Genesis 19 - 21
God Rescues LotGenesis 19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
God Destroys Sodom23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
Lot and His Daughters30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.
Four major motifs are in this chapter: God’s swift judgment on the vile Canaanites, Lot’s close attachment to the wicked society, God’s merciful sparing of Lot from the doom, and “the rebirth of Sodom” in the cave.
Through these, Israel could see that if God judges a people severely, He is righteous because of their great evil. She also could learn of the folly of becoming attached to the wickedness of Canaan.
How should one live, then, knowing how God dealt with the Canaanites? The lesson is quite clear: “Do not love the world or anything in the world.… [for] the world and its desires [lusts] pass away” (1 John 2:15, 17) under the judgment of God. It is dangerous and folly to become attached to the present corrupt world system because it awaits God’s swift and sudden destruction.
Jesus referred to Genesis 19:26 to warn of the destruction to come on unbelieving Israel: “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32) When Christ returns, people should not look back as she did (Luke 17:30–31). If an unbeliever craves the best of this world he will lose both this world (since it passes away) and life in the next world (Luke 17:33–37).
Jesus also said that if the miracles He did in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, the Sodomites would have repented (Matt. 11:23). As it is, “it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment” than for the cities of Galilee (Matt. 11:24). This signifies that God judges according to knowledge, and that judgment greater than physical destruction awaits sinners. ( The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament:) )
Abraham and AbimelechGenesis 20:1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
The Birth of IsaacGenesis 21:1 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
God Protects Hagar and Ishmael8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
A Treaty with Abimelech22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
25 When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, 26 Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.
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What I'm Reading
What Happens to Our Souls When We Die?
By J. Warner Wallace 1/3/2018
There are many good reasons to believe we, as humans, are more than simply physical bodies. Humans are “soulish” creatures; we are living souls united to physical bodies. Even without the guidance of Scripture, there are good reasons to believe our lives will not end at the point of our physical death. The existence of an afterlife is reasonable, particularly given our dual nature as immaterial souls possessing physical bodies. But what precisely happens to each of us, as living souls, when our physical bodies cease to exist? What will we experience the moment we close our eyes for the last time in this temporal life? The Christian worldview offers an answer to this question, and it can be found by surveying the teaching of the New Testament: J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Those Who Accept God’s Offer of Salvation Will Be United with Him Immediately | There is good reason to believe our afterlife experience begins the minute we close our eyes for the last time here on earth. For those of us who are believers, the instant our earthly bodies die our souls will be united with Jesus in the afterlife:
(2 Co 5:6–8) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. ESV
(Lk 23:39–43) 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ESV
Those who have accepted God’s offer of Salvation will be with Jesus in what we commonly refer to as “Heaven”. But our experience in Heaven prior to the earthly return of Jesus (and the resurrection of our bodies), while much better than our life here on earth, will not be complete. It will only be part of the experience we will one day have when Jesus returns to earth and resurrects the bodies of those who are already with Him in spirit. While He’s at it, He’ll bring those of us who are still alive home as well:
(1 Th 4:14–18) 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. ESV
Only then, after the resurrection, will our joy and satisfaction be made complete; only then will we be able to experience the full physical, spiritual and emotional joy we were originally designed for.
Those Who Reject God’s Offer of Salvation Will Be Separated from Him | Unfortunately our experience of the afterlife is instantaneous upon death even for those of us who have rejected God. While believers will be united with God, unbelievers will not. The New Testament describes two different places where the unrighteous go after death. One such place is called “Hades”. This is described as the place where the unrighteous go immediately upon death to await their final destination. Take a look at this story Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke:
(Lk 16:19–24) 19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ ESV
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
The Struggle Is Real
By Erica Boutwell
There’s this wood art piece (art may be stretching it) I made years ago, hanging over our front door that was inspired by a song penned by a man named David Parker. David was my boss at 121 Community Church for 12 years, but will forever be one of my dearest friends and inspirations. He wrote this song called You Are God, You Are Good back in September of 2010. I remember the time so clearly because the second verse of that song, he told me, was greatly influenced by a situation going on in our family at the time. The words to that verse are: There’s a mountain here,
And I know this mountain must be climbed,
What awaits brings fear,
But I know You will provide,
I know You will provide
Enter mountain. Giant… rocky… peak-filled… volcanic… mountain!
How do we do this? How bad is it going to get? Is he going to ever have a normal life? Will he have friends? I wanted answers and I wanted them right then.
There’s a mountain here,
Who Really Chose the Books of the New Testament and Why?
By Jonathan Morrow 1/3/17
Were the books of the New Testament selected by Emperor Constantine for social and political reasons in the 4th century (per the claims of The Da Vinci Code ) or were the books included in the New Testament Canon because they fit with the authoritative teaching that can be traced back to Jesus himself? Was this simply a power play? Another example of history being written by the winners? Singing — they would sing their theology in hymns and show their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., Col. 1:15-20 and Phil. 2:5-11).
I think the best way to come at this is by asking which of these documents tells us the truth about “the faith” that was preached and received in the earliest communities of Christ-followers (see Jude 3). This is a theological question — what did the earliest eyewitnesses of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth believe and preach from the very beginning?
The Earliest Indicators of Christianity’s Earliest Beliefs | New Testament scholar Darrell Bock points to three kinds of texts contained in the New Testament writings that show us what the earliest Christians believed (and helpfully provides 3 S’s).
Schooling — We find doctrinal summaries Christians would memorize and read alongside Old Testament texts (i.e., the Hebrew Scriptures) when they would gather together for worship in house churches (e.g., Rom. 1:2-4; 1 Cor. 8:6; 15:1-5).
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Singing — they would sing their theology in hymns and show their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., Col. 1:15-20 and Phil. 2:5-11).
(Jud 3) Greeting
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Judgment on False Teachers3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.
A Call to Persevere17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Doxology24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. ESV
Jonathan Morrow: I am the author of several books including Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey and Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's Authority .
I’ve also contributed articles to the bestselling Apologetics Study Bible for Students and A New Kind of Apologist.
My passion is helping a new generation of Christ-follower’s understand what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters.
The Problem Of The Old Testament
By James Orr 1907
Crucial Points In The Critical Theory
IT is interesting to note what the critics themselves regard as the crucial points in their theory. Here are a few utterances on the subject.
Westphal says: “We shall take Deuteronomy as Ariadne’s thread in the labyrinth into which the historical problem of the Pentateuch introduces us.”
Delitzsch says: “Since then [Graf’s time] the Book of Ezekiel has become the Archimedean point on which the Pentateuchal criticism has planted itself, and from which it has lifted off its hinges the history of worship and literature in Israel as hitherto accepted.”
Wellhausen says: “The chapters 40–48 (in Ezekiel) are the most important in his book, and have been called by J. Orth, not incorrectly, the key of the Old Testament.”
Smend also says: “The decisive importance of this section for the criticism of the Pentateuch was first recognised by George and Vatke. It has been rightly called the key of the Old Testament.”
Wellhausen in another place says: “The position of the Levites is the Achilles heel of the Priestly Code.”
Elsewhere he emphasises the centralisation of the cultus as containing his whole position. “I differ from Graf,” he says, “chiefly in this, that I always go back to the centralisation of the cultus, and deduce from it the particular divergences. My whole position is contained in my first chapter” (on “The Place of Worship.”)
Kuenen also has his Achilles heel. Speaking of Graf’s original division of the priestly history and legislation, he says: “I saw clearly that his division of the Grundschrift was the Achilles heel of his whole hypothesis: the solution of Graf could not be the true one: it went only half-way.”
In the argument in the present book special weight will be found to be attached to the following facts:—
1. The “pre-prophetic” character of J and E, as involved in their admitted priority to Amos and Hosea.
2. The admittedly “parallel” character of J and E, and their marked stylistic resemblance.
3. The admitted priority of J and E, and of the “Book of the Covenant,” to Deuteronomy.
4. The admitted priority of J and E to P (in reversal of the older view), and the fact that P is throughout parallel to, and presupposes, JE (Wellhausen).
5. The admission by many critics (e.g., Driver, Baudissin, Ryle) of the priority of the Levitical collection known as the “Law of Holiness” to Ezekiel.
