Sons and HeirsGalatians 4 1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Paul’s Concern for the Galatians8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Example of Hagar and Sarah21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
Christ Has Set Us FreeGalatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Keep in Step with the Spirit16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. First, the psychologizing of life cuts the nerve of evangelical identity because the common assumption beneath the self movement is the perfectibility of human nature, and this assumption is anathema to the Christian gospel. It is no accident that its theoreticians (e.g., Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Eric Fromm, and Rollo May) are all humanists. It is precisely this sort of assumption that neither evangelical theology nor evangelical piety should be making. The biblical gospel asserts the very reverse — namely, that the self is twisted, that it is maladjusted in its relationship to both God and others, that it is full of deceit and rationalizations, that it is lawless, that it is in rebellion, and indeed that one must die to self in order to live. It is this that is at the heart of the biblical gospel, this that is at the center of Christian character. There is abundant evidence that people become strong by suppressing what is unworthy within them, not by expressing it. This kind of suppression should not be confused with Freud's ideas about repression. Repression is an irrational and unconscious mechanism; suppression is a conscious and rational act undertaken out of moral concern and a sense of being owned by Christ. It is perhaps paradoxical that self-denial should build character and that self-fascination, more than anything else, should undercut it. In any event, without this bedrock of Christian character, Christian theology becomes a shaky enterprise, often lacking the sure-footed resolve and strength it needs to unmask the worldliness of the culture and to proclaim the truth of God's revelation. No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Bear One Another’s Burdens
Galatians 6 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 Faith10 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 Promise15 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 )
The Reformation Study Bible
What I'm Reading
The War On Poverty
By Luis E. Tellez 12/07/2017
We know that love is not a feeling. Many will tell you love is an act of the will. That is true as far as it goes, but to leave it at that is to neglect an important part of the story.
Love is not merely some good we try to achieve or preserve through action, like life, knowledge, or friendship. Love is a unique gift from God to us, transmitted as the signal of the intention for the well-being of another. Owing to its relationality, it is the most eminent participation in God’s Trinitarian nature possible for us. Love begins in God, who reaches out to creatures, and they, moved by His love, participate in that love.
How many times have you said, or heard someone say: “I have to show more love,” with the emphasis on the “I.” But what do you mean by “love”? Of course, you are not going to give a philosophical explanation every time you use the word “love”; but we have to teach what love is with more accuracy. We lack precision in proposing the Christian understanding of love.
Eager to fight evil and avoid relativism, the Christian is tempted to do good because it is right. But the doing of good should always be out of love; love is assimilated to the doing of good. But it is important not to conflate love and doing good. Whereas sentimentalism trivializes love into an emotion, this sort of Kantian voluntarism doesn’t even call us to love.
When Christ comes and announces that God is Love, everything changes. Christians cannot forget this. Our love always depends on Him. It resides in the Trinity (God as lover, beloved, and loving relation) and is gifted to us. As St. Augustine said, “Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
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The Sands of Time Are Sinking
By Anne Cousin based on Samuel Rutherford's Letters
The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of Heaven breaks,
The summer morn I've sighed for,
The fair sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 79, 147, 323.)
Oh! well it is for ever,
Oh! well for evermore,
My nest hung in no forest
Of all this death-doom'd shore
Yea, let the vain world vanish,
As from the ship the strand,
While glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land (Letter 4.)
There the Red Rose of Sharon
Unfolds its heartsome bloom,
And fills the air of Heaven
With ravishing perfume:—
Oh! to behold it blossom,
While by its fragrance fann'd,
Where glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 181, 321.)
The King there in His beauty,
Without a veil, is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between.
The Lamb, with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 165, 284, 291, 318.)
Oh! Christ He is the Fountain,
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I've tasted,
More deep I'll drink above:
There, to an ocean fulness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 288, 317)
E'en Anwoth was not heaven—
E'en preaching was not Christ
And in my sea-beat prison
My Lord and I held tryst:
And aye my murkiest storm-cloud
Was by a rainbow spann'd,
Caught from the glory dwelling
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 86, 96, 225, 335.)
But that He built a heaven
Of His surpassing love,
A little New Jerusalem,
Like to the one above,—
"Lord, take me o'er the water,"
Had been my loud demand,
"Take me to love's own country,
Unto Immanuel's land." (Letter 233.)
But flowers need night's cool darkness,
The moonlight and the dew;
So Christ, from one who loved it,
His shining oft withdrew;
And then for cause of absence,
My troubled soul I scann'd—
But glory, shadeless, shineth
In Immanuel's land. (Letter 234.)
The little birds of Anwoth
I used to count them blest,—
Now, beside happier altars
I go to build my nest:
O'er these there broods no silence,
No graves around them stand,
For glory, deathless, dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 92, 167, 206.)
Fair Anwoth by the Solway,
To me thou still art dear!
E'en from the verge of Heaven
I drop for thee a tear.
Oh! if one soul from Anwoth
Meet me at God's right hand,
My Heaven will be two Heavens,
In Immanuel's land. (Letter 225.)
I have wrestled on towards Heaven,
'Gainst storm, and wind, and tide:—
Now, like a weary traveller,
That leaneth on his guide,
Amid the shades of evening,
While sinks life's ling'ring sand,
I hail the glory dawning
From Immanuel's land. (Letters 275, 326.)
Deep waters cross'd life's pathway,
The hedge of thorns was sharp
Now these lie all behind me—
Oh! for a well-tuned harp!
Oh! to join Halleluiah
With yon triumphant band,
Who sing, where glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel's land. (Letter 137.)
With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred with His love.
I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the heart that plann'd,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 245, 295, 298.)
Soon shall the cup of glory
Wash down earth's bitterest woes,
Soon shall the desert-briar
Break into Eden's rose:
The curse shall change to blessing—
The name on earth that's bann'd,
Be graven on the white stone
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 20, 295. Rev. 2:17)
Oh! I am my Beloved’s,
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His "House of wine."
I stand upon His merit,
I know no other stand,
Not e'en where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land. (Letters 76, 116, 119, 148.)
I shall sleep sound in Jesus,
Fill'd with His likeness rise,
To live and to adore Him,
To see Him with these eyes.
'Tween me and resurrection
But Paradise doth stand;
Then—then for glory
dwelling In Immanuel's land!
The Bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom's face
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace—
Not at the crown He gifteth,
But on His piercèd hand:—
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel's land. (Letters 21, 168.)
I have borne scorn and hatred,
I have borne wrong and shame,
Earth's proud ones have reproach'd me,
For Christ's thrice blessed name:—
Where God His seal set fairest
They've stamp'd their foulest brand;
But judgment shines like noonday
In Immanuel's land.
They've summoned me before them,
But there I may not come,—
My Lord says, "Come up hither,"
My Lord says, "Welcome Home!"
My kingly King, at His white throne,
My presence doth command,
Where glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.
You Were Born for Friendship | The Advent of True and Deeper Intimacy
By Jon Bloom 12/05/2017
Each of us is designed for deep, experienced, intimate friendship with God. It’s what we all long for most in the core of our being.
We are never more spiritually healthy than when we not just know about, but really know by experience, the profound love and acceptance of our heavenly Father. And when we are unsure of his love and acceptance, or reject it as being either unreal or beyond our reach, we look for substitutes to fill the void of God’s friendship. But these substitutes only do damage to us and others — and still leave us with the aching void.
“Where Are You?” | How do we know that we’re designed for intimate friendship with God? We know it because of the way Adam and Eve fractured this friendship.
We get a glimpse of the nature of their relationship with God when they hide themselves from him in the garden over shame for what they have just done. We know something is very wrong, something precious has been defiled, because of God’s question: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8–9).
That may be the saddest question in the Bible. It was a relational question, not so different from what a heartbroken spouse asks a wandering, relationally distant spouse, or a heartbroken parent asks a withdrawn prodigal child, or a friend asks a friend who was once very close but now is relationally cool and aloof. Where are you? Why is this distance between us?
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Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.John Bloom Books | Go to Books Page
God Is Always at Work for Us and for Our Good
By W. Robert Godfrey 12/06/2017
Psalm 18 is a psalm of David, a song celebrating “the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” This psalm, the longest of Book One, praises God for His deliverance. It is also recorded, with slight differences, in 2 Samuel 22. At the center of this psalm is a strong confession of faith: “With the merciful you show yourself merciful” (v. 25).
This psalm begins (vv. 1–6) and ends (vv. 46–50) with praise offered to God. It is praise filled with love and thanksgiving for God’s protection from enemies and from death. The praise rejoices in the victories God has given His king and His people—victories displayed before the world.
