divine essence of the Son and Spirit, and partly concerning the distinction of persons; since in almost every age he has stirred up impious spirits to vex the orthodox doctors on this head, and is attempting in the present day to kindle a new flame out of the old embers, it will be proper here to dispose of some of these perverse dreams. Hitherto our chief object has been to stretch out our hand for the guidance of such as are disposed to learn, not to war with the stubborn and contentious; but now the truth which was calmly demonstrated must be vindicated from the calumnies of the ungodly. Still, however it will be our principal study to provide a sure footing for those whose ears are open to the word of God. Here, if any where, in considering the hidden mysteries of Scripture, we should speculate soberly and with great moderation, cautiously guarding against allowing either our mind or our tongue to go a step beyond the confines of God's word. For how can the human minds which has not yet been able to ascertain of what the body of the sun consists, though it is daily presented to the eye, bring down the boundless essence of God to its little measure? Nay, how can it, under its own guidance, penetrate to a knowledge of the substance of God while unable to understand its own? Wherefore, let us willingly leave to God the knowledge of himself. In the words of Hilary (De Trinit. lib. 1), "He alone is a fit witness to himself who is known only by himself." This knowledge, then, if we would leave to God, we must conceive of him as he has made himself known, and in our inquiries make application to no other quarter than his word. On this subject we have five homilies of Chrysostom against the Anomoei (De Incomprehensit. Dei Natura), in which he endeavoured, but in vain, to check the presumption of the sophists, and curb their garrulity. They showed no more modesty here than they are wont to do in everything else. The very unhappy results of their temerity should be a warning to us to bring more docility than acumen to the discussion of this question, never to attempt to search after God anywhere but in his sacred word, and never to speak or think of him farther than we have it for our guide. But if the distinction of Father, Son, and Spirit, subsisting in the one Godhead (certainly a subject of great difficulty), gives more trouble and annoyance to some intellects than is meet, let us remember that the human mind enters a labyrinth whenever it indulges its curiosity, and thus submit to be guided by the divine oracles, how much soever the mystery may be beyond our reach.

     22. It were tedious, and to no purpose toilsome, to form a catalogue of the errors by which, in regard to this branch of doctrine, the purity of the faith has been assailed. The greater part of heretics have with their gross deliriums made a general attack on the glory of God, deeming it enough if they could disturb and shake the unwary. From a few individuals numerous sects have sprung up, some of them rending the divine essence, and others confounding the distinction of Persons. But if we hold, what has already been demonstrated from Scripture, that the essence of the one God, pertaining to the Father, Son, and Spirit, is simple and indivisible, and again, that the Father differs in some special property from the Son, and the Son from the Spirit, the door will be shut against Arius and Sabellius, as well as the other ancient authors of error. But as in our day have arisen certain frantic men, such as Servetus and others, who, by new devices, have thrown every thing into confusion, it may be worthwhile briefly to discuss their fallacies.

     The name of Trinity was so much disliked, nay detested, by Servetus, that he charged all whom he called Trinitarians with being Atheists. I say nothing of the insulting terms in which he thought proper to make his charges. The sum of his speculations was, that a threefold Deity is introduced wherever three Persons are said to exist in his essence, and that this Triad was imaginary, inasmuch as it was inconsistent with the unity of God. At the same time, he would have it that the Persons are certain external ideas which do not truly subsist in the Divine essence, but only figure God to us under this or that form: that at first, indeed, there was no distinction in God, because originally the Word was the same as the Spirit, but ever since Christ came forth God of God, another Spirit, also a God, had proceeded from him. But although he sometimes cloaks his absurdities in allegory, as when he says that the eternal Word of God was the Spirit of Christ with God, and the reflection of the idea, likewise that the Spirit was a shadow of Deity, he at last reduces the divinity of both to nothing; maintaining that, according to the mode of distribution, there is a part of God as well in the Son as in the Spirit, just as the same Spirit substantially is a portion of God in us, and also in wood and stone. His absurd babbling concerning the person of the Mediator will be seen in its own place. [99]

     The monstrous fiction that a Person is nothing else than a visible appearance of the glory of God, needs not a long refutation. For when John declares that before the world was created the Logos was God (John 1:1), he shows that he was something very different from an idea. But if even then, and from the remotest eternity, that Logos, who was God, was with the Father, and had his own distinct and peculiar glory with the Father (John 17:5), he certainly could not be an external or figurative splendour, but must necessarily have been a hypostasis which dwelt inherently in God himself. But although there is no mention made of the Spirit antecedent to the account of the creation, he is not there introduced as a shadow, but as the essential power of God, where Moses relates that the shapeless mass was unborn by him (Gen. 1:2). It is obvious that the eternal Spirit always existed in God, seeing he cherished and sustained the confused materials of heaven and earth before they possessed order or beauty. Assuredly he could not then be an image or representation of God, as Servetus dreams. But he is elsewhere forced to make a more open disclosure of his impiety when he says, that God by his eternal reason decreeing a Son to himself, in this way assumed a visible appearance. For if this be true, no other Divinity is left to Christ than is implied in his having been ordained a Son by God's eternal decree. Moreover, those phantoms which Servetus substitutes for the hypostases he so transforms as to make new changes in God. But the most execrable heresy of all is his confounding both the Son and Spirit promiscuously with all the creatures. For he distinctly asserts, that there are parts and partitions in the essence of God, and that every such portion is God. This he does especially when he says, that the spirits of the faithful are co-eternal and consubstantial with God, although he elsewhere assigns a substantial divinity, not only to the soul of man, but to all created things.

     23. This pool has bred another monster not unlike the former. For certain restless spirits, unwilling to share the disgrace and obloquy of the impiety of Servetus, have confessed that there were indeed three Persons, but added, as a reason, that the Father, who alone is truly and properly God, transfused his Divinity into the Son and Spirit when he formed them. Nor do they refrain from expressing themselves in such shocking terms as these: that the Father is essentially distinguished from the Son and Spirit by this; that he is the only essentiator. Their first pretext for this is, that Christ is uniformly called the Son of God. From this they infer, that there is no proper God but the Father. But they forget, that although the name of God is common also to the Son, yet it is sometimes, by way of excellence, ascribed to the Father, as being the source and principle of Divinity; and this is done in order to mark the simple unity of essence. They object, that if the Son is truly God, he must be deemed the Son of a person: which is absurd. I answer, that both are true; namely, that he is the Son of God, because he is the Word, begotten of the Father before all ages; (for we are not now speaking of the Person of the Mediator), and yet, that for the purpose of explanation, regard must be had to the Person, so that the name God may not be understood in its absolute sense, but as equivalent to Father. For if we hold that there is no other God than the Fathers this rank is clearly denied to the Son.

     In every case where the Godhead is mentioned, we are by no means to admit that there is an antithesis between the Father and the Son, as if to the former only the name of God could competently be applied. For assuredly, the God who appeared to Isaiah was the one true God, and yet John declares that he was Christ (Isa. 6; John 12:41). He who declared, by the mouth of Isaiah, that he was to be "for a stone of stumbling" to the Jews, was the one God; and yet Paul declares that he was Christ (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:33). He who proclaims by Isaiah, "Unto me every knee shall bow," is the one God; yet Paul again explains that he is Christ (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11). To this we may add the passages quoted by an Apostle, "Thou, Lord, hast laid the foundations of the earth;" "Let all the angels of God worship him," (Heb. 1:10; 10:6; Ps. 102:26; 97:7). All these apply to the one God; and yet the Apostle contends that they are the proper attributes of Christ. There is nothing in the cavil, that what properly applies to God is transferred to Christ, because he is the brightness of his glory. Since the name of Jehovah is everywhere applied to Christ, it follows that, in regard to Deity, he is of himself. For if he is Jehovah, it is impossible to deny that he is the same God who elsewhere proclaims by Isaiah, "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God," (Is. 44:6). We would also do well to ponder the words of Jeremiah, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens," (Jer. 10:11); whence it follows conversely, that He whose divinity Isaiah repeatedly proves from the creation of the world, is none other than the Son of God. And how is it possible that the Creator, who gives to all should not be of himself, but should borrow his essence from another? Whosoever says that the Son was essentiated by the Father, [100] denies his selfexistence. Against this, however, the Holy Spirit protests, when he calls him Jehovah. On the supposition, then, that the whole essence is in the Father only, the essence becomes divisible, or is denied to the Son, who, being thus robbed of his essences will be only a titular God. If we are to believe these triflers, divine essence belongs to the Father only, on the ground that he is sole God, and essentiator of the Son. In this way, the divinity of the Son will be something abstracte [101] from the essence of God, or the derivation of a part from the whole. On the same principle it must also be conceded, that the Spirit belongs to the Father only. For if the derivation is from the primary essence which is proper to none but the Father, the Spirit cannot justly be deemed the Spirit of the Son. This view, however, is refuted by the testimony of Paul, when he makes the Spirit common both to Christ and the Father. Moreover, if the Person of the Father is expunged from the Trinity, in what will he differ from the Son and Spirit, except in being the only God? They confess that Christ is God, and that he differs from the Father. If he differs, there must be some mark of distinction between them. Those who place it in the essence, manifestly reduce the true divinity of Christ to nothing, since divinity cannot exist without essence, and indeed without entire essence. [102] The Father certainly cannot differ from the Son, unless he have something peculiar to himself, and not common to him with the Son. What, then, do these men show as the mark of distinction? If it is in the essence, let them tell whether or not he communicated essence to the Son. This he could not do in part merely, for it were impious to think of a divided God. And besides, on this supposition, there would be a rending of the Divine essence. The whole entire essence must therefore be common to the Father and the Son; and if so, in respect of essence there is no distinction between them. If they reply that the Father, while essentiating, still remains the only God, being the possessor of the essence, then Christ will be a figurative God, one in name or semblance only, and not in reality, because no property can be more peculiar to God than essence, according to the words, "I Am hath sent me unto you," (Ex. 3:4).

