Proverbs 24 - 26
Proverbs 24:1 Be not envious of evil men,
nor desire to be with them,
2 for their hearts devise violence,
and their lips talk of trouble.
3 By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
4 by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.
5 A wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
7 Wisdom is too high for a fool;
in the gate he does not open his mouth.
8 Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
9 The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.
10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.
19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
21 My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?
More Sayings of the Wise
23 These also are sayings of the wise.
Partiality in judging is not good.
24 Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,”
will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,
25 but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
and a good blessing will come upon them.
26 Whoever gives an honest answer
kisses the lips.
27 Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.
28 Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,
and do not deceive with your lips.
29 Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
30 I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
32 Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
More Proverbs of SolomonProverbs 25:1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.
3 As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth,
so the heart of kings is unsearchable.
4 Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
5 take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.
6 Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
What your eyes have seen
8 do not hastily bring into court,
for what will you do in the end,
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
9 Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not reveal another’s secret,
10 lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
and your ill repute have no end.
11 A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.
16 If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
17 Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
lest he have his fill of you and hate you.
18 A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.
19 Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble
is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
20 Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
and like vinegar on soda.
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
23 The north wind brings forth rain,
and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
25 Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.
26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain
is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
27 It is not good to eat much honey,
nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.
28 A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Proverbs 26:1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool.
2 Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.
4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
6 Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
7 Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
8 Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
9 Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
10 Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.
17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19 is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”
20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26 though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
What I'm Reading
Four Conduits of the Holy Spirit’s Power
By Robert Jeffress 2023
Four Conduits of the Holy Spirit’s Power
How do we receive the power of the Holy Spirit’s filling? Scripture indicates that there are four main conduits He uses to energize us.
The first conduit is the Bible. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to unleash the power of God to transform us into the image of God. In Psalm 119:105, David said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Through Scripture, the Holy Spirit gives us just the amount of illumination we need to take our next step. And then the next step. And then the step after that. The problem is, many Christians have that light turned off. They have it lying on a shelf somewhere. They’re stumbling around in the dark, wondering why they don’t receive the guidance they need to make the right decisions.
Psalm 119:105 (NASB95) 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
The second conduit is prayer. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s power being poured out on His people through prayer. Prayer caused the fire of God to consume Elijah’s offering on Mount Carmel. Prayer allowed Jesus to feed thousands of people miraculously. That same power is available to us.
The third conduit is the church. Acts 2:42–47 gives us a glimpse of the Spirit’s power in action in a local congregation. This passage describes believers continually devoting themselves to teaching, fellowship, and prayer. These believers felt a sense of awe at what was taking place in and through them. Not only did they experience gladness and sincerity of heart, but they also made an indelible impact on others. The Lord added to their number daily, as more and more people saw the tangible benefits of coming to Christ. They were, as the writer of Hebrews put it, stimulating one another to love and good deeds (Acts 10:24–25). They were also combining their spiritual gifts to great effect, learning from one another how to be generous, encouraging, merciful, and comforting. The same opportunities await us in the church today. (We will explore this more in our study of the core belief of the church.)
Acts 2:42–47 (NASB95) 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 10:24–25 (NASB95) 24 On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.
The fourth conduit is obedience to God. Obedience helps us get out of our own way. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul warned, “Do not quench the Spirit.” If we’re not careful, we can inadvertently quench the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives through our actions.1
1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NASB95) 19 Do not quench the Spirit;
Immorality is one such Spirit-quencher. That’s why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” Immorality includes any sexual activity outside of marriage. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, any sin we commit with our body takes Him along.
1 Corinthians 6:18 (NASB95) 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
Bitterness is another Spirit-quencher. It quenches the Spirit’s power to heal our hurts. Emotional pain is inevitable in this world. Sooner or later, someone is going to hurt us. We can’t do anything about it, but we can control our response to those hurts. We can either hold on to them and allow them to turn into bitterness — or we can forgive the people who hurt us, as God forgives us, and turn those hurts over to Him.