The central section of the psalm (vv. 20–29) celebrates the faithfulness of David and of God. David served the Lord with integrity (we will look at the difficulties that seem to surround this kind of claim below). The Lord on His part had always been reliable and blessed His king. On each side of this central meditation on faithfulness we have the record of God’s powerful help for David (vv. 7–19; 30–45). Each of these two sections has its own character. Verses 7–19 emphasize the work of God to save David. Verses 30–45 highlight David’s success as God worked through him.
In light of this overview of the psalm’s structure, we want to look more closely at several points. First, how can David claim to be blameless (vv. 20–24)? The claim of blamelessness is a recurring theme in the Psalms. It is stated with special force in Psalm 26: “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites” (vv. 1–4). But David is a murderer and an adulterer, to name only some of his sins. How can he claim to be blameless?
We need to recognize that David was a devoted and persevering follower of the Lord even though he did fall into very serious sin. When Nathan confronted him with his sins, he repented and grieved deeply for them. He expressed his repentance in beautiful psalms of penitence such as Psalms 32 and 51. His life as a whole was characterized by his faithful keeping of God’s covenant in obedience and repentance.
Dr. W. Robert Godfrey is president emeritus of Westminster Seminary California, a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow, and author of many books.
W. Robert Godfrey Books | Go to Books Page
Is Being Good Enough to Get to Heaven?
By Sean McDowell 12/07/2017
Some time ago, I had an in-depth discussion with a college student about the morality of hell. Even though I provided every philosophical and theological justification I could muster, he simply couldn’t accept that a loving and just God would send anyone to hell.
After about an hour of conversation, it finally dawned on me. His primary problem was that he believed in the essential goodness of mankind. From his perspective, hell seemed like total overkill for basically good people who commit a few small indiscretions.
In one sense, he’s right. If hell were the consequence for small missteps, it would seem remarkably unjust. However, in The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis has rightly observed, “When we say that we are bad, the ‘wrath’ of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God’s goodness.”
Human Nature in the Bible
The Bible has a very stark view of human nature (Ps. 14:3; Rom 7:18; Titus 1:15; Mark 7:20-23). While human beings are the most valuable creation of a loving God, we have utterly rebelled against our Creator. We are deeply affected by sin. In his Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Wayne Grudem explains:
(Ps 14:3) 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. ESV
(Ro 7:18) 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. ESV
(Tt 1:15) 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. ESV
(Mk 7:20–23) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”ESV
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Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell
Sean McDowell Books:
Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter
Treasure God, Magnify Christ, Love People The Way of Christian Hedonism
By John Piper 4/30/2017
My aim in this message is to deepen and intensify your passion for God — your pleasure in the supreme beauty and worth of God. Deepen, so that it won’t be blown away by the winds of cancer or depression or bankruptcy or divorce or prodigal children. Intensify, so that your joy in God will be full, and his supreme beauty and worth will shine more brightly in your life.
There are some convictions behind this aim to deepen and intensify your pleasure in God’s beauty and worth. I call these convictions Christian Hedonism, which I think is simply a provocative phrase for radical Christian living — that is, normal Christian living. So you might say my aim is really that you would all become Christian Hedonists. And that’s true. I don’t know any better way to deepen and intensify your joy in God than to show you from his word that Christian Hedonism is true — and stunningly wonderful. It’s the way I have tried to live my life since I was about twenty-two.
Pursue Maximum Pleasure | So here’s my summary of Christian Hedonism. Christian Hedonism affirms that God intends for all people to pursue maximum pleasure in both quality and duration.
Then Christian Hedonism affirms that the highest quality and the most durable pleasure is found only in God — not merely in his gifts, but in God himself as supremely beautiful and supremely valuable. In him is where every person is to seek maximum pleasure.
Philippians 4:4 — Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. ESV” This is a command not a suggestion.
Psalm 37:4 — Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 32:11 — “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
Psalm 90:14 — “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
A Conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses
By Nate Sala 11/22/2015
My wife and I recently had an opportunity to sit down and converse with two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) that came to my door.
Truth be told, we are not well-versed in JW theology. However, I think our conversation could be helpful for a couple of reasons. First, sharing our strategy might provide a useful aid in current or future conversations you might have with a JW. Second, I think sharing the strategy the JWs used can be useful in getting a window into their thought process with regard to their (and our) worldview.
Small Talk | The first thing my wife and I purposed to do was make our guests feel comfortable in our home. I offered them something to eat and drink. I told them I was glad that they found the time to stop by and have a conversation with us. I introduced them to my son and my dogs and then we all sat down on my couch where we engaged in some further small talk: Where are you from? Do you have a family? How long have you been a missionary? Have you traveled, seen the world? We joked around and had a few laughs. All of this probably took 20 minutes before entering into our theological discussion.
I think starting with small talk is vitally important and here’s why. 1 Peter 3:8 says that we should strive to be “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” Sure, this verse comes out of a context pertaining to marital relationships, but I’m sure Peter would not have suggested that those traits apply only to marriages and not your neighbors. Peter’s comment is actually commensurate with what Jesus said in Luke 6:31: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
There is a highly contentious atmosphere that currently exists in this culture (particularly online) where disagreeing with someone often becomes a series of sarcastic one-liners and ad hominem attacks in order to win a debate, rather than the person. Gone are the days where collegial and respectful disagreement is the norm. That is why it is of the utmost importance to treat those with whom we disagree with respect and grace. What good reason would we have to demand others’ respect if we are not willing to give it first? Also, why should we demand that anyone truly consider our view if we are not willing to do the same? This all begins with good rapport built on a genuine place of respect and care for our JW neighbors… or any neighbor, for that matter. Conversely, if we take no care to respect our interlocutors, we will make our words all the more difficult to be genuinely received.
English and Forensics Teacher. B.Sc., M.Ed. University of Nevada Las Vegas. Lives in Las Vegas with his wife, two sons, and dogs.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
25. The hallucination consists in dreaming of individuals, each of whom
possesses a part of the essence. The Scriptures teach that there is
essentially but one God, and, therefore, that the essence both of the
Son and Spirit is unbegotten; but inasmuch as the Father is first in
order, and of himself begat his own Wisdom, he, as we lately observed,
is justly regarded as the principle and fountain of all the Godhead.
Thus God, taken indefinitely, is unbegotten, and the Father, in respect
of his person, is unbegotten. For it is absurd to imagine that our
doctrine gives any ground for alleging that we establish a quaternion
of gods. They falsely and calumniously ascribe to us the figment of
their own brain, as if we virtually held that three persons emanate
from one essence,  whereas it is plain, from our writings, that we
do not disjoin the persons from the essence, but interpose a
distinction between the persons residing in it. If the persons were
separated from the essence, there might be some plausibility in their
argument; as in this way there would be a trinity of Gods, not of
persons comprehended in one God. This affords an answer to their futile
question--whether or not the essence concurs in forming the Trinity; as
if we imagined that three Gods were derived from it. Their objection,
that there would thus be a Trinity without a God, originates in the
same absurdity. Although the essence does not contribute to the
distinction, as if it were a part or member, the persons are not
without it, or external to it; for the Father, if he were not God,
could not be the Father; nor could the Son possibly be Son unless he
were God. We say, then, that the Godhead is absolutely of itself. And
hence also we hold that the Son, regarded as God, and without reference
to person, is also of himself; though we also say that, regarded as
Son, he is of the Father. Thus his essence is without beginning, while
his person has its beginning in God. And, indeed, the orthodox writers
who in former times spoke of the Trinity, used this term only with
reference to the Persons. To have included the essence in the
distinction, would not only have been an absurd error, but gross
impiety. For those who class the three thus--Essence, Son, and Spirit
 --plainly do away with the essence of the Son and Spirit;
otherwise the parts being intermingled would merge into each other--a
circumstance which would vitiate any distinction.  In short, if
God and Father were synonymous terms, the Father would be deifier in a
sense which would leave the Son nothing but a shadow; and the Trinity
would be nothing more than the union of one God with two creatures.