     24. The assumption, that whenever God is mentioned absolutely, the Father only is meant, may be proved erroneous by many passages. Even in those which they quote in support of their views they betray a lamentable inconsistency because the name of Son occurs there by way of contrast, showing that the other name God is used relatively, and in that way confined to the person of the Father. Their objection may be disposed of in a single word. Were not the Father alone the true God, he would, say they, be his own Father. But there is nothing absurd in the name of God being specially applied, in respect of order and degree, to him who not only of himself begat his own wisdom, but is the God of the Mediator, as I will more fully show in its own place. For ever since Christ was manifested in the flesh he is called the Son of God, not only because begotten of the Father before all worlds he was the Eternal Word, but because he undertook the person and office of the Mediator that he might unite us to God. Seeing they are so bold in excluding the Son from the honour of God, I would fain know whether, when he declares that there is "none good but one, that is, God," he deprives himself of goodness. I speak not of his human nature, lest perhaps they should object, that whatever goodness was in it was derived by gratuitous gift: I ask whether the Eternal Word of God is good, yes or no? If they say no, their impiety is manifest; if yes, they refute themselves. Christ's seeming at the first glance to disclaim the name of good (Mt. 19:17), rather confirms our view. Goodness. being the special property of God alone, and yet being at the time applied to him in the ordinary way of salutation, his rejection of false honour intimates that the goodness in which he excels is Divine. Again, I ask whether, when Paul affirms. that God alone is "immortal," "wise, and true," (1 Tim. 1:17), he reduces Christ to the rank of beings mortal, foolish, and false. Is not he immortal, who, from the beginning, had life so as to bestow immortality on angels? Is not he wise who is the eternal wisdom of God? Is not he true who is truth itself?

     I ask, moreover, whether they think Christ should be worshipped. If he claims justly, that every knee shall bow to him, it follows that he is the God who, in the law, forbade worship to be offered to any but himself. If they insist on applying to the Father only the words of Isaiah, "I am, and besides me there is none else," (Is. 44:6), I turn the passage against themselves, since we see that every property of God is attributed to Christ. [103] There is no room for the cavil that Christ was exalted in the flesh in which he humbled himself, and in respect of which all power is given to him in heaven and on earth. For although the majesty of King and Judge extends to the whole person of the Mediator, yet had he not been God manifested in the flesh, he could not have been exalted to such a height without coming into collision with God. And the dispute is admirably settled by Paul, when he declares that he was equal with God before he humbled himself, and assumed the form of a servants (Phil. 2:6, 7). Moreover, how could such equality exist, if he were not that God whose name is Jah and Jehovah, who rides upon the cherubim, is King of all the earth, and King of ages? Let them glamour as they may, Christ cannot be robbed of the honour described by Isaiah, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him," (Is. 25:9); for these words describe the advent of God the Redeemer, who was not only to bring back the people from Babylonish captivity, but restore the Church, and make her completely perfect.

     Nor does another cavil avail them, that Christ was God in his Father. For though we admit that, in respect of order and gradation, the beginning of divinity is in the Father, we hold it a detestable fiction to maintain that essence is proper to the Father alone, as if he were the deifier of the Son. On this view either the essence is manifold, or Christ is God only in name and imagination. If they grant that the Son is God, but only in subordination to the Father, the essence which in the Father is unformed and unbegotten will in him be formed and begotten. I know that many who would be thought wise deride us for extracting the distinction of persons from the words of Moses when he introduces God as saying, "Let us make man in our own image," (Gen. 1:26). Pious readers, however, see how frigidly and absurdly the colloquy were introduced by Moses, if there were not several persons in the Godhead. It is certain that those whom the Father addresses must have been untreated. But nothing is untreated except the one God. Now then, unless they concede that the power of creating was common to the Father, Son, and Spirit, and the power of commanding common, it will follow that God did not speak thus inwardly with himself, but addressed other extraneous architects. In fine, there is a single passage which will at once dispose of these two objections. The declaration of Christ that "God is a Spirit," (John 4:24), cannot be confined to the Father only, as if the Word were not of a spiritual nature. But if the name Spirit applies equally to the Son as to the Father, I infer that under the indefinite name of God the Son is included. He adds immediately after, that the only worshipers approved by the Father are those who worship him in spirit and in truth; and hence I also infer, that because Christ performs the office of teacher under a head, he applies the name God to the Father, not for the purpose of destroying his own Divinity, but for the purpose of raising us up to it as it were step by step.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain      Institutes of the Christian Religion

More Deaths in the Name of God—or No Gods?

By Kenneth Samples 3/17/15

     Great evil has been done in the name of Christ. This charge, a frequent objection to historic Christianity raised especially by the new atheist authors,1 typifies discussions of such historical events as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem witch trials. While characterizing historic Christianity as harsh and violent, the new atheists also insist that atheism, by contrast, is a rational and peaceful belief system.

     For example, in his bestselling book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins asserts that “individual atheists may do evil things but they don’t do evil things in the name of atheism.” However, “religious wars really are fought in the name of religion, and they have been horribly frequent in history.”

     In briefly responding to this provocative topic, I offer four points for consideration.

     1. Exaggeration of Christian Evil

     The new atheists exaggerate the amount of evil done in the name of Christ. For example, the Crusades (1095–1291), military campaigns carried out by Western Christian forces against invading Islamic armies, were for the most part defensive engagements (implementation of Christian just war theory). And though the Inquisition and Salem witch trials were morally regrettable events that involved unfortunate violence, the number of people killed during these episodes is much lower than one might think. Consider the estimate of Christian author Dinesh D’Souza: (The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party, Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream )

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.

Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

World Religions: The Sage and the Savior

By Kenneth Samples 3/3/15

     Among the world’s great religious leaders, two became far-reaching moral instructors of humanity. Confucius (the sage) laid down the ethical foundation for much of Asian civilization. Jesus of Nazareth (the Savior) taught moral lessons that distinctly shaped the ethical nature of Western civilization. Yet while both became great moral teachers, the identity, mission, and message of these two influential men stand in powerful contrast.

     The Chinese Sage

     Born in China as K’ung Fu-tzu (551–479 BC), this philosopher became known in the West by his Latinized name “Confucius.” While the lives of other famous Chinese teachers are mixed with legend (such as Taoism’s Lao-tzu), historians have reliably documented Confucius’ life. This historical imprint is due to his significant influence on Chinese history and culture.

     Though disadvantaged, Confucius received a robust liberal education that prepared him well for the civil service he entered at an early age. He eventually rose to the powerful position of minister of justice in the Chinese government. Later in life he left government and became an itinerant teacher with a significant following. Described as a “one-man university,” Master K’ung (as he was called) is said to have provided instruction in such fields as history, poetry, government, propriety, music, philosophy, and divination. Confucius’ collection of influential teachings was later compiled into a book called the Analects.

     Confucius’ central teaching focused upon developing a system of ethics that would produce a morally superior human being (the “magnanimous man”). In light of China’s troubling cycle of anarchy and warfare, he strove for an efficient and benevolent form of government that would lead to a morally ideal state. He attempted to define a system of conduct that could be applied to all aspects of society:

Click here to go to source

     Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity's truth claims. Through his writing and speaking as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), he encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical worldview level.

     An intellectual even at a young age, Kenneth's journey to faith in Christ began in earnest during his teenage years as he wrestled with a deep sense of longing and restlessness. His older brother's suicide spurred his efforts to seek answers to life's "big questions." Eventually, he began reading the Bible and attending church, but it was his sister's gift of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped Kenneth to truly understand the Christian Gospel and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying and deeply personal faith.

     Today, Kenneth focuses on demonstrating the unique compatibility of Christianity's great doctrinal truths with reason and logic. He is the author of several books, including God Among Sages, Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, A World of Difference, and Without a Doubt. He leads RTB's Straight Thinking podcast and also writes Reflections, a weekly blog dedicated to exploring the Christian worldview. Kenneth has spoken at universities and churches around the world on such topics as religion and worldview, the identity of Jesus, and Christian apologetics. He also makes frequent guest appearances on radio programs such as The Frank Sontag Show, Issues Etc., and Stand to Reason, lectures as an adjunct professor at Biola University, and teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California.

     An avid student of American history, Kenneth earned a BA in social science with an emphasis in history and philosophy from Concordia University and an MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. Prior to joining RTB in 1997, Kenneth worked for seven years as senior research consultant and correspondence editor at Christian Research Institute, where he regularly cohosted The Bible Answer Man, a popular call-in radio program founded by renowned apologist Dr. Walter Martin. In addition, Kenneth's articles have been published in Christianity Today, Christian Research Journal, and Facts for Faith, and he holds memberships in the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

     Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan. They have three children.

Kenneth Richard Samples Books:

Adaptation: A Story of Brilliant Design

By Dr. Anjeanette Roberts 9/22/15

     In storytelling, every tale is told within an overarching framework. Settings, events, characters are critical in storytelling and plot development. The best writers create tension, foreshadowing, plot twists, and characterizations that not only entertain, but also make sense within the world the writer has established. It’s how it all fits together and progresses towards a meaningful, if not surprising, ending that makes a great story. Bad stories, on the other hand, result when the story’s world violates its own principles, or when the protagonist defies his or her own nature.

     Two Tales of the World

     If we consider cosmic and life history as a story, then we could expect it to unfold and develop in ways that reflect its origin and purpose. Naturalistic explanations and assumptions will produce a story structured very differently, with very different characters and settings than one described by a biblical model, in which a powerful, intelligent, transcendent Being created the universe and life. Let’s ponder the tales these two tell.