The turning points in the discussion are those indicated in the text:—
1. Are J and E two documents, or one?
2. The Josianic origin of Deuteronomy.
3. The post-exilian origin of the Levitical Code.
The critical positions on these three points are traversed and the rejection of them is shown to involve as its only tenable alternative (middle views as Nöldeke’s and Dillmann’s being cut out by the Wellhausen polemic) the essential Mosaicity of the Pentateuch.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
4 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
You Will Touch 80,000 Lives
By Brett Zeck 1/4/2017
There is something about the truth that causes people to tremble, look in awe, and become overwhelmed all at the same time.
If you surrender your life over to Jesus and walk with him for your fullest joy, then you might understand this. The truth of Christ means responsibility rests on your shoulders: you see strangers and loved ones trying to quench a deep, internal thirst in a world that — without Jesus — is salt water. With the realization that life is meant to glorify the Lord, you can’t help but weep at the sight of unbelief and fading lives.
The overwhelming truth is how many don’t know Jesus, how many are living eternally insignificant lives. How can we cope with a reality that bleak?
An 80,000-Fold Influence | Let’s say that a person meets an average of two to three people a day. Assuming the average life span is roughly eighty years, this means that the average person will encounter somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 people in their life. The football stadium at the University of North Carolina, where I am a student, houses 62,980 people.
Imagine if you walked into this stadium at the end of your life. One by one the seats are all filled with old and strangely familiar faces, memories flooding back to you until the crowd starts to pour over onto the field. You have met each person here, though many were only for a single moment. Each person represents at least one opportunity you had to influence the trajectory of his life. Your life will impact the world through thousands of people, who will, in turn, impact millions.
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Brett Zeck is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leader with Summit Church’s campus ministry. He writes at brettzeck.com.
Subbiblical Views of Inspiration
By Gleason Archer Jr.
Those who incline to a Neo-Orthodox approach in dealing with the inspiration of Scripture have usually (like H. H. Rowley of Manchester) set up the so-called “mind of Christ” as a standard for judging between doctrinal truth and error in the Bible. For example, they say that when Joshua and the Israelites slew the entire population of Jericho, this was due to their primitive or savage ideas of justice, rather than to the express commandment of God, as recorded in Deut. 20:16–18. Statements or judgments attributed to God in the Old Testament but which seem to be too severe for Christ’s standard of meekness, patience, and love as contained in the New Testament, are to be rejected as mere human inventions concocted by Israel in their backward stage of religious development. The criterion of truth should be “the mind of Christ” as understood and approved by modern scholarship.
Nevertheless, investigation will show that many of Christ’s statements recorded in the New Testament clash with this supposed “mind of Christ” in a most startling way. Note, for instance, Matt. 23:33: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Again, Matt. 25:41: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” We have no accredited record of what Christ’s mind actually was other than the sayings recorded in the gospels. It is fatally inconsistent to set up a philosophic notion as to what the viewpoint of Christ actually was, on the basis of some of His recorded statements, and then to reject the authenticity of other statements recorded in the same source, simply because they conflict with modern preference. Such a procedure really amounts to imposing human judgment upon the written Word of God, and allowing only that portion of the Word to be true which the human mind endorses. But we have already seen that the human reason is an inadequate and discredited tool for attaining true religious knowledge. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, it must sit in judgment upon man; man is not competent to sit in judgment upon the Holy Bible. His reasoning powers are to be employed in the task of consistent interpretation of the message of the Bible, in order that he may be sure to understand what God means by the words of Scripture. But never may he pass judgment against the clear teachings of Scripture as established by exegesis; for if he does, he by implication rejects the authority of Scripture as a whole.
More typically Neo-Orthodox is the view which regards the Bible as something less than the written Word of God; the Bible is merely a witness to the Word of God. According to this view, the Word of God is a dynamic principle which comes into operation only when there is a living or “existential” encounter between the believer and God. God speaks with power to him from the pages of Holy Writ and establishes a personal relationship, rather than merely instilling propositional truth into his mind. (Propositional here refers to the kind of truth which may be stated in propositions, such as, “God is an eternal Spirit.” Propositions may be grasped as mere objects of knowledge, like mathematical formulas; but divine truth, it is urged, can never be mastered by man’s mind. Divine truth reaches man in an “I-Thou” encounter; it is like an electric current with both a positive pole and a negative pole as conditions for existence.) Since the biblical text was written by human authors, and all men are sinful and subject to error, therefore, it is claimed, there must be error in the biblical text itself. But, it is argued, the living God is able to speak even from this partially erroneous text and bring believers into vital relationship with Him in a saving encounter. Such a view of the Bible leaves ample room for all manner of scientific and historical errors, and for all the adverse judgments of rationalistic higher criticism against the authenticity of the writings of Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, and all the rest. All these findings may be (and undoubtedly are) true as an accurate account of how the Bible humanly originated. Nevertheless, God has appointed this error-studded Scripture to be a uniquely authoritative witness to His revelation, and He is able to use it in a dynamic way to “save” men.
Thus, in their zeal to sidestep the assaults of rationalistic higher criticism upon the trustworthiness of the biblical record, and to rescue the significance of the Christian message in the face of scientific objections to the supernatural, the theologians of the Neo-Orthodox movement have resorted to a paradoxical view of the nature of revelation itself. They hold the position that by its very nature, divine revelation cannot be inscripturated. As soon as it is imprisoned in words, especially words setting forth propositions about God and spiritual truth, then it becomes the object of men’s minds and cognitive powers. It thus falls under the control of man, and finds itself imprisoned within the covers of the written word. Revelation therefore is not to be equated with revealed doctrines or propositions about theology; rather, it consists of a direct encounter between God and man, as one subject confronting another subject. Revelation thus bears an analogy to a personal encounter between human beings; they experience each other as personalities, rather than as a set of statistics or items of information on an identification card.
From this same viewpoint it may be urged that it is a matter of no consequence whether the accounts recorded in Scripture are accurate or not. The gospel record of the virgin birth, for example, or the bodily resurrection of Christ, may very well be unhistorical (since modern scientific theory leaves no room for such miraculous events), but this makes no particular difference. Through these pious legends of the early church, we may encounter God and the suprahistorical realities to which these stories point. To rely upon the infallible accuracy of the written record of the Bible is held to be an obstacle to true faith. The dogma of an infallible Scripture operates as an unhealthy crutch upon which to lean; true faith soars above the manifest errors of the Bible to the transcendental truth to which the Bible points—truth available to the believer only through a personal encounter with the living God.
But this Neo-Orthodox view is confronted with a host of logical difficulties. It puts the authority of Scripture on the basis of sheer unverifiable faith. How can we be sure that God has not spoken to us from the record of the Koran (which is demonstrably full of errors and anachronisms), or from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or from the Hindu Vedas? Why only from the Bible? Objective verification is not only discarded as impossible, but the desire for it is condemned as reprehensibly earthbound and rationalistic. One must simply believe! Whom or what? Why, the Scripture, of course. But regrettably enough, the Scripture itself seems to be totally unaware of this Neo-Orthodox approach to religious knowledge. It positively bristles with propositional truths about God, truths which may be reduced to creedal statements which the human mind may intellectually grasp. Perhaps this may be explained away as a manifestation of the fallibility and frailty of the sinful men who wrote the Bible. But how does one get beyond the text of the Bible to the more rarefied, ineffable, suprahistorical, personal-encounter truth which is supposed to lie beyond? Why, by a direct encounter with God, of course! Yes, but whose direct encounter? Barth’s? Brunner’s? Niebuhr’s? Tillich’s? These giants of the Neo-Orthodox movement have many stark disagreements among themselves on matters theological. Some, like Barth, disagree even with themselves quite noticeably from decade to decade. It is hard to see how the eternal and unchanging truth of God can be validly interpreted in Barth’s celebrated Commentary on Romans, when his views are modified so remarkably as they are from edition to edition of that work.
As a matter of fact, then, this Neo-Orthodox view of Scripture raises far more serious difficulties than it seeks to solve. It is virtually impossible for Crisis theologians to make any affirmations at all about God or faith or any other aspect of religious truth which do not ultimately rest upon the propositional statements of the written Word of God. For example, to quote from William Temple’s dictum concerning Holy Scripture: “No single sentence can be quoted as having the authority of a distinct utterance of the all-holy God.” But how does Archbishop Temple know that there is a single God, rather than a host of gods, as pagan religions teach; or no God at all, as Marxism teaches? Only from the authority of the written Bible, or of a confessing church which demonstrably trusted in the infallible authority of that Bible. Again, how does he know that the one true God is “all-holy”? Only because the Scripture affirms Him to be so—a propositional affirmation! Remove the authority of the written record of divine revelation, and the statement of Temple or Brunner or any other religious teacher concerning religious truth is reduced to the status of a mere conjecture, completely devoid of authority, and resting upon the same questionable basis as any other human opinion.
