Leviticus 19 - 21
The LORD Is HolyLeviticus 19:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. 3 Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. 4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.
5 “When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. 6 It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. 7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted, 8 and everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is holy to the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from his people.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.
11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
You Shall Keep My Statutes19 “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.
20 “If a man lies sexually with a woman who is a slave, assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, a distinction shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free; 21 but he shall bring his compensation to the LORD, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram for a guilt offering. 22 And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven for the sin that he has committed.
23 “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. 24 And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.
26 “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. 27 You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.
29 “Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. 30 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
31 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.
32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
35 “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. 36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the LORD.”
Punishment for Child SacrificeLeviticus 20:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3 I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. 4 And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, 5 then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.
6 “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. 7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 9 For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.
Punishments for Sexual Immorality10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. 13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 14 If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you. 15 If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16 If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
17 “If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, and he shall bear his iniquity. 18 If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people. 19 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for that is to make naked one’s relative; they shall bear their iniquity. 20 If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21 If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.
You Shall Be Holy22 “You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23 And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. 24 But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. 25 You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. 26 You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.
27 “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”
Holiness and the PriestsLeviticus 21:1 And the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people, 2 except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, 3 or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean). 4 He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself. 5 They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body. 6 They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the LORD’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7 They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. 8 You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy. 9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.
10 “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes. 11 He shall not go in to any dead bodies nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother. 12 He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD. 13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people, 15 that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.”
16 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.
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Three Things You Can Do to Help Your Kids Defend the Truth
By J. Warner Wallace 2/5/2018
The statistics are alarmingly clear: Young Christians are leaving the Church in increasing numbers and when polled, most cite some form of intellectual skepticism as the chief cause of their departure. If you’re a parent, listen to the words offered by young ex-believers (excerpted from recent studies):
Statements like these are more common than you might think. In fact, your kids may also be wrestling with similar doubts or concerns. That’s why it’s important for us, as parents, to be ready to answer our kid’s questions and teach them how make the case for Christianity. The evidence for Jesus is strong and persuasive, but few Christians are prepared to articulate the evidence to others, especially our own kids. I have four children of my own, and when they were young, I wanted them to have the tools and truths they would need to be good Christian ambassadors. I wanted them to understand their worldview and to be able to defend it against competing ideas. If you’re raising kids and are similarly concerned, here are three quick tips to help you prepare your children to defend the truth:
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective
and Christian apologist
. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview
and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University
in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case
homicide investigation to apologetic
concerns such as the existence of God
and the reliability of the Gospels.
The Epidemic of Relativism Among Christian Youth
By Lenny Esposito 9/30/2014
I'm concerned. I'm deeply concerned. There's an epidemic spreading among Christian youth today that can have dangerous and perhaps even deadly consequences. What makes this more dangerous is that most parents and pastors don't even realize their kids are infected. I'm speaking of the danger of moral relativism, and how it's become rampant even within most Christian colleges and universities. Ask Christian young adults who have been active in their church or youth group if something like abortion or homosexual unions are wrong and many may say yes. But press them on if they should declare others sinful or wrong for participating in such actions and you may get a different response, one more akin to "It's wrong for me since I'm a Christian, but they aren't so it's right for them."
This idea that the only things binding on an individual is whatever his or her personal perception of morality is has become rampant among our youth today. I have a ministry partner who for the last couple of years also teaches at a conservative Christian college in Southern California. He has told me of how consistently he faces moral relativistic beliefs held by the students each year. He offered one example that is typical: he asked his students to pick a topic and defend it as a writing assignment. A young science major chose to write a defense against the use of embryonic stem cells in research, leveraging such appropriate arguments as how life begins at conception in her paper. However, when asked what the student would do if she discovered that her lab partners were using embryos in research, she replied that she couldn't tell them what to do. Their beliefs are different from hers, so she felt that she had no right to push her morality on another. While her paper read as though she was a moral absolutist, further digging showed that she was only applying that standard to herself, not others.
The Danger of Believing Relativism
This kind of thinking is how tyranny is born. If one cannot tell another his actions are evil, then they will continue until those that would dare to oppose immorality are themselves labeled as immoral. We have seen this in the criminal prosecution of Christians who simply wish to not be a part of homosexual unions. They are fined and their businesses closed down, really only acts of vengeance for nothing more than holding to a moral standard. And now, the kids we send to college hold not the belief that they cannot stand their moral ground, but that they should not stand their moral ground, because to do so is itself an immoral act!
Christians of all people should know that sin is sin regardless of whether one believes it to be or not. If moral precepts are true, then they are binding on all of humanity. Imagine if Nazi Germany was to have won World War II and Hitler was successful in his genocide of the Jewish people. Now, imagine 2014 in such an alternate timeline where every last soul on earth believes that Hitler was the savior of humanity for carrying out such a feat. Would that make it right? Could it ever be right simply because of popular consensus? Of course not!
Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
The Witness Of The Scriptures To Moses’ Authorship
By Gleason Archer Jr.
4. The atmosphere of
Numbers is unmistakably that of the desert, not of an agricultural people settled in their ancestral possessions for nearly a thousand years (as Wellhausen supposed). The tremendous emphasis upon a tabernacle or large tent as the place of worship is altogether out of place for authors living centuries after the cedar-timbered temple of Solomon had been built (a temple which differed from the appointments of the tabernacle in several important details). But it would be altogether relevant for a nomadic people constantly on the march through the desert. The materials of which it was to be made are most carefully specified over a large number of chapters. Its central location in the midst of the encampment and the exact location of the twelve tribes on the four sides of it (
Num. 2:1–31 ) have a perfect appropriateness to the generation of Moses, but none whatsoever to any later generation. The references to the desert crop up everywhere. For example, the scapegoat is to be sent off into the desert (
Lev. 16:10 ). Sanitary instructions are given for desert life (
Deut. 23:12–13 ). The exact order of march is specified in
Num. 10:14–20 in a way that would have significance only while the entire population of Israel was concentrated into one large group and was in a process of migration.
5. Particularly in the book of Genesis there are references to archaic customs which are demonstrable for the second millennium B.C., but which did not continue during the first millennium. Notably in the legal documents discovered at Nuzi and dating from the fifteenth century, we discover references to the custom of begetting legitimate children by handmaidens (as Abraham did with Hagar); to the validity of an oral, deathbed will (like Isaac’s to Jacob); to the importance of the possession of the family teraphim for the claiming of inheritance rights (which gives point to Rachel’s theft of Laban’s teraphim in Gen. 31 ). From other sources comes confirmation of the historical accuracy of the transaction in Gen. 23 whereby Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah.
6. There are significant archaisms in language, as well. For example, the word for the pronoun “she” is frequently spelled HWʾ instead of the regular HYʾ. There are only three occurences of this spelling h-w , for ḥ-y-ʾ in the rest of the O.T. ( 1 Kings 17:15, Isa. 30:31, Job 31:11 ). We also meet with N˓R instead of the feminine form N˓RH for “young girl.” Occasionally (i.e., twice in Genesis ) HLZH (hallāzeh) appears for the demonstrative “that” instead of hallaz, the form used in Judges, Samuel , and thereafter. The verb for “laugh” is spelled ṢḤQ (in Genesis and Exodus ) instead of ŚḤQ; “lamb” is KŚB instead of the later KBŚ (kebeś). By some scholars it has been argued that there is too little difference between the Hebrew of the Torah and that of eighth-century authors like Amos, to allow for the passage of over five centuries. Two factors must be borne in mind here.
First, the possible changes in pronunciation and form are greatly obscured by the unvoweled, consonantal alphabet in which the Old Testament was preserved until Masoretic times. After all even Old English would not look so very different from Elizabethan English if both were written in consonants only! Second, the central importance of the Torah in the education of post-Mosaic youth must have exerted as decisive an influence upon the Hebrew they used as the Qur’an has had upon thirteen centuries of literary Arabic (which even today is still the same language essentially as that of Muhammed in A.D. 620). In both cases the ancient document was taken as a unique divine revelation and an all-comprehensive constitution upon which the entire culture was built. Such a situation makes for extreme conservatism in the development of the literary language.
As for the objection that the Mosiac period was too early for the use of the definite article ha- (since other Semitic languages did not develop a word for “the” as early as that), this is easily explained from Israel’s exposure to Egyptian influence. It was precisely during the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt that the definite article (p;, t;, n;) began to make its appearance even in literary texts, although sporadic occurrences appear even in Twelfth Dynasty texts such as the Eloquent Peasant. Undoubtedly this reflected the customary usage in colloquial Egyptian during the age of Moses, and the Hebrews could hardly fail to have felt the need for a similar article in their own language. It is therefore not surprising to find full-fledged use of the article in the prose sections of the Torah (although the poetic passages used it very sparingly indeed as was true of later Hebrew poetry).