26. To the objection, that if Christ be properly God, he is improperly called the Son of God, it has been already answered, that when one person is compared with another, the name God is not used indefinitely, but is restricted to the Father, regarded as the beginning of the Godhead, not by essentiating, as fanatics absurdly express it, but in respect of order. In this sense are to be understood the words which Christ addressed to the Father, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," (John 17:3). For speaking in the person of the Mediator, he holds a middle place between God and man; yet so that his majesty is not diminished thereby. For though he humbled (emptied) himself, he did not lose the glory which he had with the Father, though it was concealed from the world. So in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 1:10; 2:9), though the apostle confesses that Christ was made a little lower than the angels, he at the same time hesitates not to assert that he is the eternal God who founded the earth. We must hold, therefore, that as often as Christ, in the character of Mediator, addresses the Father, he, under the term God, includes his own divinity also. Thus, when he says to the apostles, "It is expedient for you that I go away," "My Father is greater than I," he does not attribute to himself a secondary divinity merely, as if in regard to eternal essence he were inferior to the Father; but having obtained celestial glory, he gathers together the faithful to share it with him. He places the Father in the higher degree, inasmuch as the full perfection of brightness conspicuous in heaven, differs from that measure of glory which he himself displayed when clothed in flesh. For the same reason Paul says, that Christ will restore "the kingdom to God, even the Father," "that God may be all in all," (1 Cor. 15:24, 28). Nothing can be more absurd than to deny the perpetuity of Christ's divinity. But if he will never cease to be the Son of God, but will ever remain the same that he was from the beginning, it follows that under the name of Father the one divine essence common to both is comprehended. And assuredly Christ descended to us for the very purpose of raising us to the Father, and thereby, at the same time, raising us to himself, inasmuch as he is one with the Father. It is therefore erroneous and impious to confine the name of God to the Father, so as to deny it to the Son. Accordingly, John, declaring that he is the true God, has no idea of placing him beneath the Father in a subordinate rank of divinity. I wonder what these fabricators of new gods mean, when they confess that Christ is truly God, and yet exclude him from the godhead of the Father, as if there could be any true God but the one God, or as if transfused divinity were not a mere modern fiction.
27. In the many passages which they collect from Irenæus, in which he maintains that the Father of Christ is the only eternal God of Israel, they betray shameful ignorance, or very great dishonesty. For they ought to have observed, that that holy man was contending against certain frantic persons, who, denying that the Father of Christ was that God who had in old times spoken by Moses and the prophets, held that he was some phantom or other produced from the pollution of the world. His whole object, therefore, is to make it plain, that in the Scriptures no other God is announced but the Father of Christ; that it is wicked to imagine any other. Accordingly, there is nothing strange in his so often concluding that the God of Israel was no other than he who is celebrated by Christ and the apostles. Now, when a different heresy is to be resisted, we also say with truth, that the God who in old times appeared to the fathers, was no other than Christ. Moreover, if it is objected that he was the Father, we have the answer ready, that while we contend for the divinity of the Son, we by no means exclude the Father. When the reader attends to the purpose of Irenæus, the dispute is at an end. Indeed, we have only to look to lib. 3 c. 6, where the pious writer insists on this one point, "that he who in Scripture is called God absolutely and indefinitely, is truly the only God; and that Christ is called God absolutely." Let us remember (as appears from the whole work, and especially from lib. 2 c. 46), that the point under discussion was, that the name of Father is not applied enigmatically and parabolically to one who was not truly God. We may adds that in lib. 3 c. 9, he contends that the Son as well as the Father united was the God proclaimed by the prophets and apostles. He afterwards explains (lib. 3 c. 12) how Christ, who is Lord of all, and King and Judge, received power from him who is God of all, namely, in respect of the humiliation by which he humbled himself, even to the death of the cross. At the same time he shortly after affirms (lib. 3 c. 16), that the Son is the maker of heaven and earth, who delivered the law by the hand of Moses, and appeared to the fathers. Should any babbler now insist that, according to Irenaeus, the Father alone is the God of Israel, I will refer him to a passage in which Irenaeus distinctly says (lib. 3 c. 18, 23), that Christ is ever one and the same, and also applies to Christ the words of the prophecy of Habakkuk, "God cometh from the south." To the same effect he says (lib. 4 c. 9), "Therefore, Christ himself, with the Father, is the God of the living." And in the 12th chapter of the same book he explains that Abraham believed God, because Christ is the maker of heaven and earth, and very God.
28. With no more truth do they claim Tertullian as a patron. Though his style is sometimes rugged and obscure, he delivers the doctrine which we maintain in no ambiguous manner, namely, that while there is one God, his Word, however, is with dispensation or economy; that there is only one God in unity of substance; but that, nevertheless, by the mystery of dispensation, the unity is arranged into Trinity; that there are three, not in state, but in degree--not in substance, but in form--not in power, but in order.  He says indeed that he holds the Son to be second to the Father; but he means that the only difference is by distinction. In one place he says the Son is visible; but after he has discoursed on both views, he declares that he is invisible regarded as the Word. In fine, by affirming that the Father is characterised by his own Person, he shows that he is very far from countenancing the fiction which we refute. And although he does not acknowledge any other God than the Father, yet, explaining himself in the immediate context, he shows that he does not speak exclusively in respect of the Son, because he denies that he is a different God from the Father; and, accordingly, that the one supremacy is not violated by the distinction of Person. And it is easy to collect his meaning from the whole tenor of his discourse. For he contends against Praxeas, that although God has three distinct Persons, yet there are not several gods, nor is unity divided. According to the fiction of Praxeas, Christ could not be God without being the Father also; and this is the reason why Tertullian dwells so much on the distinction. When he calls the Word and Spirit a portion of the whole, the expression, though harsh, may be allowed, since it does not refer to the substance, but only (as Tertullian himself testifies) denotes arrangement and economy which applies to the persons only. Accordingly, he asks, "How many persons, Praxeas, do you think there are, but just as many as there are names for?" In the same way, he shortly after says, "That they may believe the Father and the Son, each in his own name and person." These things, I think, sufficiently refute the effrontery of those who endeavour to blind the simple by pretending the authority of Tertullian.
29. Assuredly, whosoever will compare the writings of the ancient fathers with each other, will not find any thing in Irenaeus different from what is taught by those who come after him. Justin is one of the most ancient, and he agrees with us out and out. Let them object that, by him and others, the Father of Christ is called the one God. The same thing is taught by Hilary, who uses the still harsher expression, that Eternity is in the Father. Is it that he may withhold divine essence from the Son? His whole work is a defence of the doctrine which we maintain; and yet these men are not ashamed to produce some kind of mutilated excerpts for the purpose of persuading us that Hilary is a patron of their heresy. With regard to what they pretend as to Ignatius, if they would have it to be of the least importance, let them prove that the apostles enacted laws concerning Lent, and other corruptions. Nothing can be more nauseating, than the absurdities which have been published under the name of Ignatius; and therefore, the conduct of those who provide themselves with such masks for deception is the less entitled to toleration.
Moreover, the consent of the ancient fathers clearly appears from this, that in the Council of Nice, no attempt was made by Arius to cloak his heresy by the authority of any approved author; and no Greek or Latin writer apologises as dissenting from his predecessors. It cannot be necessary to observe how carefully Augustine, to whom all these miscreants are most violently opposed, examined all ancient writings, and how reverently he embraced the doctrine taught by them (August. lib. de Trinit. &c). He is most scrupulous in stating the grounds on which he is forced to differ from them, even in the minutest point. On this subject, too, if he finds any thing ambiguous or obscure in other writers, he does not disguise it.  And he assumes it as an acknowledged fact, that the doctrine opposed by the Arians was received without dispute from the earliest antiquity. At the same time, he was not ignorant of what some others had previously taught. This is obvious from a single expression. When he says (De Doct. Christ. lib. 1). that "unity is in the Father," will they pretend that he then forgot himself? In another passage, he clears away every such charge, when he calls the Father the beginning of the Godhead, as being from none--thus wisely inferring that the name of God is specially ascribed to the Father, because, unless the beginning were from him, the simple unity of essence could not be maintained. I hope the pious reader will admit that I have now disposed of all the calumnies by which Satan has hitherto attempted to pervert or obscure the pure doctrine of faith. The whole substance of the doctrine has, I trust, been faithfully expounded, if my readers will set bounds to their curiosity, and not long more eagerly than they ought for perplexing disputation. I did not undertake to satisfy those who delight in speculate views, but I have not designedly omitted any thing which I thought adverse to me. At the same time, studying the edification of the Church, I have thought it better not to touch on various topics, which could have yielded little profit, while they must have needlessly burdened and fatigued the reader. For instance, what avails it to discuss, as Lombard does at length (lib. 1 dist. 9), Whether or not the Father always generates? This idea of continual generation becomes an absurd fiction from the moment it is seen, that from eternity there were three persons in one God.
 The French adds, "Et ne faisons point cela témérairement, mais selon sa parole."--And let us not do this rashly, but in accordance with his Word.
 Calvin translates interrogatively, "Do ye believe in God?"
 The French adds, "à ce qu'elle ne fust point aneantie incontinent; "--so as to prevent its being instantly annihilated.
 The French adds, "Sainct Paul n'eust jamais ainsi parlé, s'il n'eust cognu la vraie Divinté du Sainct Esprit"--St Paul would never have so spoken, if he had not known the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
 The French entirely omits the three previous sentences, beginning, "Then, as,"
 Bernard, De Consider. lib. 5 "Cum dico unum, non me trinitatis turbat numerus, qui essentiam non multiplicat, non variat, nec partitur. Rursum, quum, dico tria, non me arguit intuitus unitatis, quia illa quæcunque tria, seu illos tres, nec in confusionem cogit, nec in singularitatem redigit. "--See also Bernard, Serm. 71 in Cantica.