How may we know that faith is an important and saving principle, as Neo-Orthodox teachers insist? Only because it is so taught in the written Word of God. Otherwise it may well be, as most of the non-Christian world believes, that salvation is achieved only by good works. Even the possibility of an encounter between God and man is only guaranteed to us by the affirmations of Scripture, and its numerous records of such encounters. Otherwise the whole “experience” of divine-human encounter may be a mere matter of hallucination and autosuggestion, devoid of metaphysical reality.
Thus it turns out that every religious affirmation of the adherents of this school is ultimately dependent upon the truthfulness of the written Word of God, the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures. If these are erroneous in any portion, then they may be erroneous in any other portion; no reliance can be placed in them at all, or indeed in any affirmation which Neo-Orthodox theologians have derived from them—and all their doctrinal statements about God, encounter, and faith have in fact been derived from them. In other words, if the authority of the Bible as written cannot be trusted, then no insight of crisis theology has any more value than a mere human opinion—unless perchance the theologian happens to enjoy in his own person the very attribute of infallibility which he denies to Scripture.
Escape For Your Life (Spurgeon)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon February 17, 1895
Scripture: Genesis 19:17
At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
THE Lord Himself said to Lot, "Escape for your life," although the command was sent by one of His chosen messengers. God has messengers, nowadays, and He still sends by them short, sharp, urgent, stimulating messages like this, "Escape for your life." This message was sent in love. God loved Lot and, therefore, He would save him from the impending doom of Sodom. I doubt not that this message of love was spoken by the messenger in very solemn tones. I do not know how angels speak, but I am certain that the very heart of the messenger was apparent in the message when he said to Lot, "Escape for your life." Whether he whispered it in Lot's ears, or uttered it in a loud voice, I cannot tell, but anyway, I am sure that it was delivered as it ought to be delivered and it had an immediate effect upon the man who heard it, for he was obedient to it.
Now, it may be that God has designs of love towards you who are here, who, as yet, have never fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before you. Remember that the Gospel admonition comes to you fresh from God — it has been in this blessed Book for ages — but it has not grown stale! It still leaps from the mouth of God, filled with all its native energy, and though I who have to deliver it to you may not speak it as I would desire, for I am very feeble, I will at least speak it out of the very depths of my soul while I try to plead with every unconverted man or woman whom my message may reach — and this shall be the one burden of my pleading — "Escape for your life."
I. Notice, first, that THERE WAS NO SAFETY FOR LOT WHERE HE WAS.
He must escape from the doomed city. The angel did not propose to him that he should stop in Sodom and, beneath some sheltering arch, hide himself from the fire-shower. No, the message was, "Escape! Flee from Sodom! Escape for your life." So, to you who are unconverted, we can bring no proposals of hope if you stay where you are! We can hold out no hope to you either in this world or in that which is to come! Neither a lesser nor a "larger hope" do we believe in, apart from your laying hold on eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ! Stay where you are and you are doomed. Remain what you are and you must perish in the overthrow of that City of Destruction which God will certainly burn up before long!
There was no safety for Lot where he was, so, let me say to you who are unbelieving and unconverted, there is no safety for you in unforgiven sin. It does not matter what form your sin has taken — whether you have been a profligate or a moralist — as long as the sin you have committed is unforgiven, there is no safety, for whether your sins are as scarlet, or, in your judgment, of a milder hue, does not affect the truth of what I say — you must be washed in the precious blood of Christ and pardoned through His great atoning Sacrifice received by faith, or else you will die in your sins and you will be driven to the place where hope can never enter! If you die with your sins upon you — where death leaves you — eternity will find you! Once lost, you will be lost forever. So, there is no safety in unforgiven sin.
And, further, there is no safety in unforsaken sin. No, you must escape for your life from every sin. The drunk cannot be saved and keep to his cups. The adulterer cannot be saved and indulge his evil passions. The thief cannot be saved and remain dishonest. The only salvation for you is salvation from your sins — and that is the salvation that we preach! How many would like to be saved from the punishment due to sin, and yet to be allowed to go on in the sin! But there is nothing of that kind of teaching in the Scripture! God did not send His Son to be the Excuser or the Minister of sin, but to be the Savior from sin! There is no hope for you if you stay in this Sodom — you must get out of it — you must clear right away from it.
Perhaps you say, "I will change my place of residence. I will go from the slums of the evil city into the cleaner and more respectable part of it." I tell you that you have to come right out of it! You must altogether quit the region of sin. You must flee from the realms of iniquity or else you shall be consumed in the destruction of the city. Up and away from all sin! Up and away! Our cry is not, "Hide in a corner," or, "Shift into a better place," but, "Escape for your life!"
Again, there is no safety in unbelief. You may say, "I do not believe this," but, as the Lord lives, before whom I stand, it is true! In my own heart, soul and conscience, I know that there is a Judge of all the earth, and that He must do right, and that the day shall come when He will execute vengeance upon those who live and die in sin, for He cannot wink at iniquity. It is not in the Nature of a holy God to suffer sin to go unpunished! You may shut your eyes to this Truth of God, but it is there. You may disbelieve it, but it is there. You may ridicule it, but it is there, and you shall, before long, know it to be so! You must come out of this state of unbelief if you are to be saved! There is no salvation in unbelief. "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not shall be damned." There is to be no flinching in this matter — I am not sent here to please you who do not believe, or to talk with bated breath, as though I sympathized with your unbelief. I denounce it as high treason against the majesty of God and, therefore, I cry unto you, "Repent and believe the Gospel," for if you will not, you must perish in your unbelief! "If you believe not," says Christ, "that I am He, you shall die in your sins." There is no safety in unbelief and, therefore, we say, as the angel said to Lot, "Escape for your life."
And once more, let me remind you that there is no safety in self-righteousness. If anybody here says, "Thank God, I am no doubter, I am no profligate, I am no open sinner," I am glad if you can truthfully say that, but still remember, if you trust in your own righteousness, you cannot be saved! You must come out of that condemned city or else you are a lost man. I spoke with one, this morning, who is, I believe, earnestly seeking salvation, and he said to me, "I have denied myself this, and I have cast away that." I was pleased to hear it, but I said to him, "You have denied these things to yourself, but have you denied yourself? That is to say, have you left off trusting in yourself!" The hardest self-denial is to deny yourself and get right away from all confidence in your own doings, feelings and everything that comes of yourself, for you might as well hope to be saved by your sins as by your good works! The road to Hell by human merit is as certain as the road there by human sin! If you seek to insult the Atonement of Christ by setting up your merit as though it were as good as that Atonement, or by trying to prove that you do not need that Atonement, you are just barring Heaven's gate against yourself! You must come out of that self-righteousness if you would be saved! My only cry to you is, "Escape, escape, escape for your life, for there is no safety for you where you are!"
II. But now, in the next place, according to this message of the angel, IF LOT IS TO BE SAVED, HE MUST RUN FOR IT AT ALL COSTS — "Escape for your life."
First, he must leave his former comrades. Have you any jolly companions who are not Christians? "They are bright, lively fellows," you say. But they are doing you infinite mischief — they are leading you away from God and His Christ! Break loose from them — "Escape for your life." Though they seek to hold you back, tear yourself away from them and even leave your garment in their hands, as Joseph left his in the hands of Potiphar's wife! "Escape for your life." Quit all evil company.
Next, Lot had to leave his former comforts. For the sake of comfort, he had gone to Sodom and, doubtless, he had his house well furnished there. But he must quit it all. Probably it was that excellent house that made Lot's wife look back— she could hardly relinquish all those nice things of theirs even for life, itself! Beware, when you are seeking Christ, that you do not let your money or your business stand in your way! It will be better for you to enter Heaven a beggar than being a rich man, to be cast into Hell! It were better for you to be as houseless as the most unpitied waif about whom the wintry winds are howling — it were better for you to die in a ditch and to be saved — than that you should live in a palace and yet, after all, be cast into Hell fire! I charge you, be ready to give up all things, if necessary, sooner than lose your soul. "Escape, escape, escape for your life!"