All these features (1–6) are easily reconcilable with Mosaic authorship; they are virtually impossible to harmonize with the Wellhausen theory of stage-by-stage composition from the ninth to the fifth centuries. The laws of evidence would seem to demand a rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis as clearly inadequate to account for the actual data of the Pentateuchal text.
7. There is a most remarkable unity of arrangement which underlies the entire Pentateuch and links it together into a progressive whole, even though successive stages in revelation (during Moses’ writing career of four decades) result in a certain amount of overlapping and restatement. By implication even the Documentarians are forced to concede this unity by resorting to a hypothetical redactor to explain the orderliness and harmony of arrangement evident in the final form of the Torah as it has come down to us.
From all that has been recorded concerning Moses himself, it is evident that he had every qualification to be the author of just such a work as the Pentateuch. He had the education and background for authorship, since he received from his ancestors that wealth of oral law which originated from the Mesopotamian cultures back in the time of Abraham (hence the remarkable resemblances to the eighteenth century Code of Hammurabi), and from his tutors in the Egyptian court he received training in those branches of learning in which Eighteenth Dynasty Egypt excelled the rest of the ancient world. From his forebears he would naturally have received an accurate oral tradition of the career of the patriarchs and those revelations which God had vouchsafed to them. He would have a personal knowledge of the climate, agriculture, and geography of Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula such as the author of the Pentateuch so patently displays. He would have had every incentive to compose this monumental work, since he was the founding father of the commonwealth of Israel, and it was upon these moral and religious foundations that his nation was to fulfill its destiny. He certainly had plenty of time and leisure during the slow, tiresome forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert to compose a book several times the size of the Torah. Moreover, he had just come from a culture in which the art of writing was so widely cultivated that even the toilet articles employed by the women in the household contained an appropriate inscription. Writing in both hieroglyphic and hieratic characters was so widely prevalent in the Egypt of Moses’ day that it seems absolutely incredible that he would have committed none of his records to writing (as even the twentieth-century critics contend), when he had the grandest and most significant matters to record which are to be found in all of human literature. At a time when even the unschooled Semitic slaves employed at the Egyptian turquoise mines in Serabit el-Khadim were incising their records on the walls of their tunnels, it is quite unreasonable to suppose that a leader of Moses’ background and education was too illiterate to commit a single word to writing. Thus it turns out that the modern theories which reject Mosaic authorship put more of a strain upon human credulity than can reasonably be borne.A Survey of Old Testament Introduction
Why Believing in Miracles is Not Illogical
By Lenny Esposito 1/24/2017
When Christians believe in miracles, are they being irrational? A recent Pew Research article entitled "Why America's 'nones' left religion behind" held this interesting quote:
About half of current religious "nones" who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention "science" as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said "I'm a scientist now, and I don't believe in miracles." Others reference "common sense," "logic" or a "lack of evidence" – or simply say they do not believe in God.There's a whole lot in that paragraph to unpack. However, the claim that faith is somehow against logic caught my eye. Just how would Christianity be illogical? One claim made by atheists is that believing in miracle accounts like those presented in the Bible is itself illogical.
The charge that believing in miracles is illogical as a long history, and most will point to David Hume's famous essay "On Miracles" in his An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. There, he makes this charge:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.What is a Miracle? | I think Hume makes two mistakes in his assertion above. First, his definition of a miracle, while widely repeated, is simply wrong. It isn't what Christians believe. Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature, but God's direct interaction to suspend his natural laws, which is a big difference.
Click here to go to source Lenny Esposito is president and founder of Come Reason Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization, and author of the popular www.comereason.org Web site. He has taught apologetics and Christian worldview for over 17 years and has authored hundreds articles dealing with intellectually strenuous topics such as the existence of God, theology, philosophy, social issues and Biblical difficulties.
Lenny is an in-demand speaker, teaching at conferences, churches, and schools across the nation. He is a contributor to the popular Apologetics Study Bible for Students and his articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Southern California Christian Times. He has debated many topics on faith and reason and the rationality of the Christian worldview; his most recent debate being against well-known atheists and author Dr. Richard Carrier on the question "Does God Exist?"
Lenny is a pioneer in online ministry efforts when he began using the Web to reach others near its beginnings in 1995. He produces one of the top 16 apologetics podcasts according to Apologetics 315 and his site has been viewed millions of times by visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Lenny is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 18The LORD Is My Rock and My Fortress
18 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David, The Servant Of The LORD, Who Addressed The Words Of This Song To The LORD On The Day When The LORD Delivered Him From The Hand Of All Is Enemies, And From The Hand Of Saul. He Said:
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
John Loftus and His Hypothetical God
By Tom Gilson 2/4/2017
John Loftus’s opinion is clear: God is a screw-up. Lazy. Ignorant. Incompetent. Or at least that’s what God would be, if God existed.
I’m reading John’s book How To Defend the Christian Faith: Advice From an Atheist, which he was kind enough to send me for review. Maybe he thought it was only fair, because it’s a book-length review of apologists like myself.
Among other things, he says (page 21) we’re “bumbling idiots and incompetent fools” — but that’s in comparison to an all-knowing God, so actually he wasn’t being all that unkind to us at that point. Don’t worry, though, it’s in there — he just saves it for other passages.
God’s Incompetence? | Here in the vicinity of that quote, though, he aims his criticism at God’s “failure” to accomplish his own task of getting people to believe in himself. In the opening paragraphs of chapter 1 he writes,
I’m going to address the most important question of all for would-be Christian apologists. It’s the obvious elephant in the room, not seen by apologists because they don’t have eyes for it. My argument is that God, if he exists, failed to effectively communicate his will. He failed to provide the sufficient evidence we need to believe.What God should have done, says Loftus, is (1) to present himself to the world with incontrovertible evidence; for example, in the form of “overwhelming substantiation” for the gospel records, or more directly (2), “he could just speak to everyone directly. He could be a voice in everyone’s head.”
Click here to go to source
Tom Gilson is a senior editor of The Stream, author of the new 2016 parent-friendly guide to keeping kids in the faith, titled Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens , the chief editor of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism , and Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician: A Preliminary Response To "A Manual For Creating Atheists" the author/host of the Thinking Christian blog .He lives in southwest Ohio with Sara, his wife, and their two 20-something children. He has received a B.Mus. in Music Education with a specialty in performance from Michigan State University and an M.S. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida. When he’s not writing he loves drinking coffee, canoeing, walking in the woods, and playing his trombones.
5 Reasons You Should Listen To Christian Podcasts
By Landon Coleman 2/6/2017
If you’re not listening to Christian podcasts, I think you’re missing out. Here are 5 reasons you should be listening to Christian podcasts (tomorrow I’ll post 5 reasons you should be wary of “Christian” podcasts).
1. Podcasts can give you more exposure to the Word of God. Pastors often lament the fact that in a week of 168 hours we only get a couple of hours with our people at church. However, listening to good podcasts during the week can increase your exposure to the Word of God beyond the Sunday morning worship gathering.
2. Podcasts can help you stay current with your church. Many churches record and post sermons online. This is a great way to keep your people connected to the teaching ministry of your church. Older members who are home bound, members who are traveling, and members who have to work Sundays can stay current.
3. Podcasts allow you to learn from some great Bible teachers. The number of top notch Bible teachers you can access for free on the internet is simply remarkable. We live in a time and a place where we have more access to phenomenal Bible teaching than any other people in church history. Don’t waste that opportunity.
4. Podcasts help you “redeem the time.” Most of us have redeemable time that we could devote to learning. It may be while you do yard work, while you exercise, while you rock a baby to sleep, or while you’re driving in the car. These are moments that can easily be redeemed by plugging in and listening to a good Christian podcast.