Worry is yet another Spirit-quencher. Did you know that the most common command in Scripture is “Fear not”? It’s found 365 times in the Bible. It’s as if God is saying to us at least once a day, Don’t be afraid. How can we keep fear from extinguishing the Spirit’s peace in our lives? First, we determine the source of our fear. Is it a prompting from God? Is it the result of fatigue? Is it a lie of Satan? Second, once we determine the source, we confront our fear. We do what we dread. We say what needs to be said. We take the necessary steps to disable our fear. Third, we turn it over to God. We follow the advice of 1 Peter 5:7 and cast all our cares on God. He can shoulder them.
1 Peter 5:7 (NASB95) 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Some time ago, I was flipping through some of my spiritual journals from many years ago. I had written in these journals things I was concerned about, things I was praying for, and, in some cases, things I was fearful about. I started laughing as I read them, because not one of those things I feared a decade or two ago ever happened. Now, other stuff happened that I didn’t know about and didn’t expect. But nothing I was fearful about ever came to pass. Isn’t that just like Satan? He loves to get us overwhelmed by the what-ifs of life, things that will never occur. That’s why Jesus said in John 8:44 that Satan is a liar. He’s the father of all lies. He wants us to worry about things that have no basis in reality.
John 8:44 (NASB95) 44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
For more about these Spirit-quenchers, as well as a more detailed look at the person and work of the Holy Spirit, see my book I Want More!: Experiencing the Power of the Holy Spirit (Dallas: Pathway to Victory, 2014).
The Adventure of Accessing the Holy Spirit’s Power
The filling of the Holy Spirit defies conventional wisdom about power in two important ways. First, conventional wisdom says power should be conserved, whether it’s electrical, fossil fuel–based, or something else. We’re taught to use only as much of it as we absolutely need, that anything more is wasteful and selfish.
The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, encourages us to do the spiritual equivalent of cranking the thermostat to max and putting the pedal to the floor. His power is limitless. He wants us to explore its depths, to access as much of it as we can as often as we can.
Conventional wisdom also teaches us that too much power is dangerous. If we don’t keep it under control, bad things can happen. Think of the nuclear power plant in The China Syndrome or a race-car driver heading into a turn. The Holy Spirit, in contrast, is not just our power source; He’s also behind the wheel. He’s in control. We never have to worry when His power is flowing through us.
An unforgettable adventure awaits us if we come to grips with who dwells within us and what He’s prepared to do if we will only access His power.
Angels And Demons
During the Civil War, most Americans relied on newspapers for information about the conflict. Correspondents accompanied armies into the field and wrote articles based on what they witnessed firsthand and what soldiers reported to them after battles. Sometimes the articles were transmitted to the newspaper office via telegraph. Other times the correspondents had to rely on couriers. By the time the articles were edited, typeset, printed, and delivered via the post office, days and sometimes weeks had passed since the events they described.
Understandably, the time lag in receiving information made the war seem more remote than it actually was. The fact that the bulk of the fighting took place in the South added more perceived distance from the war’s realities for people in the North.
That illusion of distance and remoteness lasted just until the war landed in their front yard. After July 3, 1863, no one in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, would have described the Civil War as a distant conflict.
We face a similar misconception about the cosmic war that’s been raging ever since Satan rebelled against God. The apostle Paul, acting as a spiritual battlefield correspondent, said, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
Ephesians 6:12 (NASB95) 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Phrases such as “spiritual forces” and “heavenly places” can lull us into believing this distant conflict has little to do with us. After all, the fighting was going on long before we got here, and it will continue long after we’re gone.
But that illusion of distance is shattered when we realize that the battlefield isn’t just on our doorstep — it’s also within us. This titanic spiritual war against the invading armies of darkness and wickedness takes place every minute of every day of our lives. And the rules of the Geneva Convention don’t apply.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. This is not only a matter of life and death; it’s an eternal struggle. To shift our perspective on this cosmic battle so we see it in more personal terms, we need to understand who our angelic allies are, who our demonic enemies are, and how we can apply that understanding to our own battles. When it comes to understanding what the Bible teaches about angels and demons, we need to look at the good, the bad, and the upshot.
The Good Angels
Angels have gained a curious prominence in our culture. They’re like folk heroes who are celebrated for reasons no one can quite put their finger on. Yes, it’s true that angels figure in some dramatic moments in Scripture, but only as God directs them. The Bible says that angels are heavenly servants, content to do the will of God forever. Yet today we can find angels in movies, in TV commercials, on product labels, atop Christmas trees, on sports jerseys, in the names of cities, and on countless knickknack shelves.
