Proverbs 22 - 23
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.
2 The rich and the poor meet together;
the LORD is the Maker of them all.
3 The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.
4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD
is riches and honor and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
7 The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of his fury will fail.
9 Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
for he shares his bread with the poor.
10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
and quarreling and abuse will cease.
11 He who loves purity of heart,
and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
12 The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge,
but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!”
14 The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
Words of the Wise
17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 That your trust may be in the LORD,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
20 Have I not written for you thirty sayings
of counsel and knowledge,
21 to make you know what is right and true,
that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?
22 Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate,
23 for the LORD will plead their cause
and rob of life those who rob them.
24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.
26 Be not one of those who give pledges,
who put up security for debts.
27 If you have nothing with which to pay,
why should your bed be taken from under you?
28 Do not move the ancient landmark
that your fathers have set.
29 Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings;
he will not stand before obscure men.
Proverbs 23:1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
observe carefully what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to appetite.
3 Do not desire his delicacies,
for they are deceptive food.
4 Do not toil to acquire wealth;
be discerning enough to desist.
5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
for suddenly it sprouts wings,
flying like an eagle toward heaven.
6 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
do not desire his delicacies,
7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten,
and waste your pleasant words.
9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.
10 Do not move an ancient landmark
or enter the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Redeemer is strong;
he will plead their cause against you.
12 Apply your heart to instruction
and your ear to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
14 If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
my heart too will be glad.
16 My inmost being will exult
when your lips speak what is right.
17 Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
18 Surely there is a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
19 Hear, my son, and be wise,
and direct your heart in the way.
20 Be not among drunkards
or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
and slumber will clothe them with rags.
22 Listen to your father who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy truth, and do not sell it;
buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
25 Let your father and mother be glad;
let her who bore you rejoice.
26 My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways.
27 For a prostitute is a deep pit;
an adulteress is a narrow well.
28 She lies in wait like a robber
and increases the traitors among mankind.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it bites like a serpent
and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
and your heart utter perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.
35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I must have another drink.”
What I'm Reading
The Verse the Culture Misquotes Most Regularly in an Effort to Quiet Christians
By J. Warner Wallace 9/9/2016
As a Christian, I’m often at odds with the culture around me. As our society embraces a growing number of unbiblical behaviors and attitudes, I find myself becoming more and more vocal in my opposition. I’m not alone; many other conservative Christians are also taking a stand for what the Bible teaches, particularly when it comes to moral behavior. Maybe that’s why I seem to hear Matthew 7:1 tossed around so frequently by those who want Christians to quiet down:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”
Whenever we, as Christians, speak out against something in the culture, one of two labels is immediately employed in an effort to silence us: we are either branded “intolerant” or “judgmental”. To make matters worse, the second label is often attached to the teaching of Jesus Himself. Are we Christians defying the words of our Master when we speak against the behaviors, attitudes or worldviews affirmed by others? Did Jesus command us to be silently non-judgmental?
This selective use of scripture by the opposition is perhaps the finest example of what we at Stand to Reason are addressing when we caution people to “never read a Bible verse.” Matthew 7:1, when read in isolation from the larger context of the Sermon on the Mount, may seem to command a form of silent acceptance and tolerance advocated by the culture, but a closer examination of the verse reveals Jesus’ true intent. If Jesus was advocating some form of quiet tolerance, how do we explain the following statements?
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (verse 6)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (verses 13 and 14)
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (verse 15)
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (verses 21, 22 and 23)
Wow, Jesus seems vocally judgmental in these passages. Some people are dogs and swine, unworthy of our efforts. Some people are wrong about the path they choose. Some people are false prophets. Some people are true disciples and some are not. Jesus sure seems comfortable making judgmental statements about people in these passages. How could Jesus say such things when he began this part of the sermon by saying, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged”? Maybe we should revisit the first verses of Matthew 7:
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
5 Reasons Our Culture Is Obsessed with Sex
By Sean McDowell 7/18/2017
Western culture is obsessed with sex. Sex dominates our movies, music, television, advertising, conversations, social media and more. But the question many people fail to ask is: why?
There are myriads of reasons for this. Some reasons are certainly more germane than others. And they undoubtedly overlap. Nevertheless, here are 5 reasons for western culture’s obsession with sex:
Reason 1: Our culture has lost belief in God. Over a century ago Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead and that we had killed him. He didn’t mean that humans actually killed God, of course, but that western civilization had abandoned the idea of God. Even though many people claim to believe in God today, our culture has become functionally secular, as Nietzsche predicted. And without God, life has no objective meaning. It has no purpose. As Bertrand Russell observed, we must build our lives upon "the firm foundation of unyielding despair.” Since transcendence can no longer be found in God or religion, many people turn to sex for momentary pleasure and meaning.
Reason #2: Our culture has lost belief in immortality. If there is no life after death, then the present becomes all-important. If death is imminent, and there’s no continuing life, then why not seize pleasure while you can? The Apostle Paul said that if there is no resurrection, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). In the 1980s, the music band Depeche Mode released a song called, Fly on the Windscreen. The verses of the song are about how human beings are waiting to die, like flies on a windscreen of a car, or lambs being lead to the slaughter. Death is imminent, the song proclaims. So what should we do? The chorus begins with (and repeats): “Come hear, touch me, kiss me, touch me now.”
Reason #3: Our culture has lost belief in the sacredness of sex. Despite the common mantra, Christianity is pro-sex. The Bible is not against the proper use of sex, but is against its abuse. God designed sex, after all, and made it pleasurable for a reason (e.g., see Proverbs 5). Scripture holds up sex as a beautiful gift from God that involves a sacred union between two people of the opposite sex (Gen. 2:24), and as a way people can bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31). In contrast, the mantra of the sexual revolution is that sex is not a big deal. In fact, according to this narrative, sex is merely a physical activity (void of any spiritual dimension) that many people engage in purely for fun. If this is the case, then why limit a fun activity? Ironically, it is the biblical worldview that counteracts the extremes of sex-obsession or sex-denigration. Christianity offers sex as a beautiful gift from God that is meant to be experienced within certain boundaries.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.
Books By Sean McDowell
Proverbs 16:20–22:16 Life, righteousness, wisdom and God
By John E. Goldingay 1994
In this second half of the collection ‘proverbs of Solomon’ which appear in 10:1–22:16, particular types of saying and topic again feature prominently in different sections, and many sayings have verbal links with others in the context. As a whole, however, they are not as clearly divided into sections as is the first half, and the reason behind their arrangement is often less clear than in the first half. There are three clusters of wisdom sayings, a collection of sayings on righteousness and wickedness near the end, and small groups of sayings which bring in God. Proverbs which make observations about life itself predominate.
16:20–30 The blessings of wisdom. Vs 20–23 explain some of the blessings of wisdom in such a way as to make the student want to pay attention to the rest of the book’s teaching. Vs 24–30 have verbal links back with vs 20–23 and with each other, so that vs 20–30 form a chain. Many of the links appear in the NIV; in addition, mouth is the same word as hunger (23, 26 ); lips as speech (23, 27, 30 ); while prospers (20 ) is literally ‘finds good’ (cf. v 29 ). Together, then, they promise that wisdom (linked with reverence for God) brings benefit, repute, influence, satisfaction, healing, guidance and a full life, and they warn about the foolish perversity that will mislead into division, chastisement, disaster and death. V 26 perhaps serves to add to the motivation: for pupils too their appetite should thus be their stimulus. In vs 21b and 23b, the idea is that winsome speech ‘increases learning’.
16:31–18:1 The dynamics of relationships. The concrete observations in this section major on aspects of relationships within family and community. Two reflect on the special status and mutual pride of the three generations of the family, the grandparents who will be the senior members of the community, the adult parents and the children (16:31; 17:6 ). The affirmation of all three groups and the vision of their interrelationships has something to say to modern developed countries. V 17 reflects on the importance that brothers and sisters and friends have for each other in life in general but especially in times of crisis, even if v 18 hints that neighbourly concern, too, needs to be exercised with prudence. But wilful loners impose loss on everybody (18:1 ).
A number of sayings in ch. 17 relate to harmony and conflict within the family and elsewhere. V 1 affirms that family harmony matters more than anything else. V 2 warns therefore against strife, particularly over money (though v 8 recognizes the influence of money on people), and vs 21–22 and 25 note the pain to father and mother that such folly can bring.
V 4 points out that the things people say are often what cause the trouble (cf. 16:28; 17:27–28 ). V 9 urges us to encourage love and friendship by covering offences rather than talking about them, though this does not mean that we never say the hard things to people (10 ). Similarly vs 14 and 19 urge us to avoid starting or loving quarrels (cf. 16:32; 17:11–13 ), though vs 15 and 20 warn against this leading to compromise or deceitfulness.
‘Dissension’ is a recurrent theme of Proverbs. In churches and communities there are always stirrers, people who like causing trouble. The cause may be anger (15:18; 29:22 ), mockery (22:10 ), alcohol (23:29–35 ), gossip (26:20 ), greed (28:25 ) or just perversity (16:28 ). The result may be ongoing conflict (26:21 ), permanent breakdown of relationships (18:19 ) or overwhelming trouble (17:14 ). The best solution is either to withdraw from the quarrel (17:14 ) or let the matter be decided by the equivalent of the toss of a coin (18:18 ). In other words, a stubborn continuation of a dispute does more damage than making a minor wrong decision.
Sayings such as 17:16 and 24–28 speak of wisdom, but not only this-worldly wisdom. 16:33 and 17:3–5 explicitly add God to the equation. These verses affirm that God is the final arbiter of how family fate works out, undertakes the final test of family folly, and is the final object of people’s insults.
Another comment on the things people say, following up v 4. 19 As well as the word loves, the word invites links v 19 with v 9, where it is the same word translated promotes (cf. RSV). In v 19b the image is unclear, but the action is some expression of pride. 18:1 Again pursues is the verb which has already come in 17:9 and 19 (cf. RSV), while an unfriendly man is related to the word for separates in 17:9.
17:24–18:8 The nature and the price of folly. Folly is prominent in this group of sayings. It is promiscuous in its interests (17:24 ), has difficulty in keeping its mouth shut (17:27–28 ; cf. 18:8 ), insisting on making decisions on its own (18:1 ) and prefers talking to listening (18:2 ). It thus brings trouble to the family (17:25 ), loss to other people affected by decisions (18:1 ) and pain to the individual (18:6–7 ). On the other hand, there are contexts in which a person must speak up and provoke conflict if necessary (17:26; 18:5 ).
18:4 While 18:4a and 20:5a might imply that human beings have their own inner resources of wisdom, that is not stated elsewhere in Proverbs. Hence the NIV’s but assumes a contrast between human evasiveness and wisdom’s sparkling clarity.
18:9–21 Matters of strength and power. This section speaks of the strength of a fortified city, and of two things which have parallel strength. One is wealth (11; v 16 notes another aspect of the power of wealth in relation to the great). But v 10 has already affirmed that God protects the righteous, qualifying the comment on the (presumed) impregnable strength of wealth. It also supports a different understanding of pride, honour, and humility (12 ). Vs 13 and 15 link with that assessment of pride, and v 9 hints at another form of strength exercised even by the inactive.