Landon serves as the teaching pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, where he lives with his wife Brooke. They have four children, Emma, Noelle, Amelia, and Clayton. Landon is a graduate of West Texas A&M University (BBA), and a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is the author of Pastor to Pastor: Practical Advice for Regular Pastors and Pray Better: Learning to Pray Biblically. Landon has pastored churches in Kentucky and Oklahoma, and he has taught for Oklahoma Baptist University and BH Carroll Theological Institute. You can contact Landon via email at email@example.com.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
II. DIFFICULTIES OF THE CRITICAL HYPOTHESIS IN GENERAL
The course of criticism, we have granted, has been in a very real sense onward, so far as the discovery of phenomena is concerned. As the outcome, the critics are justified in saying that on certain leading points there is very general agreement in their ranks. It is agreed that four main sources are to be distinguished in the Pentateuch (or Hexateuch)—J E D P—and that these have been combined by one or more hands to form the present work. It is also very generally believed (not, however, by Dillmann), that J and E were combined, if not before the time of
Deuteronomy Kittel, Addis, and others think after), at least before their final union with that book (D) and with P. Beyond these very general results, however, it is, as will immediately be seen, highly misleading to speak, as is sometimes done, of unanimity. Agreement in main features of the critical division there is, especially with regard to P, — the original premises being granted, there is little alternative, — but whenever the attempt is made to carry the analysis into details, or to establish a consistent theory of the relations of the documents, or of their mode of combination, divergences wide and deep reveal themselves, complications thicken at every step, and inevitable doubt arises as to the soundness of the premises which lead to such perplexity in the results. Two unimpeachable witnesses may be cited at the outset in general corroboration of what is said as to the absence of unanimity. Kautzsch, the author, with Socin, of one of the best typographical analyses of the Book of
Genesis, makes this remarkable statement: “In the Pentateuch and the Book of
Joshua, it is only with regard to P that something approaching to unanimity has been reached.” Kuenen, again, says with special reference to JE: “As the analysis has been carried gradually further, it has become increasingly evident that the critical question is far more difficult and involved than was at first supposed, and the solutions which seemed to have been secured have been in whole or in part brought into question again.” These words might be taken as the text of nearly everything that follows.
1. With every allowance for what may be said of progress, inevitable doubt is awakened in regard to the soundness of the critical process by the conflicts of opinion which the history of criticism itself discovers. It is to be remembered, in discussing this subject, that the J E D P of the critics — so far as not simply symbols for the supposed documents themselves — with their serial duplicates, to be immediately referred to, and the numerous retinue of redactors, are, though spoken of so familiarly, purely hypothetical entities — postulated beings, of whom history or tradition knows nothing. Moses, Joshua, Samuel, we know, or think we do; but these shadows have left no trace of themselves, save, if it be so, in their work, now taken to pieces again by the critics. When we desire to know something more of their time or their relations, we are in a region in which, the history of criticism being witness, the agreements are far overborne by the disagreements. Do we ask when they lived? the dates assigned to P (the 1st Elohist), we have found, range from the days of Samuel (Bleek, Colenso, older writers generally), through the period of the kings (Riehm, Dillmann, Nöldeke, Schrader, etc.), to the time of the exile, or later (Graf school). The dates of JE run from the time of the Judges (König, Köhler, etc.) to the tenth, ninth, eighth centuries, with, in the view of Kuenen, “Judæan editions” after. The composition of Deuteronomy is commonly placed in the reign of Josiah, or of Manasseh; but many able critics (Delitzsch, Oettli, Klostermann, etc.) hold it to be much older, and in kernel Mosaic; while others divide it up, and put extensive portions later than Josiah. Do we inquire as to dependence? The older view was, as we saw, that J and E are supplementary to P; the newer theory is that P is later than JE and presupposes them. J is held by many (Dillmann, Nöldeke, Schrader, Kittel, etc.) to be dependent on E and to have borrowed from him; Wellhausen, Kuenen, Stade, etc., as confidently reverse the relation, and make E dependent on J; others treat the documents as practically independent (e.g., Woods). One set of critics (Dillmann, Riehm, etc.) hold that the marks demonstrate E to be about a century older than J; the prevailing tendency at present is to make J about a century older than E. Addis says that this question of priority “is still one of the most vexed questions in the criticism of the Hexateuch.” The interesting point in the discussion is the cogency with which each critic refutes the reasonings of his neighbours, and shows them to be nugatory. All this would matter little, if it were, as is sometimes said, mere variation on the surface, with slight bearing on the soundness of the theory as a whole. But it is far from that. The criteria which determine these judgments are found on inspection to go deep into the substance of the theory, and afford a valuable practical test of the principles by which it is built up.
2. These perplexities are slight, however, in comparison with those arising from another cause now to be mentioned — the excessive multiplication of sources. The matter is relatively simple when we have to deal only with a J E D or P, and when the critic honestly abides by these. But, as the analysis proceeds, we find it impossible to stop here. As the old Ptolemaic astronomer discovered that, to explain the irregularities in the visible motions of the heavenly bodies, he had to add epicycles to his original cycles, then fresh epicycles to these, till his chart became a huge maze of complications — and incredibilities; so the critic finds that the application of the same criteria which guided him in the severance of his main documents, necessitates, when pushed further, a continuance of the process, and the splitting up of the documents into yet minuter parts. Hence new divisions, and the gradual resolution of the original JE, etc., into the nebulous series, J1J2J3; E1E2E3; P1P2P3P4; R1R2R3, etc., or equivalents; all of which have now become part of the recognised apparatus of the critical schools. Can we wonder that even a tolerably advanced critic like Dillmann should write: “with a Q1Q2Q3 [= P], J1J2J3, E1E2E3. I can do nothing, and can only see in them a hypothesis of perplexity.” Assume such multiples to have existed, does anyone with a modicum of common sense believe it possible for a twentieth century critic to pick their handiwork to pieces again, and assign to each his proper fragment of the whole? These processional Js and Es, however, should not be scoffed at as arbitrary. They are really indispensable parts of a critical stock-in-trade if the original principles of the theory are to be consistently carried out. In that respect they serve again as a test of the value of these principles. The critic thinks he observes, for instance, within the limits of the same document, a discrepancy, or a new turn of expression, or a duplicate incident — the denial of a wife, e.g., in Gen. 12; 26, both in J,2 or a seeming intermingling of two stories — in Korah’s rebellion, e.g., in Num. 16:2–11, P,3 — or a reference in J (older writer) to E (younger): what is to be done except to assume that there is here a trace of a distinct source, or of a redactor? The hypothesis is as essential to the critic as his epicycle was to the Ptolemaic star-gazer.
3. The matter becomes still more complicated when, finally, the problematical J E D P lose all individuality, and are frankly transformed, as they are by most of the newer writers, into schools. When these “schools” are made to extend over a very long period, as from the statements made, and the work attributed to them, we must suppose them to have done, the problem of maintaining for them the identity of character and style with which the investigation started becomes insoluble. Obviously, if the writers are to be regarded as “schools,” it will be impossible, as before, to insist on minute criteria of language, often descending to single words, and the finest nuances of expression, as infallible means of distinguishing their several contributions. It is possible to argue, however unreasonably, that an individual author must be rigidly bound down to one style, one set of phrases, one idea or circle of ideas; but this will hardly apply to “schools,” lasting for centuries, where, within the limits of a general tradition, there must, with difference of minds, inevitably be wide diversities of culture, thought, and speech. We may properly speak, e.g., of an “Anglican,” a “Ritschlian,” or a “Cobdenite” school, and may mark how in each the influence of dominant ideas stamps a general resemblance on the style and speech of the members, but none the less individual idiosyncrasies will assert themselves in each writer. If, further, the writers are to be regarded as “schools,” the question of date assumes a new aspect. How far may or do these “schools” go back? Why must J and E be any longer forced down to the ninth or eighth century?” Why must the priestly narratives be of the same age as the priestly laws? Delitzsch was of opinion that “the literary activity of the Elohistic pen reaches far back to ancient times nearly approaching the time of Moses.” Why, on this hypothesis should it not be so?
There is, one cannot help feeling, something essentially mechanical in this idea of “schools” of writers continuously engaged for centuries in patching, revising, tesselating, resetting, altering and embellishing, the work of their predecessors. We are here back, in fact, by another route, and under another name, to the old “fragmentary” hypothesis, thought so long ago to have been exploded. But the striking thing about the labours of these manifold unknowns is that the product shows so little trace of this excessive fragmentariness of its origin. The Pentateuch — pre-eminently the Book of Genesis, but even the legal part — is undeniably a well-planned, massively - compacted work. Apart from the “firmly-knit” character of its story, it is marked by a unity of thought and spirit, is pervaded by great ideas, is instinct with a living purpose, as no other book is. Its organic character bespeaks for it a higher origin than a concourse of literary atoms.
By Richard S. Adams
I doubt many of us have endured what Job was required to experience, but I wonder if the seeming hopelessness of life doesn’t overtake all of us at one time or another? People and circumstances, events and situations affect us all differently, because, despite being so similar in so many ways, at the same time, we are very different.