 August. Homil. De Temp. 38, De Trinitate. See also Ad Pascentium Epist. 174 Cyrill. De Trinit. lib. 7; Idem, lib. 3 Dialog.; Aug. in Psal 59; et Tract. in Joann 89; Idem, in Psal. 68.
v See Calvin. Defensio Orthodox. Fid. S. Trinit. Adv. Prod. Error. M. Serveti
 The French adds, "puisque tels abuseurs forgent des noms contre nature;"--for these perverters forge names against nature.
 The French is, "tiré comme par un álambic;"--extracted as by an alembic.
 See Bernard, Serm. 80, super Cantica., on the heresy of Gilbert, Bishop of Poiotiers.
 The French is expressed somewhat differently, "veu que l'Apostre en l'allegant de Christ, lui attribue tout ce qu' est de Dieu;"--seeing the Apostle, by applying it to Christ, attributes to him everything belonging to God.
 The French adds, "Comme trois ruissuaux;"--like three streams.
 The French adds, "Comme si l'essense étoit au lieu de la personne du Pére;"--as if the essence were in place of the person of the Father.
 The French is somewhat differently expressed: "Car le Fils a quelque l'estre, ou il n'en a point. S'il en a, voila deux essences pour jouster l'un contre autre; s'il n'en a point, ce ne seroit qu'une ombre." For the Son has some being, or he has none. If some, here are two essences to tilt with each other; if none, he is only a shadow.
 Tertullianus, lib. adv. Praxeam;--Perversitas hæ (Praxeæ scil.) se existimat meram veritatem possidere, dum unicum Deum non alias putat credendum, quam si ipsum eundemque et Patrem et Filium et Spiritum sanctum dicat: quasi non sic quoque unas sit omnia, dum ex uno omnia, per substantæ scilicet unitatem, et nihilominus custodiatur ???????????? sacramentum, quæ unitatem in trinitatem disponit, tres dirigens, Patrem, Filium, et Spiritum sanctum. Tres autem non statu, ded gradu: nec substantia, sed forma: nec potestate, sed specie: unius autem substantiæ, et unius status, et unius potestatis: quia unus Deus, ex quo et gradus isti, formaæ et species, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spriitus sancti deputantur. Quomodo numerum sine divisione patiuntur, procedentes tractatus demonstrabunt,:
 Athanasuis expresses himself thus learnedly and piously:--"On this subject, though you cannot explain yourself, you are not therefore to distrust the Holy Scriptures. It is better, while hesitating through ignorance, to be silent and believe, than not to believe because you hesitate"
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 137How Shall We Sing the LORD’s Song?
137:4 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!
7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
Bearing and Enduring
By R.C. Sproul 8/01/2016
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). I want to focus on the bearing and enduring aspects of love. Those aren’t the same thing, but there is a close link between bearing and enduring because being able to bear pain is important to being able to endure. And if love is going to endure in the Christian life, love must be able to bear a certain amount of pain and disappointment.
I think Paul is talking about the grace of God in the gift of love that makes it possible for us to deal with suffering. So much of the New Testament speaks to the reality of human pain and suffering, and suffering is something that we are called to bear and exhorted to endure. Now when we talk about endurance, we’re talking about being able to stay at or with something which is usually over a protracted, but certainly finite, period of time. We distinguish between sprint-type races and endurance races. Different abilities and strengths are required to run the hundred-yard dash than are required to run a twenty-six-mile marathon. But both races have a definite, finite period of time — one may last ten or so seconds, and the other may last two to three hours. When Scripture talks to us about the reality of suffering, it always reminds us that suffering is for a season. And the promise of God for the Christian is that there will not be an eternal, relentless experience of pain for the redeemed; rather, the promise is a complete end to all suffering. That promise for the future is repeated again and again in Scripture to give us hope, to strengthen our resolve and our ability to bear and to endure pain when it strikes in this world. God’s Word tells us the suffering we’re called upon to endure in this world is not worthy to be compared with the glory that awaits the saints at their life’s end. But in the meantime, the whole of life may seem to be an endurance race.
Years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the home of a former Miami Dolphins quarterback and meeting his wife, who was dying of cancer. It was a privilege because she was a deeply committed Christian woman. I sat next to her, she looked at me, a single tear flowing from her eyes, and she said, “R.C., I just don’t know how much more I can take. It’s gotten to the place where it seems unbearable.”
She wasn’t complaining or bitter. She was simply tired. We prayed together. I left, and several days later I got the report that she had died. She had fought the good fight for the faith, she had finished the race, and she had kept the faith. And her pain was over—forever. I look at her life, and I ask myself whether I could endure that kind of prolonged, protracted suffering without becoming absolutely impossible to be around, without becoming bitter and angry. But this is where the rubber meets the road. Will we love God when we’re hurting, when the pain of our experience is so intense?
Pain and suffering tend to eat away not only at our love but also at our faith, because we begin to wonder if God is loving and if He is even real. We ask how in the world He can let this relentless pain grip our lives. That’s why it’s so important for us to keep our attention on the Word of God. We are told not to be surprised when suffering comes our way. The New Testament doesn’t say that suffering might occur — it says it’s a certainty. Remember what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11 when he talks about what he bore for the sake of the gospel: beatings, stonings, being left for dead, shipwrecks, days and nights at sea, fighting with wild beasts, and constantly being the target of human hostility. Why was he willing to bear those things? Because he understood the divine purpose for suffering and the divine promise not only of relief from suffering, but of the redemption of the suffering itself. In this interim between Christ’s resurrection and return, Christians are called to participate in the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). By bearing and enduring pain, we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and mirror and reflect Him to onlookers. Pain and suffering are opportunities to show the love that God has shed abroad in our hearts.
Coming back to the quarterback’s wife, we could look at her pain and say, “Here is a woman that God did not love.” Or we could look at her and say, “Here is a woman whom God loved so deeply that He would entrust such pain and suffering to her, knowing that she would endure.” That’s real greatness. That’s real achievement.
One problem we have in our day is the popular belief that God never wills pain or suffering. Many teach that if you trust in Jesus, all your problems will be over, and you’ll never have to live with deprivation, persecution, or pain. Have the people who say such things ever read the New Testament? Just a cursory reading tells you that if you are in Christ, you will suffer, you will be afflicted, you will be persecuted. The Christian life is a pilgrimage filled with pain, affliction, and persecution. And the more we love God, and the more consistent we are with the love of which the Apostle speaks in 1 Corinthians 13, the more we will be hated and persecuted, and we will find it necessary to bear and endure all things. But what makes this possible is love.
Between “bearing” and “enduring,” we are told that love “believes all things, hopes all things.” It’s only as we believe the Word of God and have confidence in our future that we’re able to bear and to endure.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 18)
By John Foxe 1563
The Rise, Progress, Persecutions, and Sufferings of the QuakersIn treating of these people in a historical manner, we are obliged to have recourse to much tenderness. That they differ from the generality of Protestants in some of the capital points of religion cannot be denied, and yet, as Protestant dissenters they are included under the description of the toleration act. It is not our business to inquire whether people of similar sentiments had any existence in the primitive ages of Christianity: perhaps, in some respects, they had not, but we are to write of them not as what they were, but what they now are. That they have been treated by several writers in a very contemptuous manner is certain; that they did not deserve such treatment, is equally certain.
The appellation Quakers, was bestowed upon them as a term of reproach, in consequence of their apparent convulsions which they labored under when they delivered their discourses, because they imagined they were the effect of divine inspiration.
It is not our business, at present, to inquire whether the sentiments of these people are agreeable to the Gospel, but this much is certain, that the first leader of them, as a separate body, was a man of obscure birth, who had his first existence in Leicestershire, about the year 1624. In speaking of this man we shall deliver our own sentiments in a historical manner, and joining these to what have been said by the Friends themselves, we shall endeavor to furnish out a complete narrative.