     In a naturalistic story line, as time unfolds the physical, mechanistic interactions observable in the universe, there can be no goal, no foreshadowed climax, and no moral or purpose in the end. The characters are mechanistic and the setting is devoid of intent and purpose. Any language that is employed to animate naturalistic processes or biological entities as characters of intent does not fit well with the naturalistic story structure and foundation. For example, to tell a naturalistic story where viruses “cleverly evade” a host’s defense system or genes evolve and persist because they are “selfish” and “desire survival” is extremely poor naturalistic storytelling. As is the following: “Almost all aspects of life are engineered at the molecular level” [emphasis added].1 The language is inconsistent with naturalistic mechanisms because it does not reflect unguided mutations and natural selection. Instead, it endues the characters with imaginary powers.

     A naturalistic story without characters of intent and action would captivate no one. Not only would it bore us to tears; it would be a hard sale because it’s an account foreign to our daily experiences.

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     Dr. Anjeanette Roberts | Dr. Anjeanette (AJ) Roberts received her PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, and currently serves as a Visiting Fellow with the Rivendell Institute at Yale University in New Haven, CT.

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #6: “In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books”

By Michael J. Kruger 05/09/2012

     The date of the NT canon is one of the most controversial questions in biblical studies today. As a prior post indicated, part of the answer to the question of date is dependent upon one’s definition of “canon.” But, even if we take the functional definition of canon — books are canonical when they are being used as Scripture — there is still debate about how early this took place.

     In recent years, however, somewhat of a quasi-consensus has been building that the canon was first regarded as Scripture at the end of the second century (c.200). McDonald is representative of this view, “[New Testament] documents were not generally recognized as Scripture until the end of the second century C.E.” The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, And Authority

     The reason for this focus on the end of the second century is not hard to find. It is at this point that the major figure Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, offers some of the clearest and most comprehensive statements on the canon to date. Most notable is his affirmation that the four gospels were so certain that their existence is entrenched in the very structure of creation, “It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer than the number they are.” Because of Irenaeus’ confident language about the NT canon, Scholars have sought to paint Irenaeus as an innovator. Up to this point, supposedly no one else was concerned about such things. Ireneaus broke new ground and, in essence, single-handedly created the NT Canon.

     But, was Irenaeus really alone? Was he the innovator scholars have made him out to be? Let us consider a number of historical sources which show that others during this same time frame (and earlier) also regarded NT books as Scripture. As we briefly examine these sources, we should remember that we are concerned here not with the extent of canon but with the existence of canon. Although the boundaries of the canon had not yet solidified at this point, it is still clear that many of these books were viewed as Scripture long before 200 AD.

     In terms of Irenaeus’ contemporaries, two key sources tell us that he was not alone. The Muratorian fragment (c.180) is our earliest canonical list and affirms approximately 22 of the 27 books of the NT, remarkably close to Irenaeus’ own position. Moreover, writing just slightly later than Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria (c.198) had a remarkably similar position, affirming the 4 gospels, 13 epistles of Paul,  Hebrews, Acts, 1 Peter, 1&2 John, Jude, and  Revelation. Such a widespread affirmation of thee books could not have happened overnight (sort of a “big bang” theory of canon), but would have required some predecessors. Let us examine who some of those predecessors were (and here we must be brief):

     Justin Martyr (c.150): He refers to plural “gospels” and at one point provides an indication of how many he has in mind when he describes these gospels as “drawn up by His apostles and those who followed them.” Since such language indicates (at least) two gospels written by apostles, and (at least) two written by apostolic companions, it is most naturally understood as reference to our four canonical gospels. The fact that he actually cites from the Synoptics and  John shows that he had a fourfold gospel in mind.

     Papias (c.125): As mentioned in another post, Papias tells us that the early church had received the gospels of  Mark and  Matthew and valued because of their apostolic status. In fact, Papias even affirms that  Mark received his information from Peter himself — a very ancient tradition of the church. Although Papias writes c.125, he actually refers to an earlier time (c.90) when he received this information from “the Elder” (who is no doubt  John the Elder, one of Jesus’ disciples). Papias also knew  1 Peter, 1 John, Revelation, and some Pauline epistles.

     Barnabas (c.130). The Epistle of Barnabas (4.14) explicitly cites  Matt 22:14: “Many are called but few are chosen.” Barnabas clearly regards  Matthew as Scripture because he introduces his citation with “It is written” (the same language he uses when citing OT books).

     1 Clement (c.95). 1 Clement charges the church to “Take up the epistle of that blessed apostle, Paul… To be sure, he sent you a letter in the Spirit concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos.” Scholars agree that Clement is referring here to the letter of  1 Corinthians which he said Paul wrote “in the Spirit,” no doubt showing the high authority he gave to the book. 1 Clement also makes likely allusions to other epistles of Paul including  Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians; and also  Hebrews.

     2 Pet 3:16 (c.65). One of the earliest examples comes from the well-known passage in  2 Pet 3:16 where Paul’s letters are regarded as on par with “the other Scriptures” of the Old Testament. Most notably, this passage does not refer to just one letter of Paul, but to a collection of Paul’s letters (how many is unclear) that had already begun to circulate throughout the churches — so much so that the author could refer to “all his [Paul’s] letters” and expect that his audience would understand that to which he was referring.

     This is a very brief sampling of the use of NT books as Scripture within the first and second centuries. But it is sufficient to show that the NT canon did not pop into existence at the end of the second century in a “big bang” sort of fashion. Instead, we have solid evidence that NT books were used as Scripture from a very early time period (according to  2 Peter, even in the first century itself). Despite the fact that boundaries of the canon were not solidified until a later time, it is clear that a “core” canon was present from nearly the very beginning.

     If so, then there are two significant implications we can draw from this. First, this means that most of the debates and disagreements about canonical books in early Christianity only concerned a handful of books. Books like  2-3 John, Jude, 2 Peter and so on. Early Christianity was not a wide open literary free for all, where there was no agreement on much of anything. Instead there was an agreed - upon core that no one really disputed.

     Second, if there was a core collection of New Testament books, then the theological trajectory of early Christianity had already been determined prior to the debates about the peripheral books being resolved. So, regardless of the outcome of discussion over books like  2 Peter or  Jude, Christianity’s core doctrines of the person of Christ, the work of Christ, the means of salvation, etc., were already in place and already established. The acceptance or rejection of books like  2 Peter would not change that fact.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here.

Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 137

How Shall We Sing the LORD’s Song?

137:1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

ESV Study Bible

Abortion’s Guilt

By Melissa Kruger 7/01/2016

     Tears filled her eyes as she told me her story: an older boyfriend, pressure to have sex, pregnant at fourteen, and an abortion to cover the shame. Even though she’d been raised in a Christian family, the weight of guilt that followed these early choices led to years of wandering. She questioned, “Is there grace enough for me?”

     The tide of abortion’s guilt rises high, threating to engulf a woman’s entire life with shame, regret, and feelings of unworthiness. Statistics report that  nearly three in ten women will have an abortion.  These numbers speak to the reality that our churches are filled with women who have had abortions (and men who have encouraged abortions).

     Maybe this is your story. And perhaps you wonder, “Is there grace enough for me?”

     In Christ, there is freedom from the penalty of past sins. As Paul wrote: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). In Christ, we are not the sum of our past choices, but we are made beautiful and new by the work of the Spirit within us. Yes, there is grace enough for you.

     However, many women who have had abortions and men who have encouraged abortions find it difficult to walk in the freedom Christ has secured. If this is you, then you may hear the father of lies speak words of condemnation, fear, and doubt as fiery arrows to assault your faith. You may feel tempted to self-incarcerate, declaring yourself unworthy of ministry, service, and joy because of a past abortion.

     Yet, the good news is truly good news. Jesus can bring complete healing to the heart broken by abortion. If you long to walk in newness of life, He invites you, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). By seeking Jesus, the community of the church, and ministry to others, you can come out of the shadows into His marvelous light:

     But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Seek Jesus

     On the eve of His death, Jesus gave His disciples this instruction:

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:3–5)

     Jesus declared the disciples clean. They were not asked to abide in Jesus in order to get clean; instead, they were enabled to abide because they were already clean. Jesus provides the only pathway to God, as well as the nourishment our souls need to walk in newness of life. Spending time with Jesus is as necessary as food or water. The more time you spend in the Word and in prayer, the more God shapes your understanding of who you are in Christ.  Your identity is not in your past abortion, but in your present adoption. In Christ, you are a beloved child of God.

     Paul’s understanding of this concept is reflected in his letters to the various churches. Paul calls the recipients of his epistles “the saints” in Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc., not “the sinners.” Surely, Paul’s recipients still struggled with past choices and current temptations (as Paul did himself; see Rom. 7), but Paul understood their identity as saints who struggle with sin rather than as sinners working toward sainthood.

     If the past sin of abortion speaks words of present condemnation, hear this precious truth: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). He has called you a saint, a beloved child of God. You are invited to approach the throne of grace with confidence because you have a sympathetic Savior (Heb. 4:15–16). God’s Word offers daily reminders of His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Spending time with Jesus transforms and renews your mind, fortifying you against feelings of unworthiness and shame.

Seek Community

     In addition to seeking Jesus, it is also of vital importance to seek the community of the church as part of your healing. James 5:16 encourages, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

     If you’ve never shared with anyone about your abortion, I encourage you to talk to your pastor or to seek out a mature believer with whom you can share your story. Many pregnancy resource centers offer post-abortion counseling and support groups. The pregnancy resource center in my area uses a curriculum called Surrendering the Secret to help women walk together in grief, forgiveness, and healing.

     Recently, a pastor told me the story of providing a memorial service at his church for babies lost to abortion. A woman who had had an abortion twenty years earlier came up to him after the service, saying, “The blood of Christ took away my guilt, but today the body of Christ took away my shame.” The compassion and love offered through the community of the church is a powerful part of the healing process.