When I think of difference I don’t think about color so much as I do world view. Still, though we all may have backgrounds as distinct as our parents, as different as our fingerprints, as unique as our genetic code, I still think Job 6:14-23 resonates with a lot of us.
Job 6:14–23 (ESV) 14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend
forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed,
as torrential streams that pass away,
16 which are dark with ice,
and where the snow hides itself.
17 When they melt, they disappear;
when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
18 The caravans turn aside from their course;
they go up into the waste and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look,
the travelers of Sheba hope.
20 They are ashamed because they were confident;
they come there and are disappointed.
21 For you have now become nothing;
you see my calamity and are afraid.
22 Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’?
Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’?
23 Or, ‘Deliver me from the adversary’s hand’?
Or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the ruthless’?
Who cannot remember a time or times when you didn’t feel like Job, even if, ... in all honesty, your situation just wasn’t that bad. It is frequently necessary for me to be very intentional about what I am thinking about to prevent feelings of self-pity from taking root. After all, things can change for good or bad very quickly.
(Mt 6:34) Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. ESV
I know people who combat the feelings of Job 6:14-23 by going shopping, throwing themselves into their work, indulging in an unhealthy relationship, something, anything external to themselves. I know from experience these periods of being out of step with our own common sense are dangerous.
During these cycles, cycles because they return every now and then, do not make any life changing decisions. This is a time to draw closer to God, not to go to the mall or shop Amazon for a quick fix. Get your Bible and let God talk to you. Don't meditate and spend your time reflecting on your own thoughts and don't follow your heart! Your heart is the source of this malaise. One directee told me he needed a long motorcycle ride along the coast to be alone with himself. These delusional self-centered thoughts are the problem not the remedy. Instead of focusing inward look around and consider meeting someone else’s need.
(Je 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ESV
Thank God, as far as I know, I have no friends like Job. My struggles are mostly processing the uncertainty of 'now', rather than dealing with the horrors Job experienced. Most of our mental and emotional funks are a trust building opportunity for all of us. Feeling disconnected, rejected or Elijah like is a ruse of the enemy that too often works.
I know that more than anything … more than anything the desire of God’s heart is that you and I, all of us, trust God with all our heart. God continues to be faithful. In our learning to wait on God, instead of following the counsel of a broken world, we will get better and better at letting go of the anxiety and fears that isolate us from those who care about us.
Richard S. Adams | Lover of Christ, husband of Lily, father of four, grandfather of eleven, Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. On staff at George Fox as a spiritual director 1/2009 to 7/2018.
- Feb 5 Prosperity and the Camp Fire
- Feb 7 Job 6:14-23
- Feb 10 Spontaneous Generation
- Feb 14 Hindsight
- Feb 18 The Cure For Despair
- Feb 22 RE: Job's Friends
- Feb 23 Job 23:14
- Feb 25 No Time To Text
- Mar 5 Polemics and Caricature
- Apr 20 Death and My Master's Voice
- May 10 Ruth | Relationships
- June 18 Lincoln City 6/2/18
- July 14 Tom - Gen & Revelation
- July 15 Knowledge and World Peace
- July 16 The Church as Lobbyist
- Aug 3 Have You Noticed
- Nov 27 The Way The World Is
- Nov 30 The Renewal Of Israel
- Dec 11 Open Door
- Dec 20 Replacement Theology
The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come;
Delivered Under The Similitude Of A Dream
By John Bunyan 1678
THE SIXTH STAGEENVY. My lord, I could say much more, only I would not be tedious to the court. Yet if need be, when the other gentlemen have given in their evidence, rather than any thing shall be wanting that will dispatch him, I will enlarge my testimony against him. So he was bid to stand by.
Then they called Superstition, and bid him look upon the prisoner. They also asked, what he could say for their lord the king against him. Then they sware him; so he began.
SUPER. My lord, I have no great acquaintance with this man, nor do I desire to have further knowledge of him. However, this I know, that he is a very pestilent fellow, from some discourse that I had with him the other day, in this town; for then, talking with him, I heard him say, that our religion was naught, and such by which a man could by no means please God. Which saying of his, my lord, your lordship very well knows what necessarily thence will follow, to wit, that we still do worship in vain, are yet in our sins, and finally shall be damned: and this is that which I have to say.
Then was Pickthank sworn, and bid say what he knew in the behalf of their lord the king against the prisoner at the bar.
PICK. My lord, and you gentlemen all, this fellow I have known of a long time, and have heard him speak things that ought not to be spoken; for he hath railed on our noble prince Beelzebub, and hath spoken contemptibly of his honorable friends, whose names are, the Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, the Lord Luxurious, the Lord Desire of Vain Glory, my old Lord Lechery, Sir Having Greedy, with all the rest of our nobility: and he hath said, moreover, that if all men were of his mind, if possible, there is not one of these noblemen should have any longer a being in this town. Besides, he hath not been afraid to rail on you, my lord, who are now appointed to be his judge, calling you an ungodly villain, with many other such like vilifying terms, with which he hath bespattered most of the gentry of our town.
When this Pickthank had told his tale, the judge directed his speech to the prisoner at the bar, saying, Thou runagate, heretic, and traitor, hast thou heard what these honest gentlemen have witnessed against thee?
FAITH. May I speak a few words in my own defence?
JUDGE. Sirrah, sirrah, thou deservest to live no longer, but to be slain immediately upon the place; yet, that all men may see our gentleness towards thee, let us hear what thou, vile runagate, hast to say.
FAITH. 1. I say, then, in answer to what Mr. Envy hath spoken, I never said aught but this, that what rule, or laws, or custom, or people, were flat against the word of God, are diametrically opposite to Christianity. If I have said amiss in this, convince me of my error, and I am ready here before you to make my recantation.
2. As to the second, to wit, Mr. Superstition, and his charge against me, I said only this, that in the worship of God there is required a divine faith; but there can be no divine faith without a divine revelation of the will of God. Therefore, whatever is thrust into the worship of God that is not agreeable to divine revelation, cannot be done but by a human faith; which faith will not be profitable to eternal life.
3. As to what Mr. Pickthank hath said, I say, (avoiding terms, as that I am said to rail, and the like,) that the prince of this town, with all the rabblement, his attendants, by this gentleman named, are more fit for a being in hell than in this town and country. And so the Lord have mercy upon me.
Then the judge called to the jury, (who all this while stood by to hear and observe,) Gentlemen of the jury, you see this man about whom so great an uproar hath been made in this town; you have also heard what these worthy gentlemen have witnessed against him; also, you have heard his reply and confession: it lieth now in your breasts to hang him, or save his life; but yet I think meet to instruct you in our law.
There was an act made in the days of Pharaoh the Great, servant to our prince, that, lest those of a contrary religion should multiply and grow too strong for him, their males should be thrown into the river.
Exod. 1:22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” ESV
There was also an act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, another of his servants, that whoever would not fall down and worship his golden image, should be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Dan. 3:6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” ESV
There was also an act made in the days of Darius, that whoso for some time called upon any god but him, should be cast into the lion’s den.
Dan. 6:7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. ESV
Now, the substance of these laws this rebel has broken, not only in thought, (which is not to be borne,) but also in word and deed; which must, therefore, needs be intolerable.
For that of Pharaoh, his law was made upon a supposition to prevent mischief, no crime being yet apparent; but here is a crime apparent. For the second and third, you see he disputeth against our religion; and for the treason that he hath already confessed, he deserveth to die the death.
Then went the jury out, whose names were Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable; who every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the judge. And first among themselves, Mr. Blindman, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the earth. Aye, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very looks of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him. Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose, for he would always be condemning my way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind. My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us dispatch him out of the way, said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death.
And so they did; therefore he was presently condemned to be had from the place where he was, to the place from whence he came, and there to be put to the most cruel death that could be invented.
They therefore brought him out, to do with him according to their law; and first they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords; and last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.
Now I saw, that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had dispatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the celestial gate. But as for Christian, he had some respite, and was remanded back to prison: so he there remained for a space. But he who overrules all things, having the power of their rage in his own hand, so wrought it about, that Christian for that time escaped them, and went his way.
And as he went, he sang, saying,
“Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive.”
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
Judges 5:12 “Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, break out in a song!
Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
O son of Abinoam. ESV
A faithful woman, who knew God and dared to risk all upon His word, meant more to Israel in this time of crisis than all else beside. God ever delights to honor faith. He can be depended upon never to fail those who put their confidence in Him. We today are not, as Christians, called to conflict with the armies of flesh and blood. Our warfare is with the unseen Satanic hosts and the worldly spirit of the age, but it is still true that we conquer our foes as we resist them in the spirit of Deborah — faith in the living God. Among the overcomers there are many heroines as well as heroes who have had the courage to attack entrenched evil of all kinds with the courage of a Deborah. Many a faltering Barak too has been roused to valiant service by the encouragement of some devoted woman who knew the mind of God and was unafraid in the face of gravest danger.
Isaiah 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the LORD;
awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago.
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
who pierced the dragon?
Isaiah 51:17 Wake yourself, wake yourself,
stand up, O Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD
the cup of his wrath,
who have drunk to the dregs
the bowl, the cup of staggering.
Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake,
put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2 Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Ephesians 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” ESV
There must be thorns amid life’s flowers, you know,
And you and I, wherever we may go,
Can find no bliss that is not mixed with pain.
No path without a cloud. It would be vain
For me to wish that not a single tear
Might dim the gladness that you hold so dear.
I am not wise enough to understand
All that is best for you. The Master’s hand
Must sometimes touch life’s saddest chords to reach
Its sweetest music, and His child to teach
To trust His love, till the long, weeping night
Is all forgotten in the morning light.
Trust, trust Him, then, and thus shall good or ill
Your trustful soul with present blessing fill.
Each loss is truest gain if, day by day
He fills the place of all He takes away.
--- Message, Ballarat
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
10. The three last contrasts to which we have adverted (sec. 4, 7, 9),
are between the Law and the Gospel, and hence in these the Law is
designated by the name of the Old, and the Gospel by that of the New
Testament. The first is of wider extent (sec. 1), comprehending under
it the promises which were given even before the Law. When Augustine
maintained that these were not to be included under the name of the Old
Testament (August. ad Bonifac. lib. 3 c. 14), he took a most correct
view, and meant nothing different from what we have now taught; for he
had in view those passages of Jeremiah and Paul in which the Old
Testament is distinguished from the word of grace and mercy. In the
same passage, Augustine, with great shrewdness remarks, that from the
beginning of the world the sons of promise, the divinely regenerated,
who, through faith working by love, obeyed the commandments, belonged
to the New Testament; entertaining the hope not of carnal, earthly,
temporal, but spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings, believing
especially in a Mediator, by whom they doubted not both that the Spirit
was administered to them, enabling them to do good, and pardon imparted
as often as they sinned. The thing which he thus intended to assert
was, that all the saints mentioned in Scripture, from the beginning of
the world, as having been specially selected by God, were equally with
us partakers of the blessing of eternal salvation. The only difference
between our division and that of Augustine is, that ours (in accordance
with the words of our Saviour, "All the prophets and the law prophesied
until John," Mt. 11:13) distinguishes between the gospel light and that
more obscure dispensation of the word which preceded it, while the
other division simply distinguishes between the weakness of the Law and
the strength of the Gospel. And here also, with regard to the holy
fathers, it is to be observed, that though they lived under the Old
Testament, they did not stop there, but always aspired to the New, and
so entered into sure fellowship with it. Those who, contented with
existing shadows, did not carry their thoughts to Christ, the Apostle
charges with blindness and malediction. To say nothing of other
matters, what greater blindness can be imagined, than to hope for the
expiation of sin from the sacrifice of a beast, or to seek mental
purification in external washing with water, or to attempt to appease
God with cold ceremonies, as if he were greatly delighted with them?
Such are the absurdities into which those fall who cling to legal
observances, without respect to Christ.
11. The fifth distinction which we have to add consists in this, that until the advent of Christ, the Lord set apart one nation, to which he confined the covenant of his grace. Moses says, "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance," (Deut. 32:8, 9). In another passage he thus addresses the people: "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed, after them, even you, above all people, as it is this day," (Deut. 10:14, 15). That people, therefore, as if they had been the only part of mankind belonging to him he favoured exclusively with the knowledge of his name, depositing his covenant, as it were, in their bosom, manifesting to them the presence of his divinity and honouring them with all privileges. But to say nothing of other favours, the only one here considered is his binding them to him by the communion of his word, so that he was called and regarded as their God. Meanwhile, other nations, as if they had had no kind of intercourse with him, he allowed to wander in vanity not even supplying them with the only means of preventing their destructions--viz. the preaching of his word. Israel was thus the Lord's favourite child the others were aliens. Israel was known and admitted to trust and guardianship, the others left in darkness; Israel was made holy, the others were profane; Israel was honoured with the presence of God, the others kept far aloof from him. But on the fulness of the time destined to renew all things, when the Mediator between God and man was manifested the middle wall of partition, which had long kept the divine mercy within the confines of Israel, was broken down, peace was preached to them who were afar off, as well as to those who were nigh, that being, together reconciled to God, they might unite as one people. Wherefore, there is now no respect of Jew or Greek, of circumcision or uncircumcision, but Christ is all and in all. To him the heathen have been given for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession (Ps. 2:8), that he may rule without distinction "from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth," (Ps. 72:8).
12. The calling of the Gentiles, therefore, is a distinguishing feature illustrative of the superiority of the New over the Old Testament. This, it is true, had been previously declared by the prophets, in passages both numerous and clear, but still the fulfilment of it was deferred to the reign of the Messiah. Even Christ did not acknowledge it at the very outset of his ministry, but delayed it until having completed the whole work of redemption in all its parts, and finished the period of his humiliation, he received from the Father "a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow," (Phil. 2:9, 10). Hence the period being not yet completed, he declared to the woman of Canaan, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," (Mt. 15:24). Nor in his first commission to the Apostles does he permit them to pass the same limits, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," (Mt. 10:5, 6). However plainly the thing may have been declared in numerous passages, when it was announced to the Apostles, it seemed to them so new and extraordinary, that they were horrified at it as something monstrous. At length, when they did act upon it, it was timorously, and not without reluctance. Nor is this strange; for it seemed by no means in accordance with reason, that the Lord, who for so many ages had selected Israel from the rest of the nations should suddenly, as it were, change his purpose, and abandon his choice. Prophecy, indeed, had foretold it, but they could not be so attentive to prophecies, as not to be somewhat startled by the novel spectacle thus presented to their eye. It was not enough that God had in old times given specimens of the future calling of the Gentiles. Those whom he had so called were very few in number, and, moreover, he in a manner adopted them into the family of Abraham, before allowing them to approach his people. But by this public call, the Gentiles were not only made equal to the Jews, but seemed to be substituted into their place, as if the Jews had been dead.  We may add, that any strangers whom God had formerly admitted into the body of the Church, had never been put on the same footing with the Jews. Wherefore, it is not without cause that Paul describes it as the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Col. 1:26).
13. The whole difference between the Old and New Testaments has, I think, been fully and faithfully explained, under these four or five heads in so far as requisite for ordinary instruction. But since this variety in governing the Church, this diversity in the mode of teaching, this great change in rites and ceremonies, is regarded by some as an absurdity, we must reply to them before passing to other matters. And this can be done briefly, because the objections are not so strong  as to require a very careful refutation. It is unreasonable they say, to suppose that God who is always consistent With himself permitted such a change as afterwards to disapprove what he had once ordered and commended. I answer, that God ought not to be deemed mutable, because he adapts different forms to different ages, as he knows to be expedient for each. If the husband man prescribes one set of duties to his household in winter, and another in summer, we do not therefore charge him with fickleness or think he deviates from the rules of good husbandry which depends on the regular course of nature. In like manner, if a father of a family, in educating, governing, and managing his children, pursues one course in boyhood another in adolescence and another in manhood we do not therefore say that he is fickle, or abandons his opinions. Why, then do we charge God with inconstancy when he makes fit and congruous arrangements for diversities of times? The latter similitude ought to be completely satisfactory. Paul likens the Jews to children, and Christians to grown men (Gal. 4:1). What irregularity is there in the Divine arrangement, which confined them to the rudiments which were suitable to their age, and trains us by a firmer and more manly discipline? The constancy of God is conspicuous in this, that he delivered the same doctrine to all ages, and persists in requiring that worship of his name which he commanded at the beginning. His changing the external form and manner does not show that he is liable to change. In so far he has only accommodated himself to the mutable and diversified capacities of man.