George Fox was descended of honest and respected parents, who brought him up in the national religion: but from a child he appeared religious, still, solid, and observing, beyond his years, and uncommonly knowing in divine things. He was brought up to husbandry, and other country business, and was particularly inclined to the solitary occupation of a shepherd; an employment, that very well suited his mind in several respects, both for its innocency and solitude; and was a just emblem of his after ministry and service. In the year 1646, he entirely forsook the national Church, in whose tenets he had been brought up, as before observed; and in 1647, he travelled into Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, without any set purpose of visiting particular places, but in a solitary manner he walked through several towns and villages, which way soever his mind turned. "He fasted much," said Swell, "and walked often in retired placed, with no other companion than his Bible." "He visited the most retired and religious people in those parts," says Penn, "and some there were, short of few, if any, in this natiojn, who waited for the consolation of Israel night and day; as Zacharias, Anna, and Simeon, did of old time. To these he was sent, and these he sought out in the neighboring counties, and among them he sojourned until his more ample ministry came upon him. At this time he taught, and was an example of silence, endeavoring to bring them from self-performances; testifying of, and turning them to the light of Christ within them, and encouraging them to wait in patience, and to feel the power of it to stir in their hearts, that their knowledge and worship of God might stand in the power of an endless life, which was to be found in the light as it was obeyed in the manifestation of it in man: for in the Word was life, and that life is the light of men. Life in the Word, light in men; and life in men too, as the light is obeyed; the children of the light living by the life of the Word, by which the Word begets them again to God, which is the generation and new birth, without which there is no coming into the Kingdom of God, and to which whoever comes is greater than John: that is, than John's dispensation, which was not that of the Kingdom, but the consummation of the legal, and forerunning of the Gospel times, the time of the Kingdom. Accordingly several meetings were gathering in those parts; and thus his time was employed for some years."
In the year 1652, "he had a visitation of the great work of God in the earth, and of the way that he was to go forth, in a public ministry, to begin it." He directed his course northward, "and in every place where he came, if not before he came to it, he had his particular exercise and service shown to him, so that the Lord was his leader indeed." He made great numbers of converts to his opinions, and many pious and good men joined him in his ministry. These were drawn forth especially to visit the public assemblies to reprove, reform, and exhort them; sometimes in markets, fairs, streets, and by the highway-side, "calling people to repentance, and to return to the Lord, with their hearts as well as their mouths; directing them to the light of Christ within them, to see, examine, and to consider their ways by, and to eschew the evil, and to do the good and acceptable will of God."
They were not without opposition in the work they imagined themselves called to, being often set in the stocks, stoned, beaten, whipped and imprisoned, though honest men of good report, that had left wives, children, houses, and lands, to visit them with a living call to repentance. But these coercive methods rather forwarded than abated their zeal, and in those parts they brought over many proselytes, and amongst them several magistrates, and others of the better sort. They apprehended the Lord had forbidden them to pull off their hats to anyone, high or low, and required them to speak to the people, without distinction, the the language of thou and thee. They scrupled bidding people good-morrow, or good-night, nor might they bend the knee to anyone, even in supreme authority. Both men and women went in a plain and simple dress, different from the fashion of the times. They neither gave nor accepted any titles of respect or honor, nor would they call any man master on earth. Several texts of Scripture they quoted in defence of these singularities; such as, "Swear not at all." "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" etc., etc. They placed the basis of religion in an inward light, and an extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit.
In 1654, their first separate meeting in London was held in the house of Robert Dring, in Watling-street, for by that time they spread themselves into all parts of the kingdom, and had in many places set up meetings or assemblies, particularly in Lancashire, and the adjacent parts, but they were still exposed to great persecutions and trials of every kind. One of them in a letter to the protector, Oliver Cromwell, represents, though there are no penal laws in force obliging men to comply with the established religion, yet the Quakers are exposed upon other accounts; they are fined and imprisoned for refusing to take an oath; for not paying their tithes; for disturbing the public assemblies, and meeting in the streets, and places of public resort; some of them have been whipped for vagabonds, and for their plain speeches to the magistrate.
Under favor of the then toleration, they opened their meetings at the Bull and Mouth, in Aldersgate-street, where women, as well as men, were moved to speak. Their zeal transported them to some extravagancies, which laid them still more open to the lash of their enemies, who exercised various severities opn them throughout the next reign. Upon the suppression of Venner's mad insurrection, the government, having published a proclamation, forbidding the Anabaptists, Quakers, and Fifth Monarchy Men, to assemble or meet together under pretence of worshipping God, except it be in some parochial church, chapel, or in private houses, by consent of the persons there inhabiting, all meetings in other places being declared to be unlawful and riotous, etc., etc., the Quakers thought it expedient to address the king thereon, which they did in the following words:
"O King Charles!
"Our desire is, that thou mayest live forever in the fear of God, and thy council. We beseech thee and thy council to read these following lines in tender bowels, and compassion for our souls, and for your good.
"And this consider, we are about four hundred imprisoned, in and about this city, of men and women from their families, besides, in the county jails, about ten hundred; we desire that our meetings may not be broken up, but that all may come to a fair trial, that our innocency may be cleared up.
"London, 16th day, eleventh month, 1660."
On the twenty-eighth of the same month, they published the declaration referred to in their address, entitled, "A declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God, called Quakers, against all sedition, plotters, and fighters in the world, for removing the ground of jealousy and suspicion, from both magistrates and people in the kingdom, concerning wars and fightings." It was presented to the king the twenty-first day of the eleventh month, 1660, and he promised them upon his royal word, that they should not suffer for their opinions as long as they lived peaceably; but his promises were very little regarded afterward.
In 1661 they assumed courage to petition the House of Lords for a toleration of their religion, and for a dispensation from taking the oaths, which they held unlawful, not from any disaffection to the government, or a belief that they were less obliged by an affirmation, but from a persuasion that all oaths were unlawful; and that swearing upon the most solemn occasions was forbidden in the New Testament. Their petition was rejected, and instead of granting them relief, an act was passed against them, the preamble to which set forth, "That whereas several persons have taken up an opinion that an oath, even before a magistrate, is unlawful, and contrary to the Word of God; and whereas, under pretence of religious worship, the said persons do assemble in great numbers in several parts of the kingdom, separating themselves from the rest of his majesty's subjects, and the public congregations and usual places of divine worship; be it therefore enacted, that if any such persons, after the twenty-fourth of March, 1661-2, shall refuse to take an oath when lawfully tendered, or persuade others to do it, or maintain in writing or otherwise, the unlawfulness of taking an oath; or if they shall assemble for religious worship, to the number of five or more, of the age of fifteen, they shall for the first offence forfeit five pounds; for the second, ten pounds; and for the third shall abjure the realm, or be transported to the plantations: and the justices of peace at their open sessions may hear and finally determine in the affair."
This act had a most dreadful effect upon the Quakers, though it was well known and notorious that these conscientious persons were far from sedition or disaffection to the government. George Fox, in his address to the king, acquaints him that three thousand and sixty-eight of their friends had been imprisoned since his majesty's restoration; that their meetings were daily broken up by men with clubs and arms, and their friends thrown into the water, and trampled under foot until the blood gushed out, which gave rise to their meeting in the open streets. A relation was printed, signed by twelve witnesses, which says that more than four thousand two hundred Quakers were imprisoned; and of them five hundred were in and about London, and, the suburbs; several of whom were dead in the jails.
Six hundred of them, says an account published at that time, wer ein prison, merely for religion's sake, of whom several were banished to the plantations. In short, the Quakers gave such full employment to the informers, that they had less leisure to attend the meetings of other dissenters.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Labour and laziness
12/08/2017 Bob Gass
‘Hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.’
(Pr 4:23) 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. ESV
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon uses the word sluggard no less than seventeen times. A sluggard isn’t a person who would work but can’t find a job; a sluggard is a person who could work but won’t. The story is told of a fellow who applied for assistance at the welfare office. The official asked, ‘Why do you need financial aid?’ He replied, ‘Because I’m having trouble with my eyes.’ The official asked, ‘What’s the nature of your eye trouble?’ The man replied, ‘I just can’t see myself going to work every day.’ And every sluggard has eye trouble. Or it doesn’t bother him as long as somebody else is doing the work. President Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said: ‘Extend pity to no man because he has to work. If he’s worth his salt, he’ll work. I envy the man who has work worth doing, and does it well…far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’ Somehow we’ve lost the spirit, if not the letter of President Roosevelt’s thinking. Ask any employer and they will tell you that someone who’ll work, work hard, do the job right, and finish the task, is getting harder to find. God’s not against leisure. A worker who’s rested and refreshed will be a better worker. Solomon’s contrast in the book of Proverbs is between labour and laziness. Parent, one of the best things you can do for your children is to pass a strong work ethic on to them, and set them up to succeed in life.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
On this day, December 8, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan to pardon those who had been Confederates. He wrote: “Whereas it is… desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States… I, Abraham Lincoln… proclaim… a full pardon… upon the condition that every such person… take… an oath… to wit: ‘I… do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution… and that I will… faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves… So help me God.’ ”
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Chapter 15 December 8
I hadn’t realized that Betty was the silent third in this dialogue. I ought to have guessed it. Not that her worst enemy ever accused her of being The Silent Woman-remember the night at Mullingar-but that her silences during a prolonged argument between you and me are usually of a very emphatic, audible, and even dialectical character. One knows she is getting her broom ready and will soon sweep up all our breakages. On the present point she is right. I am making very heavy weather of what most believers find a very simple matter. What is more natural, and easier, if you believe in God, than to address Him? How could one not?