Seek Ministry

     The shame of past choices may have caused you to run away from the church and from a relationship with Jesus. You may have spent years spiraling into sinful patterns and behaviors. However, as you experience the healing power of the gospel, new patterns emerge, freeing you for a life spent ministering to others.

     As Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). In Christ, we are not only made new, we can walk in newness of life. At the cross, Christ defeated both the penalty of sin and the power of it in our lives. Your past does not enslave you to your future.

     Freedom in Christ allows you to begin to share your story with others. You do not have to hide in fear, but you can minister to others the grace you’ve received. Almost 40 percent of the women who work at my local pregnancy resource center are women who have had an abortion. They have chosen to share their story with others in hope of rescuing other women and babies from the mistake they made.

     In John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations., Christian gets off the narrow path to follow the wide road of sin. He finds himself locked in Doubting Castle, full of despair. When he finally remembers the key in his pocket (called Promise), he escapes and finds his way back to the narrow road. Afterward, he makes a point to go back to where he got off track and posts a sign to warn others, saying:

Out of the way we went, and then we found
What ‘twas to tread upon forbidden ground:
And let them that come after have a care,
Lest heedlessness makes them as we to fare;
Lest they, for trespassing, his prisoners are,
Whose castle’s Doubting, and whose name’s Despair.

     Christian understood the depths of doubt and despair that attend sinful choices. Thus, he wanted to warn others not to make the same mistake.

     One of the tender mercies of God is that He can take our misdeeds and use them to help others. Your story may help another woman choose life or assist a man in standing up and providing for his child. Volunteering at a pregnancy resource center or sharing with the women and men at your church might be a way the Lord uses you powerfully in the lives of others. After King David’s sin with Bathsheba, he poured out his heart in confession to the Lord, asking for a renewed sense of God’s presence and promising, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Ps. 51:13).

     Ministering to others produces a renewed sense of joy in the Lord. As you share His grace with others, these gospel truths will settle deep within your own heart. In the midst of mourning past choices, you can rejoice in the free gift of salvation. God clothes you with robes of righteousness and turns your grief into joy. Isaiah 61:1–3 declares:

     The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

     Seek Jesus. Seek community. Seek ministry. The Lord kindly offers beauty for ashes and gladness for grief so that your life may shine for His glory.

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     Melissa Kruger is women’s ministry coordinator at Uptown Church (PCA) in Charlotte, N.C. She is author of The Envy of Eve and blogs at Wit’s End on The Gospel Coalition.

Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 17)

By John Foxe 1563

     In Kilmore, the inhabitants, which consisted of about two hundred families, all fell victims to their rage. Some of them sat in the stocks until they confessed where their money was; after which they put them to death. The whole county was one common scene of butchery, and many thousands perished, in a short time, by sword, famine, fire, water, and others the most cruel deaths, that rage and malice could invent.

     These bloody villains showed so much favor to some as to despatch them immediately; but they would by no means suffer them to pray. Others they imprisoned in filthy dungeons, putting heavy bolts on their legs, and keeping them there until they were starved to death.

     At Casel they put all the Protestants into a loathsome dungeon, where they kept them together, for several weeks, in the greatest misery. At length they were released, when some of them were barbarously mangled, and left on the highways to perish at leisure; others were hanged, and some were buried in the ground upright, with their heads above the earth, and the papists, to increase their misery, treating them with derision during their sufferings. In the county of Antrim they murdered nine hundred and fifty-four Protestants in one morning; and afterwards about twelve hundred more in that county.

     At a town called Lisnegary, they forced twenty-four Protestants into a house, and then setting fire to it, burned them together, counterfeiting their outcries in derision to the others.

     Among other acts of cruelty they took two children belonging to an Englishwoman, and dashed out their brains before her face; after which they threw the mother into a river, and she was drowned. They served many other children in the like manner, to the great affliction of their parents, and the disgrace of human nature.

     In Kilkenny all the Protestants, without exception, were put to death; and some of them in so cruel a manner, as, perhaps, was never before thought of.

     They beat an Englishwoman with such savage barbarity, that she had scarce a whole bone left; after which they threw her into a ditch; but not satisfied with this, they took her child, a girl about six years of age, and after ripping up its belly, threw it to its mother, there to languish until it perished. They forced one man to go to Mass, after which they ripped open his body, and in that manner left him. They sawed another asunder, cut the throat of his wife, and after having dashed out the brains of their child, an infant, threw it to the swine, who greedily devoured it.

     After committing these, and several other horrid cruelties, they took the heads of seven Protestants, and among them that of a pious minister, all of which they fixed up at the market cross. They put a gag into the minister's mouth, then slit his cheeks to his ears, and laying a leaf of a Bible before it, bid him preach, for his mouth was wide enough. They did several other things by way of derision, and expressed the greatest satisfaction at having thus murdered and exposed the unhappy Protestants.

     It is impossible to conceive the pleasure these monsters took in excercising their cruelty, and to increase the misery of those who fell into their hands, when they butchered them they would say, "Your soul to the devil." One of these miscreants would come into a house with his hands imbued in blood, and boast that it was English blood, and that his sword had pricked the white skins of the Protestants, even to the hilt. When any one of them had killed a Protestant, others would come and receive a gratification in cutting and mangling the body; after which they left it exposed to be devoured by dogs; and when they had slain a number of them they would boast, that the devil was beholden to them for sending so many souls to hell. But it is no wonder they should thus treat the innocent Christians, when they hesitated not to commit blasphemy against God and His most holy Word.

     In one place they burnt two Protestant Bibles, and then said they had burnt hell-fire. In the church at Powerscourt they burnt the pulpit, pews, chests, and Bibles belonging to it. They took other Bibles, and after wetting them with dirty water, dashed them in the faces of the Protestants, saying, "We know you love a good lesson; here is an excellent one for you; come to-morrow, and you shall have as good a sermon as this."

     Some of the Protestants they dragged by the hair of their heads into the church, where they stripped and whipped them in the most cruel manner, telling them, at the same time, that if they came tomorrow, they should hear the like sermon.

     In Munster they put to death several ministers in the most shocking manner. One, in particular, they stripped stark naked, and driving him before them, pricked him with swords and darts until he fell down, and expired.

     In some places they plucked out the eyes, and cut off the hands of the Protestants, and in that manner turned them into the fields, there to wander out their miserable existence. They obliged many young men to force their aged parents to a river, where they were drowned; wives to assist in hanging their husbands; and mothers to cut the throats of their children.

     In one place they compelled a young man to kill his father, and then immediately hanged him. In another they forced a woman to kill her husband, then obliged the son to kill her, and afterward shot him through the head.

     At a place called Glaslow, a popish priest, with some others, prevailed on forty Protestants to be reconciled to the Church of Rome. They had no sooner done this than they told them they were in good faith, and that they would prevent their falling from it, and turning heretics, by sending them out of the world, which they did by immediately cutting their throats.

     In the county of Tipperary upwards of thirty Protestants, men, women, and children, fell into the hands of the papists, who, after stripping them naked, murdered them with stones, pole-axes, swords, and other weapons.

     In the county of Mayo about sixty Protestants, fifteen of whom were ministers, were, upon covenant, to be safely conducted to Galway, by one Edmund Burke and his soldiers; but that inhuman monster by the way drew his sword, as an intimation of his design to the rest, who immediately followed his example, and murdered the whole, some of whom they stabbed, others were run through the body with pikes, and several were drowned.

     In Queen's County great numbers of Protestants were put to the most shocking deaths. Fifty or sixty were placed together in one house, which being set on fire, they all perished in the flames. Many were stripped naked, and being fastened to horses by ropes placed round their middles, were dragged through bogs until they expired. Some were hung by the feet to tenterhooks driven into poles; and in that wretched posture left until they perished. Others were fastened to the trunk of a tree, with a branch at top. Over this branch hung one arm, which principally supported the weight of the body; and one of the legs was turned up, and fastened to the trunk, while the other hung straight. In this dreadful and uneasy posture did they remain as long as life would permit, pleasing spectacles to their bloodthirsty persecutors.

     At Clownes seventeen men were buried alive; and an Englishman, his wife, five children, and a servant maid, were all hanged together, and afterward thrown into a ditch. They hung many by the arms to branches of trees, with a weight to their feet; and others by the middle, in which posture they left them until they expired. Several were hanged on windmills, and before they were half dead, the barbarians cut them in pieces with their swords. Others, both men, women, and children, they cut and hacked in various parts of their bodies, and left them wallowing in their blood to perish where they fell. One poor woman they hanged on a gibbet, with her child, an infant about a twelve-month old, the latter of whom was hanged by the neck with the hair of its mother's head, and in that manner finished its short but miserable existence.

     In the county of Tyrone no less than three hundred Protestants were drowned in one day; and many others were hanged, burned, and otherwise put to death. Dr. Maxwell, rector of Tyrone, lived at this time near Armagh, and suffered greatly from these merciless savages. This person, in his examination, taken upon oath before the king's commissioners, declared that the Irish papists owned to him, that they, at several times, had destroyed, in one place, 12,000 Protestants, whom they inhumanly slaughtered at Glynwood, in their flight from the county of Armagh.

     As the river Bann was not fordable, and the bridge broken down, the Irish forced thither at different times, a great number of unarmed, defenceless Protestants, and with pikes and swords violently thrust about one thousand into the river, where they miserably perished.

     Nor did the cathedral of Armagh escape the fury of those barbarians, it being maliciously set on fire by their leaders, and burnt to the ground. And to extirpate, if possible, the very race of those unhappy Protestants, who lived in or near Armagh, the Irish first burnt all their houses, and then gathered together many hundreds of those innocent people, young and old, on pretence of allowing them a guard and safe conduct to Colerain, when they treacherously fell on them by the way, and inhumanly murdered them.