The human spirit can sustain itself but not for ever (14 ). God’s protective strength provides an answer. The second thing which is as strong as a fortified city is the sense of personal injury that can sometimes come between brothers (19 ). V 18 offers one down-to-earth tip for solving such disputes between strong opponents. 16:33 is the only other reference to casting the lot in Proverbs so v 18 may also take for granted that God is sovereign when lots are cast.
18:22–19:10 Poverty. Poverty is clearly a bad thing; it means, for instance, that you are always begging for mercy (18:23 ). It makes even your family push you away (19:7 ). It certainly reduces the number of people who seek your company (19:4, 6–7 ). In this context, 19:5 perhaps implies that it makes the courts disinclined to treat you with justice, but it promises that perjurers will be punished (cf. 19:9 ).
What else can be said to encourage the poor? They are given several facts to bear in mind. First, that the poor man who begs for mercy (18:23 ) is already the object of God’s grace through God’s gift of his wife (18:22 ). Secondly, that one close friend may be better than many acquaintances and more loyal than the closest member of your family (18:24 ). Thirdly, that it is better to be poor and honest than a devious or activist fool who blames God for his self-inflicted problems (19:1–3 ), and to whom poverty is actually appropriate (19:10 ). Fourthly, that in seeking wisdom you are being your own best friend (19:8 ). When the poor person receives human grace, God knows and will reward it (19:17 ). So people are encouraged to show such grace (the word ‘grace’ lies behind the NIV ‘is kind to’ in 19:17 ). A poor person is generally preferred to a liar, because ‘faithful love is what people look for in a person’ (19:22 NJB).
24 Companions is the word translated friends in 19:4, 6–7. Friend in 18:24 is a stronger word formed from the word for ‘love’ (cf. 19:8 ). Brother is the word translated relatives in 19:7.
19:11–19; 20:2–3 Conflict. The section takes up themes from 16:31–18:1. The combination of power and anger is clearly a fearsome one (19:12; cf. 20:2 ). Strife at home may amuse the outsider but it also feels deathly (19:13 ) and real glory lies in being able to avoid strife (20:3 ). Wisdom thus lies in being able to ‘lengthen your anger’ — the literal meaning of patience (19:11 ); and the gift of God lies in not being involved in that kind of strife at home (19:14 ).
The hot-tempered person may be incorrigible and bound for disaster (19:19 ). But that is no reason to neglect the saying of hard things within the family, which is to leave someone on the road to death (19:18 ). Laziness may itself induce death-like sleep and starvation (19:15 ); ignoring wisdom risks death itself (19:16 ).
19:20–20:5 Wisdom. 19:20 comments on the benefits and risks of wisdom and folly (cf. vs 25, 27 with vs 26, 29 ). These are illustrated by several portraits of wisdom. It is incompatible with a liking for a drink (20:1 ); so much for the fondness for alcohol that often characterizes academic communities! It is illustrated by the inactivity of the idler, the object of some of Proverbs’ choicest pen-portraits (see on 24:30–34 ). Wisdom enables one to plumb the hidden and possibly deceptive depths of the human heart (20:5; see on 18:4 ).
We are then reminded that God’s involvement in human affairs means that mere human wisdom does not always have the last word, and that reverence for God is as important to a successful life as intellectual application (19:21, 23 ). Human relationships count too (19:22 ), as does justice (19:28, where the reference to mockery links with the comments on the fool as mocker in vs 25, 29 ).
20:5–19 Appearances and truth. Righteousness may be defined as a life of personal integrity (7 ), but it is really difficult to find an example (6, 9 ). Openness is not common (5 ), as business life illustrates (14 ), and human evasiveness is difficult to penetrate (15 ).
V 5 points to wisdom as the key to penetrating this evasiveness. In more down-to-earth fashion v 8 points to authority exercised with one’s eyes open. V 11 implies that actions ought to be taken as the clue to the real person. V 12 sees the open eyes as the gift of God, while v 10 adds the warning of God’s loathing for deceit in trade.
Vs 16–19 link together as vs 16, 17 and 19 use the same verb in three different ways, to mean puts up security, tastes sweet, and ‘mix with’ (hence the NIV avoid); v 19 also functions as a qualification to v 18. The verses link the theme of this section through v 17 with its comment on deceit.
13 Stay awake is literally ‘open your eyes’, the verse’s link with the context.
20:20–21:4 God’s sovereignty and human authority. The section includes further references to God. We are to trust God when wronged (20:22 ). In that situation we can be reassured of God’s concern for honesty and justice (20:23; 21:3 ), of God’s direction of the powerful (20:24 NJB: it is not the ordinary word for ‘man’ here), of God’s understanding of how human beings ‘work’ (20:27 ), and of the finality of God’s assessment (21:2 ). 20:25 picks up one example of when human beings may not even understand themselves.
The king has responsibility for ‘winnowing out the wicked’ (20:26 ) and his kind of punitive action has a role in purging the inner being of other people too (20:30 ). But the sovereignty of God in relation to the king (see 21:1 ) suggests a qualification on both these sayings: it is only God who can see into the inner being (20:27 ). Another comment on the first saying is that the king needs to focus on the positives, on what builds up the throne, not just on punitive action regarding things that have gone wrong (20:28 ).
Young and old have their own glories, physical strength and the authority of experience (20:29 ). The former must not despise or swindle the latter (20:20–21: curses and blessed are the first and last words of the two verses).
21:2–29 Righteousness and wickedness. Towards the end of Pr. 10–22 there appears another clutch of sayings on righteousness and wickedness, parallel to that near the beginning of these chapters. After the two comments from God’s angle (2–3 ), wickedness has the focus. Wickedness makes pride its guiding light (4 ), expresses itself in violence and crookedness (7–8 ), is graceless and craves the ruin of others (10; evil is the word translated ruin in v 12 ), is proud and arrogant (24 ), religious but hypocritical (27 ), and bold-faced but unreflective (29 ).
Craving is a theme which appears elsewhere, especially as the desire to be rich, which can be pursued in ways that are right or wrong, wise or foolish (5–6, 13, 17, 20, 25–26 ), but about whose power we also have to be realistic (14 ).
Wickedness finds its natural fruition. The violent are dragged away violently (7 ). The Righteous One takes action against people whose character is opposite to his (12 ). The merciless find no mercy (13 ). Those who go astray get finally lost (16 ). When that happens, it is as if they take the place of the righteous who were in danger from them (18: a sharper version of the point made in 11:8 ). People who put their trust in a foolish place are exposed by the wise (22 ). The witness who threatens someone’s life with his falsehood loses his own life (28 ).
There are several striking positive comments on righteousness. God is uniquely called the Righteous One (12 ), which sheds a new light on the word righteousness in Pr. 10–22 as a whole: all it says on this subject stems from the nature of God. There is the joy of justice (15 ), an example of the way in which the judgment of God — as this expression is commonly rendered — is good news in the OT. It marks the just reign of God (and contrast v 17, where pleasure is the word earlier translated joy). Righteousness, loyalty, life, and honour are brought together (21 ).
21:30–22:16 Wisdom, wealth and God. The last sayings in Pr. 10:1–22:16 mix typical wisdom sayings with a striking number of sayings which bring God into the equation. They thus affirm the importance of human wisdom and effort (22:3, 6, 10, 15; typical wisdom sayings in 22:5, 8, 11, 13, 14 ) but also declare that these mean nothing independent of God’s will (21:30–31 ) and even require God’s involvement if their principles are to be fulfilled (22:12 ). They are realistic about wealth and poverty (22:7 ) but qualify that not only by human considerations (22:1, 9 — blessed is here people’s speaking well of him) but also by noting what rich and poor have in common in God (22:2 ) and by affirming that attitudes to God are of key significance to questions of wealth and poverty (22:4 ). Truly reverence for God is the foundation of wisdom.
John E. Goldingay, “Proverbs,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 599–601.
22 Reasons All Scholars Agree Jesus Is Not A Copy Of Pagan Gods
By James Bishop 7/17/2017
As Dan Brown in his book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ writes: “Nothing in Christianity is original.”
But as you can imagine, there are some instances that are vageuly similar. But this does NOT mean that they were copied. Just because two things resemble one another doesn’t mean that one was the source of the other.
It is in recent times that a great number of people are claiming that Jesus is simply a rehash of older pagan secretive religions, and of the religions of dying and rising gods. We see this masqueraded as truth in films such as Zeitgeist, The Da Vinci Code and Irreligious which, to the layperson, seem to be factual and convincing.
But how factually based are these claims? Surely anyone can misconstrue evidence to suit their presuppositional biases, especially if they don’t want to believe something. The first step for anyone really seeking to understand these allegations would be to consult the scholars in the relevant and necessary fields of expertise. What do they have to say? Is such an issue even on the table of debate nowadays? If so, or if not, then why?
In a nutshell this study will be focused on analyzing these comparisons, the educated opinions of the scholars, and trying to see if anything of these pagan parallels are seen in the Jesus of the New Testament.
James Bishop James is a graduate from Vega School of Brand Leadership specialising in Multimedia Design and Brand Communications. He is currently enrolled at Cornerstone Institute studying Theology and majoring in Psychology. His theological interests encompass comparative religion and the links between science and religion.
Does God promise to not give us more than we can handle?
By Got Questions.org
Answer: First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This Scripture teaches us a wonderful principle. If we belong to Him, God will not allow any difficulty to come into our lives that we are not capable of bearing in the power of Christ. With every temptation and every testing that comes our way, God will remain faithful to us; He will provide a way to endure the test. We do not have to give in to sin. We can obey God in every circumstance.
So, we have divine encouragement in our Christian walk. The prayer “Deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13) will be answered. However, these promises do not mean we will never face trouble; on the contrary, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33a). The key is found in Jesus’ next words, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
Paul and his companions were sorely tried as they took the gospel into new areas. This is his testimony: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death” (2 Corinthians 1:8–9). It sounds like Paul was tempted beyond what he could bear—“far beyond.” This fact leads us to another truth: our strength to endure testing and temptation does not come from ourselves; it comes from God. That’s exactly what Paul says next: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Paul continues with praise to the Lord for His deliverance (verse 10) and an emphasis on the efficacy of the prayers of the church (verse 11).
Anything that comes our way, anything that tempts us, any tragedy that befalls us, we are capable, in God’s power, of overcoming. In all things we can achieve spiritual victory, through Christ. Life is not easy. The fact is we often need a “way of escape.” Life is hard, but we can face it with confidence in God’s gracious promises.
Are the Four Gospels Anonymous?
By Carey Bryant 8/12/2016
If you open a Bible to the first page of the Gospel of Matthew, you will usually see the words “The Gospel According to Matthew.” Verse 1 of the gospel, however, begins with “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” Have you ever wondered why “The Gospel According to Matthew” isn’t part of the first verse?
Most scholars think that the original gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn’t includ their names in them. In other words, when the Gospel of Matthew was originally written, the document didn’t say “The Gospel According to Matthew” like it does in our English Bibles. This would be different compared to most of the epistles in the New Testament, which contain the name of the author. So in this sense, the four gospels were probably anonymous when they were first written.