This fascination with angels is nothing new. In the first-century church at Colossae, there were false teachers who claimed to be too humble to worship God, so they worshiped angels instead (Col. 2:18). And in Revelation 22:8–9, the apostle John fell down at the feet of an angel and started to worship him. But the mortified angel put an immediate stop to it. “Worship God,” he said.
Colossians 2:18 (NASB95) 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
Revelation 22:8–9 (NASB95) 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”
To put angels in a proper context, we need to look at what the Bible says about who they are and what they do.
Angels Are Created Beings
Unlike God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, angels are not eternal. They were created by God at a point in time. Referring to Jesus in Colossians 1:16, Paul said, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.” That “all things” includes angels.
Colossians 1:16 (NASB95) 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Narrowing the timeframe of when angels were created requires a little detective work. In the book of Job, God asked His long-suffering servant, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth . . . when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7). We know that God formed the foundation of the earth on the third day of creation (Gen. 1:9–10), so that means the angels had to be in existence by then. Angels were created sometime before the third day of creation.
Job 38:4 (NASB95) 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Job 38:7 (NASB95) 7 When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Genesis 1:9–10 (NASB95) 9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
Angels hold a unique place in creation in that there is a fixed number of them. Some translations of Revelation 5:11, including the NIV, put the number at “ten thousand times ten thousand.” Taken literally, that puts the angel population in the hundreds of millions. Other translations use the word “myriad,” the highest figure in the Greek system. Whatever the number of angels is, it remains constant, because no new angels have been created since then, and angels never die.
Revelation 5:11 (NASB95) 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,
By the way, every angel is a direct creation of God. That is why many times in the Bible angels are called the “sons of God,” because each angel was created directly by God. People do not transform into angels when they die. Parents, do not tell your kids they are going to become sweet little cherubs when they die. That is not what the Bible teaches. We do not become angels; we become much better than the angels.
Angels will exist forever — most of them in heaven, praising God. However, the Bible says that fallen angels — those who chose to follow Satan in his rebellion against God — will exist forever in the lake of fire, being tormented day and night. (I’ll explain more about these fallen angels in the next section.)
Angels were created with intellect. Revelation 10 and 17 suggest that angels know something about God’s future.
Angels were also created with emotions. Job 38:7 says they express joy. Isaiah 6:3 says they have the ability to worship. Luke 15:10 says they rejoice when somebody comes to faith in Christ.
Job 38:7 (NASB95) 7 When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Isaiah 6:3 (NASB95) 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Luke 15:10 (NASB95) 10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Dealing With Disappointment
By Alistair Begg
Have you ever been disappointed by events or people? Ever had desires and dreams and hopes that went unfulfilled? We’ve all had them. They are part of the package called life. Some will love thee,
From the human standpoint, Joseph’s life up to this point could be viewed as a series of crushing disappointments and shattered dreams. And in the dungeon in Egypt, he was about to suffer yet another setback: “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).
Genesis 40:23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. ESV
I imagine that on the day of his release, the man grabbed Joseph by the hand and said, “Joseph, thanks for what you did for me. You can expect to hear from me. I’m your man, Joe.”
Have you ever heard those words from somebody, and six months later your phone still hasn’t rung? Perhaps someone you thought loved you told you, “I’m yours,” and then left, never to be heard from again.
How do we deal with the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams? How do we deal with the fact that people just flat out let us down sometimes? Let’s learn something important from Joseph.
We can only assume that there was a great expectation in Joseph’s heart as the cupbearer was restored to his position. In those first days after the cupbearer’s release, Joseph’s spirit probably quickened every time he heard a rattling at the door of the dungeon. “They’re coming to release me.”
Putting it in contemporary terms, Joseph would have been saying, “If the phone rings, don’t touch it. It’ll be for me.”
But the first call wasn’t for Joseph. Neither was the second or the third. And as the days lengthened into weeks and then months, Joseph came to realize there was not going to be a call from the cupbearer.