Yet again, Lot must not stop to argue — and nor must you. You do not see the danger. You need more evidence. You have objections — to all of which my one solitary answer is — "Escape, escape, escape for your life!" You have not time for me to discuss your difficulties, now. When you are saved, it will be soon enough for us to argue out the moot points, but now, while the fire cloud hovers above your head, escape for your life! Yonder drowning man will not clutch the rope until I have explained to him the doctrine of specific gravity. O Fool, what have you to do with specific gravity when you are drowning? Lay hold of the rope and live! So, there are some who must have election or predestination explained to them, or the doctrine of the human will — they must have this, that, and the other opened up to them and made clear as daylight. I beseech you, do not be such madmen! Do not trifle with your souls, but escape for your life! That is the one business of the present hour — see to that, first, and let other matters wait awhile till you are in a fit condition to consider them.
If Lot is to be rescued, he must, as men say, put his best foot forward. It is quite early in the morning, but before the sun has risen much higher, all Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed. You have already waited far too long, my unsaved Friend! Gray hairs are on you head here and there — why will you delay any longer? Did you not catch the solemn tones of our hymn—
"Hasten, sinner, to be wise,
Stay not for the morrow's sun"?
We sang that line over and over again in the different verses—
"Stay not for the morrow's sun."
Oh, that God would, in great mercy, press that appeal home upon you! "Escape for your life."
Lot must not sit down and take things easy — nor must you. Lot must not begin to crawl at a snail's pace and amuse himself by looking down every side street of Sodom as he leaves it — he must run from the doomed city and you, also, by God's Grace, must bestir yourself! You must quit your sin by repentance and lay hold of Christ by faith. God help you to do so! Oh, that my lips could speak the longing language of my heart, and cease to utter the feeble syllables that do not express half what I feel! How can words fully express the burning desires of a soul yearning over sinners? But if you become willing to be led, even by my feeble speech, to listen to God's almighty voice as He says to you, through me, His messenger — "Escape for your life."
I cannot help, just by way of parenthesis, pointing out to you the contrast between the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the repentance of the Ninevites. At the command of God, Jonah went though Nineveh and this was all he had to say, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Again, and again, and again, in bitter tones, the Prophet cried, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" — and the whole body of the Ninevites sought for mercy and found it — with nothing to help them to pray but this, "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?" Now, if you have nothing better to comfort you than this, "Who can tell?"—
"'Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer,'"
why, you have good ground to go upon in approaching your God! But, Friends, you are not under such a dispensation as were the Ninevites — I have not to cry to you, "Yet forty days, and you shall be destroyed." I have to tell you that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and that whoever believes in Him has everlasting life! I have to entreat and beseech you to lay hold on eternal life by believing in the Lord Jesus. Oh, how you ought to welcome such a message as that!
If there is anybody whom I am addressing who is actually marked for death and who knows that he carries about in his body that which must, in a very short time, bring him to the grave. One who is well aware that he cannot recover from the incurable disease that has seized him — yet, even that should not hinder him from seeking God's face — rather it should move him at once to turn to Jesus! I can see a man before me now — my mind's eye can see him and I know that he must die, I am sure of it. Poor wretch, he has been a thief! His hands and both his feet are nailed up, they are bleeding from the cruel nails and, within a short time, he must die in agony. Yet I hear him cry out, as he turns his eyes on the crucified Jesus Christ, "Lord, remember me!" He is nearly dead and almost in Hell, but he cries, "Lord, remember me," and he is saved — and today is with Christ in Paradise!
Now, you who have a cancer, you who are sick and ill, you who are poor and broken down and feel as if you must soon die, you who are as great a sinner as the dying thief was, say to Jesus, "Lord, remember me," and He will remember you! There is no reason under the earth, nor on the earth, nor in Heaven, itself — there is no supposable reason why you should not pray! And if you pray and seek the Lord's face, you shall not come to Him in vain, for He has said, "Him that comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out." God help you to come, now, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake!
III. Now, to conclude, let me remind you that LOT HAD EVERYTHING AT STAKE and, therefore, the angel said to him, "Escape for your life."
Suppose he had stayed in Sodom — then he would have lost all. He would not have saved his furniture, or his gold, or his silver — he would have lost all that he had. Suppose you stop your sin — will you really save anything by it? "I shall save myself from thought," says one. Oh, but do you think you are an ox, or a donkey, that thought should be trouble to you? Why, it surely will be your wisdom to addict yourself to the most sedulous care about your eternal interests! Suppose there should be a cry of, "Fire!" raised in this house, tonight, as there was but a little while ago in Spitalfields— how many there are who would rush to the doors in a mad panic to escape for their lives! Yet, surely, the soul's life, the eternal life, is more precious than the life of the body! Will you not make that the first point to be considered and settled for, if you could by sin gain the whole world — yet what would it profit you when you would lose your own soul?
Again, if Lot had not fled out of Sodom, he would, himself, have perished. Not merely would his garments have been burnt, but he would have perished. Not only would his gold and his silver have melted in the fire, but he would have perished. That was a true saying, though Satan uttered it, "Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life." And all that a man has he ought to give for his soul, for the immortal part of his being, for his higher and better nature! Why, if your soul is cast into Hell, it would have been better for you that you had never been born! If you neglect the Great Salvation and you die and perish in your iniquity, you have lost everything! You are not merely like a bankrupt who has lost his gold, but you have lost yourself! I beseech you, therefore, listen to me as I cry to you, in my Master's name, "'Escape for your life,' your immortal life, which is now in imminent danger!" Your existence will continue whether you are lost or saved, but your life! Have you yet received eternal life at the hands of God? Your life! Will you be content to lose it and to perish in your sin?
The worst point about this story is that if Lot had not escaped, he would have perished with the men of Sodom. He could not endure them — he was vexed with their filthy conversation! How horrible, then, would it have been for him to perish with them! I cannot bear to think that some of you upright, moral people may yet be lost! You were never drunks, and yet you will perish with the drunk unless you repent and trust in Jesus! You were never swearers, but you will be as surely damned as the blasphemers will be unless you come to Christ! You cannot bear impurity or filthy language — there is much about you that is most amiable and excellent — but even to you, the Savior says, "You must be born again." And if you are not born again, if you have no faith in Christ, if you are not converted so as to become as little children, you will as surely perish as will the worst of men!
You sometimes read in the newspaper a horrible story of vice and crime and you wish that it had never been printed, and I wish the same. But what must it be for you to be shut up forever with such as those who commit these unmentionable abominations? Yet there are but two places for man's eternal abode — Heaven and Hell — and if you are not saved so as to go to Heaven, where can you go but into the same pit with all the multitude of transgressors who shall perish in their sins? I wish that you who are outwardly moral and upright would think of this Truth of God. It seems to me as if I ought not to further press it upon you, for you are reasonable beings, you are not shut up in Bedlam. I pray you, therefore, run no longer such fearful risks as you have run up to now, but escape for your lives.
If Lot had been destroyed in the overthrow of Sodom, there would have been one thing about him which there would not have been about the race of the Sodomites, he would have perished after having been warned. When the fire-flakes began to fall and Lot felt the terrible burning, he would have had this barbed dart driven into his heart — "I was told to escape. I was taken outside the city gate. I was led to a place of vantage and charged to escape for my life. Nobody else had that opportunity — nobody else in these cities was called, thus, to escape! I had a special appeal made to me by the messenger of God, and I refused it and, therefore, I shall die a self-murderer, having chosen my own delusions." O Sirs, O Sirs, if you go from this Tabernacle to Hell, it shall be hard work for you! If you perish, I will be clear of your blood. As long as this voice can speak, I will plead with you that you do not destroy yourselves!
Look at the myriads of Africa, and the millions in China and India who have never heard the Gospel! I leave their future in the hands of God, all merciful, but they cannot enter Heaven! Neither can you! But there will be this about your doom, that you had the means of Grace — you had the invitations of mercy, you had the expostulations of God's Word! And you chose — you resolutely chose — to put eternal life far from you! O God, You who have made these men and women, if they have lost their reason, give it back to them and may Your sweet Spirit teach them, now, to judge righteously! And may they at once count it to be inevitable that every wise man should escape for his life and flee from the wrath to come!