With that said, there is no evidence that the four gospels ever circulated without their titles. But if the four gospels were originally anonymous, how and when did the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John become attached to their respective gospels? What do we make of this?
New Testament | Before we look at how these names became attached to the gospels, what does the New Testament say about these four people? What can we learn about them?
The first gospel refers to Matthew as “the tax collector” (Matt. 10:3). Levi, one of Jesus’ followers, was called from his role as a tax collector in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27. All three synoptic gospels name Matthew as one of the apostles (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:13-16). It is reasonable to think that Matthew and Levi are the same person: a tax collector and one of Jesus’ apostles.
My name is Carey Bryant. I was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I married my beautiful wife, Brittany, on May 3, 2015. I graduated from Bryan College with a BA in Biblical Studies in 2012. I love playing the drums and listening to music. I also enjoy playing sports and being active (when I feel like it). I am an introvert who loves to read books, usually about topics that bore most people. I am extremely obsessed with all things related to Batman and I can actually be seen in the Dark Knight Rises (if you pause the movie at just the right moment and have a magnifying glass handy).
I am a follower of Christ and I seek to live out God’s Word as revealed to us in the Bible. God has given me a passion to study His Word and this blog is an outcome of this passion.
Tertullian On Divine Anger
By Derek Rishmawy 7/17/2017
I have been doing a little digging in Tertullian’s work The Five Books Against Marcion the last couple of days. The five books cover an astonishing amount of ground (creation, hermeneutics, prophecy, goodness, Christology, etc.), which makes sense once you consider what a convoluted mess Marcion’s theology actually was. They didn’t call him the “arch-heretic” for nothing.
One important area is his treatment of divine anger.Obviously, the Marcionites thought attributing anger or wrath to God was unfitting, which partially motivated their rejection of large portions of the Old Testament and New. Mark Sheridan has touched on the issue of the Fathers’ handling of Biblical anthropomorphism in Language for God in Patristic Tradition, and shown how the different strategies involved were concerned with making sure we were reading the Bible in a way that is “fitting” to God’s dignity and majesty.
Tertullian engages one argument from fittingness he thinks utterly flawed. He says that some say that if God is angry, or jealous, etc. then that leads to the thought that he is changeable, therefore corruptible, and open to death. He responds thus:
Superlative is their folly, who prejudge divine things from human; so that, because in man’s corrupt condition there are found passions of this description, therefore there must be deemed to exist in God also sensations of the same kind. Discriminate between the natures, and assign to them their respective senses, which are as diverse as their natures require, although they seem to have a community of designations. We read, indeed, of God’s right hand, and eyes, and feet: these must not, however, be compared with those of human beings, because they are associated in one and the same name. Now, as great as shall be the difference between the divine and the human body, although their members pass under identical names, so great will also be the diversity between the divine and the human soul, notwithstanding that their sensations are designated by the same names. These sensations in the human being are rendered just as corrupt by the corruptibility of man’s substance, as in God they are rendered incorruptible by the incorruption of the divine essence.
Tertullian argues that it’s folly to pre-judge realities predicated of God based on the human reality named with the same word. He doesn’t use the term, but he’s essentially arguing for a form of the doctrine of analogy. We must “discriminate between the natures” and realize that God’s “hands” and “feet” couldn’t possibly mean God has the same sorts of hand we do, only bigger.
Derek Rishmawy | Orange, CA | I’m a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School attempting to study Systematic Theology. Adopted by the Triune God. Husband of McKenna. Former college pastor. Beyond that, I am an admitted cliche: books, beer, beard, and a blog that takes too much of my time. I'm a regular contributor to sites like The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, The Local Church, Mere Orthodoxy, and Christianity Today. I also co-host a podcast called Mere Fidelity.
When I Feel Stuck
By Neil Stewart 4/01/2016
When I was growing up in Ireland, we had more than our fair share of wet Wednesday afternoons. Trapped well between weekends, and with an evening full of homework ahead, I remember trudging back from school through a soaking drizzle. Weighed down with books, their pages wavy with dampness, and socks sodden with water that flowed in at the ankles and out at the toes, I was as happy as a cat in a bath (though not nearly so ferocious).
The soul knows its own wet Wednesday afternoons. All prodigals, we walk home through a world blighted by Adam’s choice. Fallenness dampens every joy. Burdens heavy with guilt, shame, and regret bite into our shoulders. Fears within and troubles without loom black like thunder. We yearn to hear more of the running footsteps of a welcoming father, his strong arms wrapped around, his tears warm and salty on our cheeks. But disappointed longings follow us as constant companions. Our best moments are always interrupted, and like the weekend for the midweek schoolboy, heaven can feel far enough away to seem forever away.
The worst of these times go unexplained. No particular sin, failure, or mistake stands out as the culprit. We feel “blah” and don’t know why (Ps. 42:5). In this far place, we fall easy prey to a dark theology built upon feelings. A depressing inevitability follows: We don’t feel God speaking, so we stop reading our Bibles. We don’t sense God listening, so we stop saying our prayers. Inertia dampens everything; we go nowhere. What to do?
First, remember: you are not alone. All God’s children have trodden these paths before. How often the psalmists felt abandoned, yet they still reached for God in song. David cried out: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Ps. 13:1). The Sons of Korah asked, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (42:1). These saints were coming before the Lord and asking how long God would hide His face from them. There is a lesson here: good men often feel worse than they are. These men begin in a moment of dark despair, but they do not end there. As the psalmists agonize, their hearts leak Scripture. In the darkness, back beneath the sense of dereliction, God is still there, giving them words, helping them Godward, inspiring the Bible. Yahweh is always nearer to us than we feel.
Second, ask God to search for any “grievous” way blocking your communion with Him (Ps.139:24).The roots of “grief” reach back to Adam’s bitter choice (“grief,” “toil,” and “pain” are all related Hebrew words; Gen. 3:16–17). In the garden, our first father started a family tradition of reaching for a better life beyond God. A world full of graveyards tells the story of his success. But don’t despair: the Good Physician died to cut the “willing” and the “doing” of such godless choices from you (Phil. 2:12–13).
Beyond sin, we should also look for weeds in our hearts, toxic desires that choke life from the soul. Jesus identifies three in the parable of the sower: the busyness of life, the lies money tells, and the desire for other things (Mark 4:19). With weeds on the increase, we will never feel well. To kill them, the Spirit stands ready with the heavenly herbicide of richer thoughts of a better life (Rom. 8:5; Phil. 4:8; Col. 3:1–4). United to Christ, we walk in the newness of life (Rom. 6:1–14).
Third, examine yourself: Are you at peace with providence? It is hard to draw near to a God with whom you are secretly angry. Unwanted burdens can be the friend of prayer, exciting our desire and drawing us close (Ps. 55:22). But if we prefer to hold on to them, they crowd the prayer closet like unspoken elephants, dulling our desire to draw near. Be honest with God; He can carry every burden you have to give.
Acknowledging God as the first cause of every pang brings great peace. The breaking waves that drown us all belong to Him (Ps. 42:7). He is the principal actor in every difficulty (Ps. 66:10–12). Yet, even then, God is for us. Denial of self and submission to God’s will are the first and last lessons to be learned in the life of faith. But John Newton was right—few are willing to learn these lessons “without being trained awhile in the school of disappointment.”
What if the darkness does not lift? Often, the best path upward is simply to trust and obey. Consider the patience of Job (Job 23:8–12). In the teeth of a hostile darkness, watch him move from confusion (vv. 8–9) through conviction (v. 10) to consecration (vv. 11–12). In a fallen world, Job realizes he will always know more theology than he can feel. Faith bridges the gulf, taking him to a realm the hand of feelings cannot always touch (Heb. 11:1).
“He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Faith has a warrant for this journey that is truer than our worst fears, and so we keep clinging to Him, for He clings to us (vv. 11–12). Like a terrier with a toy, Job grips this truth for all it is worth. He can’t feel himself holding on to God, but faith sees a stronger hand holding on to him—a hand that will never let him go.
In the end, the best question for wet Wednesday afternoons is not “What do I feel?” but “What do I know?”
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 77In the Day of Trouble I Seek the Lord
77 To The Choirmaster: According To Jeduthun. A Psalm Of Asaph.
10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
By John Walvoord
Israel’s Sin and Idolatry
Jeremiah 7:1–29. After calling Israel’s religion worthless because it did not change their lives (vv. 2–11 ), God declared He “will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim” (v. 15 ).
After rebuking Israel for her sins and idolatry, the Lord declared, “My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched” (v. 20 ). In verses 21–29, God continued to plead with Israel and promised He would be her God if she would walk in His ways (vv. 22–23 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah 7:30–34. God declared that the Valley of Ben Hinnom would become the Valley of Slaughter (vv. 31–32 ). The dead would be so high in number that they would not have room to bury them (v. 32 ), and “the sounds of joy and gladness” and “the voices of bride and bridegroom” (v. 34 ) will no longer be heard. This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah 8:1–3. Those who have dishonored God by worshipping idols would have their bones removed from their graves and exposed to the sun and moon as a token of God’s judgment. This was fulfilled ( 2 Kings 23:4–16 ).
Judgment because of Sin
Jeremiah 8:9–22. Because of Israel’s rejection of the word of the Lord, it was prophesied that her wives would be given to other men and her fields to new owners. She would be brought down and punished (vv. 9–12 ).
Her harvest would be taken away (v. 13 ). When she fled to fortified cities, she would be doomed to perish (v. 14 ). The enemy would come to devour the land (v. 15 ). God would send poisonous snakes among her (v. 17 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah 9:11–26. Jerusalem as well as the towns of Judea would be laid waste (v. 11 ). The people of Israel would be scattered among the nations. Her women would wail with tears (vv. 18–19 ). Death would cut off her young people as well as the children (vv. 21–22 ). God’s judgment would extend not only to Israel but to Egypt, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and others who lived in the desert (vv. 25–26 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah 10:17–25. Those who lived in the land would be captured (v. 18 ). Their families as well as their tents would be destroyed (v. 20 ). Jeremiah prayed, “Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the people who do not call on your name. For they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him completely and destroyed his homeland” (v. 25 ). The desolation of the land was fulfilled ( 2 Chron. 36:21 ).
The Covenant of Moses Broken
Jeremiah 11:1–8. The covenant of Moses that God made with the people of Israel had not been kept, though God fulfilled His promise of giving her the “land flowing with milk and honey — the land you possess today” (v. 5 ). Israel had not obeyed the Law or listened to the Lord. Therefore, God would bring the curses of the covenant on her (v. 8 ).
Jeremiah 11:9–14. Because the children of Israel did not follow the Lord, just as their fathers had ignored God and worshipped other gods, so God would not hear their cries when disaster struck (vv. 11–13 ). Jeremiah was instructed not to pray for this people because God would not listen (v. 14 ).
Jeremiah 11:15–17. Though Israel worshipped in the temple, because she was wicked God would punish her (v. 15 ). God intended her to be an “olive tree with fruit beautiful in form. But with the roar of a mighty storm He will set it on fire, and its branches will be broken” (v. 16 ). Disaster was decreed on her because she had burned incense to Baal (v. 17 ). These prophecies were fulfilled at the time of the Babylonian captivity.