We know from Genesis 41:1 that “two full years” passed before anyone came for Joseph. What a disappointment! But dis- appointments happen all the time. It’s an axiom of life that people fail us and let us down. Things we hope will happen and expect to happen don’t go as we anticipate. Even the best of persons will prove to be a disappointment to us at times.
Genesis 41:1 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, ESV
Why should we be surprised? After all, we in turn fail and disappoint others. We leave projects incomplete and promises unfulfilled. This brings home graphically the words of Jeremiah 17:5: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
If you’re relying on other people for your hopes and plans, your trust is in the wrong place — even more so if your confidence in yourself or others causes you to cease trusting in the Lord!
People can be secondary causes of God’s provision for us, but our ultimate confidence must be in Him. Anything less than this will lead us to great disappointment and pain.
Some will hate thee,
Some will praise thee,
Some will slight.
Cease from man
And look above thee,
Trust in God
And do the right.
How did Joseph handle the bitter disappointment of the cupbearer’s faulty memory? Judging by Joseph’s conduct two years later, he kept his confidence anchored in God. If anyone had learned that people often disappoint, it was our man in Egypt!
Alistair Begg Books | Go to Books Page
Some will love thee,
Dispensationalism And The Early Church Fathers
By William B. Hemsworth Jul 16, 2023
What is dispensationalism? That word draws different reactions from a variety of Christians. For some it is someone that interprets the Bible in a literal fashion. For some they may see a dispensationalist as confused. However, there are many that say that dispensationalism has no place in the church.
There are many in the church who view dispensationalism as a historical, or even worse the invention of John Darby in the 19th century.
In this paper, I will show that dispensationalism was not the invention of a 19th-century Biblical scholar, but that it has roots in the earliest days of the Christian church. (Which is why I'm reading this article. I was looking for Commentaries by Dispensationalists. I am too old to waste my time reading what I am not interested in.)
In this paper Papias and his chiliastic teachings will be examined. What was one of the ways that Irenaeus battled the Gnostics? One of his weapons in Against Heresies was premillennialism and the various ages that God used to bring about His plan.
Other church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Methodius will have their writings examined to show that they too have a doctrine of ages, or dispensations. Furthermore, other documents from church history will show how the idea of dispensationalism developed and that it is not a modern invention. It is not the intent of this paper to prove that dispensationalism is true, but to prove that it has historical merit and is worthy to be included in theology debate and study.
WHAT IS DISPENSATIONALISM?
To begin the study of dispensationalism and the church fathers it is necessary to understand what dispensationalism is. Dispensationalism is a theological system of interpretation that sees the scriptures as its central focus. This system of interpretation consists of the following two principles: 1) The scriptures are interpreted in a literal manner, and 2) it makes a distinction between the church and the nation of Israel.
Dispensationalists believe that Jesus will return before his millennial reign on Earth. As a result, those who hold to dispensational theology are also premillennial. If one has ever heard of the rapture it is because of dispensationalism. Christ will come back for His people before the seven years of the great tribulation begin. After the seven years, Christ will reign on His millennial throne. In this view, God has several dispensations in which He has administered His divine plan with humanity. According to Dr. Timothy Jones dispensation “translates from a Greek term that can also be rendered as stewardship or administration.”
Within dispensationalism there are many notable figures. Among them are Lewis Sperry Chafer, C.I. Scofield, Charles Ryrie, and John Nelson Darby. John Darby himself is known as the “godfather” of dispensationalism. Though from the United Kingdom, he popularized the idea in the United Kingdom before coming to the United States in the 19th century. Lewis Shafer in his work Systematic Theology, makes mention of a dispensation being a period of time that is identified by its relation to God’s purpose. C.I. Scofield is famously known for his study Bible The Scofield Reference Bible.
In his Bible, he described a dispensation as a testing of the obedience of man in relation to the will of God. Charles Ryrie, who is a well-respected theologian in the modern era, describes a dispensation as “A distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose.” Opinions vary on just how many dispensations there are. Easton’s Bible Dictionary lists the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations, but that is not the normal numbering. The normal numbering is much higher, and can range from six to eight dispensations mentioned in Scripture.