I shall not detain you much longer, for surely I have said enough. Only this much must be added before I close. There was a special favor in the case of Lot, for Abraham had prayed for him. I should not wonder if some here present are receiving a warning from me just now because someone else has been praying for them. Abraham had prayed for Sodom and, of course, especially for Lot and, therefore, God's messenger must go to bring Lot out of the doomed city. At this moment, while I am speaking, your mother is praying for you. While I am preaching, your wife is praying for you. Some of you have been made the subjects of special and particular prayer — you know that it is so! She who is now in Heaven never ceased to pray for you as long as she was here — and her many prayers — shall they not be now answered? They are undying prayers, though she who breathed them has long been dead — they still live in the Presence of God! Has He not sent His messenger, on that account, to bring you out of the City of Destruction? Here! Here! Let me grasp your hand and let us, together, flee from the wrath to come and run to yonder Cross where there is safety, for none ever looked to the Christ that bled thereon and looked in vain! I feel impressed that there are some persons to whom this message is a peculiar answer to very special prayers that have gone up to God on their behalf.
This message will, I trust, come to them as a special warning, as the Lord's messengers reached Lot in a mysterious way. How came those angels in Sodom to tell Lot to escape for his life? How very oddly people are brought where the message of salvation is proclaimed! You did not intend to be in the Tabernacle, tonight, did you? You had an engagement to be somewhere else, but here you are, and you have never been here before! Yesterday you would not even have dreamt of being here tonight — but here you are! To what end are you here? God has, in a mysterious way, brought you here to look in the face of this man who cares for your soul and who says to you in the name of God, "I beseech you, escape for your life!"
Then, again, this message came to Lot at a special time — on the morning in which the city was to be destroyed. An hour later, it would have been too late. I sometimes feel an awful solemnity creeping over me as I stand in this place, because I know many things which I cannot tell you about the strange way in which God speaks here. You remember that just before I went away for my rest, I told you the story of the godless young man who left his father's house? He was going to Australia, followed by his parents' prayers. It was Sunday night — he was about to sail on Wednesday and he thought that he would spend the Sunday evening here in this house, as he knew that it would please his mother. Better, still, it pleased God that night to touch his heart and, we trust, to save his soul!
I put into the "Personal Notes" in The Sword and the Trowel for December, the letter that he wrote home to his parents telling them how God had met with their prodigal boy. That letter reached them only a few hours before a telegram arrived, saying that the vessel had been run into at Graves End and the young man and five others had been drowned! Oh, what a mercy that, just a few hours before he had to meet his God, his God met with him! I may be speaking to some others who are in just the same position, just on the borders of eternity — I cannot tell. You know that it is but two or three Sunday nights ago since one of our Brothers sat over yonder, in the last pew in the middle. He came into the Tabernacle, covered his face for prayer, and immediately died. We had to delay the service, you remember, while he was quietly carried away.
He was a child of God, but suppose it had been some of you? Suppose it were some of you tonight? What would become of you? God save you even now! Do not run any more risks. There is but a step between you and death, a step between you and Hell if you are unbelievers! Therefore, escape for your lives, and escape tonight —
"Stay not for the morrow's sun." God help you to have done with delaying and to feel that you must and will run away to the Lord Jesus Christ at once! Put your soul into His hands and if you do, He gives you this guarantee, "None shall pluck you from My hands." Your soul will be safe enough in His keeping! If I take my money to the bank, it is credited to my account. What do I do, then? Do I loaf about and, at last say to the clerk, "Is that money safe?" He would think that my mind was a little wandering!
Sometime ago there was a bank in France to which there came a man who had put in some thousand francs or so, and he said to the banker, "Have you got my thousand francs?" "Yes, certainly. Do you want the money?" "I should like to see it," he said. "Well, here is a thousand francs," and he laid them down before him on the counter. "Thank you," he said, "I do not know that I want to take the cash, now — it is there, alright, so I am satisfied." The next morning, he came in again and he wanted, once more, to see his money. I believe that the banker cut the connection and told him that he did not need such a customer as that to bank with him. If he could not trust the banker with his money, he had better take it home with him.
Now, if you cannot trust Christ with your souls, go and save yourselves! But if you can trust Christ, put away all those foolish doubts, fears and anxieties, and say—
Firm as His throne
His promise stands,
And He can wel secure
What I've committed to His hands
Till the decisive hour!
Then will He own my worthless name
Before His Father's face,
And in the New Jerusalem
Appoint my soul a place."
Finally, the reason why the angel's message had such power with Lot was that God, Himself, was in it. That gave it a special pressure and I have been praying that God, Himself, may be in my message, now — that He may speak, gently speak, and powerfully speak to many of you! You will scarcely know why it is, but you will say, "I never felt like this before. I will arise and go unto my Father. I will repent of my sin. I will look to Jesus, the Crucified Savior, God helping me! But why am I saying this? Why do I feel thus softened, I who used to be hard as steel? Why am I moved to this surrender of myself to my Savior?"
It will be the sweet Spirit of the blessed God gently working upon your heart and graciously inclining you to yield yourself to the Lord! I pray that it may be so, even now, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
The Continual Burnt Offering
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
January 6Genesis 22:8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. ESV
There is a great mystery illustrated here: the mystery of the cross. Twice in this chapter we are told that Abraham the father, and Isaac the son, went both of them together to the place of sacrifice, the place where the only begotten son (Hebrews 11:17) was to be offered up, though at the last, as one has well said, “God spared that father’s heart a pang He would not spare His own.” So throughout all the ages it might be said of the eternal Father and the eternal Son, that they went both of them together. The cross was ever before God. Christ was delivered to death by the foreknowledge of God. Redemption was planned and provided for, long before sin lifted up its ugly head to mar God’s fair creation. All down the centuries the Father and the Son counseled together concerning the great redemption there to be wrought out.
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, ESV
Son of God, Thy Father’s bosom
Ever was Thy dwelling-place,
His delight, in Him rejoicing,
One with Him in power and grace.
Oh, what wondrous love and mercy!
Thou didst lay Thy glory by.
And for us didst come from heaven,
As the Lamb of God to die.
Genesis 18:17-33, 19:12-28 (Spurgeon)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon February 17, 1895
Exposition Scripture: Genesis 18:17-33; 19:12-28.
Genesis 18:17-19 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him. Abraham is called, "the friend of God." It was not merely that God was his Friend — that was blessedly true and it was a great wonder of Grace — but he was honored to be called, "the friend of God" — one with whom God could hold sweet converse, a man after His own heart, in whom He trusted, to whom He revealed His secrets. I am afraid there are not many men of Abraham's sort in the world just now, but, wherever there is such a man with whom God is familiar, he will be sure to be one who orders his household aright! If the Lord is my Friend, and if I am, indeed, His friend, I shall wish Him to be respected by my children, and I shall endeavor to dedicate my children to His service. I fear that the decline of family godliness, which is so sadly prevalent in these days, is the source of a great many of the crying sins of the age! The Church of God at large would have been more separate from the world if the little church in each man's house had been more carefully trained for God. If you want the Lord to confide in you and to trust you with His secrets, you must see that He is able to say of you what He said of Abraham — "he will command his children and his household after him."
Genesis 18:20-22. And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down, now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from there, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. He was in no hurry to close that blessed interview—when he had once come into the Lord's immediate Presence, he lingered there. Those who are friends of God like to be much in their Lord's company!
Genesis 18:23. And Abraham drew near. There is nothing like coming very close to God in prayer. "Abraham drew near." He was about to use his influence with his great Friend — not for himself, but for these men of Sodom who were going to be destroyed. Happy are those who, when they are near to God, use the opportunity in pleading for others, yes, even for the most wicked and abandoned of men.
Genesis 18:23-25. And said, Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty righteous within the city: will You also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from You to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from You. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Abraham bases his argument upon the Justice of God! And when a man dares to do that, it is mighty pleading, for, depend upon it, God will never do an unjust thing! If you dare to plead His Righteousness, His Infallible Justice, you plead most powerfully!
Genesis 18:26-30. And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: perhaps there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: will You destroy all the city for lack of five? And He said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spoke unto Him yet again, and said, Perhaps there shall be forty found there. And He said, I will not do it for forty's sake. And he said unto Him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Perhaps there shall thirty be found there. And He said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. This time the Patriarch has advanced by ten — before, it was by fives. Pleading men grow bolder and braver in their requests! A man who is very familiar with God will, by-and-by, venture to say that, which, at the first, he would not have dared utter!