The Plot against Jeremiah
Jeremiah 11:18–23. The men of Anathoth plotted to kill Jeremiah because they did not like his prophecies. God assured Jeremiah that He would punish them with death (v. 21 ). The famine as well as the sword that would devour her sons and daughters would result in a judgment that “not even a remnant will be left to them” (v. 23 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Why the Wicked Prosper
Jeremiah 12:1–17. Jeremiah’s complaint about the wicked prospering was temporarily true. God in His time would give Israel into the hands of her enemies (v. 7 ). Her land would be laid waste (vv. 10–12 ), and she would reap thorns not wheat (v. 13 ). Those who punish Israel and seize her inheritance would in turn be uprooted (vv. 14–15 ). Those who would not listen to God would be completely destroyed (v. 17 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah’s Belt and the Wineskins
Jeremiah 13:1–11. Jeremiah was instructed by the Lord to take a belt and hide it in the rocks. Later the belt was ruined by this exposure. In like manner God “will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem” (v. 9 ). Those who refuse to worship God and who follow wickedness would be completely useless, like the belt of Jeremiah (vv. 10–11 ).
Jeremiah 13:12–14. As wineskins are filled with wine, so the Lord would cause the people of Israel to be drunk with wine and would destroy them. These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
The Coming Captivity
Jeremiah 13:15–27. When the people asked why this was happening to them, God declared, “All Judah will be carried into exile, carried completely away” (v. 19 ). “If you ask yourself, ‘Why has this happened to me?’ — it is because of your many sins” (v. 22 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Israel to Experience Drought, Famine, and the Sword
Jeremiah 14:1–6. The cities of Judah would mourn, and the cry would come up from Jerusalem (vv. 1–2 ). Their cisterns would be empty (v. 3 ). They would have no rain (v. 4 ). Their animals would die (vv. 5–6 ).
Jeremiah 14:10–12. Though God loved the people of Judah, He punished them for their sins (v. 10 ). God would not pay heed to their fasts nor accept their offerings, and they would be destroyed “with the sword, famine and plague” (v. 12 ).
Jeremiah 14:13–16. Regarding the prophets who prophesied lies that God’s judgment would not come, God said, “Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them or their wives, their sons or their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve” (vv. 15–16 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
The Continual Burnt Offering (Luke 9:20-22)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
July 20Luke 9:20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” ESV
Until we know the Lord Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living Gd, we do not know Him at all. He is truly the Son of man, for He has taken our humanity in grace, apart from sin, into union with His deity. But He is also the anointed of Jehovah, the eternal Son of the Father, who became man without ceasing to be God, in order that He might redeem sinful men from the judgment that their iniquities have righteously deserved. So the second great truth of divine revelation is that “the Son of Man must suffer.” Only by His sacrificial death could expiation be made for iniquity. And no one could make propitiation for sinners but one who was Himself sinless man and absolute God. He had to be who He was in order to do what He did.
Thou art my Portion, Lord, Thou art my Rock,
Thou the Good Shepherd who loveth the flock.
Thou art the Life, and the Truth, and the Way,
Sun of God’s righteousness turning to day
Night and its shadowing. Thou art the Vine,
Pouring Thy strength into weakness of mine.
Thou art the Comforter, Healer of strife;
Thou art the Lord, and the Giver of life,
Death’s Overcomer, and Saviour from sin,
Victory, Peace, and the Dweller within.
--- Bertha G. Woods
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
7. The same account is to be given were any one to insist that the breathing of our Lord upon his disciples (John 20:22) is a sacrament by which the Holy Spirit is conferred. But the Lord did this once for all, and did not also wish us to do it. In the same way, also, the apostles laid their hands, agreeably to that time at which it pleased the Lord that the visible gifts of the Spirit should be dispensed in answer to their prayers; not that posterity might, as those apes do, mimic the empty and useless sign without the reality. But if they prove that they imitate the apostles in the laying on of hands (though in this they have no resemblance to the apostles, except it be in manifesting some absurd false zeal),  where did they get their oil which they call the oil of salvation? Who taught them to seek salvation in oil? Who taught them to attribute to it the power of strengthening? Was it Paul, who draws us far away from the elements of this world, and condemns nothing more than clinging to such observances? This I boldly declare, not of myself, but from the Lord: Those who call oil the oil of salvation abjure the salvation which is in Christ, deny Christ, and have no part in the kingdom of God. Oil for the belly, and the belly for oil, but the Lord will destroy both. For all these weak elements, which perish even in the using, have nothing to do with the kingdom of God, which is spiritual, and will never perish. What, then, some one will say, do you apply the same rule to the water by which we are baptised, and the bread and wine under which the Lord's Supper is exhibited? I answer, that in the sacraments of divine appointment, two things are to be considered: the substance of the corporeal thing which is set before us, and the form which has been impressed upon it by the word of God, and in which its whole force lies. In as far, then, as the bread, wine, and water, which are presented to our view in the sacraments, retain their substance, Paul's declaration applies, "meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them" (1 Cor. 6:13). For they pass and vanish away with the fashion of this world. But in as far as they are sanctified by the word of God to be sacraments, they do not confine us to the flesh, but teach truly and spiritually.
8. But let us make a still closer inspection, and see how many monsters this greasy oil fosters and nourishes. Those anointers say that the Holy Spirit is given in baptism for righteousness, and in confirmation, for increase of grace, that in baptism we are regenerated for life, and in confirmation, equipped for contest. And, accordingly, they are not ashamed to deny that baptism can be duly completed without confirmation. How nefarious! Are we not, then, buried with Christ by baptism, and made partakers of his death, that we may also be partners of his resurrection? This fellowship with the life and death of Christ, Paul interprets to mean the mortification of our flesh, and the quickening of the Spirit, our old man being crucified in order that we may walk in newness of life (Rom 6:6). What is it to be equipped for contest, if this is not? But if they deemed it as nothing to trample on the word of God, why did they not at least reverence the Church, to which they would be thought to be in everything so obedient? What heavier charge can be brought against their doctrine than the decree of the Council of Melita?  "Let him who says that baptism is given for the remission of sins only, and not in aid of future grace, be anathema." When Luke, in the passage which we have quoted, says, that the Samaritans were only "baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:16), but had not received the Holy Spirit, he does not say absolutely that those who believed in Christ with the heart, and confessed him with the mouth, were not endued with any gift of the Spirit. He means that receiving of the Spirit by which miraculous power and visible graces were received. Thus the apostles are said to have received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), whereas Christ had long before said to them, "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you" (Mt. 10:20). Ye who are of God see the malignant and pestiferous wile of Satan. What was truly given in baptism, is falsely said to be given in the confirmation of it, that he may stealthily lead away the unwary from baptism. Who can now doubt that this doctrine, which dissevers the proper promises of baptism from baptism, and transfers them elsewhere, is a doctrine of Satan? We have discovered on what foundation this famous unction rests. The word of God says, that as many as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ with his gifts (Gal. 3:27). The word of the anointers says that they received no promise in baptism to equip them for contest (De Consecr. Dist. 5, cap. Spir. Sanct). The former is the word of truth, the latter must be the word of falsehood. I can define this baptism more truly than they themselves have hitherto defined it-- viz. that it is a noted insult to baptism, the use of which it obscures--nay, abolishes: that it is a false suggestion of the devil, which draws us away from the truth of God; or, if you prefer it, that it is oil polluted with a lie of the devil, deceiving the minds of the simple by shrouding them, as it were, in darkness.
9. They add, moreover, that all believers ought, after baptism, to receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, that they may become complete Christians, inasmuch as there never can be a Christian who has not been chrismed by episcopal confirmation. These are their exact words.  I thought that everything pertaining to Christianity was prescribed and contained in Scripture. Now I see that the true form of religion must be sought and learned elsewhere than in Scripture. Divine wisdom, heavenly truth, the whole doctrine of Christ, only begins the Christian; it is the oil that perfects him. By this sentence are condemned all the apostles and the many martyrs who, it is absolutely certain, were never chrismed, the oil not yet being made, besmeared with which, they might fulfil all the parts of Christianity, or rather become Christians, which, as yet, they were not. Though I were silent, they abundantly refute themselves. How small the proportion of the people whom they anoint after baptism! Why, then, do they allow among their flock so many half Christians, whose imperfection they might easily remedy? Why, with such supine negligence, do they allow them to omit what cannot be omitted without grave offence? Why do they not more rigidly insist on a matter so necessary, that, without it, salvation cannot be obtained unless, perhaps, when the act has been anticipated by sudden death? When they allow it to be thus licentiously despised, they tacitly confess that it is not of the importance which they pretend.
10. Lastly, they conclude that this sacred unction is to be held in greater veneration than baptism, because the former is specially administered by the higher order of priests, whereas the latter is dispensed in common by all priests whatever (Distinct. 5, De his vero). What can you here say, but that they are plainly mad in thus pluming themselves on their own inventions, while, in comparison with these, they carelessly contemn the sacred ordinances of God? Sacrilegious mouth! dare you oppose oil merely polluted with your fetid breath, and charmed by your muttered words, to the sacrament of Christ, and compare it with water sanctified by the word of God? But even this was not enough for your improbity: you must also prefer it. Such are the responses of the holy see, such the oracles of the apostolic tripod. But some of them have begun to moderate this madness, which, even in their own opinion, was carried too far (Lombard. Sent. Lib. 4 Dist. 7, c. 2). It is to be held in greater veneration, they say, not perhaps because of the greater virtue and utility which it confers, but because it is given by more dignified persons, and in a more dignified part of the body, the forehead; or because it gives a greater increase of virtue, though baptism is more effectual for forgiveness. But do they not, by their first reason, prove themselves to be Donatists, who estimate the value of the sacrament by the dignity of the minister? Grant, however, that confirmation may be called more dignified from the dignity of the bishop's hand, still should any one ask how this great perrogative was conferred on the bishops, what reason can they give but their own caprice? The right was used only by the apostles, who alone dispensed the Holy Spirit. Are bishops alone apostles? Are they apostles at all? However, let us grant this also; why do they not, on the same grounds, maintain that the sacrament of blood in the Lord's Supper is to be touched only by bishops? Their reason for refusing it to laics is, that it was given by our Lord to the apostles only. If to the apostles only, why not infer then to bishops only? But in that place, they make the apostles simple Presbyters, whereas here another vertigo seizes them, and they suddenly elect them bishops. Lastly, Ananias was not an apostle, and yet Paul was sent to him to receive his sight, to be baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). I will add, though cumulatively, if, by divine right, this office was peculiar to bishops, why have they dared to transfer it to plebeian Presbyters, as we read in one of the Epistles of Gregory? (Dist. 95, cap. Pervenis)
11. How frivolous, inept, and stolid the other reason, that their confirmation is worthier than the baptism of God, because in confirmation it is the forehead that is besmeared with oil, and in baptism the cranium. As if baptism were performed with oil, and not with water! I take all the pious to witness, whether it be not the one aim of these miscreants to adulterate the purity of the sacraments by their leaven. I have said elsewhere, that what is of God in the sacraments, can scarcely be got a glimpse of among the crowd of human inventions. If any did not then give me credit for the fact, let them now give it to their own teachers. Here, passing over water, and making it of no estimation, they set a great value on oil alone in baptism. We maintain, against them, that in baptism also the forehead is sprinkled with water, in comparison with which, we do not value your oil one straw, whether in baptism or in confirmation. But if any one alleges that oil is sold for more, I answer, that by this accession of value any good which might otherwise be in it is vitiated, so far is it from being lawful fraudulently to vend this most vile imposture. They betray their impiety by the third reason, when they pretend that a greater increase of virtue is conferred in confirmation than in baptism. By the laying on of hands the apostles dispensed the visible gifts of the Spirit. In what respect does the oil of these men prove its fecundity? But have done with these guides, who cover one sacrilege with many acts of sacrilege. It is a Gordian knot, which it is better to cut than to lose so much labour in untying.