Yes. But it depends who one is. For those in my positionadult converts from the intelligentsia-that simplicity and spontaneity can't always be the starting point. One can't just jump back into one's childhood. If one tries to, the result will only be an archaising revival, like Victorian Gothic-a parody of being born again. We have to work back to the simplicity a long way round.
In actual practice, in my prayers, I often have to use that long way at the very beginning of the prayer.
St. Francis de Sales begins every meditation with the command Mettez-vous en la presence de Dieu. I wonder how many different mental operations have been carried out in intended obedience to that?
What happens to me if I try to take it-as Betty would tell me-"simply," is the juxtaposition of two "representations" or ideas or phantoms. One is the bright blur in the mind which stands for God. The other is the idea I call "me." But I can't leave it at that, because I know-and it's useless to pretend I don't know-that they are both phantasmal. The real I have created them both-or, rather, built them up in the vaguest way from all sorts of psychological odds and ends.
Very often, paradoxically, the first step is to banish the "bright blur"-or, in statelier language, to break the idol. Let's get back to what has at least some degree of resistant reality. Here are the four walls of the room. And here am I. But both terms are merely the façade of impenetrable mysteries.
The walls, they say, are matter. That is, as the physicists will try to tell me, something totally unimaginable, only mathematically describable, existing in a curved space, charged with appalling energies. If I could penetrate far enough that mystery I should perhaps finally reach what is sheerly real.
And what am I? The façade is what I call consciousness. I am at least conscious of the color of those walls. I am not, in the same way, or to the same degree, conscious of what I call my thoughts: for if I try to examine what happens when I am thinking, it stops happening. Yet even if I could examine my thinking, it would, I well know, tum out to be the thinnest possible film on the surface of a vast deep. The psychologists have taught us that. Their real error lies in underestimating the depth and the variety of its contents. Dazzling lightness as well as dark clouds come up. And if all the enchanting visions are, as they rashly claim, mere disguises for sex, where lives the hidden artist who, from such monotonous and claustrophobic material, can make works of such various and liberating art? And depths of time too. All my past; my ancestral past; perhaps my pre-human past.
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
In religion faith does not spring out of feeling,
but feeling out of faith.
The less we feel
the more we should trust.
We cannot feel right
till we have believed.
--- Horatius Bonar
Pray Something, Say Something, Do Something: Daily Journal
The system of revealed truth which this Book contains is like that of the universe, concealed from common observation yet… the centuries have established its Divine origin.
--- Sir Isaac Newton
The life of Sir Isaac Newton
Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
--- T.S. Eliot
The American T. S. Eliot: A Study of the Early Writings (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)
We have met the enemy, and he is us.
--- Walt Kelly
Why the Christian Right Is Wrong: A Minister's Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
he shields those taking refuge in him.
6 Don’t add anything to his words;
or he will rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
Consider the duty of waiting for the Advent
From almsgiving our Lord proceeds to the duty of diligence in expectation of his advent He has gone to attend a wedding, and will return when the marriage is complete. This has surely an instructive bearing upon the advent as subsequent to the completed plan about the bride, the Church. But what we have to notice is his readiness to serve the servants who are found faithful and diligent in his work. He has had a sufficiency at the wedding-feast; he can consequently wait at the supper-table of the servants. And what an honour it will be to receive such attention from the Lord himself! Let us, then, be semper paratus, and then, whether his advent be soon or late, we shall be overtaken by no surprise!
Pilgerbrod. Noch ein Jahrgang Evangelien-Predigten
Glories, responsibilities, Christian ministry
The previous parable attracts Peter by reason of its glorious promise, and he accordingly wonders if it can apply to all believers or to the apostles only. Having asked our Lord, he receives light upon the responsibilities and glories of the ministerial office.
St. Luke (The Pulpit commentary)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The impartial power of God
For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
--- Hebrews 10:14.
We trample the blood of the Son of God under foot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only explanation of the forgiveness of God and of the unfathomable depth of His forgetting, is the Death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the outcome of our personal realization of the Atonement which He has worked out for us. “Christ Jesus … is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” When we realize that Christ is made all this to us, the boundless joy of God begins; wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is at work.
It does not matter who or what we are, there is absolute reinstatement into God by the death of Jesus Christ and by no other way, not because Jesus Christ pleads, but because He died. It is not earned, but accepted. All the pleading which deliberately refuses to recognize the Cross is of no avail; it is battering at another door than the one which Jesus has opened. ‘I don’t want to come that way, it is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.’ “There is none other Name …” The apparent heartlessness of God is the expression of His real heart, there is boundless entrance in His way. “We have forgiveness through His blood.” Identification with the death of Jesus Christ means identification with Him to the death of everything that never was in Him.
God is justified in saving bad men only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The Atonement is a propitiation whereby God through the death of Jesus makes an unholy man holy.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
FFynnon Fair (St Mary's Well)
They did not divine it, but
they bequeathed it to us:
clear water, brackish at times,
complicated by the white frosts
of the sea, but thawing quickly.
Ignoring my image, I peer down
to the quiet roots of it, where
the coins lie, the tarnished offerings
of the people to the pure spirit
that lives there, that has lived there
always, giving itself up
to the thirsty, withholding
itself from the superstition
of others, who ask for more.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.
--- Luke 22:14.
What did this table companionship imply? Till He Come
It implied, first, mutual fidelity. This eating and drinking together was a pledge of faithfulness to one another. Know, then, that your Master would not ask you to his table if he intended to desert you. He has received you as his honored guests and fed you on his choicest food, and by this he says to you, “I will never leave you, come what may, and in all times of trial, depression, and temptation I will be at your right hand.”
But you do not understand this supper unless you are also reminded of the faithfulness that is due from you to your Lord, for the pledge is mutual. In eating with him, you plight your troth to the Crucified. May the Holy Spirit work in our souls a fidelity that will not permit our hearts to wander from him nor our zeal for his glory to decline!
There is, too, in this solemn eating and drinking together a pledge of fidelity between the disciples themselves. Judas would have been a traitor if he had betrayed Peter, John, or James; so, when you come to the one table, you must from this time on be true to one another. All bickering and jealousy must cease, and a generous and affectionate spirit must rule in every bosom. If you hear any speak against those you have communed with, reckon that you are bound to defend their reputations. Reckon their characters are as dear as your own. Drinking from the same cup, eating the same bread, you set forth before the world a token that I trust is not meant to be a lie. As it truly shows Christ’s faithfulness to you, so let it as truly typify your faithfulness to Christ and to one another.
Eating and drinking together was also a token of mutual confidence, for when they were told that one of them would betray their Lord, they did not suspect each other, but each one said, “Surely not I, Lord?” (Matt. 26:22). They were a trustful company who sat at that supper table. Now, beloved, when you gather around this table, come in the spirit of implicit trustfulness in the Lord Jesus. If you are suffering, do not doubt his love, but believe that he works all things for your good. If you are vexed with cares, prove your confidence by leaving them entirely in your Redeemer’s hands. It will not be a festival of communion to you if you come here with suspicions about your Master. No, show your confidence as you eat bread with him. Let there also be a friendly confidence in each other.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
He was an Anglican, then a Puritan, then a Separatist, then a Baptist, then a “Seeker.” He quarreled with civil leaders, frustrated church leaders, and loved the Indians. He founded an American colony and established the first Baptist church on American soil. Most of all, he trusted the overruling providence of God so much that he named a city in honor of it.
Who was he? He was Roger Williams, born about 1603 in England. He grew up in London near a square in front of Newgate Prison, famous as the site of execution for condemned heretics. Young Roger witnessed many such executions, and he developed an abhorrence for the persecution of those with differing religious beliefs. As an 18-year-old, he worked as recording secretary in a British courtroom, transcribing the cases of heretical prosecution. By the time Williams graduated from Cambridge, he was a powerful preacher and a relentless advocate of religious liberty.
In 1630 under King Charles I, Williams was infuriated by the treatment given his friend, Dr. Alexander Leighton, a Puritan—life imprisonment, heavy fine, defrocking, public whipping, ears cut off, nose split on both sides, and branding of a double SS (for “Sower of Sedition”) on his face.