Genesis 18:31, 32. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Perhaps there shall be twenty found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Perhaps ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. He went no farther than to plead that Sodom might be spared if 10 righteous persons could be found in it. I have heard some say that it was a pity Abraham did not go on pleading with God, but I would not dare to say so. He knew better when to begin and when to leave off than you and I do! There are certain restraints in prayer which a man of God cannot explain to others, but which he, nevertheless, feels. God moves His servants to pray in a certain case and they pray with great liberty and manifest power. Another case may seem to be precisely like it, yet the mouth of the former suppliant is shut, and in his heart he does not feel that he can pray as he did before. Do I blame the men of God? Assuredly not! The Lord deals wisely with His servants and He tells them, by gentle hints, which they quickly understand, when and where to stop in their supplications.
Genesis 18:33. And the LORD went His way, as soon as He had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place. We know that the angels went down to Sodom, where they were received by Lot and despitefully used by the Sodomites. We will continue our reading at the 12th verse of the next chapter.
Genesis 19:12. And the men said unto Lot, Have you here any besides? Son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whatever you have in the city, bring them out of this place. Let me bid every Christian to look about him, among all his kith and kin, to see which of them yet remain unconverted! Let your prayers go up for them all — "Son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters."
Genesis 19:13, 14. For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD has sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law. "The old man is in his dotage," they said, "he always was peculiar. He never acted like the rest of the citizens. He came in here as a stranger and he has always been strange in his behavior."
Genesis 19:15, 16. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters, which are here; lest you be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him; and they brought him forth and set him outside the city. I have always felt pleased to think that there were just hands enough to lead out these four people, ( 8 in the ark, now just 4) Lot, his wife and their two daughters. Had there been one more, there would have been no hand to lay hold of the fifth person — but these two angels, with their four hands, could just lead these four persons outside the doomed city. God will always have agents enough to save His elect — there shall be sufficient Gospel preaching, even in the darkest and deadest times — to bring His redeemed out of the City of Destruction! God will miss none of His own.
Genesis 19:17. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for your life; look not behind you, neither stay you in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed. Perhaps the old man's legs trembled under him. He felt that he could not run so far and, besides, the mountain seemed so bleak and dreary he could not quite quit the abodes of men.
Genesis 19:18-21. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my lords. Behold now, Your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your mercy, which you have shown unto me in saying my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape there, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted you concerning this thing, also, that I will not overthrow this city, for you have spoken. I think that I have said to you before that this sparing of Zoar is an instance of the cumulative power of prayer. I may liken Abraham's mighty pleading to a ton weight of prayer — supplication that had a wonderful force and power! Lot's petition is only like an ounce of prayer. Poor little Lot, what a poor little prayer his was! Yet that ounce turned the scale. So, it may be that there is some mighty man of God who is near to prevailing with God, but he cannot quite obtain his request — but you, poor feeble pleader that you are — shall add your feather's weight to his great intercession and then the scale will turn! This narrative always comforts me! I think that Zoar was preserved, not so much by the prayer of Lot, as by the greater prayer of Abraham which had gone before, yet the mighty intercession of the friend of God did not prevail until it was supported by the feeble petition of poor Lot.
Genesis 19:22. Hasten you, escape there. The hand of Justice was held back until God's servant was safe. There can be no destruction of the world, there can be no pouring out of the last plagues, there can be no total sweeping away of the ungodly until, first of all, the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads and taken to a place of security! The Lord will preserve His own. He lets the scaffold stand until the building is finished — then it will come down fast enough.
Genesis 19:22-28. For I cannot do anything till you are come there. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. What must Abraham's meditations have been! What should be the meditations of every godly man as he looks towards Sodom and sees the smoke of its destruction? It might do some men great good if they would not persistently shut their eyes to the doom of the wicked. Look, look, I pray you, upon that place of darkness and woe where every impenitent and unbelieving spirit must be banished forever from the Presence of the Lord! Look till the tears are in your eyes as you thank God that you are rescued from so terrible a doom! Look till your heart melts with pity for the many who are going the downward road and who will eternally ruin themselves unless almighty Grace prevents!C.H. Spurgeon Books | Go to Books Page
By John F. Walvoord
Background of the Covenant
Genesis 11:10–31. The historical background of Abraham is given in Genesis 11. He and his family were descendants of the line of Shem. According to verses 31–32, Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot and their wives and started out for the land of Canaan. However, when they came to Haran they settled down until Terah died. The fuller explanation is given in the Scripture that follows, giving the precise provisions of the covenant that was revealed to Abraham.
Provisions of the Covenant
Genesis 12:1–3. God revealed to Abram the basic provisions of His covenant with him while Abram was still in Ur of the Chaldeans: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you’” (vv. 1–3 ).
The covenant with Abram was a major step in divine revelation, indicating that God had selected Abram and his posterity to fulfill His purpose to reveal Himself to the world and bring salvation to mankind. Though only eleven chapters were used to trace the whole history of the world prior to Abram, including creation and all the major events that followed, the rest of the book of Genesis was devoted to Abram and his immediate descendants, indicating the importance of this covenant.
The covenant required Abram to leave his country and his people and go to the land that God would show him. The expression you will be a blessing (v. 2 ), could be translated “be a blessing.” Abram was essential to God’s program of bringing blessing and revelation to the world and ultimately salvation through Jesus Christ. In keeping with Abram’s obedience, God made the promises: (1) “I will make you into a great nation”; (2) “I will bless you”; (3) “I will make your name great” (vv. 2–3 ).
The promise of a great nation was fulfilled in the nation Israel, which has had a large place in the history of the world. Their number would be like the stars of the heavens, innumerable ( 15:5 ) and like the sand of the sea ( 32:12 ). As Abram had no children at that time, the promise seemed too extensive to be true.
The promise of personal blessing on Abram ( 12:2 ) is evident in God’s special dealing with him in calling him, choosing him for his important role, and caring for him throughout his life. It followed that Abram would be famous (v. 2 ), as his name is prominent in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament and highly regarded in Judaism, Christianity, and the Muslim faith. These promises have been literally fulfilled ( Heb. 11:8–19 ).
Through Abram and the nation that would descend from him came the blessing promised to “all peoples on earth” ( Gen. 12:3 ). God’s promises included blessing on those who blessed Abram and his descendants, curses on those who would curse Abram and his descendants, and the promise of blessing to all peoples of the earth. While most of these promises had a direct effect on Israel, the promised blessing on all peoples would include the Gentiles mentioned in Galatians 3:6–9. These basic provisions of God’s covenant with Abram were subsequently enlarged in the book of Genesis and throughout Scripture. Later prophecies emphasized the fact that Israel would continue as a nation throughout human history.
The Prophecy of Possession of the Land
Genesis 12:7. Though not included in the basic provisions of the covenant with Abram, the central feature of the promise of the land is immediately picked up in the narrative of the book of Genesis. This promise was part of the original revelation that God gave to Abram when he was still in Ur (v. 1 ). Now it became an important proof of God’s continuing purpose for Abram and his people.
According to verse 7, “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’” From this point on throughout the Old Testament, the land became one of the central features of God’s prophetic program for Israel. As simple and direct as this prophecy is, interpreters of prophecy have made this a decisive point of departure, some interpreting the land as not a literal reference to the Holy Land but rather a promise of heaven. Those who interpret this prophecy in a nonliteral sense point to Hebrews 11:9–10: “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
All serious interpreters of Scripture agree that Abram had an eternal hope of dwelling forever in the New Jerusalem ( Rev. 21–22 ). This eternal hope, however, does not satisfy the Old Testament description of a literal land in human history. The point is that Abram had a future temporal hope — the land — as well as an eternal hope — the New Jerusalem. It is not too much to say that the interpretation of Genesis 12:7 determines in a large measure the prophetic interpretation of the rest of the Bible.
As in all interpretive problems, the important rule of hermeneutics is that usage should determine the meaning of a term. Accordingly, the many references to the Promised Land throughout the Old Testament should provide guidance as to its interpretation here. The concept of the land being heaven, though a popular concept, does not satisfy the scriptural prophecy.
The land was the place of blessing, as Abram soon discovered when he went down to Egypt to avoid the famine and left the land. Though this move increased his wealth, it also created a problem for him in that Hagar, the handmaid who would be the mother of Ishmael, was taken from Egypt to the Promised Land on this visit.
Genesis 13:1–18. In the original command to Abram in Ur of the Chaldeans, he was told to leave his kindred. Instead, his father and his nephew Lot traveled with him. His arrival in the Promised Land was delayed until the death of his father. In Genesis 13, the herds of Lot and Abram became so large they could not occupy the same area. Because of this Abram offered Lot the choice of the land. Archeology supports the concept that at the time Abram and Lot were in the land, the Jordan Valley was “well watered, like the garden of the LORD” (v. 10 ). Lot chose the valley of the Jordan. Unfortunately, it was also the place where Sodom and Gomorrah were located, which ultimately led to his downfall.