12. When they see that the word of God, and everything like plausible argument, fail them, they pretend, as usual, that the observance is of the highest antiquity, and is confirmed by the consent of many ages. Even were this true, they gain nothing by it. A sacrament is not of earth, but of heaven; not of men, but of God only. They must prove God to be the author of their confirmation, if they would have it to be regarded as a sacrament. But why obtrude antiquity, seeing that ancient writers, whenever they would speak precisely, nowhere mention more than two sacraments? Were the bulwark of our faith to be sought from men, we have an impregnable citadel in this, that the fictitious sacraments of these men were never recognised as sacraments by ancient writers. They speak of the laying on of hands, but do they call it a sacrament? Augustine distinctly affirms that it is nothing but prayer (De Bapt. cont. Donat. Lib. 3 cap. 16). Let them not here yelp out one of their vile distinctions, that the laying on of hands to which Augustine referred was not the confirmatory, but the curative or reconciliatory. His book is extant and in men's hands; if I wrest it to any meaning different from that which Augustine himself wrote it, they are welcome not only to load me with reproaches after their wonted manner, but to spit upon me. He is speaking of those who returned from schism to the unity of the Church. He says that they have no need of a repetition of baptism, for the laying on of hands is sufficient, that the Lord may bestow the Holy Spirit upon them by the bond of peace. But as it might seem absurd to repeat laying on of hands more than baptism, he shows the difference: "What," he asks, "is the laying on of hands but prayer over the man?" That this is his meaning is apparent from another passage, where he says, "Because of the bond of charity, which is the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit, without which all the other holy qualities which a man may possess are ineffectual for salvation, the hand is laid on reformed heretics" (Lib. 5 cap. 23).
13. I wish we could retain the custom, which, as I have observed, existed in the early Church, before this abortive mask of a sacrament appeared. It would not be such a confirmation as they pretend, one which cannot even be named without injury to baptism, but catechising by which those in boyhood, or immediately beyond it, would give an account of their faith in the face of the Church. And the best method of catechising would be, if a form were drawn up for this purpose, containing, and briefly explaining, the substance of almost all the heads of our religion, in which the whole body of the faithful ought to concur without controversy. A boy of ten years of age would present himself to the Church, to make a profession of faith, would be questioned on each head, and give answers to each. If he was ignorant of any point, or did not well understand it, he would be taught. Thus, while the whole Church looked on and witnessed, he would profess the one true sincere faith with which the body of the faithful, with one accord, worship one God. Were this discipline in force in the present day, it would undoubtedly whet the sluggishness of certain parents, who carelessly neglect the instruction of their children, as if it did not at all belong to them, but who could not then omit it without public disgrace; there would be greater agreement in faith among the Christian people, and not so much ignorance and rudeness; some persons would not be so readily carried away by new and strange dogmas; in fine, it would furnish all with a methodical arrangement of Christian doctrine.
14. The next place they give to Penitence, of which they discourse so confusedly and unmethodically, that consciences cannot derive anything certain or solid from their doctrine. In another place (Book 3 chap. 3 and 4), we have explained at length, first, what the Scriptures teach concerning repentance, and, secondly, what these men teach concerning it. All we have now to advert to is the grounds of that opinion of it as a sacrament which has long prevailed in schools and churches. First, however, I will speak briefly of the rite of the early Church, which those men have used as a pretext for establishing their fiction. By the order observed in public repentance, those who had performed the satisfactions imposed upon them were reconciled by the formal laying on of hands. This was the symbol of absolution by which the sinner himself regained his confidence of pardon before God, and the Church was admonished to lay aside the remembrance of the offence, and kindly receive him into favour. This Cyprian often terms to give peace. In order that the act might have more weight and estimation with the people, it was appointed that the authority of the bishop should always be interposed. Hence the decree of the second Council of Carthage, "No presbyter may publicly at mass reconcile a penitent;" and another, of the Council of Arausica, "Let those who are departing this life, at the time of penitence, be admitted to communion without the reconciliatory laying on of hands; if they recover from the disease, let them stand in the order of penitents, and after they have fulfilled their time, receive the reconciliatory laying on of hands from the bishop." Again, in the third Council of Carthage, "A presbyter may not reconcile a penitent without the authority of the bishop." The object of all these enactments was to prevent the strictness, which they wished to be observed in that matter, from being lost by excessive laxity. Accordingly, they wished cognisance to be taken by the bishop, who, it was probable, would be more circumspect in examining. Although Cyprian somewhere says that not the bishop only laid hands, but also the whole clergy. For he thus speaks, "They do penitence for a proper time; next they come to communion, and receive the right of communion by the laying on of the hands of the bishop and clergy" (Lib. 3 Ep 14). Afterwards, in process of time, the matter came to this, that they used the ceremony in private absolutions also without public penitence. Hence the distinction in Gratian (Decret. 26, Quæst. 6) between public and private reconciliation. I consider that ancient observance of which Cyprian speaks to have been holy and salutary to the Church, and I could wish it restored in the present day. The more modern form, though I dare not disapprove, or at least strongly condemn, I deem to be less necessary. Be this as it may, we see that the laying on of hands in penitence was a ceremony ordained by men, not by God, and is to be ranked among indifferent things, and external exercises, which indeed are not to be despised, but occupy an inferior place to those which have been recommended to us by the word of the Lord.
15. The Romanists and Schoolmen, whose wont it is to corrupt all things by erroneous interpretation, anxiously labour to find a sacrament here, and it cannot seem wonderful, for they seek a thing where it is not. At best, they leave the matter involved, undecided, uncertain, confused, and confounded by the variety of opinions. Accordingly, they say (Sent. Lib. 4 Dist. 22, cap. 3), either that external penitence is a sacrament, and, if so, ought to be regarded as a sign of internal penitence; i. e., contrition of heart, which will be the matter of the sacrament, or that both together make a sacrament, not two, but one complete; but that the external is the sacrament merely, the internal, the matter, and the sacrament, whereas the forgiveness of sins is the matter only, and not the sacrament. Let those who remember the definition of a sacrament, which we have given above, test by it that which they say is a sacrament, and it will be found that it is not an external ceremony appointed by God for the confirmation of our faith. But if they allege that my definition is not a law which they are necessarily bound to obey, let them hear Augustine, whom they pretend to regard as a saint.  "Visible sacraments were instituted for the sake of carnal men, that by the ladder of sacraments they may be conveyed from those things which are seen by the eye, to those which are perceived by the understanding" (August. Quæst. Vet. Test. Lib. 3). Do they themselves see, or can they show to others, anything like this in that which they call the sacrament of penance? In another passage, he says, "It is called a sacrament, because in it one thing is seen, another thing is understood. What is seen has bodily appearance, what is understood has spiritual fruit" (Serm. de Bapt. Infant). These things in no way apply to the sacrament of penance, as they feign it; there, there is no bodily form to represent spiritual fruit.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Holy Spirit Fosters Unity in the Church
By Robert Jeffress 2023
The Holy Spirit Fosters Unity in the Church
How does the Holy Spirit foster unity in the church? Paul said to look in the mirror. Look at your body. You’re not one giant ear or one giant eyeball or one giant nostril. Your body consists of a variety of different parts, yet those parts all function together for the same purpose.
That’s the way the church is to be. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:12: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Like the human body, the church is made up of many different parts — many kinds of people — all joined together for one purpose. And the way the church comes together from diverse backgrounds to be one is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12 (NASB95) 12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
What Is The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit?
The word “baptized” that Paul used in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which means “to immerse.” The word was used in classical Greek literature to describe the process of changing the color of cloth. If you wanted to change a red piece of cloth to purple, you would baptizo it in a vat of purple dye. You had to immerse it to change its color.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB95) 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Water baptism is a symbol of what the Holy Spirit does for us when we trust in Christ as our Savior. He immerses us. He transforms us from guilty, rebellious enemies of God into forgiven, obedient disciples of Jesus Christ. He changes our spiritual color forever.
In verse 13, Paul explained the process by which the Holy Spirit sets up residence in every believer’s life: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a one-time act of God by which, at the moment of our salvation, the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus Christ, the head, and to all the other members of the body. Every true Christian has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit of God. The moment you become a Christian, you receive all of the Holy Spirit. There’s no more of the Holy Spirit for you to receive as a Christian. You’ve received every part of Him. This is Baptist theology. There are other opinions, for example, the Holy Spirit is with you, in you and upon you.
Every Christian has been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. But not all Christians are filled with the Spirit, which — as we will see in a moment — is a continual process of choosing to give the Holy Spirit control over your life.
The Holy Spirit Gives Us the Ability to Trust in Christ
Everyone in the world is free to trust in Christ. Jesus said, “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev. 22:17). However, not everyone is willing or able to trust in Christ. If that distinction seems a little fuzzy, consider this analogy. If you set a bale of hay in front of a lion, the lion is free to eat the hay. However, the lion is not willing to eat the hay. The lion is, by nature, a carnivore. There is nothing inside it that desires the hay.
The same principle applies to unbelievers. Unbelievers are free to trust in Christ, but because of their nature — because they are enemies of God — they will never do so. We were all born into this world hating God. Paul underscored that point in Romans 3:10–11: “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.”
Romans 3:10–11 (NASB95) 10 as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
To make matters worse, we were born spiritually dead. Ephesians 2:1 says, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” While we’re free to come to Christ, we’re unable to. We can’t just wake up spiritually one day and say, “You know what? I’m a sinner and I need a Savior, so I’m going to trust in Christ.” It doesn’t happen that way.
Ephesians 2:1 (NASB95) 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
So if we’re all by nature unwilling and unable to come to Christ, how is anybody ever saved? The answer is the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 2:4–5, Paul said, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” The way God transforms someone who is spiritually dead into being spiritually alive so that he or she wants to and is capable of trusting in Christ is by the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 2:4–5 (NASB95) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
The Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the ability to believe and have new life. Our salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. Even our ability to believe is a gift from God. The proper response to that realization is to fall on our knees before God and thank Him that, in His mercy and grace, He saved us.
The Holy Spirit Secures Our Future
Once you’ve trusted in Christ, how do you know that you’ll keep on trusting in Him? How do you know that when you die, God will do what He promised to do and take your spirit to be with Him? How do you know that you are truly a child of God? The answer to all those questions is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s presence within us is our Christian birth certificate, the way to prove we’re legitimate children of God. In Ephesians 1:13–14, Paul used two words to describe how the Holy Spirit secures our future: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Ephesians 1:13–14 (NASB95) 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Seals were an early form of notarization. Today if we need to authenticate a document, we take it to a notary. The notary takes out a special seal, presses it on the document to create an insignia, charges us a fee, and then sends us on our way. In Paul’s day, a notary official wore a ring that had the insignia of the king or emperor on it. Notarizing a document was done by pressing the ring onto a circle of hot wax on the document. When the wax cooled, the document bore the imprint of the king or emperor. Sealing a document in this manner showed its authenticity.