With righteous wrath, Williams began preaching and writing against the church/state unions and their resulting policies of coercion and persecution. Finding himself at risk, he accepted an invitation from Puritans in Boston and embarked secretly on a ship for America December 8, 1630. But he found Puritan leaders in America also intolerant. They, too, sought to impose their beliefs through legal constraint. One night news reached him that authorities were plotting to seize him and return him in chains to England. Bundling himself against the cold, he fled through the snow into Indian country. On the shores of Narragansett Bay, he purchased land from the Indians and there he founded a settlement, naming it Providence, where all could worship in freedom. There he established the first Baptist church in America. And there he established the colony of Rhode Island.
John said, “Master, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of people. But we told him to stop, because he isn’t one of us.” “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “Anyone who isn’t against you is for you.”
--- Luke 9:49,50.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
God Is In The Manger (Day 5)
The Power and Glory of the Manger
For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged....
Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness.
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 8
“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” --- Revelation 3:4.
We may understand this to refer to justification. “They shall walk in white”; that is, they shall enjoy a constant sense of their own justification by faith; they shall understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them, that they have all been washed and made whiter than the newly-fallen snow.
Again, it refers to joy and gladness: for white robes were holiday dresses among the Jews. They who have not defiled their garments shall have their faces always bright; they shall understand what Solomon meant when he said “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. Let thy garments be always white, for God hath accepted thy works.” He who is accepted of God shall wear white garments of joy and gladness, while he walks in sweet communion with the Lord Jesus. Whence so many doubts, so much misery, and mourning? It is because so many believers defile their garments with sin and error, and hence they lose the joy of their salvation, and the comfortable fellowship of the Lord Jesus, they do not here below walk in white.
The promise also refers to walking in white before the throne of God. Those who have not defiled their garments here shall most certainly walk in white up yonder, where the white-robed hosts sing perpetual hallelujahs to the Most High. They shall possess joys inconceivable, happiness beyond a dream, bliss which imagination knoweth not, blessedness which even the stretch of desire hath not reached. The “undefiled in the way” shall have all this—not of merit, nor of works, but of grace. They shall walk with Christ in white, for he has made them “worthy.” In his sweet company they shall drink of the living fountains of waters.
Evening - December 8
“Thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.” --- Psalm 68:10.
All God’s gifts are prepared gifts laid up in store for wants foreseen. He anticipates our needs; and out of the fulness which he has treasured up in Christ Jesus, he provides of his goodness for the poor. You may trust him for all the necessities that can occur, for he has infallibly foreknown every one of them. He can say of us in all conditions, “I knew that thou wouldst be this and that.” A man goes a journey across the desert, and when he has made a day’s advance, and pitched his tent, he discovers that he wants many comforts and necessaries which he has not brought in his baggage. “Ah!” says he, “I did not foresee this: if I had this journey to go again, I should bring these things with me, so necessary to my comfort.” But God has marked with prescient eye all the requirements of his poor wandering children, and when those needs occur, supplies are ready. It is goodness which he has prepared for the poor in heart, goodness and goodness only. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
Reader, is your heart heavy this Evening? God knew it would be; the comfort which your heart wants is treasured in the sweet assurance of the text. You are poor and needy, but he has thought upon you, and has the exact blessing which you require in store for you. Plead the promise, believe it and obtain its fulfilment. Do you feel that you never were so consciously vile as you are now? Behold, the crimson fountain is open still, with all its former efficacy, to wash your sin away. Never shall you come into such a position that Christ cannot aid you. No pinch shall ever arrive in your spiritual affairs in which Jesus Christ shall not be equal to the emergency, for your history has all been foreknown and provided for in Jesus.
Morning and Evening
O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
Latin hymn, 18th century
English translation by Frederick Oakeley, 1802–1880
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about!” … (Luke 2:15, 20
The songs of the Christmas season comprise some of the finest music known to man, and this hymn is certainly one of our universal favorites. It was used in Catholic churches before it became known to Protestants. Today it is sung by church groups around the world since it has been translated from its original Latin into more than 100 other languages. The vivid imagery of the carol seems to have meaning and appeal for all ages in every culture.
The original Latin text consisted of four stanzas. The first calls us to visualize anew the infant Jesus in Bethlehem’s stable. The second stanza is usually omitted in most hymnals, but it reminds us that the Christ-child is very God Himself:
God of God and Light of Light begotten, Lo, He abhors not the Virgin’s womb; Very God, begotten, not created—O come, let us adore Him.
The next stanza pictures for us the exalted song of the angelic choir heard by the lowly shepherds. Then the final verse offers praise and adoration to the Word, our Lord, who was with the Father from the beginning of time.
For many years this hymn was known as an anonymous Latin hymn. Recent research, however, has revealed manuscripts that indicate that it was written in 1744 by an English layman named John Wade and set to music by him in much the same style as used today. The hymn first appeared in his collection, Cantus Diversi, published in England in 1751. One hundred years later the carol was translated into its present English form by an Anglican minister, Frederick Oakeley, who desired to use it for his congregation. The tune name, “Adeste Fideles,” is taken from the first words of the original Latin text, and translated literally means “be present or near, ye faithful.”
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant; come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem; come and behold Him, born the King of angels:
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation; sing all ye bright hosts of heav’n above; glory to God, all glory in the highest:
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy Morning; Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv’n; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
Refrain: O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.
For Today: Matthew 2:1, 2; Luke 2:9–14; John 1:14
Ask God to help you and your family make this Christmas season the most spiritual one you have yet known. Worship Him— Christ, the Lord! ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
(3.) The dominion of God is manifest in the reason of some laws, which seem to be nothing else than purely his own will. Some laws there are for which a reason may be rendered from the nature of the thing enjoined, as to love, honor, and worship God: for others, none but this, God will have it so: such was that positive law to Adam of “not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17), which was merely an asserting his own dominion, and was different from that law of nature God had written in his heart. No other reason of this seems to us, but a resolve to try man’s obedience in a way of absolute sovereignty, and to manifest his right over all creatures, to reserve what he pleased to himself, and permit the use of what he pleased to man, and to signify to man that he was to depend on him, who was his Lord, and not on his own will. There was no more hurt in itself, for Adam to have eaten of that, than of any other in the garden; the fruit was pleasant to the eye, and good for food; but God would show the right he had over his own goods, and his authority over man, to reserve what he pleases of his own creation from his touch; and since man could not claim a propriety in anything, he was to meddle with nothing but by the leave of his Sovereign, either discovered by a special or general license. Thus God showed himself the Lord of man, and that man was but his steward, to act by his orders. If God had forbidden man the use of more trees in the garden, his command had been just; since, as a sovereign Lord, he might dispose of his own goods; and when he had granted him the whole compass of that pleasant garden, and the whole world round about for him and his posterity, it was a more tolerable exercise of his dominion to reserve this “one tree,” as a mark of his sovereignty, when he had left “all others” to the use of Adam. He reserved nothing to himself, as Lord of the manor, but this; and Adam was prohibited nothing else but this one, as a sign of his subjection. Now for this no reason can be rendered by any man but merely the will of God; this was merely a fruit of his dominion. For the moral laws a reason may be rendered; to love God hath reason to enforce it besides God’s will; viz., the excellency of his nature, and the greatness and multitudes of his benefits. To love our neighbor hath enforcing reasons; viz., the conjunction in blood, the preservation of human society, and the need we may stand in of their love ourselves: but no reason can be assigned of this positive command about the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but the pleasure of God. It was a branch of his pure dominion to but merely the pleasure of God. It was a branch of his pure dominion to try man’s obedience, and a mark of his goodness to try it by so and light a precept, when he might have extended his authority further. Had not God given this or the like order, his absolute dominion had not been so conspicuous. It is true, Adam had a law of nature in him, whereby he was obliged to perpetual obedience; and though it was a part of God’s dominion to implant it in him, yet his supreme dominion over the creatures had not been so visible to man but by this, or a precept of the same kind. What was commanded or prohibited by the law of nature, did bespeak a comeliness in itself, it appeared good or evil to the reason of man; but this was neither good nor evil in itself, it received its sole authority from the absolute will of God, and nothing could result from the fruit itself, as a reason why man should not taste it, but only the sole will of God. And as God’s dominion was most conspicuous in this precept, so man’s obedience had been most eminent in observing it: for in his obedience to it, nothing but the sole power and authority of God, which is the proper rule of obedience, could have been respected, not any reason from the thing itself. To this we may refer some other commands, as that of appointing the time of solemn and public worship, the seventh day; though the worship of God be a part of the law of nature, yet the appointing a particular day, wherein he would be more formally and solemnly acknowledged than on other days, was grounded upon his absolute right of legislation: for there was nothing in the time itself that could render that day more holy than another, though God respected his “finishing the work of creation” in his institution of that day (Gen. 2:3). Such were the ceremonial commands of sacrifices and washings under the law, and the commands of sacraments under the gospel: the one to last till the first coming of Christ and his passion; the other to last till the second coming of Christ and his triumph. Thus he made natural and unavoidable uncleannesses to be sins, and the touching a dead body to be pollution, which in their own nature were not so.