After Lot had separated himself from Abram, a further prophetic revelation is given to Abram, “The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, ‘Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you’” (vv. 14–17 ). From this passage, it is clear that Abram understood the promise of Genesis 12:7 as referring to the literal land that God had promised him. This was confirmed by God’s instruction for him to look in all directions because what he saw was what his offspring would inherit.
Genesis 15:1–6. The promise of the land was complicated by the fact that Abram had no children. How could the promise be fulfilled if he had no heirs? In this situation Abram suggested to God that he consider Eliezer of Damascus as his child and his children would therefore be Abram’s children and could inherit the promise. The reply of the Lord was direct, “Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir’” (v. 4 ). The prophesied son of Abram was just as literal as the promise of the land.
In verse 6 the simple statement was made: “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Abram’s faith was in the character of God and the revelation of God and illustrates the true nature of faith, which in all dispensations is the basis for righteousness with God.
Genesis 15:9–21. In verses 9–17, prediction of the land was further supported by a solemn ceremony in which blood was shed, certifying that this covenant with Abram would have literal fulfillment.
Further, the boundaries of the land were indicated in verses 18–21, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’” It is difficult to understand how capable expositors of the Word of God can make this description of the land symbolic of heaven.
Genesis 16:7–16. The problem of who would inherit the land was complicated when Abram had a son, Ishmael, by Hagar, the handmaiden he had brought from Egypt. Hagar, attempting to flee Sarai, was instructed to return. Her child was to be named Ishmael. She was told her son would live in hostility in relation to his brothers (v. 12 ). After Ishmael was born, Scriptures are silent about the next thirteen years.
Genesis 17:1–8. When Abram was ninety-nine years old and Sarai was ninety, having a child in old age was humanly impossible. In this situation God spoke to Abram, changing his name to Abraham, meaning “father of many,” and emphasizing the certain fulfillment of the promises, “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (vv. 6–8 ).
Genesis 17:9–21. The rite of circumcision was instituted as representing a sign of the covenant of Abram. At the same time God changed the name of Sarai, Abram’s wife, to Sarah, meaning “princess.” Though Abraham found it difficult to believe that a son could be born to Sarah and him in their old age, God reiterated the promise. He also heeded Abraham’s request that Ishmael be blessed (v. 20 ). But God made it clear: “But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year” (v. 21 ).
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Keys to Bible study (3)
1/6/2018 Bob Gass
‘Everyone who hears these words of mine.’
(Mt 7:24) 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. ESV
Certain products carry a label that says: ‘Warning! This can be hazardous to your health.’ Instead of helping you, certain kinds of Bible study can actually hurt you. The Bible says, ‘Knowledge puffs up’ (1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV 2011 Edition). The Greek word for ‘puffs’ contains the idea of being inflated, like a hot air balloon. By the time a Pharisee was ordained, he could quote hours and hours of Old Testament law. Yet Jesus said the Pharisees were like beautifully painted gravestones: filled with dead men’s bones. Satan knows the Scriptures so well that he was able to quote them to Jesus in the wilderness temptation. And what is Satan’s chief quality? Pride. It’s the sin that got him thrown out of heaven. The whole point in studying the Scriptures is to make you more dependent on God and give you the right approach to life. People mainly read the Scriptures for three reasons: 1) To find proof texts that support their views. 2) To find promises that apply to their particular needs. 3) To discover principles to live by. If you’re wise you’ll be a member of this third group. Jesus said, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’ When the storms of life came, the wise man’s house stood firm while the foolish man’s – the one who didn’t practise what he knew – came crashing down. Added knowledge brings added responsibility. So if you’re not planning on applying the knowledge you’ve received from your Bible study, you’d be better not to study it at all.
(1 Co 8:1) Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. ESV
UCB The Word For Today
January 6, 2016
Have you ever heard anyone say we should never be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good? That is a theologically empty statement. Jesus is where this earthly dimension intersects with the heavenly dimension. We become more like what we focus on, what we worship. If we focus on Jesus we become more like Jesus, more tender hearted, more compassionate, more human in the sense of how God wants us to be human.
The closer we draw to Jesus the more Jesus can do through us. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We cannot draw too close to Jesus. The closer we move to Jesus the closer we move to our neighbor. Jesus told us not to judge others and to forgive if we want to be forgiven. This is a good prescription for drawing closer to our neighbor.
I have four sons. Every night I pray that God will help them to draw closer to the Lord, to become more compassionate, more tender-hearted, more responsive and less reactive. I pray that for their wives and their children too. The more we are transformed by the mind and love of Christ the more God’s future is present now.
The Spirit is given to begin the work of making God’s future real in the present.
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
by Bill Federer
In 567 AD, at the Council of Tours, the church tried to reconcile a dispute between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. The West celebrated the feast of Christ’s birth on Christmas day, December 25th as it’s major holiday, and the East celebrated this day, January 6th as Epiphany, remembering the visit of the Wise Men and Jesus’ baptism. Since no agreement could be reached on a specific date, the decision was made to have all 12 days between December 25th and January 6th designated “holy days” or as it was later pronounced “holidays.” These became known as the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Thomas R. Kelly
It is with the generous permission of the Friends Book Committee of 304 Arch Street, Philadelphia, that the lecture Holy Obedience has been made available for inclusion here. The editors of The Friend of the same address have given their consent for the reprinting of essays originally printed there. The friends of Thomas Kelly and especially E. Merrill Root, Rufus M. Jones, Mrs. A.L. Gillett, and John Cadbury have been most generous in supplying letters and material that furnished the substance for the biographical memoir. T. Canby Jones, T. Lloyd Cadbury and Albert L. Bailey, Jr., have assisted with the reading of the proof. And finally, the publishers have taken more than a professional interest in the preparation of this little book for publication. I should like to express my thanks to each of those who have given such valuable assistance.
A Testament of Devotion
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
God wants to be King
not because he is Creator,
but because he is Father.
--- J. D. Jones
Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing,
but to turn it into glory.
--- William Barclay
Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man
as impure attachment to created things.
--- Thomas A Kempis
For the heart of the religious life is in commitment and worship, not in reflection and theory.
--- Thomas Kelly
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up common sense for the upright,
is a shield to those whose conduct is blameless,
8 in order to guard the courses of justice
and preserve the way of those faithful to him.
9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,
fairness and every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11 discretion will watch over you,
and discernment will guard you.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
On The Lord's Prayer
In reply Jesus said to them (and I translate Jesus' words literally for effect): " Whenever you pray, recite this prayer ..."; then he gives the shorter form of the Lord's Prayer (see Luke 11:1-4). The TNIV, emerging as it does from a world that does not believe in recited prayers translates these words this way: "When you pray, say..." I have translated "when" with "whenever" as a more literal rendering of the Greek expression. And instead of "say," a more accurate rendering would be "recite." I do so because Luke uses a present imperative; Jesus expects this very prayer to be repeated over and over- whenever they pray. The best way to translate something that is said over and over is "recite."
TNIV When you pray, say ...
Literal Whenever you pray, recite this...
Here is a fact from church history: to the best of our knowledge, the followers of Jesus have always recited the Lord's Prayer whenever they have gathered for worship and prayer. The evidence for this is universal --- every major denomination in the world prior to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries recited the Lord's Prayer every Sunday. Why? Because Luke 11:2 taught them to do this. But most evangelical churches I have worshiped in and preached in do not recite the Lords Prayer whenever they pray together. We have "applied" the words of Luke 11:2 differently, so differently that our translations reflect our own nonrecital of the Lord's Prayer. Why? Because there is an unwritten, contrary-to-what Jesus-taught principle at work among us that reciting set prayers leads to vain repetitions.
The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible
In reply Jesus said to them (and I translate Jesus' words literally for effect): " Whenever you pray, recite this prayer ..."; then he gives the shorter form of the Lord's Prayer (see Luke 11:1-4). The TNIV, emerging as it does from a world that does not believe in recited prayers translates these words this way: "When you pray, say..." I have translated "when" with "whenever" as a more literal rendering of the Greek expression. And instead of "say," a more accurate rendering would be "recite." I do so because Luke uses a present imperative; Jesus expects this very prayer to be repeated over and over- whenever they pray. The best way to translate something that is said over and over is "recite."