That’s the image Paul used in this passage. He said, in effect, “When you trust in Christ as your Savior, the King of kings marks you with an imprint of Himself.” And that seal is the Holy Spirit. God stamps us with His image, guaranteeing that we are truly His children.
The Holy Spirit also serves as a pledge of our future inheritance. The Greek word translated as “pledge” literally means “down payment.” The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is God’s down payment on His future fulfillment of His promise to us. One day He’s going to take our spirits to be with Him forever. One day He’s going to raise our bodies out of the ground. In the meantime, He gives us His Holy Spirit to show His earnestness in completing His deal with us.
In offering the Holy Spirit as a down payment, God isn’t giving us some paltry fraction of Himself. Instead, when we become Christians, God invests 100 percent of Himself in us through the Holy Spirit. Do you think God is going to turn His back on that investment? Do you think He’s going to walk away from the deal? Not on your life. Because God has invested all of Himself in us, one day He’s going to consummate the deal. One day He’s going to take our spirits to heaven, just as He promised. One day He’s going to raise our bodies from the dead and change them forever, just as He promised. The Holy Spirit is God’s pledge that secures our future.
Accessing the Holy Spirit’s Power
If all Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, then why do so many of us struggle to maintain a consistent prayer life? Why do we have at least one bad habit (or addiction) we can’t break? Why do we have difficulty controlling our thoughts and actions?
More to the point, why are some Christians able to rise above those struggles? Why do they have the power to say no to sin? Why do they have joy, no matter what’s happening around them? Why do they seem to get more yes than no answers to their prayers? Why do they seem to be more filled with the Spirit? Why are they able to access His power?
The phrase “filled with the Spirit” is used fifteen times in the New Testament. The Greek word translated as “filled” refers to the wind that fills the sails of a ship and controls its direction. For believers, to be filled with the Spirit means that God’s Spirit controls the direction of our lives.
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul said, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” In this short verse, we find two essential truths about being filled with the Holy Spirit. First, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a command, not a promise. Being controlled by the Holy Spirit is our responsibility, not God’s. Imagine that someone says something that really ticks you off. Your first reaction may be to unleash a few choice words. But an inner prompting says, If you do that, you’ll regret it. Keep your cool. You have a choice. Will you be controlled by anger or by the Spirit?
Ephesians 5:18 (NASB95) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
Second, being filled with the Spirit is a continual experience, not a one-time action. Picture a sailboat crossing the ocean. The wind doesn’t come one time and fill the sails for the entire journey. It comes for a while, leaves, and comes back again. It may even change direction. The same goes for the filling of the Holy Spirit. The command in Ephesians 5:18 could be translated as “keep on being filled with the Spirit.”
There is no one-time prayer that will forever free us from our struggle with sin. However, the struggle gets easier the more often we choose to be filled with the Spirit. Making that choice is a habit we develop. The payoffs of developing that habit, of learning to surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit, are life-changing. The Holy Spirit gives us power in times of temptation, direction in times of confusion, courage in times of opportunity, and comfort in times of stress.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
9/1/2014 Biblically Faithful
I sensed God’s call to pastoral ministry when I was fifteen years old. Having recently been converted to Christ, it was the only thing I believed I could do and should do as I strived to follow Christ obediently and be a good steward of the gifts that the pastors of the church confirmed were in me. Upon my conversion, the church became my home. As a newborn infant in the faith, the church became to me a mother, father, brother, sister, and friend. Through my parents’ divorce, my father’s death, and my nomadic childhood — I had moved around the country at least sixteen times by the age of sixteen — the church was to me a cradle, a home, a community, a schoolhouse, a shelter, a hospital, and a rescue mission.
I was converted through the faithful preaching of the gospel by a local church deacon who came to my house and asked me two penetrating questions about what I believed regarding my salvation. He then went on to explain the gospel simply and clearly. I later discovered he had been trained by a parachurch evangelism ministry, and he was using a resource that ministry had developed. After my conversion, I regularly attended youth conferences that God used profoundly in my life — all conducted by parachurch ministries. Within two years of my conversion, my faithful pastor had us view several video series by a theologian I had never heard of named R.C. Sproul. Within three years of my conversion, a couple in our church brought me to a conference hosted by a parachurch organization called Ligonier Ministries. And four years after my conversion, a friend gave me a gift subscription to the best magazine I had ever read, called Tabletalk.
From my work with Youth for Christ, to my service on foreign missions, to the Christian college I attended, to the pastoral and theological books I read, to the seminary from which I graduated, to the thousands of sermons I listened to on the radio—God has used parachurch ministries in my life in a profound way, as has been the case for nearly every Christian on the face of the earth. Every Christian has been affected, in some measure, by a parachurch ministry, whether directly or indirectly. Still, many questions remain about the relationship between the church and the parachurch: Are parachurch ministries biblical? Should we support them? What is their appropriate role in serving the church? What kind of work should parachurch ministries undertake?
Parachurch ministries exist to come alongside and serve the local church, but if they ever try to replace the church, they should close their doors. The ordinary-means-of-grace ministry of the local church is the primary means of growth, and parachurch ministries exist to remind us of this and point us back to the church. As such, every parachurch ministry should have as its long term goal to work itself out of existence—all the while knowing that until Christ returns, we need to continue to use every biblically faithful means possible to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in making disciples of all nations for the glory of God alone.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” were the words uttered this day, July 20, 1969, by Neil Armstrong, as he became the first man to walk on the moon. He, along with Colonel Aldrin, had landed their lunar module, the “Eagle,” and spent a total of 21 hours and 37 minutes on the moon’s surface, before redocking with the command ship “Columbia.” Before a joint session of Congress Commander Neil Armstrong stated: “To those of you who have advocated looking high we owe our sincere gratitude, for you have granted us the opportunity to see some of the grandest views of the Creator.”
Compilation by Richard S. Adams
Let us be a nation
Ruled by conscience,
--- Richard S. Adams
To consider persons and events and situations
only in the light of their effect upon myself
is to live on the doorstep of hell.
--- Thomas Merton
No Man Is an Island
Yes, life is like the Emmaus road,
and we tread it not alone
For beside us walks the Son of God,
to uphold and keep His own.
And our hearts within us thrill with joy
at His words of love and grace,
And the glorious hope
that when day is done
we shall see His blessed face.
--- Avis Christiansen
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
We are all called to be a pencil in his hand --
we just have to get out of the way.
--- Mother Teresa ISBN-13: 978-0743492942
God judges what we give by what we keep.
--- George Muller
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
Concerning Bernice's Petition To Florus, To Spare The Jews, But In Vain; As Also How, After The Seditious Flame Was Quenched, It Was Kindled Again By Florus.
1. About this very time king Agrippa was going to Alexandria, to congratulate Alexander upon his having obtained the government of Egypt from Nero; but as his sister Bernice was come to Jerusalem, and saw the wicked practices of the soldiers, she was sorely affected at it, and frequently sent the masters of her horse and her guards to Florus, and begged of him to leave off these slaughters; but he would not comply with her request, nor have any regard either to the multitude of those already slain, or to the nobility of her that interceded, but only to the advantage he should make by this plundering; nay, this violence of the soldiers brake out to such a degree of madness, that it spent itself on the queen herself; for they did not only torment and destroy those whom they had caught under her very eyes, but indeed had killed herself also, unless she had prevented them by flying to the palace, and had staid there all night with her guards, which she had about her for fear of an insult from the soldiers. Now she dwelt then at Jerusalem, in order to perform a vow 22 which she had made to God; for it is usual with those that had been either afflicted with a distemper, or with any other distresses, to make vows; and for thirty days before they are to offer their sacrifices, to abstain from wine, and to shave the hair of their head. Which things Bernice was now performing, and stood barefoot before Florus's tribunal, and besought him [to spare the Jews]. Yet could she neither have any reverence paid to her, nor could she escape without some danger of being slain herself.
2. This happened upon the sixteenth day of the month Artemisius [Jyar]. Now, on the next day, the multitude, who were in a great agony, ran together to the Upper Market-place, and made the loudest lamentations for those that had perished; and the greatest part of the cries were such as reflected on Florus; at which the men of power were affrighted, together with the high priests, and rent their garments, and fell down before each of them, and besought them to leave off, and not to provoke Florus to some incurable procedure, besides what they had already suffered. Accordingly, the multitude complied immediately, out of reverence to those that had desired it of them, and out of the hope they had that Florus would do them no more injuries.
3. So Florus was troubled that the disturbances were over, and endeavored to kindle that flame again, and sent for the high priests, with the other eminent persons, and said the only demonstration that the people would not make any other innovations should be this, that they must go out and meet the soldiers that were ascending from Cesarea, whence two cohorts were coming; and while these men were exhorting the multitude so to do, he sent beforehand, and gave directions to the centurions of the cohorts, that they should give notice to those that were under them not to return the Jews' salutations; and that if they made any reply to his disadvantage, they should make use of their weapons. Now the high priests assembled the multitude in the temple, and desired them to go and meet the Romans, and to salute the cohorts very civilly, before their miserable case should become incurable. Now the seditious part would not comply with these persuasions; but the consideration of those that had been destroyed made them incline to those that were the boldest for action.
4. At this time it was that every priest, and every servant of God, brought out the holy vessels, and the ornamental garments wherein they used to minister in sacred things. The harpers also, and the singers of hymns, came out with their instruments of music, and fell down before the multitude, and begged of them that they would preserve those holy ornaments to them, and not provoke the Romans to carry off those sacred treasures. You might also see then the high priests themselves, with dust sprinkled in great plenty upon their heads, with bosoms deprived of any covering but what was rent; these besought every one of the eminent men by name, and the multitude in common, that they would not for a small offense betray their country to those that were desirous to have it laid waste; saying, "What benefit will it bring to the soldiers to have a salutation from the Jews? or what amendment of your affairs will it bring you, if you do not now go out to meet them? and that if they saluted them civilly, all handle would be cut off from Florus to begin a war; that they should thereby gain their country, and freedom from all further sufferings; and that, besides, it would be a sign of great want of command of themselves, if they should yield to a few seditious persons, while it was fitter for them who were so great a people to force the others to act soberly."