14. But it is said, Whence this diversity, save that God chose to make it? Would it not have been as easy for him from the first, as after the advent of Christ, to reveal eternal life in clear terms without any figures, to instruct his people by a few clear sacraments, to bestow his Holy Spirit, and diffuse his grace over the whole globe? This is very much the same as to bring a charge against God, because he created the world at so late a period, when he could have done it at the first, or because he appointed the alternate changes of summer and winter, of clay and night. With the feeling common to every pious mind, let us not doubt that every thing which God has done has been done wisely and justly, although we may be ignorant of the cause which required that it should be so done. We should arrogate too much to ourselves were we not to concede to God that he may have reasons for his counsel, which we are unable to discern. It is strange, they say, that he now repudiates and abominates the sacrifices of beasts, and the whole apparatus of that Levitical priesthood in which he formerly delighted. As if those external and transient matters could delight God, or affect him in any way!  It has already been observed, that he appointed none of these things on his own account, but instituted them all for the salvation of men. If a physician, adopting the best method, effects a cure upon a youth, and afterwards, when the same individual has grown old, and is again subject to the same disease, employs a different method of cure, can it be said that he repudiates the method which he formerly approved? Nay, continuing to approve of it, he only adapts himself to the different periods of life. In like manner, it was necessary in representing Christ in his absence, and predicting his future advent, to employ a different set of signs from those which are employed, now that his actual manifestation is exhibited. It is true, that since the advent of Christ, the calling of God is more widely addressed to all nations, and the graces of the Spirit more liberally bestowed than they had previously been. But who, I ask, can deny the right of God to have the free and uncontrolled disposal of his gifts, to select the nations which he may be pleased to illuminate, the places which he may be pleased to illustrate by the preaching of his word, and the mode and measure of progress and success which he may be pleased to give to his doctrine,--to punish the world for its ingratitude by withdrawing the knowledge of his name for certain ages, and again, when he so pleases, to restore it in mercy? We see, then, that in the calumnies which the ungodly employ in this matter, to perplex the minds of the simple, there is nothing that ought to throw doubt either on the justice of God or the veracity of Scripture.
 The French is,"et ? icelle se doivent reduire quasi tous les passages, auxquels le viel Testament est opposé au Nouveau par comparaison."--And to this ought in a manner to be referred all the passages in which the Old Testament is, by way of camparison, opposed to the New.
 "Qualiter et aliis Sacramentis dari solet." French, "comme l'Escriture a coustume d'attribuer aux sacremens le nom des choses qu'ils representent;"--just as Scripture is wont to give sacraments the names of the things which they represent.
 "Passim." French, "cá et lá;"--here and there.
 "In demortuorum locum." The French is simply, "en leur lieu;"--into their place.
 "Firmæ," French, "Ne si fortes, ne si urgentes;"--neither so strong, nor so pressing.
 "Aut ullo modo affciant." French "ou comme si jamais il s'y fust arreté;"--or as if he could ever have stopped at them.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Trust God, and act!
2/7/2018 Bob Gass
'Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf.’
(1 Sa 14:6) Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” ESV
During the early days of Saul’s kingship, the Philistines controlled the western border of Israel, and battle lines were drawn at the pass called Michmash. Saul seemed content to sit on the sidelines, but Jonathan wanted to be on the front line. ‘Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side’ (v. 1 NIV 2011 Edition). There was only Jonathan and his armour bearer, so the odds didn’t look good. But when you make a move that is motivated by God’s glory, it moves the heart and hand of God. What it requires is a step of faith. And often it’s the longest, hardest, and scariest step you’ve ever taken. Usually when Israel’s kings went into battle it was because they had received a word from the Lord assuring their victory. Jonathan had received no such word. He simply said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf.’ Most people operate out of the opposite mentality: ‘Perhaps the Lord won’t act on our behalf.’ They let fear dictate their decisions instead of faith. So, they end up with Saul, sitting on the sidelines. And how did the battle turn out for Jonathan and his armour bearer? ‘So the Lord rescued Israel that day’ (v. 23 NIV 1984 Edition). All it took was one daring decision! That’s all it ever takes. When you move, God will move on your behalf. And if you don’t move, you’ll always wonder ‘what if?’ Our longest regrets are our inaction regrets – the things we would have, could have, or should have done but did not do. So, the word for you today is: trust God, and act!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Frederick Douglass was born this day, February 7, 1817. A former slave, he had become an abolitionist and a commanding spokesman for slaves. His powerful orations exposed the injustices of slavery and championed their right to life and liberty. In retelling of his conversion, Frederick Douglass said: “I loved all mankind, slaveholder not excepted, though I abhorred slavery more than ever. I saw the world in a new light…. I gathered scattered pages of the Bible from the filthy street gutters, and washed and dried them, that… I might get a word or two of wisdom from them.”
Thomas R. Kelly
1. THE NATURE OF HOLY OBEDIENCE
Meister Eckhart wrote: "There are plenty to follow our Lord half-way, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends and honors, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves." It is just this astonishing life which is willing to follow Him the other half, sincerely to disown itself, this life which intends complete obedience, without any reservations, that I would propose to you in all humility, in all boldness, in all seriousness. I mean this literally, utterly, completely, and I mean it for you and for me- commit your lives in unreserved obedience to Him.
If you don't realize the revolutionary explosiveness of this proposal you don't understand what I mean. Only now and then comes a man or a woman who, like John Woolman or Francis of Assisi, is willing to be utterly obedient, to go the other half, to follow God's faintest whisper. But when such a commitment comes in a human life, God breaks through, miracles are wrought, world-renewing divine forces are released, history changes. There is nothing more important now than to have the human race endowed with just such committed lives. Now is no time to say, "Lo, here. Lo, there." Now is the time to say, "Thou art the man." To this extraordinary life I call you or He calls you through me - not as a lovely ideal, a charming pattern to aim at hopefully, but as a serious, concrete program of life, to be lived here and now, in industrial America, by you and by me.
This is something wholly different from mild, conventional religion which, with respectable skirts held back by dainty fingers, anxiously tries to fish the world out of the mud hole of its own selfishness. Our churches, our meeting houses are full of such respectable and amiable people. We have plenty of Quakers to follow God the first half of the way. Many of us have become as mildly and as conventionally religious as were the church folk of three centuries ago, against whose mildness and mediocrity and passionlessness George Fox and his followers flung themselves with all the passion of a glorious and a new discovery and with all the energy of dedicated lives. In some, says William James, religion exists as a dull habit, in others as an acute fever. Religion as a dull habit is not that for which Christ lived and died.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
To know God
is at once the easiest
and the most difficult thing in the world.
--- A.W. Tozer
Study hard, for the well of spiritual knowledge is deep, and our brains are shallow.
--- Richard Baxter
No nation is better than its sacred book. In that book are expressed its highest ideals of life, and no nation rises above those ideals. No nation has a sacred book to be compared with ours. This American nation from its first settlement at Jamestown to the present hour is based upon and permeated by the principles of the Bible. The more this Bible enters into our national life the grander and purer and better will that life become.
--- David Josiah Brewer
Whereas the study of Scripture centers on exegesis, the meditation of Scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage. The written Word becomes a living wordaddressed to you.
--- Richard Foster
Almost nothing that makes any real difference can be proved.
--- Frederick Buechner
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
I attain knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of ADONAI is hatred of evil.
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil ways and duplicitous speech.
14 Good advice is mine, and common sense;
I am insight, power is mine.
15 By me kings reign,
and princes make just laws.
16 By me princes govern,
nobles too, and all the earth’s rulers.
17 I love those who love me;
and those who seek me will find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
lasting wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, fine gold,
my produce better than the finest silver.
20 I follow the course of righteousness
along the paths of justice,
21 to endow with wealth those who love me
and fill their treasuries.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
The Hand Of God:
Finding His Care In All Circumstances
We read in Genesis 40:6–7 that Joseph took that opportunity when he saw that Pharaoh’s two officials were dejected. Joseph could have said to himself, Look, I’ve got my own problems. I’m the one who should be dejected. Forget these guys.
But the reason Joseph noticed these men were downcast is because he was looking. His head wasn’t drooped so low by his own grief that he couldn’t see the needs of others.
I once read about a seminary professor who went into a depression so deep that he didn’t care about anyone or anything. Everything seemed hopeless.
One day a visiting friend urged him to think of people who had been of major help to him, and from that list to select one person to whom to write a letter expressing his gratitude.
The man thought about it for some time, and into his mind’s eye came the face of a schoolteacher he had had when he was a small boy. This teacher had instilled in him a love of literature, and he was grateful. So he decided to write her a letter telling her how she had inspired him.
He received a reply in the shaky handwriting of the elderly woman. The note said, “Dear William, when I read your letter I was blinded with tears, for I remember you as a little fellow in my class. You have warmed my old heart. I taught school for fifty years. Yours is the first letter of thanks I have received from a student, and I shall cherish it until I die.”