     The like horrid barbarities with those we have particularized, were practiced on the wretched Protestants in almost all parts of the kingdom; and, when an estimate was afterward made of the number who were sacrificed to gratify diabolical souls of the papists, it amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand. But it now remains that we proceed to the particulars that followed.

     These desperate wretches, flushed and grown insolent with success, (though by methods attended with such excessive barbarities as perhaps not to be equalled) soon got possession of the castle of Newry, where the king's stores and ammunition were lodged; and, with as little difficulty, made themselves masters of Dundalk. They afterward took the town of Ardee, where they murdered all the Protestants, and then proceeded to Drogheda. The garrison of Drogheda was in no condition to sustain a siege, notwithstanding which, as often as the Irish renewed their attacks they were vigorously repulsed by a very unequal number of the king's forces, and a few faithful Protestant citizens under Sir Henry Tichborne, the governor, assisted by the Lord Viscount Moore. The siege of Drogheda began on the thirtieth of November, 1641, and held until the fourth of March, 1642, when Sir Phelim O'Neal, and the Irish miscreants under him were forced to retire.

     In the meantime ten thousand troops were sent from Scotland to the remaining Protestants in Ireland, which being properly divided in the most capital parts of the kingdom, happily exclipsed the power of the Irish savages; and the Protestants for a time lived in tranquillity.

     In the reign of King James II they were again interrupted, for in a parliament held at Dublin in the year 1689, great numbers of the Protestant nobility, clergy, and gentry of Ireland, were attainted of high treason. The government of the kingdom was, at that time, invested in the earl of Tyrconnel, a bigoted papist, and an inveterate enemy to the Protestants. By his orders they were again persecuted in various parts of the kingdom. The revenues of the city of Dublin were seized, and most of the churches converted into prisons. And had it not been for the resolution and uncommon bravery of the garrisons in the city of Londonderry, and the town of Inniskillin, there had not one place remained for refuge to the distressed Protestants in the whole kingdom; but all must have been given up to King James, and to the furious popish party that governed him.

     The remarkable siege of Londonderry was opened on the eighteenth of April, 1689, by twenty thousand papists, the flower of the Irish army. The city was not properly circumstanced to sustain a siege, the defenders consisting of a body of raw undisciplined Protestants, who had fled thither for shelter, and half a regiment of Lord Mountjoy's disciplined soldiers, with the principal part of the inhabitants, making it all only seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men.

     The besieged hoped, at first, that their stores of corn and other necessaries, would be sufficient; but by the continuance of the siege their wants increased; and these became at last so heavy that for a considerable time before the siege was raised a pint of coarse barley, a small quantity of greens, a few spoonfuls of starch, with a very moderate proportion of horse flesh, were reckoned a week's provision for a soldier. And they were, at length, reduced to such extremities that they ate dogs, cats, and mice.

     Their miseries increasing with the siege, many, through mere hunger and want, pined and languished away, or fell dead in the streets. And it is remarkable, that when their long-expected succors arrived from England, they were upon the point of being reduced to this alternative, either to preserve their existence by eating each other, or attempting to fight their way through the Irish, which must have infallibly produced their destruction.

     These succors were most happily brought by the ship Mountjoy of Derry, and the Phoenix of Colerain, at which time they had only nine lean horses left with a pint of meal to each man. By hunger, and the fatigues of war, their seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men were reduced to four thousand three hundred, one fourth part of whom were rendered unserviceable.

     As the calamities of the besieged were great, so likewise were the terrors and sufferings of their Protestant friends and relations; all of whom (even women and children) were forcibly driven from the country thirty miles round, and inhumanly reduced to the sad necessity of continuing some days and nights without food or covering, before the walls of the town; and were thus exposed to the continual fire both of the Irish army from without and the shot of their friends from within.

     But the succors from England happily arriving put an end to their affliction; and the siege was raised on the thirty-first of July, having been continued upwards of three months.

     The day before the siege of Londonderry was raised the Inniskillers engaged a body of six thousand Irish Roman Catholics, at Newton, Butler, or Crown-Castle, of whom near five thousand were slain. This, with the defeat at Londonderry, dispirited the papists, and they gave up all farther attempts to persecute the Protestants.

     The year following, viz. 1690, the Irish took up arms in favor of the abdicated prince, King James II but they were totally defeated by his successor King William the Third. That monarch, before he left the country, reduced them to a state of subjection, in which they have ever since continued.

     But notwithstanding all this, the Protestant interest at present stands upon a much stronger basis than it did a century ago. The Irish, who formerly led an unsettled and roving life, in the woods, bogs, and mountains, and lived on the depredation of their neighbors, they who, in the morning seized the prey, and at night divided the spoil, have, for many years past, become quiet and civilized. They taste the sweets of English society, and the advantages of civil government. They trade in our cities, and are employed in our manufactories. They are received also into English families; and treated with great humanity by the Protestants.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Continual Burnt Offering (James 2:14))

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

December 7
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?    ESV

     Empty profession is of no profit. He who speaks of faith in Christ is responsible to demonstrate it by his renewed life. In Romans we learn that we are justified before God by faith alone without the deeds of the law. In James 2 we are taught that we are justified before men by works, works that are the fruit of a living faith which is apparent to all. Abraham was justified by faith when he believed God, who spoke of the coming Seed, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was justified by works, when in obedience to the voice of God he offered up his son Isaac upon the altar. Therefore faith shaped his works and by works faith was made perfect. So it must be with us. If we believe God we will yield obedience to His Word, and so our faith will be demonstrated.

All that we are, and all we have,
Shall be forever Thine;
And all a cheerful heart could give,
Our willing hands resign.
And could we yet make some reserve,
And duty did not call,
We love Thee, Lord, with such a love,
That we would give Thee all.

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

  • An Unusual Ending
  • He Was Taken Up
  • When He Ascended....

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Seven scriptural steps to success
     12/07/2017    Bob Gass

     ‘He was…successful…because he obeyed the LORD.’

(2 Ch 31:21) 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered. ESV

     Here are seven scriptural steps to success in life: 1) Put God first. He wants you to succeed; what good parent wouldn’t? So work on your relationship with Him. ‘Acquaint now thyself with him…thereby good shall come unto thee’ (Job 22:21 KJV). 2) Help others to become successful. ‘Whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:8 KJV). Don’t just be interested in yourself, become interested in others too. 3) Create a climate of confidence around you. As long as you keep speaking words of doubt, you’ll never experience victory. Remind yourself that your ‘sufficiency is of God’ (2 Corinthians 3:5 KJV). 4) Stay informed. ‘A wise man will hear and increase in learning’ (Proverbs 1:5 NASB). Observe, read, and grow. If you’re willing to pay money for a good meal but not for a good book, perhaps you value your appetite more than your intellect. 5) Visualise yourself attaining your goal. Think and talk in success pictures. Moses did that: ‘He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going’ (Hebrews 11:27 MSG). 6) Write down your plan and establish deadlines. Make a detailed list of required activities, and set checkpoints. Guard your mind and prioritise your time. ‘Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get’ (Ephesians 5:16 MSG). 7) Set a realistic goal. And work towards it one priority at a time. Many things in life fail for one reason – broken focus. So avoid distractions: ‘A double minded man is unstable’ (James 1:8 KJV). If you do these seven things, you’ll succeed in life.

Joel 1-3
Rev 2

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” Thus spoke President Franklin D. Roosevelt, following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by over 100 Japanese aircraft. Five American battleships and three destroyers were sunk, 400 planes were destroyed and over 4000 were killed or wounded. President Roosevelt concluded: “Our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.”

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God

     Chapter 14

     One is always fighting on at least two fronts. When one is among Pantheists one must emphasize the distinctness, and relative independence, of the creatures. Among Deists—or perhaps in Woolwich, if the laity there really think God is to be sought in the sky-one must emphasize the divine presence in my neighbor, my dog, my cabbage-patch.

     It is much wiser, I believe, to think of that presence in particular objects than just of "omnipresence." The latter gives very naif people (Woolwich again, perhaps?) the idea of something spatially extended, like a gas. It also blurs the distinctions, the truth that God is present in each thing but not necessarily in the same mode; not in a man as in the consecrated bread and wine, nor in a bad man as in a good one, nor in a beast as in a man, nor in a tree as in a beast, nor in inanimate matter as in a tree. I take it there is a paradox here. The higher the creature, the more, and also the less, God is in it; the more present by grace, and the less present (by a sort of abdication) as mere power. By grace He gives the higher creatures power to will His will ("and wield their little tridents"): the lower ones simply execute it automatically.

     It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that all is holy and "big with God" will soon dwindle into a mere sentiment. But if these holy places, things, and days cease to remind us, if they obliterate our awareness that all ground is holy and every bush (could we but perceive it) a Burning Bush, then the hallows begin to do harm. Hence both the necessity, and the perennial danger, of "religion."

     Boehme advises us once an hour "to fling ourselves beyond every creature." But in order to find God it is perhaps not always necessary to leave the creatures behind. We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

     Oddly enough, what corroborates me in this faith is the fact, otherwise so infinitely deplorable, that the awareness of this presence has so often been unwelcome. I call upon Him in prayer. Often He might reply-I think He does reply-"But you have been evading me for hours." For He comes not only to raise up but to cast down; to deny, to rebuke, to interrupt. The prayer "prevent us in all our doings" is often answered as if the word prevent had its modern meaning. The presence which we voluntarily evade is often, and we know it, His presence in wrath.

     And out of this evil comes a good. If I never fled from His presence, then I should suspect those moments when I seemed to delight in it of being wish-fulfilment dreams. That, by the way, explains the feebleness of all those watered versions of Christianity which leave out all the darker elements and try to establish a religion of pure consolation. No real belief in the watered versions can last. Bemused and besotted as we are, we still dimly know at heart that nothing which is at all times and in every way agreeable to us can have objective reality. It is of the very nature of the real that it should have sharp corners and rough edges, that it should be resistant, should be itself. Dream-furniture is the only kind on which you never stub your toes or bang your knee. You and I have both known happy marriage. But how different our wives were from the imaginary mistresses of our adolescent dreams! So much less exquisitely adapted to all our wishes; and for that very reason (among others) so incomparably better.