5. By these persuasions, which they used to the multitude and to the seditious, they restrained some by threatenings, and others by the reverence that was paid them. After this they led them out, and they met the soldiers quietly, and after a composed manner, and when they were come up with them, they saluted them; but when they made no answer, the seditious exclaimed against Florus, which was the signal given for falling upon them. The soldiers therefore encompassed them presently, and struck them with their clubs; and as they fled away, the horsemen trampled them down, so that a great many fell down dead by the strokes of the Romans, and more by their own violence in crushing one another. Now there was a terrible crowding about the gates, and while every body was making haste to get before another, the flight of them all was retarded, and a terrible destruction there was among those that fell down, for they were suffocated, and broken to pieces by the multitude of those that were uppermost; nor could any of them be distinguished by his relations in order to the care of his funeral; the soldiers also who beat them, fell upon those whom they overtook, without showing them any mercy, and thrust the multitude through the place called Bezetha, 23 as they forced their way, in order to get in and seize upon the temple, and the tower Antonia. Florus also being desirous to get those places into his possession, brought such as were with him out of the king's palace, and would have compelled them to get as far as the citadel [Antonia;] but his attempt failed, for the people immediately turned back upon him, and stopped the violence of his attempt; and as they stood upon the tops of their houses, they threw their darts at the Romans, who, as they were sorely galled thereby, because those weapons came from above, and they were not able to make a passage through the multitude, which stopped up the narrow passages, they retired to the camp which was at the palace.
6. But for the seditious, they were afraid lest Florus should come again, and get possession of the temple, through Antonia; so they got immediately upon those cloisters of the temple that joined to Antonia, and cut them down. This cooled the avarice of Florus; for whereas he was eager to obtain the treasures of God [in the temple], and on that account was desirous of getting into Antonia, as soon as the cloisters were broken down, he left off his attempt; he then sent for the high priests and the sanhedrim, and told them that he was indeed himself going out of the city, but that he would leave them as large a garrison as they should desire. Hereupon they promised that they would make no innovations, in case he would leave them one band; but not that which had fought with the Jews, because the multitude bore ill-will against that band on account of what they had suffered from it; so he changed the band as they desired, and, with the rest of his forces, returned to Cesarea.
by D.H. Stern
than with a nagging, irritable wife.
20 In the home of the wise are fine treasures and oil,
but a fool quickly devours it.
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Dependent on God’s presence
They that wait upon the Lord … shall walk and not faint.
--- Isaiah 40:31.
There is no thrill in walking; it is the test of all the stable qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest reach possible for strength. The word “walk” is used in the Bible to express the character—“John looking on Jesus as He walked, said, Behold the Lamb of God!” There is never anything abstract in the Bible, it is always vivid and real. God does not say—‘Be spiritual,’ but—“Walk before Me.”
When we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills. In the physical domain this will lead to counterfeiting the Holy Ghost; in the emotional life it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality; and in the spiritual domain if we insist on getting thrills, on mounting up with wings, it will end in the destruction of spirituality.
The reality of God’s presence is not dependent on any place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us. Our problems come when we refuse to bank on the reality of His presence. The experience the Psalmist speaks of—“Therefore will we not fear, though …”—will be ours when once we are based on Reality; not the consciousness of God’s presence but the reality of it—‘Why, He has been here all the time.’
At critical moments it is necessary to ask guidance, but it ought to be unnecessary to be saying always—‘Oh Lord, direct me here, and there.’ Of course He will! If our commonsense decisions are not God’s order, He will press through them and check; then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Consider this man in the field beneath,
Gaitered with mud, lost in his own breath,
Without joy, without sorrow,
Without children, without wife,
Stumbling insensitively from furrow to furrow,
A vague somnambulist; but hold your tears,
For his name also is written in the Book of Life.
Ransack your brainbox, pull out the drawers
That rot in your heart's dust, and what have you to give
To enrich his spirit or the way he lives?
From the standpoint of education or caste or creed
Is there anything to show that your essential need
Is less than his, who has the world for church,
And stands bare-headed in the woods' wide porch
Morning and Evening to hear God's choir
Scatter their praises? Don't be taken in
By stinking garments or an aimless grin;
He also is human, and the same small star,
That lights you homeward, has inflamed his mind
With the old hunger, born of his kind.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Whoever takes advice from elders will not stumble.
BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 3:13–16 / Moses said to God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I tell them?” And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ekyeh.” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’ ” And God said further to Moses, “Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you:
This shall be My name forever,
This My appellation for all eternity.
Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said, ‘I have taken note of you and of what is being done to you in Egypt.…’ ”
MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 3, 8 / Go and assemble the elders of Israel. Elders always help Israel stand, and so it says, “All Israel—stranger and citizen alike—with their elders, officials, and magistrates, stood on either side of the Ark” (Joshua 8:33). When does Israel stand? When they have elders. How? When the Temple existed, they consulted the elders, as it says, “Ask your father, he will inform you, your elders, they will tell you”
(Deuteronomy 32:7). For whoever takes advice from elders will not stumble.
CONTEXT / Early in the Book of Exodus, God “hears” the cries of the Israelites under Egyptian slavery. God instructs Moses to go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites. At the same time, God tells Moses to speak to the Israelites saying, in essence, “Don’t worry. I have seen your oppression. I will save you.” Moses is concerned that the Israelites will ask, “What is the name of this God?” God’s answer is: “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,” often translated as “I Am That I Am,” or “I Am Who I Am.” Whatever the meaning of this cryptic name (and there are many explanations, in the Talmud and the Midrash as well as among modern scholarly works), Moses is to tell the Israelites that “Ehyeh” sent him.
Until this point in the biblical text, Moses and God have been discussing the reaction of the Israelites. “When I come to the Israelites …” (3:13). “Thus you shall say to the Israelites …” (3:14). Suddenly, the object switches: Go and assemble the elders of Israel. The Rabbis are puzzled by this abrupt change, and the opening of this Midrash asks the question, without ever saying the words, “Why this change in language from Israelites (the people) to the elders?” The Rabbis note this change to teach a lesson: Elders always help Israel, the people, to stand, to survive and endure, and so it says, “All Israel—stranger and citizen alike—with their elders, officials, and magistrates, stood on either side of the Ark” (Joshua 8:33). The Rabbis quote this verse because it uses the three key words together—“Israel,” “elders,” and “stood.” The context of this verse is the ceremony that Joshua conducted at Mounts Ebal and Gerizim at which blessings and curses were recited. At such a critical moment, the help of the elders will be decisive. The Rabbis make the point: When does Israel stand, survive, endure, as they “stood” in Joshua’s time, at a crossroad? When they have elders. How? That is, how do we know this? Where is an example to prove this point? When the Temple stood, they consulted the elders, as it says, “Ask your father, he will inform you, your elders, they will tell you”
Deuteronomy 32:7). This verse from Deuteronomy is part of Moses’ farewell address. To the Rabbis, the verse contained a message on Jewish survival. This leads to the axiom Whoever takes advice from elders will not falter. This maxim summarizes the Rabbis’ view: God does not send the message directly to the people but instead convenes the elders. To avoid trouble, take counsel from the elders.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
--- Matthew 11:28–30.
All that labor with whatever toil, all that are heavy laden with whatever burden may take this invitation as addressed to them. (John A. Broadus, “Come unto Me,” downloaded from the Web site of Blessed Hope Ministries of Shiloh Church, Gainesville, Georgia, at members.aol.com/blesshope, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) You call burdened souls to you, and such, O Lord, am I.” Whatever it is that bears you down—the consciousness of sin, the terror of judgment, distressing doubts, or many and diverse temptations—whatever else may torment your soul and weigh down your spirit, this invitation is for you. If you are burdened with affliction or sorrow or fearful apprehension, if you bear any burden, you are invited to Jesus. “Come to me.”
It would be natural enough to inquire, “What is meant by going to Jesus? Suppose I feel myself to be burdened and want to seek relief, how shall I go to Jesus for rest?”
Go to him as people [did] when he was on earth. It is true that the case is somewhat different now. We cannot now go to Jesus as a man living somewhere among us. But it is only a change from sight to faith—from a moving of the body to a moving of the thoughts and affections. It may be thought a great privation that we cannot go somewhere, as they did then, and find him. But isn’t it, on the other hand, a great privilege that we need not now go anywhere, we may always find him here? He is everywhere and as much in one place as another. People have often forgotten this great and consoling and gladdening truth. Many a weary pilgrimage has been made in centuries past to the Holy Land in the hope that forgiveness of sin and peace of conscience, which could not be found at home, might be found there. It is pleasant and may do the heart good to stand where Jesus stood, to weep where he wept on Olivet, to pray where he prayed in Gethsemane, but he is here now as well as there. Wherever you seek him, there he may be found “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Wherever there is a tear of penitence or a sigh of godly sorrow, wherever there is earnest prayer to him or the desire to pray felt in the heart, Jesus is there to see and to hear and to answer.
--- John A. Broadus
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The East-West Schism July 20
During the first millennium of Christianity, two centers of gravity emerged—Rome and Constantinople. As the centuries passed, differences in theology developed and a rivalry emerged between the pope in Rome and the patriarch in Constantinople. The two camps differed on issues such as whether priests could marry, the makeup of Eucharistic bread, days of fasting, and whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or just from the Father.
In 1043 a rigid, ambitious churchman named Michael Cerularius was named patriarch of Constantinople, and five years later in Rome a French bishop rose to the papacy under the name Leo IX. During those days, Norman armies overran southern Italy and replaced Eastern (Orthodox) bishops from Constantinople with Western (Catholic) bishops from Rome. The new bishops started changing forms of worship, and when Michael Cerularius heard it, he retaliated by closing Roman churches in the Eastern regions.
Leo sent three men to Constantinople to deal with the problem. They were led by Humbert, a pompous, tactless man, who arrived in the imperial city denouncing, decrying, berating, and condemning the Orthodox leaders. The legates were housed in the imperial palace, but the patriarch ignored them, refusing even to see them. On July 16, 1054, as afternoon prayers were about to begin at Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia, Humbert marched through the cathedral and deposited on the high altar a parchment reading Videat Deus et Judicet excommunicating Michael Cerularius. Humbert then tromped out, shook the dust off his feet, and left the city. Four days later, on July 20, 1054, at the same place, Cerularius responded in kind and excommunicated the pope and his followers. He was supported by the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
The Great Schism had finally occurred. From that point, each side typically looked at the other not as brothers but as enemies or as heathen who needed to be converted. Today the Western Church is represented largely by the Catholic and Protestant bodies, and the Eastern Church by the Greek and Russian Orthodox faiths.
Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us.
--- Romans 14:8-10.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - July 20
“The earnest of our inheritance.” --- Ephesians 1:14.
Oh! what enlightenment, what joys, what consolation, what delight of heart is experienced by that man who has learned to feed on Jesus, and on Jesus alone. Yet the realization which we have of Christ’s preciousness is, in this life, imperfect at the best. As an old writer says, “’Tis but a taste!” We have tasted “that the Lord is gracious,” but we do not yet know how good and gracious he is, although what we know of his sweetness makes us long for more. We have enjoyed the firstfruits of the Spirit, and they have set us hungering and thirsting for the fulness of the heavenly vintage. We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption. Here we are like Israel in the wilderness, who had but one cluster from Eshcol, there we shall be in the vineyard. Here we see the manna falling small, like coriander seed, but there shall we eat the bread of heaven and the old corn of the kingdom. We are but beginners now in spiritual education; for although we have learned the first letters of the alphabet, we cannot read words yet, much less can we put sentences together; but as one says, “He that has been in heaven but five minutes, knows more than the general assembly of divines on earth.” We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every wish shall be satisfied; and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy. O Christian, antedate heaven for a few years. Within a very little time thou shalt be rid of all thy trials and thy troubles. Thine eyes now suffused with tears shall weep no longer. Thou shalt gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendour of him who sits upon the throne. Nay, more, upon his throne shalt thou sit. The triumph of his glory shall be shared by thee; his crown, his joy, his paradise, these shall be thine, and thou shalt be co-heir with him who is the heir of all things.