With that letter, a little sliver of light came into the dungeon of this professor’s life. He was encouraged to write another thank-you note to a significant person in his life, and then another and another until he had written five hundred notes of gratitude and was no longer in the depression.
Are you in a dungeon at the moment? Are circumstances closing you down that are known only to you and to God? Turn your gaze outward toward others, and you will see those who need your help.
Instead of quitting or trying to fight your way out from under unjust suffering, consider Jesus. Hang in there, and keep running the race (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Now we may be tempted to say, “If I’m going to have to take these elbows in the ribs and kicks in the shins, I don’t want to be in this race.”
But then we look at Christ. And our mouths are closed. We see Jesus on the cross and hear Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We consider the roll call of the faithful in Hebrews 11, ... of those who endured so much, ... and we keep on running.
Alistair Begg Books | Go to Books Page
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The discipline of dejection
But we trusted … and beside all this, to-day is the third day … --- Luke 24:21.
Every fact that the disciples stated was right; but the inferences they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that savours of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If depression and oppression visit me, I am to blame; God is not, nor is anyone else. Dejection springs from one of two sources—I have either satisfied a lust or I have not. Lust means—I must have it at once. Spiritual lust makes me demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Who gives the answer. What have I been trusting God would do? And to-day—the immediate present—is the third day, and He has not done it, therefore I imagine I am justified in being dejected and in blaming God. Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer. It is impossible to be well physically and to be dejected. Dejection is a sign of sickness, and the same thing is true spiritually. Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it.
We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God’s power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
And in the midst of the council
a bittern called from the fen
outside. A sparrow flew in
and disappeared through the far doorway
'If your faith can explain. . . .' So
they were baptized, and the battles began
for the kingdom of this world. Were
you sent, sparrow? An eagle
would have been more appropriate,
some predator to warn them
of the ferocity of the religion
that came their way.
The fire was not more voluble
than the blood that would answer
Charles by divine right
king. And not all our engines can drain
Marston Moor. The bittern is
silent now. The ploughshares are beaten
to guns and bombs. Daily we publish
hurrying with it to and fro on steel
wings, the good news of the kingdom.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Thomas A Kempis
Book One / Thoughts Helpful In The Life Of The Soul
The Seventh Chapter / Avoiding False Hope And Pride
VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor in the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who helps the humble and humbles the proud.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have.
Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.
The Imitation Of Christ
Psychologically / Theologically
In the psychological world, the distinction between sin and sickness is presented as a rather simplistic dichotomy. In the world of Christian theology, where sin and darkness are inextricably connected, the dichotomy disappears. Consider Millard Erickson’s definition of sin: “Sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral will of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought, or of inner disposition or state.” (1) Here we see that sin and sickness are intertwined and inseparable. Sin can be a matter of act or thought, as is generally assumed, but sin is also an inner disposition, a part of our character that resembles a chronic sickness. Theological Edwin Zackrison explains: “Biblically, the sin problem involves more than simply our bad actions, whether personal or social in their implications and complications. In Scripture and theology sin is a condition that goes to the root of our being for it has to do with our relationship to our origin and to God.” (2) Christian theology includes both a personal and an original concept of sin. Too often counselors who are not Christians understand only the personal concept of sin and thereby misrepresent Christianity.
Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling (AACC Library)
Risking the danger of oversimplification, one may say that Evangelicals and Roman Catholics together teach that God by his grace is the only Saviour of sinners, that self-salvation is impossible, and that the death of Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice is the ultimate ground of justification. But precisely what justification is, how it relates to other aspects of salvation, and how it takes place – these are areas of continuing and anxious debate.
Evangelicals feel the need to press Roman Catholics about sin, grace, faith and works. Roman Catholics are uncomfortable when we talk about ‘total depravity’ (that every part of our humanness has been twisted by the Fall), which lies behind our insistence on the need both for a radical salvation and for non-contributory grace. They find this a pessimistic view of the human condition, involving an inadequate doctrine of creation. They add that human beings have not lost their free will, and are therefore able to cooperate with grace and contribute to salvation. We, however, see the need to underline the New Testament antitheses regarding salvation. ‘It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, so that no-one can boast.’ ‘We...know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.’ Again, ‘he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy’. (Eph. 2:8–9; Gal. 2:16; Titus 3:5.) We cannot avoid the stark alternative which such texts put before us. Not works, but grace. Not law, but faith. Not our righteous deeds but his mercy. There is no co-operation here between God and us, only a choice between two mutually exclusive ways, his and ours. Moreover, the faith which justifies is emphatically not another work. No, to say ‘justification by faith’ is merely another way of saying ‘justification by Christ’. Faith has absolutely no value in itself; its value lies solely in its object. Faith is the eye that looks to Christ, the hand that lays hold of him, the mouth that drinks the water of life. And the more clearly we see the absolute adequacy of Jesus Christ’s divine-human person and sin-bearing death, the more incongruous does it appear that anybody could suppose that we have anything to offer. That is why justification by faith alone, to quote Cranmer again, ‘advances the true glory of Christ and beats down the vain glory of man’.
If we desire to press Roman Catholics on these points, however, we need also to respond to their pressures upon us. The chief might be a series of questions like the following. ‘Do you still insist that when God justifies sinners he “pronounces” but does not “make” them righteous? that justification is a legal declaration, not a moral transformation? that righteousness is “imputed” to us, but neither “infused” in us nor even “imparted” to us? that we put on Christ’s righteousness like a cloak, which conceals our continuing sinfulness? that justification, while changing our status, leaves our character and conduct unchanged? that every justified Christian, as the Reformers taught, is simul justus et peccator (at one and the same time a righteous person and a sinner)? If so, is not justification a legal fiction, even a giant hoax, a phoney transaction external to yourself, which leaves you inwardly unrenewed? Are you not claiming to be changed when in fact you are not changed? Is not your doctrine of “justification by faith alone” a thinly disguised free licence to go on sinning?’
These are searching questions. In one way or another, I have heard all of them asked. And there is no doubt that we Evangelicals, in our zeal to emphasize the utter freeness of salvation, have sometimes been incautious in our phraseology, and have given the impression that good works are of no importance. But then the apostle Paul could evidently be incautious too, since his critics flung exactly the same charge at him, which led him to cry: ‘What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?’ (Rom. 6:1). His indignant riposte to his own rhetorical question was to remind his readers of their baptism. Did they not know that, when they were baptized into Christ Jesus, they were baptized into his death? Having thus died with him to sin, how could they possibly live in it any longer? (vv. 2–3).
What Paul was doing by this response was to show that justification is not the only image of salvation. It would be entirely mistaken to make the equation ‘salvation equals justification’. ‘Salvation’ is the comprehensive word, but it has many facets which are illustrated by different pictures, of which justification is only one. Redemption, as we have seen, is another, and bears witness to our radical deliverance from sin as well as guilt. Another is re-creation, so that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17). Yet another is regeneration or new birth, which is the inward work of the Holy Spirit, who then remains as a gracious indwelling presence, transforming the believer into the image of Christ, which is the process of sanctification. All these belong together. Regeneration is not an aspect of justification, but both are aspects of salvation, and neither can take place without the other. Indeed, the great affirmation ‘he saved us’ is broken down into its component parts, which are ‘the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’ on the one hand and being ‘justified by his grace’ on the other (Titus 3:5–7). The justifying work of the Son and the regenerating work of the Spirit cannot be separated. It is for this reason that good works of love follow justification and new birth as their necessary evidence. For salvation, which is never ‘by works’, is always ‘unto works’. Luther used to illustrate the correct order of events by reference to the tree and its fruit: ‘The tree must be first, and then the fruit. For the apples make not the tree, but the tree makes the apples. So faith first makes the person, who afterwards brings forth works.’ ( Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians , on Gal. 3:10.)
Once we hold fast that the work of the Son for us and the work of the Spirit in us, that is to say, justification and regeneration, are inseparable twins, it is quite safe to go on insisting that justification is an external, legal declaration that the sinner has been put right with God, forgiven and reinstated. This is plain from the popular use of the word. As Leon Morris has pointed out, ‘when we speak of justifying an opinion or an action, we do not mean that we change or improve it. Rather we mean that we secure a verdict for it, we vindicate it’. (The Cross in The New Testament ) Similarly, when Luke says that everybody, on hearing Jesus’ teaching, ‘justified God’, what he means is that they ‘acknowledged that God’s way was right’ (Luke 7:29).