(4.) The dominion of God appears in the moral law, and his majesty in publishing it. As the law of nature was writ by his own fingers in the nature of man, so it was engraven by his own finger in the “tables of stone” (Exod. 31:18), which is very emphatically expressed to be a mark of God’s dominion. “And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraven upon the tables” (Exod. 32:16); and when the first tables were broken, though he orders Moses to frame the tables, yet the writing of the law he reserves to himself (Exod. 34:1). It is not said of any part of the Scripture, that it was writ by the finger of God, but only of the Decalogue: herein he would have his sovereignty eminently appear; it was published by God in state, with a numerous attendance of his heavenly militia (Deut. 32:2); and the artillery of heaven was shot off at the solemnity; and therefore it is called a fiery law, coming from his right hand, i. e. his sovereign power. It was published with all the marks of supreme majesty.
(5.) The dominion of God appears in the obligation of the law, which reacheth the conscience. The laws of every prince are framed for the outward conditions of men; they do not by their authority bind the conscience; and what obligations do result from them upon the conscience, is either from their being the same immediately with Divine laws, or as they are according to the just power of the magistrate, founded on the law of God. Conscience hath a protection from the King of kings, and cannot be arrested by any human power. God hath given man but an authority over half the man, and the worst half too, that which is of an earthly original; but reserved the authority over the better and more heavenly half to himself. The dominion of earthly princes extends only to the bodies of men; they have no authority over the soul, their punishment and rewards cannot reach it: and therefore their laws, by their single authority, cannot bind it, but as they are coincident with the law of God, or as the equity of them is subservient to the preservation of human society, a regular and righteous thing, which is the divine end in government; and so they bind, as they have relation to God as the supreme magistrate. The conscience is only intelligible to God in its secret motions, and therefore only guidable by God; God only pierceth into the conscience by his eye, and therefore only can conduct it by his rule. Man cannot tell whether we embrace this law in our heart and consciences, or only in appearance; “He only can judge it” (Luke 12:3, 4), and therefore he only can impose laws upon it; it is out of the reach of human penal authority, if their laws be transgressed inwardly by it. Conscience is a book in some sort as sacred as the Scripture; no addition can be lawfully made to it, no subtraction from it. Men cannot diminish the duty of conscience, or raze out the law God hath stamped upon it. They cannot put a supersedeas to the writ of conscience, or stop its mouth with a noli prosequi. They can make no addition by their authority to bind it; it is a flower in the crown of Divine sovereignty only.
2. His sovereignty appears in a power of dispensing with his own laws. It is as much a part of his dominion to dispense with his laws, as to enjoin them; he only hath the power of relaxing his own right, no creature hath power to do it; that would be to usurp a superiority over him, and order above God himself. Repealing or dispensing with the law is a branch of royal authority. It is true, God will never dispense with those moral laws which have an eternal reason in themselves and their own nature; as for a creature to fear, love, and honor God; this would be to dispense with his own holiness, and the righteousness of his nature, to sully the purity of his own dominion; it would write folly upon the first creation of man after the image of God, by writing mutability upon himself, in framing himself after the corrupted image of man; it would null and frustrate the excellency of the creature, wherein the image of God mostly shines; nay, it would be to dispense with a creature’s being a Creator, and make him independent upon the Sovereign of the world in moral obedience. But God hath a right to dispense with the ordinary laws of nature in the inferior creatures; he hath a power to alter their course by an arrest of miracles, and make them come short, or go beyond his ordinances established for them. He hath a right to make the sun stand still, or move backward; to bind up the womb of the earth, and bar the influences of the clouds; bridle in the rage of the fire, and the fury of lions; make the liquid waters stand like a wall, or pull up the dam, which he hath set to the sea, and command it to overflow the neighboring countries: he can dispense with the natural laws of the whole creation, and strain everything beyond its ordinary pitch. Positive laws he hath reversed; as the ceremonial law given to the Jews. The very nature, indeed, of that law required a repeal, and fell of course; when that which was intended by it was come, it was of no longer significancy; as before it was a useful shadow, it would afterwards have been an empty one: had not God took away this, Christianity had not, in all likelihood, been propagated among the Gentiles. This was the “partition wall between Jews and Gentiles” (Eph. 2:14); which made them a distinct family from all the world, and was the occasion of the enmity of the Gentiles against the Jews. When God had, by bringing in what was signified by those rites, declared his decree for the ceasing of them; and when the Jews, fond of those Divine institutions, would not allow him the right of repealing what he had the authority of enacting; he resolved, for the asserting his dominion, to bury them in the ruins of the temple and city, and make them forever incapable of practising the main and essential arts of them; for the temple being the pillar of the legal service, by demolishing that, God hath taken away their rights of sacrificing, it being peculiarly annexed to that place; they have no altar dignified with a fire from heaven to consume their sacrifices, no legal high-priest to offer them. God hath by his providence changed his own law as well as by his recept; yea, he hath gone higher, by virtue of his sovereignty, and changed the whole scene and methods of his government after the fall, from King Creator to King Redeemer. He hath revoked the law of works as a covenant; released the penalty of it from the believing sinner, by transferring it upon the Surety, who interposed himself by his own will and Divine designation. He hath established another covenant upon other promises in a higher root, with greater privileges, and easier terms. Had not God had this right of sovereignty, not a man of Adam’s posterity could have been blessed; he and they must have lain groaning under the misery of the fall, which had rendered both himself and all in his loins unable to observe the terms of the first covenant. He hath, as some speak, dispensed with his own moral law in some cases; in commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, his only son, a righteous son, a son whereof he had the promise, that “in Isaac should his seed be called;” yet he was commanded to sacrifice him by the right of his absolute sovereignty as the supreme Lord of the lives of his creatures, from the highest angel to the lowest worm, whereby he bound his subjects to this law, not himself. Our lives are due to him when he calls for them, and they are a just forfeit to him, at the very moment we sin, at the very moment we come into the world, by reason of the venom of our nature against him, and the disturbance the first sin of man (whereof we are inheritors) gave to his glory. Had Abraham sacrificed his son of his own head, he had sinned, yea, in attempting it; but being authorized from heaven, his act was obedience to the Sovereign of the world, who had a power to dispense with his own law; and with this law he had before dispensed, in the case of Cain’s murder of Abel, as to the immediate punishment of it with death, which, indeed, was settled afterwards by his authority, but then omitted because of the paucity of men, and for the peopling the world; but settled afterwards, when there was almost, though not altogether, the like occasion of omitting it for a time.
3. His sovereignty appears in punishing the transgression of his law.
(1.) This is a branch of God’s dominion as lawgiver. So was the vengeance God would take upon the Amalekites (Exod. 17:16): “The Lord hath sworn, that the Lord will have war;” the Hebrew is, “The hand upon the throne of the Lord,” as in the margin: as a “lawgiver” he “saves or destroys” (James 4:12). He acts according to his own law, in a congruity to the sanction of his own precepts; though he be an arbitrary lawgiver, appointing what laws he pleases, yet he is not an arbitrary judge. As he commands nothing but what he hath a right to command, so he punisheth none but whom he hath a right to punish, and with such punishment as the law hath denounced. All his acts of justice and inflictions of curses are the effects of this sovereign dominion (Psalm 29:10): “He sits King upon the floods;” upon the deluge of waters wherewith he drowned the world, say some. It is a right belonging to the authority of magistrates to pull up the infectious weeds that corrupt a commonwealth; it is no less the right of God, as the lawgiver and judge of all the earth, to subject criminals to his vengeance, after they have rendered themselves abominable in his eyes, and carried themselves unworthy subjects of so great and glorious a King. The first name whereby God is made known in Scripture, is Elohim (Gen. 1:1): “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth;” a name which signifies his power of judging, in the opinion of some critics; from him it is derived to earthly magistrates; their judgment is said, therefore, to be the “judgment of God” (Deut. 1:17). When Christ came, he proposed this great motive of repentance from the “kingdom of heaven being at hand;” the kingdom of his grace, whereby to invite men; the kingdom of his justice in the punishment of the neglecters of it, whereby to terrify men. Punishments as well as rewards belong to royalty; it issued accordingly; those that believed and repented came under his gracious sceptre, those that neglected and rejected it fell under his iron rod; Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple demolished, the inhabitants lost their lives by the edge of the sword, or lingered them out in the chains of a miserable captivity. This term of “judge,” which signifies a sovereign right to govern and punish delinquents, Abraham gives him, when he came to root out the people of Sodom, and make them the examples of his vengeance (Gen. 18:25).
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