Evening - July 20
“And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?” --- Jeremiah 2:18.
By sundry miracles, by divers mercies, by strange deliverances Jehovah had proved himself to be worthy of Israel’s trust. Yet they broke down the hedges with which God had enclosed them as a sacred garden; they forsook their own true and living God, and followed after false gods. Constantly did the Lord reprove them for this infatuation, and our text contains one instance of God’s expostulating with them, “What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of the muddy river?”—for so it may be translated. “Why dost thou wander afar and leave thine own cool stream from Lebanon? Why dost thou forsake Jerusalem to turn aside to Noph and to Tahapanes? Why art thou so strangely set on mischief, that thou canst not be content with the good and healthful, but wouldst follow after that which is evil and deceitful?” Is there not here a word of expostulation and warning to the Christian? O true believer, called by grace and washed in the precious blood of Jesus, thou hast tasted of better drink than the muddy river of this world’s pleasure can give thee; thou hast had fellowship with Christ; thou hast obtained the joy of seeing Jesus, and leaning thine head upon his bosom. Do the trifles, the songs, the honours, the merriment of this earth content thee after that? Hast thou eaten the bread of angels, and canst thou live on husks? Good Rutherford once said, “I have tasted of Christ’s own manna, and it hath put my mouth out of taste for the brown bread of this world’s joys.” Methinks it should be so with thee. If thou art wandering after the waters of Egypt, O return quickly to the one living fountain: the waters of Sihor may be sweet to the Egyptians, but they will prove only bitterness to thee. What hast thou to do with them? Jesus asks thee this question this Evening—what wilt thou answer him?
Morning and Evening
Mary D. James, 1810–1883
For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
Once my hands were always trying,
Trying hard to do my best;
Now my heart is sweetly trusting,
And my soul is all at rest.
--- A. B. Simpson
Evangelist D. L. Moody once observed that there are three kinds of faith a Christian can have: a struggling faith, a clinging faith, or a resting faith. A resting faith is not some mystical feeling that we might experience at times in a church service or during a spiritually high moment. It is simply the daily repose of a life that has learned to relax and be comfortable in God’s providential care. Such an attitude is the result of ceasing to live for self and starting to live solely for God’s glory.
Medical people have long realized the relationship that exists between a happy, calm spirit and a healthy body. Doctors have often stated that many of our physical problems are caused by undue stress. How important it is, then, even for our own well-being, to relax and rest in God, to trust Him implicitly regardless of the circumstances. Since we were created in His image, we are able to find fulfillment and true contentment only as we learn to enjoy His daily fellowship. That’s the “resting faith” Moody was talking about.
In the rifted Rock I’m resting, safely sheltered I abide, all secure in this blest refuge, heeding not the fiercest blast.
Long pursued by sin and Satan—weary, sad, I longed for rest; then I found the heavenly shelter opened in my Savior’s breast.
Peace which passeth understanding, joy the world can never give, now in Jesus I am finding; in His smiles of love I live.
In the rifted Rock I’ll hide me ’till the storms of life are past, all secure in this blest refuge, heeding not the fiercest blast.
Chorus: Now I’m resting, sweetly resting in the cleft once made for me; Jesus, blessed Rock of Ages, I will hide myself in Thee.
For Today: Deuteronomy 33:27; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 38:4; 46:1; 57:1; 62:7; Proverbs 17:22; Hebrews 4:11.
If your faith in God is something other than a “resting faith,” ask Him to help you move up into this higher spiritual realm. Thank Him for His willingness to help. Carry this musical statement as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. XCI. — BUT let us also look into Paul, who takes up this passage of Moses, Rom. ix. How miserably is the Diatribe tortured with that part of the Scripture! Lest it should lose its hold of “Freewill,” it puts on every shape. At one time it says, ‘that there is a necessity of the consequence, but not a necessity of the thing consequent.’ At another, ‘that there is an ordinary will, or will of the sign, which may be resisted; and a will of decree, which cannot be resisted.’ At another, ‘that those passages adduced from Paul do not contend for, do not speak about, the salvation of man.’ In one place it says ‘that the prescience of God does impose necessity:’ in another, ‘that it does not impose necessity.’ Again, in another place it asserts, ‘that grace prevents the will that it might will, and then attends it as it proceeds and brings it to a happy issue.’ Here it states, ‘that the first cause does all things itself:’ and directly afterwards, ‘that it acts by second causes, remaining itself inactive.’
By these and the like sportings with words, it does nothing but fill up its time, and at the same time obscure the subject point from our sight, drawing us aside to something else. So stupid and doltish does it imagine us to be, that it thinks we feel no more interested in the cause than it feels itself. Or, as little children, when fearing the rod or at play, cover their eyes with their hands, and think, that as they see nobody themselves, nobody sees them; so the Diatribe, not being able to endure the brightness, nay the lightning of the most clear Scriptures, pretending by every kind of maneuver that it does not see, (which is in truth the case) wishes to persuade us that our eyes are also so covered that we cannot see. But all these maneuvers, are but evidences of a convicted mind rashly struggling against invincible truth.
That figment about ‘the necessity of the consequence, but not the necessity of the thing consequent,’ has been before refuted. Let then Erasmus invent and invent again, cavil and cavil again, as much as he will — if God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas became a traitor of necessity; nor was it in the power of Judas nor of any other creature to alter it, or to change that will; though he did what he did willingly, not by compulsion; for that willing of his was his own work; which God, by the motion of His Omnipotence, moved on into action, as He does everything else. — God does not lie, nor is He deceived. This is a truth evident and invincible. There are no obscure or ambiguous words here, even though all the most learned men of all ages should be so blinded as to think and say to the contrary. How much soever, therefore, you may turn your back upon it, yet, the convicted conscience of yourself and all men is compelled to confess, that, IF GOD BE NOT DECEIVED IN THAT WHICH HE FOREKNOWS, THAT WHICH HE FOREKNOWS MUST, OF NECESSITY, TAKE PLACE. If it were not so, who could believe His promises, who would fear His threatenings, if what He promised or threatened did not of necessity take place! Or, how could He promise or threaten, if His prescience could be deceived or hindered by our mutability! This all-clear light of certain truth manifestly stops the mouths of all, puts an end to all questions, and forever settles the victory over all evasive subtleties.
We know, indeed, that the prescience of man is fallible. We know that an eclipse does not therefore take place, because it is foreknown; but, that it is therefore foreknown, because it is to take place. But what have we to do with this prescience? We are disputing about the prescience of God! And if you do not ascribe to this, the necessity of the consequent foreknown, you take away faith and the fear of God, you destroy the force of all the divine promises and threatenings, and thus deny divinity itself. But, however, the Diatribe itself, after having held out for a long time and tried all things, and being pressed hard by the force of truth, at last confesses my sentiment: saying —
Sect. XCII. — “THE question concerning the will and predestination of God, is somewhat difficult. For God wills those same things which He foreknows. And this is the substance of what Paul subjoins, “Who hath resisted His will,” if He have mercy on whom He will, and harden whom He will? For if there were a king who could effect whatever he chose, and no one could resist him, he would be said to do whatsoever he willed. So the will of God, as it is the principal cause of all things which take place, seems to impose a necessity on our will.” — Thus the Diatribe.
At last then I give thanks to God for a sound sentence in the Diatribe! Where now then is “Free-will”? — But again this slippery eel is twisted aside in a moment, saying,
— “But Paul does not explain this point, he only rebukes the disputer; “Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God!” (Rom. ix. 20.) —
O notable evasion! Is this the way to handle the Holy Scriptures, thus to make a declaration upon ones own authority, and out of ones own brain, without a Scripture, without a miracle, nay, to corrupt the most clear words of God? What! does not Paul explain that point? What does he then? ‘He only rebukes the disputer,’ says the Diatribe. And is not that rebuke the most complete explanation? For what was inquired into by that question concerning the will of God? Was it not this — whether or not it imposed a necessity on our will? Paul, then, answers that it is thus: — “He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Rom. ix. 15-16, 18.). Moreover, not content with this explanation, he introduces those who murmur against this explanation in their defence of “Free-will,” and prate that there is no merit allowed, that we are damned when the fault is not our own, and the like, and stops their murmuring and indignation: saying, “Thou wilt say then, Why doth He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will?” (Rom. ix. 19.).
Do you not see that this is addressed to those, who, hearing that the will of God imposes necessity on us, say, “Why doth He yet find fault?” That is, Why does God thus insist, thus urge, thus exact, thus find fault? Why does He accuse, why does He reprove, as though we men could do what He requires if we would? He has no just cause for thus finding fault; let Him rather accuse His own will; let Him find fault with that; let Him press His requirement upon that; “For who hath resisted His will?” Who can obtain mercy if He wills not? Who can become softened if He wills to harden? It is not in our power to change His will, much less to resist it, where He wills us to be hardened; by that will, therefore, we are compelled to be hardened, whether we will or no.
If Paul had not explained this question, and had not stated to a certainty, that necessity is imposed on us by the prescience of God, what need was there for his introducing the murmurers and complainers saying, That His will cannot be resisted? For who would have murmured or been indignant, if he had not found necessity to be stated? Paul’s words are not ambiguous where he speaks of resisting the will of God. Is there any thing ambiguous in what resisting is, or what His will is? Is it at all ambiguous concerning what he is speaking, when he speaks concerning the will of God? Let the myriads of the most approved doctors be blind; let them pretend, if they will, that the Scriptures are not quite clear, and that they tremble at a difficult question; we have words the most clear which plainly speak thus: “He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth:” and also, “Thou wilt say to me then, Why doth He yet complain, for who hath resisted His will?”
The question, therefore, is not difficult; nay, nothing can be more plain to common sense, than that this conclusion is certain, stable, and true: — if it be pre-established from the Scriptures, that God neither errs nor is deceived; then, whatever God foreknows, must, of necessity, take place. It would be a difficult question indeed, nay, an impossibility, I confess, if you should attempt to establish, both the prescience of God, and the “Free-Will” of man. For what could be more difficult, nay a greater impossibility, than to attempt to prove, that contradictions do not clash; or that a number may, at the same time, be both nine and ten? There is no difficulty on our side of the question, but it is sought for and introduced, just as ambiguity and obscurity are sought for and violently introduced into the Scriptures.
The apostle, therefore, restrains the impious who are offended at these most clear words, by letting them know, that the divine will is accomplished, by necessity in us; and by letting them know also, that it is defined to a certainty, that they have nothing of liberty or “Free-will” left, but that all things depend upon the will of God alone. But he restrains them in this way: — by commanding them to be silent, and to revere the majesty of the divine power and will, over which we have no control, but which has over us a full control to do whatever it will. And yet it does us no injury, seeing that it is not indebted to us, it never received any thing from us, it never promised us any thing but what itself pleased and willed.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Robert C. Newman | Biblical eLearning
Exegesis of Parables 7
Literary Approach 8
to the Gospels--Genres