The Cross of Christ
The Rest Of Joseph's Story
The rest of the Joseph story traces the trips of his brothers to Egypt during the famine years to buy grain. They confronted Joseph several times but did not recognize him. After several visits Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, urging them not to be afraid. Joseph had come to realize that “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (45:7). Looking beyond the brothers’ sinful motives, Joseph realized that it was God, not they, who had ordained his sojourn in Egypt. This realization had removed all bitterness from Joseph’s heart.
Joseph then had his entire family, some 76 persons, come to live in Egypt, and he set aside a fertile area for them. After the death of Jacob, whose body was returned to Palestine for burial, the brothers still feared Joseph and expected revenge. They could not understand this man whose willingness to do the will of God had given him joy even in suffering. Again Joseph reassured them: “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (50:20–21).
And with this explanation Joseph promised to provide for them and their little ones.
The last paragraph of Genesis reveals even more of Joseph’s faith. He relied on the covenant of God. Someday God would visit this family and take them again to the land sworn to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. At that time, Joseph decreed that his people should carry his coffin with them on their return journey. Joseph’s life had been lived in a land that, for all its power, was a land of exile. But his body would lie, awaiting the final fulfillment of the covenant, in the dust of the Promised Land.
There are many riches to explore in these chapters. It is particularly fascinating to study Joseph’s character. No matter how discouraged he must have become at the many reversals he experienced, we never see Joseph doing less than his best. In moments of crisis we see him choosing to do what is right. Rather than being eaten up with bitterness against his brothers, or returning hatred for hatred, Joseph looks beyond them to see the hand of God. And he remains sure that God’s hand is on him “for good.”
How often we look at our tragedies as injustice, or as punishment for some unknown fault. We need more of Joseph’s trust in the loving goodness of God. God does sometimes lead His children into suffering. But it is always done in order that He might bring through the suffering some greater good.).
I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.
--- Luke 7:7.
You are much more sinful than you think you are, much more unworthy than you know yourself to be. (Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Men, Book 2 ) Instead of attempting a soothing of your dark thoughts, I pray you believe that yours is a hopeless case apart from Christ. This disease is not skin deep. It lies in the source and fountain of your life and poisons your heart. The flames of hell must wrap themselves about you certainly unless Christ interposes to save you. You have not nor will you ever have merit of any sort. And more, you have no power to escape from your lost condition unaided by the Savior’s hand. No words can exaggerate your deplorable condition, and no feelings can ever represent your real state in colors too alarming. You are not worthy that Christ should come to you. You are not worthy to draw near to Christ.
But—and here is a glorious contrast—never let this for a single moment interfere with your full belief that he who is God but who took our nature, who suffered in our stead on the cross, who now rules in heaven is able and willing to do for you immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine. Your inability does not prevent the working of his power. Your unworthiness cannot put fetters to his bounty or limits to his grace. You may be an ill-deserving sinner, but that is no reason why he should not pardon you. Jesus Christ is able and willing to save those who come to God through him. Your emptiness does not affect his fullness. Your weakness does not alter his power. Your inability does not diminish his omnipotence. Your undeserving does not restrain his love.
Your troubled hearts, your sense of your unworthiness should drive you to Christ. You are unworthy, but “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). He gave himself for our—what? Excellences and virtues? No, he “gave himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4), according to the Scriptures. We read that he “died for sins… the righteous for the”—righteous? No, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18), to bring us to God. Gospel pharmacy is for the sick; gospel bread is for the hungry; gospel fountains are open to the unclean; gospel water is given to the thirsty. Let your huge and painful wants impel you to fly to Jesus. Let the vast cravings of your insatiable spirit compel you to go to him. Your unworthiness should act as a wing to bear you to Christ, the sinner’s Savior.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
A Strong Tower
In 1934 Adolf Hitler summoned German church leaders to his Berlin office to berate them for insufficiently supporting his programs. Pastor Martin Niemoller explained that he was concerned only for the welfare of the church and of the German people. Hitler snapped, “You confine yourself to the church. I’ll take care of the German people.” Niemoller replied, “You said that ‘I will take care of the German people.’ But we too, as Christians and churchmen, have a responsibility toward the German people. That responsibility was entrusted to us by God, and neither you nor anyone in this world has the power to take it from us.”
Hitler listened in silence, but that evening his Gestapo raided Niemoller’s rectory, and a few days later a bomb exploded in his church. During the months and years following, he was closely watched by the secret police, and in June 1937 he preached these words to his church: “We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the apostles of old. We must obey God rather than man.” He was soon arrested and placed in solitary confinement.
Dr. Niemoller’s trial began on February 7, 1938. That morning, a green-uniformed guard escorted the minister from his prison cell and through a series of underground passages toward the courtroom. Niemoller was overcome with terror and loneliness. What would become of him? Of his family? His church? What tortures awaited them all?
The guard’s face was impassive, and he was silent as stone. But as they exited a tunnel to ascend a final flight of stairs, Niemoller heard a whisper. At first he didn’t know where it came from, for the voice was soft as a sigh. Then he realized that the officer was breathing into his ear the words of Proverbs 18:10: The LORD is a mighty tower where his people can run for safety.
Niemoller’s fear fell away, and the power of that verse sustained him through his trial and his years in Nazi concentration camps.
The LORD is a mighty tower
Where his people can run for safety —
The rich think their money is a wall of protection.
Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor.
--- Proverbs 18:10-12.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - February 7
“Arise, and depart.” --- Micah 2:10.
The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as it comes to all—“Arise, and go forth from the home in which thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy last journey.” And what know we of the journey? And what know we of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but how little do we know of the realms of the future! We know that there is a black and stormy river called “Death.” God bids us cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father’s house—to our Father’s home, where Jesus is—to that royal “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” This shall be our last removal, to dwell for ever with him we love, in the midst of his people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.
“Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,
For thy bright courts on high;
Then bid our spirits rise, and join
The chorus of the sky.”
Evening - February 7
“And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.” --- Revelation 11:12.
Without considering these words in their prophetical connection, let us regard them as the invitation of our great Forerunner to his sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard “a great voice from heaven” to every believer, saying, “Come up hither.” This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation. Instead of dreading the time when we shall leave this world to go unto the Father, we should be panting for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be ---
“My heart is with him on his throne, And ill can brook delay; Each moment listening for the voice, ‘Rise up and come away.’ ”
We are not called down to the grave, but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet should the celestial summons be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us “Come up thither.” We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure. I know that strong love will make us cry,
“O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,
And land us all in heaven;”
but patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to abide below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord’s garner! more jewels for his crown! But how, unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh! when we are fully serving God, and he is giving us to scatter precious seed, and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to abide where we are. Whether our Master shall say “go,” or “stay,” let us be equally well pleased so long as he indulges us with his presence.
Morning and Evening
JESUS, LOVER OF MY SOUL
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)
The universal recognition of a personal dependence upon the infinite God has no doubt made this appealing hymn the best loved of the more than 6500 texts of Charles Wesley. Written shortly after Charles’ “heart-warming” experience at the Adlersgate Hall in London in 1738, this text has since brought comfort and inspiration to countless numbers during “the storms of life.”
The simple yet vivid language of this hymn gives it a special quality. Some have called it the “finest heart-hymn in the English language.” Also the exaltation of Christ is truly noteworthy in such picturesque terms as “lover,” “healer,” “fountain,” “wing,” and “pilot.” But possibly the greatest appeal of these lines is the assurance they give of Christ’s consolation and protection through all of life and then for eternity.
There is no authenticated information as to what particular situation caused Wesley to write this text. A frightening storm at sea that he experienced while returning home from America may account for the nautical references. A story also has been mentioned of a bird flying into Charles’ cabin for safety, while another incident is given of his hiding under a hedge after an attack by an angry mob opposing his ministry. Still others see this text as a picture of Wesley’s own life as a young man as he struggled to find his peace with God before his dramatic Aldersgate conversion experience.
How important it is that we learn the truth taught in these words!
Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly. While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high! Hide me, O my Savior, hide—till the storm of life is past; safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none—hangs my helpless soul on Thee. Leave, ah, leave me not alone; still support and comfort me! All my trust on Thee is stayed—All my help from Thee I bring. Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.
Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find. Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick and lead the blind. Just and holy is Thy name—I am all unrighteousness; false and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.
Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin; let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within. Thou of life the fountain art— Freely let me take of Thee; spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.
For Today: Psalm 37:39, 40; 2 Corinthians 1:3–7; Revelation 7:17.
Remember to fly to Christ for refuge whenever the “storm of life” becomes overwhelming. He alone is our refuge and the one true foundation of life.
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