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
And he pitched his tent having Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he builded an altar. --- Genesis 12:8.
Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself; it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.
Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him. Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be. There are not three stages in spiritual life—worship, waiting and work. Some of us go in jumps like spiritual frogs, we jump from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together. They were always together in the life of Our Lord. He was unhasting and unresting. It is a discipline, we cannot get into it all at once.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
I pray and incur
silence. Some take that silence
I feel the power
that, invisible, catches me
by the sleeve, nudging
towards the long shelf
that has the book on it I will take down
and read and find the antidote
to an ailment.
I know its ways with me;
how it enters my life,
is present rather
before I perceive it, sunlight quivering
on a bare wall.
Is it consciousness trying
to get through?
Am I under
It takes me seconds
to focus, by which time
it has shifted its gaze,
looking a little to one
side, as though I were not here.
It has the universe
to be abroad in.
There is nothing I can do
but fill myself with my own
silence, hoping it will approach
like a wild creature to drink
there, or perhaps like Narcissus
to linger a moment over its transparent face.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
“When the shadow of Jesus’ cross darkens our space, when pain and suffering intrude and our secure, well-regulated lives are blown apart, when tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own heartache, when courage flies out the window and the world around us suddenly seems dark and menacing, self-pity is the first, normal, unavoidable, and probably right reaction; and we only exhaust ourselves further if we attempt to suppress it. Human experience has taught me that there is no effective way to fight self-pity. Sure, we can spiritualize heartbreak, camouflage our emotions, and tap dance into religiosity. But such bravado is a denial of our humanity, and furthermore it does not work. We are not spiritual robots but sensitive persons.
Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God
Some time later the brook dried up. --- 1 Kings 17:7.
Elijah was taught by this event that in certain matters God makes no exceptions. (The Weaving of Glory (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The)) God has his chosen ones, but whatever they are chosen for, it is not to escape the heritage of tears. Now to be a prophet was a lofty calling. Therefore it was reasonable to expect that [Elijah] would have a little special care and would be guarded, as the favorite of God, from some of the ills that flesh is heir to. I have no doubt that Elijah had such thoughts. I believe indeed that they never wholly left him. God, when he dried up the waters of the Cherith, was teaching him how false it was to count on any exception as his right. Elijah had to learn that though he was God’s messenger, he was not going to escape the common lot. Called with a heavenly calling in Christ Jesus, he had to suffer some things like the vilest reprobate.
Now that is a lesson we do well to learn, that in certain matters there are no exceptions. I had a visit from a friend the other day who was brokenhearted in unexpected grief. A little rivulet of life had made his meadow beautiful, when suddenly its music was no more. And “Oh,” he said to me, “if I had been wicked—if I had been a rebel against God, I might have understood it, but it is hard to be dealt with thus when I have striven to serve him and tried to be true to him in home and business.”
At the heart of his so bitter grief there was a thought that is common to us all. My friend was like Elijah at his stream, saying, “I am a prophet and it can never dry.” And one of the hardest lessons we must learn is that the name and nature of our God is love, yet for the person who trusts and serves him best, there is to be no exception from the scourge.
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
No Small Churches
Discouragement is the occupational hazard of ministry, and many of God’s workers are disheartened by small crowds and meager results. Charles Spurgeon could teach them a lesson.
It isn’t that Spurgeon ever struggled with small crowds. Almost from the beginning, multitudes flocked to his feet. When he assumed his London pastorate in 1854, the church had 232 members. Soon so many were crowding his auditoriums that he sometimes asked his members to stay away the next Sunday to accommodate newcomers. He seldom preached to fewer than 6,000, and on one occasion his audience numbered almost 24,000—all this before the day of microphones. During his lifetime Spurgeon preached to approximately 10,000,000 people.
He also became history’s most widely-read preacher. Today there is more material written by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author of any generation. The collection of his Sunday sermons stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of the church. He is called the “Prince of Preachers.”
But ironically Spurgeon himself is a testimony to the power of a small church. On Sunday, January 6, 1850, a blizzard hit England, and 15-year-old Charles was unable to reach the church he usually attended. He turned down Artillery Street and ducked into a Primitive Methodist Church, finding only a few people standing around the stove. Not even the preacher arrived.
A thin-looking man stood and read Isaiah 45:22— Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth (KJV). The speaker, groping for something to say, kept repeating his text. Finally, he spied young Charles in the back. Pointing his bony finger at the boy, he cried, “Look, young man! Look! Look to Christ!”
The young man did look, and Spurgeon later said, “As the snow fell on my road home from the little house of prayer, I thought every snowflake talked with me and told of the pardon I had found.” Arriving home, his mother saw his expression and exclaimed, “Something wonderful has happened to you.” It had, proving that smaller ponds often yield the biggest fish.
Does anyone remember how glorious this temple used to be? Now it looks like nothing. But cheer up! Because I, the LORD All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work just as I promised. … My Spirit is right here with you.
--- Haggai 2:3-5.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - January 6
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” --- 1 Peter 5:7.
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel—“HE careth for me.” Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to
“Lie passive in God’s hands,
And know no will but his.”
O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the Morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.
Evening - January 6
“Now the hand of the Lord was upon me in the Evening.” --- Ezekiel 33:22.
In the way of judgment this may be the case, and, if so, be it mine to consider the reason of such a visitation, and bear the rod and him that hath appointed it. I am not the only one who is chastened in the night season; let me cheerfully submit to the affliction, and carefully endeavour to be profited thereby. But the hand of the Lord may also be felt in another manner, strengthening the soul and lifting the spirit upward towards eternal things. O that I may in this sense feel the Lord dealing with me! A sense of the divine presence and indwelling bears the soul towards heaven as upon the wings of eagles. At such times we are full to the brim with spiritual joy, and forget the cares and sorrows of earth; the invisible is near, and the visible loses its power over us; servant-body waits at the foot of the hill, and the master-spirit worships upon the summit in the presence of the Lord. O that a hallowed season of divine communion may be vouchsafed to me this Evening! The Lord knows that I need it very greatly. My graces languish, my corruptions rage, my faith is weak, my devotion is cold; all these are reasons why his healing hand should be laid upon me. His hand can cool the heat of my burning brow, and stay the tumult of my palpitating heart. That glorious right hand which moulded the world can new-create my mind; the unwearied hand which bears the earth’s huge pillars up can sustain my spirit; the loving hand which incloses all the saints can cherish me; and the mighty hand which breaketh in pieces the enemy can subdue my sins. Why should I not feel that hand touching me this Evening? Come, my soul, address thy God with the potent plea, that Jesus’ hands were pierced for thy redemption, and thou shalt surely feel that same hand upon thee which once touched Daniel and set him upon his knees that he might see visions of God.
Morning and Evening
AS WITH GLADNESS MEN OF OLD
William C. Dix, 1837–1898
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi (Wise Men) from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1, 2).
The period in the church year that begins with January 6 and extends to Ash Wednesday is known as Epiphany.
Epiphany marks the time that the Christ Child was revealed to the wise men in His first manifestation to the Gentiles as the Light of the whole world. It is generally believed by Bible scholars that these wise men from the East arrived approximately 2 years after the birth of Christ. The earnestness of their search, their worship and gifts, and their desire to return home to share their spiritual experience with others have much to teach us. In many churches, Epiphany is ushered in with a special week of prayer, a renewed commitment to evangelism, and a worldwide concern for missions.
Epiphany should be a strong reminder to all Christians that God wants not only our worship but also our willingness to share His message with others both at home and abroad. The Gospel of good news must be heard beyond the walls of our church buildings. May we be challenged to share God’s love both by word and deed with those He brings into our lives each day.
As with gladness men of old did the guiding star behold—as with joy they hailed its light, leading onward, beaming bright—so, most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to Thee.
As with joyful steps they sped to that lowly manger bed, there to bend the knee before Him whom heav’n and earth adore. So may we with willing feet ever seek Thy mercy seat.
As they offered gifts most rare at that manger rude and bare, so may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy, all our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.
Holy Jesus, every day keep us in the narrow way; and, when earthly things are past, bring our ransomed souls at last where they need no star to guide, where no clouds Thy glory hide.
For Today: Ezekiel 3:18; Matthew 2:1–12; John 4:35; Ephesians 1:3–8; James 5:19, 20.
Reflect once again on the importance of the wise men—their difficult journey to Bethlehem, their worship and gifts, and the return to their homelands to share what they had learned. Then begin this Epiphany season with the prayer ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
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