     Servile fear is, to be sure, the lowest form of religion. But a god such that there could never be occasion for even servile fear, a safe god, a tame god, soon proclaims himself to any sound mind as a fantasy. I have met no people who fully disbelieved in Hell and also had a living and life-giving belief in Heaven.

     There is, I know, a belief in both, which is of no religious significance. It makes these spiritual things, or some travesty of them, objects of purely carnal, prudential, self-centred fear and hope. The deeper levels, those things which only immortal spirit can desire or dread, are not concerned at all. Such belief is fortunately very brittle. The old divines exhausted their eloquence especially in arousing such fear: but, as they themselves rather naively complain, the effect did not last for more than a few hours after the sermon.

     The soul that has once been waked, or stung, or uplifted by the desire of God, will inevitably (I think) awake to the fear of losing Him.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Our birth is nothing but our death begun,
As tapers waste the moment they take fire.
--- Edward Young

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself,
but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.
--- Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

The Bible is the only book whose Author is always present when one reads it.
--- Unknown

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
--- Mark Twain, "Notebook"

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 30:4
     by D.H. Stern

4     Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
Who established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Note on Advent
     Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro

     Advent , meaning “the coming,” is a time when we wait expectantly. Christians began to celebrate it as a season during the fourth and fifth centuries. Like Mary, we celebrate the coming of the Christ child, what God had already done. And we wait in expectation of the full coming of God's reign on earth and for the return of Christ, what God will yet do. But this waiting is not a passive waiting. It is an active waitmg. As any expectant mother knows, this waiting also involves preparation, exercise, nutrition, care, prayer, work; and birth involves pain, blood , tears, joy, release, community. It is called labor for a reason. Likewise, we are in a world pregnant with hope, and we live in the expectation of the coming of God's kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midw1ves of another world.

     Just as red, white, and blue have meaning in the world (as in “These colors don't run"), colors also have meaning in the church (though a different sort of meaning, needless to say).

     Advent is often marked with purple, signifying royalty; in earlier times, purple often marked the coming of a king or Caesar. (Often, members of the royal family were the only people allowed to wear it.) Many Christians celebrate advent by lighting a purple candle each week for the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and then lighting a “Christ candle” (usually while or red) on Christmas Eve.

     As you will note in the Morning prayers, many Christians also remember St. Nicholas, who was a faithful man of God before he was a cultural icon. Today, the season between Thanksgivmg and Christmas that many of us recognize as Advent is the biggest frenzy of retail spending. More than half of it, hundreds of billions of dollars a year, is spent as we celebrate the birth of the homeless Son of God in that slinky manger. (And he got only three measly presents. One of them was myrrh. What baby wants myrrh ?) Hundreds of Christian congregations are now rethinking the Advent season as a time for compassion rather than consumption. (Check out www.adventconspirucy.org.)

Common Prayer Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

A Word about Liturgy
     Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro

     Liturgy comes from the Greek word leitourgia, meaning "public worship." When we hear the phrase public worship, many of us think of large meetings, like Sunday Morning services, and while public worship can mean that, it doesn't have to take place in a big group. After all, public shares the same root word as pub, and it really just refers to a gathering of people to share life (and maybe a drink), a get-together that's always open to strangers joining in. Jesus promised that wherever two or three of us gather in his name, he'll be there with us. Jesus will be with us at the "pub" whether there's wine or not (and if not, he might conjure some up, or conjure up grape juice for the Baptists).

     For those of us who are new to liturgy, it's noteworthy that, though there are some variations among different traditions, a majority of Christian liturgies around the world share an overall structure -especially the liturgies of Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists It has been said that if the covers were removed from the major worship books of the late twentieth century, it would be difficult to tell which book belongs to which church body. The major traditions follow pretty much the same script.

     When we first experience the organized cycle of readings that is a part of liturgical worship- a lectionary, as it's often called- it can seem like magic or a conspiracy. We may hear a pastor preach from the same text we read in Morning prayer and think, “How in the world? The Spirit must be moving!” And, in fact, the Spirit is moving, just in a more organized way than we would have guessed. Some liturgical types smile when evangelicals discover the “miracle” of the liturgy. But it is a miracle nonetheless... Sometimes it may feel like you can hear the church's heart beat as you pray in a way you never have before...

     Participating in the liturgy of the worldwide Christian community, whether on a Sunday Morning or at another time, is more than attending a service or a prayer meeting. It is about entering a story. It is about orienting our lives around what God has been doing throughout history. And it is about being sent forth into the world to help write the next chapter of that story. Wandering the world in search of meaning and purpose, we may not even realize how desperately we need a story. But we know we've found something priceless when we find ourselves in God's narrative.

     Liturgy is not about getting indoctrinated. Doctrines are hard things to love. It's not even really about education. Liturgy at its core is not about learning facts and memorizing phrases.

     Liturgy is soul food. It nourishes our souls just as breakfast strengthens our bodies. It's sort of like family dinner. Hopefully you get some nutritious food, but more than nutrition, family dinner is about family, love, community. Liturgy is kind of like family dinner with God. Liturgical theologian Aidan Kavanaugh says it well: "The liturgy, like the feast, exists not to educate but to seduce people into participating in common activity of the highest order, where one is freed to learn things which cannot be taught."

     While liturgy is a party, it's also about disciplining our spirits like we exercise our muscles. Certainly we are learning as we pray, as we listen to Scripture, as we learn the songs and stories. But we are also participating in the work of God -active prayer, active worship. As we will see, liturgy offers us an invitation not just to observe but to participate. "0 Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you" invites us to respond, "As the day rises to meet the sun." When we hear, "God is good," we want to call back, "All the time." Liturgy is a dialogue, a divine drama in which we are invited to be the actors. We become a part of God's story. We sing God's songs. We discover lost ancestors. And their story becomes our story.

     I was introduced to Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by two of my directees, both pastors from different denomonations. I liked it and I understand why younger people like it, but though not an Episcopal, I prefer their Book of Common Prayer Lectionary, but neither can compare to reading the Bible Genesis to Revelation, line upon line, precept upon precept, one day after another.

Common Prayer Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


     For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.
--- 2 Corinthians 7:10.

     Conviction of sin is best portrayed in the words—

     ‘My sins, my sins, my Saviour.
     How sad on Thee they fall.’

     Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses a man’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God—“against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.” Conviction of sin, the marvel of forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God’s grace. Repentance always brings a man to this point: ‘I have sinned.’ The surest sign that God is at work is when a man says that and means it. Anything less than this is remorse for having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust at himself.

     The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance crashing into a man’s respectable goodness; then the Holy Ghost, Who produces these agonies, begins the formation of the Son of God in the life. The new life will manifest itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness, never the other way about. The bedrock of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a man cannot repent when he chooses; repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for ‘the gift of tears.’ If ever you cease to know the virtue of repentance, you are in darkness. Examine yourself and see if you have forgotten how to be sorry.

My Utmost for His Highest

Hill Christmas
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Hill Christmas

They came over the snow
     to the bread's
purer snow, fumbled it in their huge
hands, put their lips to it
like beasts, stared into the dark
where the wine shone, felt it sharp
on their tongue, shivered as at a sin
remembered, and heard love cry
momentarily in their hearts' manger.

They rose and went back to their poor
holdings, naked in the bleak light
of December. Their horizon
to the one small, stone-filled field
with its tree, where the weather
     was nailing
the appalled body that had not asked
     to be born.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas

     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Many individuals refused to believe that Maimonides actually wrote this; some suggested that it be removed from the text of the Guide. Their shock and alarm is incomprehensible if it is considered to be directed solely at the Guide, for this simile is no more radical than the approach Maimonides adopted in his legal works. In the Mishneh Torah Maimonides makes competence in philosophic disciplines a condition for prophecy and love for God. Great talmudic teachers of the tradition were described in that work as engaging in the disciplines of pardes knowledge—physics and metaphysics. Maimonides began his codification of Jewish law with a description of the God of being, to indicate that the particular way of Israel must not revolve around the false assumption that God is only accessible to members of the covenant. (The non-halakhic life of pre-Mosaic man in the Torah is used by Maimonides for two purposes: 1) to convince the halakhic Jew of the primacy of Aggadah (philosophy), and 2) to explain the spiritual integrity of the non-Jew who devotes his life to the knowledge of God. Once one appreciates the spiritual value of philosophy, one’s commitment to Halakhah will not blind one to the spiritual life of non-Jews.

     Interpreters of Maimonides can be differentiated by where they locate the “true” Maimonides. Halakhists who primarily study his brilliant legal works cannot imagine that Maimonides, the Rambam, was deeply concerned with philosophy. On the other hand, those who understand his philosophic interests do not consider his meticulous concern with details of Halakhah philosophically significant. Both approaches are correct in what they affirm, but are incorrect in what they deny. There are many students of Maimonides who understand the legal brilliance of his Mishneh Torah. However, they fail to realize that he wanted his readers to understand his passion for Halakhah from the perspective of the first four chapters of that work which describe how the God of being can be understood and loved by all rational men. There are many who understand the intellectual pathos of the Guide. However, they fail to recognize that it is the same pathos of a halakhist who consummated his halakhic creativity with the Guide of the Perplexed. The Mishneh Torah and the Guide reflect the unified approach of a single man. Maimonidean thought is subject to the same misunderstanding that any individual may encounter if he passionately loves his community’s way of life but does not claim that this particular way of life exhausts the whole field of spiritual authenticity.

     Maimonides, the writer of the Mishneh Torah and the Guide, remains a lonely figure because he believed that a total commitment to the Jewish way of life—Halakhah—can be maintained by one who recognizes that there exists a path to God independent of the Jewish tradition. Maimonides was a witness to the fact that intense love for a particular way of life need not entail intellectual and spiritual indifference to that which is beyond one’s own tradition.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     December 7

     When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.
Luke 22:14.

     We see the Master sitting down at the table to eat and drink with his twelve apostles—what did this make them?
   Till He Come

     They were convinced that he was the Messiah, and they, therefore, began with following him. This is where we must begin. The most important way of following him is to trust him and imitate his example. This is a good beginning and will end well, for those who walk with him today will dwell with him hereafter; those who tread in his footsteps will sit on his throne.

     Being his followers, they next became his disciples. To explain, to clear away doubts, and to make truth intelligible is the office of a teacher among his disciples. It was a blessed thing to become disciples, but still disciples are not necessarily so intimate with their master as to sit and eat with him. There is something beyond.

     The chosen ones next rose to become his servants. Servants have some strength, receive some measure of training, and render something in return. Their Master gave them power to preach the Gospel and to execute commissions, and happy were they to wait on such a Master and aid in setting up his kingdom. Yet is there something beyond.

     Toward the close of his life, our Master revealed the yet nearer relationship with his disciples: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). The friend is told what the servant need not know, enjoys a communion that the servant, disciple, or follower has not attained.

     On the night before his passion, our Lord led his friends a step beyond ordinary friendship. Here the Lord Jesus lifted up his chosen ones to sit with him at the same table, to eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup with him. From that position he has never degraded them; they were representatives, and where the Lord placed them, he has placed all his saints. All the Lord’s believing people are sitting at the same table with Jesus, for truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are his table companions and will eat bread with him in the kingdom of God.

     Table companions, then—that is the answer to the question, “What did this festival make the apostles?”
--- C. H. Spurgeon

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   December 7
     “ … And My House”

     James Taylor, eighteenth-century English villager, hated Wesley’s circuit riders, viewing them as nothing but targets for his rotten eggs. But one day as he readied his missiles one of the preachers quoted Joshua 24:15: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (KJV). James, about to be married, was smitten. On his wedding day he prayed so long that he arrived late at his wedding. He announced he had become a Christian. Burdened for his new wife, he picked her up, carried her to the bedroom, and forced her to her knees where she, too, became a Christian.

     Their faith passed from generation to generation until it reached their great-grandson, James Hudson Taylor, who founded the China Inland Mission and opened the interior of China to the Gospel.

     His grandson, James Hudson Taylor II, continued the legacy by taking his family to China as missionaries during the days before World War II. The children’s boarding school was located in a Chinese city 1,000 miles from their parents, and they were there on December 7, 1941 when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor. When news reached Mrs. Taylor, she writhed in fear and fell on her knees, unable to pray. Worried, a paraphrase of Matthew 6:33 came to mind: “If you will take care of the things that are dear to God, God will take care of the things that are dear to you.”

     Meanwhile, far away, the four Taylor children were herded into a concentration camp in Japanese-occupied territory while singing, “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.” The children were detained for five years, until liberated by the Americans and allowed to rejoin their parents.

     One of the boys, James Hudson Taylor III, grew up to become the general director of China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship)—the great-grandson of the great-grandson of the man who resolved on his wedding day: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

     If you don’t want to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!
--- Joshua 24:15.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Advent Week Two Mystery - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     God Is In The Manger (Day 4)

     The Scandal of Pious People

     The lowly God-man is the scandal of pious people and of people in general. This scandal is his historical ambiguity. The most incomprehensible thing for the pious is this man's claim that he is not only a pious human being but also the Son of God. Whence his authority: "But I say to you" (Matt. 5:22) and "Your sins are forgiven" (Matt. 9:2). If Jesus' nature had been deified, this claim would have been accepted. If he had given signs, as was demanded of him, they would have believed him. But at the point where it really mattered, he held back. And that created the scandal. Yet everything depends on this fact. If he had answered the Christ question addressed to him through a miracle, then the statement would no longer be true that he became a human being like us, for then there would have been an exception at the decisive point.... If' Christ had documented himself with miracles, we would naturally believe, but then Christ would not be our salvation, for then there would not be faith in the God who became human, but only the recognition of an alleged supernatural fact. But that is not faith.... Only when I forgo visible proof, do I believe in God.

     The kingdom belongs to people who aren't trying to look good or impress anybody, even themselves. They are not plotting how they can call attention to themselves, worrying about how their actions will be interpreted or wondering if they will get gold stars for their behavior. Twenty centuries later, Jesus speaks pointedly to the preening ascetic trapped in the fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism, to those of us caught up in boasting about our victories in the vineyard, to those of us fretting and flapping about our human weaknesses and character defects. The child doesn't have to struggle to get himself in a good position for having a relationship with God; he doesn't have to craft ingenious ways of explaining his position to Jesus; he doesn't have to create a pretty face for himself; he doesn't have to achieve any state of spiritual feeling or intellectual understanding. All he has to do is happily accept the cookies, the gift of the kingdom.

     That ... is the unrecognized mystery of this world: Jesus Christ. That this Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, was himself the Lord of glory: that was the mystery of God. It was a mystery because God became poor, low, lowly, and weak out of love for humankind, because God became a human being like us, so that we would become divine, and because he came to us so that we would come to him. God as the one who becomes low for our sakes, God in Jesus of Nazareth-that is the secret, hidden wisdom ... that "no eye has seen nor ear heard nor the human heart conceived" (1 Cor. 2:9).... That is the depth of the Deity, whom we warship as mystery and comprehend as mystery.

  Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

Go to   1 Corinthians 2:8-10     Click Here

God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - December 7

     “Base things of the world hath God chosen.” --- 1 Corinthians 1:28.

     Walk the streets by moonlight, if you dare, and you will see sinners then. Watch when the night is dark, and the wind is howling, and the picklock is grating in the door, and you will see sinners then. Go to yon jail, and walk through the wards, and mark the men with heavy over-hanging brows, men whom you would not like to meet at night, and there are sinners there. Go to the Reformatories, and note those who have betrayed a rampant juvenile depravity, and you will see sinners there. Go across the seas to the place where a man will gnaw a bone upon which is reeking human flesh, and there is a sinner there. Go where you will, you need not ransack earth to find sinners, for they are common enough; you may find them in every lane and street of every city, and town, and village, and hamlet. It is for such that Jesus died. If you will select me the grossest specimen of humanity, if he be but born of woman, I will have hope of him yet, because Jesus Christ is come to seek and to save sinners. Electing love has selected some of the worst to be made the best. Pebbles of the brook grace turns into jewels for the crown-royal. Worthless dross he transforms into pure gold. Redeeming love has set apart many of the worst of mankind to be the reward of the Saviour’s passion. Effectual grace calls forth many of the vilest of the vile to sit at the table of mercy, and therefore let none despair.

     Reader, by that love looking out of Jesus’ tearful eyes, by that love streaming from those bleeding wounds, by that faithful love, that strong love, that pure, disinterested, and abiding love; by the heart and by the bowels of the Saviour’s compassion, we conjure you turn not away as though it were nothing to you; but believe on him and you shall be saved. Trust your soul with him and he will bring you to his Father’s right hand in glory everlasting.

          Evening - December 7

     “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” --- 1 Corinthians 9:22.

     Paul’s great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? Blood-red will our skirts be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved. Paul knew the ruin of man’s natural state, and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the Gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. He became a servant to all men, toiling for his race, feeling a woe within him if he preached not the Gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the Gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the Gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some he would be content. This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials. Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where our love to Christ, if we seek not his honour in the salvation of men? O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     December 7


     Isaac Watts, 1674–1748

     Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. (Psalm 72:19

     “Wisdom,” “love,” “power,” “prophet,” “priest,” “king,” “almighty Lord,” “conqueror,” “captain”—these are the names and titles used throughout the stanzas of this hymn to describe our Lord. But the conclusion is this: The most glorious names that either men or angels could devise would still be “too poor to speak His worth.” Words are limited in their ability to convey the deep feelings of the soul. We can and should extol our Lord with great hymns of praise such as this, especially during this joyful season. But beyond our verbal expressions there must be a life deeply devoted to His person and the extension of His kingdom.

•     “Join All the Glorious Names” was first published in 1707 in Isaac Watts’ Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book 1. This hymn is generally regarded as one of Isaac Watts’ finest among his more than 600 hymns and psalm paraphrases. These numerous works have earned him the title of the “father of English hymnody.”

     A growing love relationship with our Lord and an appreciation of His worth should result in a life of praise and worship. We should also be led to respond in loving obedience with a willingness to say with this hymn writer—“Behold I sit in willing bonds beneath Thy feet.”
     Join all the glorious names of wisdom, love and pow’r, that ever mortals knew, that angels ever bore: All are too poor to speak His worth, too poor to set my Savior forth.
     Great Prophet of my God, my tongue would bless Thy name; by Thee the joyful news of our salvation came: The joyful news of sins forgiv’n, of hell subdued, and peace with heav’n.
     My Savior and my Lord, my Conq’ror and my King, Thy scepter and Thy sword, Thy reigning grace I sing: Thine is the pow’r—behold I sit in willing bonds beneath Thy feet.
     Now let my soul arise and tread the tempter down; my Captain leads me forth to conquest and a crown: A feeble saint shall win the day, tho death and hell obstruct the way.

     For Today: Exodus 20:7; Proverbs 18:10; Matthew 12:21; John 1:12; Acts 4:l2; 1 Timothy 6:15

     Earnestly try to show your love and devotion to Christ in some special way during this Christmas season. Worship Him even now by singing this hymn ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

          IV. Wherein this dominion and sovereign consists, and how it is manifested.

     First. The first act of sovereignty is the making laws. This is essential to God; no creature’s will can be the first rule to the creature, but only the will of God: he only can prescribe man his duty, and establish the rule of it; hence the law is called “the royal law” (James 2:8): it being the first and clearest manifestation of sovereignty, as the power of legislation is of the authority of a prince. Both are joined together in Isa. 33:22: “The Lord is our Lawgiver; the Lord is our King;” legislative power being the great mark of royalty. God, as King, enacts his laws by his own proper authority, and  his law is a declaration of his own sovereignty, and of men’s moral subjection to him, and dependence on him.    ( Our pastor, Brett Meador, explained to us one prophecy of the Messiah was that the sceptre, power of life and death, would leave Israel when the Messiah came. Rome removed Israel's sceptre, the power to put someone to death in A.D. 30. The Jewish people mourned that the Bible was wrong because the Messiah had not come. Meanwhile Jesus was teaching in the Temple. )   His sovereignty doth not appear so much in his promises as in his precepts: a man’s power over another is not discovered by promising, for a promise doth not suppose the promiser either superior or inferior to the person to whom the promise is made. It is not an exercising authority over another, but over a man’s self; no man forceth another to the acceptance of his promise, but only proposeth and encourageth to an embracing of it. But commanding supposeth always an authority in the person giving the precept; it obligeth the person to whom the command is directed; a promise obligeth the person by whom the promise is made. God, by his command, binds the creature; by his promise he binds himself; he stoops below his sovereignty, to lay obligations upon his own majesty; by a precept he binds the creature, by a promise he encourageth the creature to an observance of his precept: what laws God makes, man is bound, by virtue of his creation, to observe; that respects the sovereignty of God: what promises God makes, man is bound to believe; but that respects the faithfulness of God. God manifested his dominion more to the Jews than to any other people in the world; he was their Lawgiver, both as they were a church and a commonwealth: as a church, he gave them ceremonial laws for the regulating their worship; as a state, he gave them judicial laws for the ordering their civil affairs; and as both, he gave them moral laws, upon which both the laws of the church and state were founded. This dominion of God, in this regard, will be manifest,

     (1.) In the supremacy of it. The sole power of making laws doth originally reside in him (James 4:12); “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save, and to destroy.” By his own law he judges of the eternal states of men, and no law of man is obligatory, but as it is agreeable to the laws of this supreme Lawgiver, and pursuant to his righteous rules for the government of the world. The power that the potentates of the world have to make laws is but derivative from God. If their dominion be from him, as it is, for “by him kings reign” (Prov. 8:15), their legislative power, which is a prime flower of their sovereignty, is derived from him also: and the apostle resolves it into this original when he orders us to be “subject to the higher powers, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake” (Rom. 13:5). Conscience, in its operations, solely respects God; and therefore, when it is exercised as the principle of obedience to the laws of men, it is not with respect to them, singly considered, but as the majesty of God appears in their station and in their decrees. This power of giving laws was acknowledged by the heathen to be solely in God by way of original; and therefore the greatest lawgivers among the heathen pretended their laws to be received from some deity or supernatural power, by special revelation: now, whether they did this seriously, acknowledging themselves this part of the dominion of God, — for it is certain that whatsoever just orders were issued out by princes in the world, was by the secret influence of God upon their spirits (Prov. 8:15): “By me princes decree justice;” by the secret conduct of Divine wisdom, — or whether they pretended it only as a public engine, to enforce upon people the observance of their decrees, and gain a greater credit to their edicts, yet this will result from it, that the people in general entertained this common notion, that God was the great Lawgiver of the world. The first founders of their societies could never else have so absolutely gained upon them by such a pretence. There was always a revelation of a law from the mouth of God in every age: the exhortation of Eliphaz to Job (Job 22:22), of receiving a “law from the mouth” of God, at the time before the moral law was published, had been a vain exhortation had there been no revelation of the mind of God in all ages.

     (2.) The dominion of God is manifest in the extent of his laws. As he is the Governor and Sovereign of the whole world, so he enacts laws for the whole world. One prince cannot make laws for another, unless he makes him his subject by right of conquest; Spain cannot make laws for England, or England for Spain; but God having the supreme government, as King over all, is a Lawgiver to all, to irrational, as well as rational creatures. The “heavens have their ordinances” (Job 38:33); all creatures have a law imprinted on their beings; rational creatures have Divine statutes copied in their heart: for men, it is clear (Rom. 2:14), every son of Adam, at his coming into the world, brings with him a law in his nature, and when reason clears itself up from the clouds of sense, he can make some difference between good and evil; discern something of fit and just. Every man finds a law within him that checks him if he offends it: none are without a legal indictment and a legal executioner within them; God or none was the Author of this as a sovereign Lord, in establishing a law in man at the same time, wherein, as an Almighty Creator, he imparted a being. This law proceeds from God’s general power of governing, as he is the Author of nature, and binds not barely as it is the reason of man, but by the authority of God, as it is a law engraven on his conscience: and no doubt but a law was given to the angels; God did not govern those intellectual creatures as he doth brutes, and in a way inferior to his rule of man. Some sinned; all might have sinned in regard to the changeableness of their nature. Sin cannot be but against some rule; “where there is no law, there is no transgression;” what that law was is not revealed; but certainly it must be the same in part with the moral law, so far as it agreed with their spiritual natures; a love to God, a worship of him, and a love to one another in their societies and persons.

The Existence and Attributes of God

Freedom in Christ
     Galatians | John MacArthur

Part One

Part Two

Galatians 1-3
     JD Farag

Galatians 1:1-9
Jesus Only 1
J.D. Farag

Galatians 1:10-12
Jesus Only 2
J.D. Farag

Galatians 1:13-24
Jesus Only 3
J.D. Farag

Galatians 2:1-5
How to Solve Problems 1
J.D. Farag

Galatians 2:6-12
How to Solve Problems 2
J.D. Farag

Galatians 2:13-14
How to Solve Problems 3
J.D. Farag

Galatians 2:15-21
The Only Answer is Jesus
J.D. Farag

Galatians 3:1-5
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
J.D. Farag

Galatians 3:6-29
Bad News and Good News
J.D. Farag

J.D. Farag

Galatians 1-3
     Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 13:11
Be Perfect
06-26-1994 | Jon Courson

2 Corinthians 12-13
06-29-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 1:6-10
Fearing God Or Fearing Man?
07-03-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 2:21
God's Grace: Enjoy!
08-07-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 1
08-10-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 3:5
Ministering The Spirit
08-21-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 2
08-24-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 3:13
Hanging On A Tree
08-28-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 3:1-18
08-31-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 3:18-29
09-07-1994 | Jon Courson

Galatians 1:1
Who Raised Christ? Easter
04-16-2006 | Jon Courson

Galatians 1-2
07-10-2019 | Jon Courson

Galatians 3:26-28
The Trajectory Must Always Be Love
07-14-2019 | Jon Courson

Galatians 3
07-17-2019 | Jon Courson

Galatians 2:20
03-23-2021 | Jon Courson

Galatians 2:16,20
Je-sus or Me-sus?!?
10-14-2021 | Jon Courson

Jon Courson | Jon Courson

Galatians 1-3
     Skip Heitzig

Galatians 1-6
Calvary Chapel NM

Galatians 3:26-29
Church: A Place for Belonging
Calvary Chapel NM

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel NM

Galatians 1 - 3
     Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 1:1-5 pt 1
Paul an Apostle
11-19-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 1:6-10 pt 2
No Other Gospel
11-26-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 1 pt 3
The Witness of a Changed Life
12-03-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 2:1-5 pt 1
The Finished Work of Jesus
12-17-2017 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 2:6-18 pt 2
The Power of Influence
01-01-2018 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 2:19-21 pt 3
Crucified With Christ
01-07-2018 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 3:1-6 pt 1
Paul's Questions to the Galatians
01-14-2018 | Paul LeBoutillier

Galatians 3:6-29 pt 3
Sons of Abraham by Faith
01-21-2018 | Paul LeBoutillier

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Galatians 1 - 3
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Synopsis | This morning, Pastor Brett gives us an introduction to the book of Galatians. We see an old testament picture in I Kings 13 of a new testament truth.

A Different Gospel
Galatians 1:1-10
s1-547 | 09-04-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | As we read through Galatians 1, Pastor Brett examines why Christianity is the only true religion. We learn of absolute truth in our continued study through the Bible.

Galatians 1
m1-565 | 09-07-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | In Galatians 2:21, Paul speaks to the church at Galatia about grace. We continue to learn the grace of God and how we are underserving of such grace.

Frustration or Salvation
Galatians 2:21
s1-548 | 09-11-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | In Galatians 2, Paul discusses the legalism involved with Jews and gentiles. For example, he explains that one does not have to be circumcised to be saved.

Galatians 2
m1-566 | 09-14-2011

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | This morning, Pastor Brett gives us an introduction to the book of Galatians. We see an old testament picture in I Kings 13 of a new testament truth.

The Purpose of the Law
Galatians 3
s1-549 | 09-18-2011

Only audio available | click here


Israel in Galatians
David Pawson

Voices from the Community
Pete Menjares | Biola University

In This Place
Andy Draycott | Biola University

Anticipating the Kingdom of God
Philip Ryken | Biola University

Seeking the Kingdom's Priorities
Philip Ryken | Biola University

Peter Denies Jesus
Alistair Begg

Why Study The Death of Jesus in St Paul
Richard Bell | University of Nottingham

Why Study Hebrew
Peter Watts | University of Nottingham

Galatians 1:10-15 Paul Defends
His Apostleship 1 | John MacArthur

Galatians 1:10-24 Paul Defends
His Apostleship 2John MacArthur

Galatians 1-2 and the Testament of Asher
02-10-2020 | Bible Facts

Embrace Life Experiences
Doretha O'Quinn | Biola University