With so many theologians in the modern era teaching dispensationalism, why has it come under fire? Why do so many hear the word “dispensationalism” and totally disregard it? The system is largely seen as a 19th century Scripture interpretation by John Darby, and subsequently popularized by C.I. Scofield. Scofield’s Scofield Reference Bible was the first book to claim One Million sales with its publisher Oxford University Press. However, as previously mentioned, the idea that the doctrine has only come about in modern times is not wholly accurate.
Justin Martyr is an imposing figure in the days of the early church. He is one of the first of the fathers that are known as the apologists. Justin Martyr was a philosopher by trade, and very skilled in the art of rhetoric. Though the canon of scripture had not yet been compiled, the Old Testament was. Justin noticed “several different economies in the Old Testament. In biblical terms, an “economy” is a divine order in which history is revealed. Though there are subtle difference, it is very similar to the meaning of dispensation.
One such dispensation in which Justin Martyr firmly believed was in a literal one-thousand-year reign of Christ. For Justin Martyr, there was a clear distinction between various ages in Scripture. There was an age prior to circumcision, an age prior to the law, and an age after the law. In his Dialogue with Trypho Just writes, “But if so great a power is shown to have followed and to be still following the dispensation of His suffering, how great shall that be which shall follow His glorious advent! For He shall come on the clouds as the Son of Man, so Daniel foretold, and His angels shall come with Him.” In this very important passage he lays out the Dispensational Premillennial view of the end times.
PAPIAS AND HIS CHILIASTIC TRADITION
Papias of Hierapolis lived from A.D. 60-130, and preceded Justin Martyr in his premillennial views. He wrote five books about the interpretation of Scripture, but large portions of the works are lost. However, the great early church historian, Eusebius, provides us with details about his teachings. The authority that Papias has should not be understated, as he was a disciple of John the Apostle and an associate with Polycarp.
In the writings of Papias we see the dispensational teaching of the literal millennial reign of Christ on Earth. One of the hallmarks of dispensationalism is the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was also the view of this great church father, but with a twist. Papias saw the rebuilding of Jerusalem as an essential element for the faithful to receive physical and spiritual blessings. Papias also interpreted Scripture to say that there would be peace on Earth once Christ returned.
Regarding these things Eusebius writes of Papias, “In these he says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very Earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations.” Though much is lost of the five works of Papias there is a wealth of information that shows dispensational markings.
IRENAEUS BATTLES WITH HERETICS
Irenaeus is one of the most towering figures in the early church. He was a disciple of the church father Polycarp, and he died in A.D. 202, in what would eventually become known as France. He is best known for his work known as Against Heresies in which he took on the growing Gnostic movement. Christians are also indebted to him because the defense he made for the Christian faith, the defense he made for the Christian faith is one that can still be used today.
Elements of dispensationalism are prominent in Irenaeus’s writing, and were part of his battle to prove that the Gnostics were heretics. In regards to Irenaeus and dispensationalism Peter Enns writes, “Irenaeus refers in his writings to four principle covenants given to the human race, particularly drawing a distinction between three covenants of the Old Testament and the gospel. This distinction is typical of dispensationalism.’ One of the tenants of Gnosticism was that matter was evil. Therefore, the way to eternal knowledge was secret and available to a chosen few. In Gnostic thought, He will not be coming again to judge the living and the dead.
Irenaeus firmly disagreed with this line of reasoning, and taught that Christ was indeed coming back, and that He will reign in the millennium. He taught what would become known as the rule of faith. The rule of faith taught the following three truths: 1) Jesus would come bodily to Earth. 2) The rule of faith affirms the bodily resurrection of believers, and 3) the rule of faith affirms a future judgment. Regarding the various economies, or dispensations, that Irenaeus wrote about J.N.D. Kelly writes, “the fact that there are real distinctions in the immanent being of the unique, indivisible Father, and that while these were only fully manifested in the ‘economy’, they were actually there from all eternity.” This corresponds to the four ages in which God revealed His plan for His people.
To be more specific the four ages, or dispensations that Irenaeus saw in Scripture were the Adamic covenant, the covenant with Noah, the Mosaic covenant, and the new covenant. In section seven of Against Heresies, Irenaeus explains that God has revealed Himself through many different dispensations. God did this so that man would see the glory of God and not fall away from Him. These dispensations were a way in which God nourished His precious creation. It was a way of teaching us valuable lessons along the way.
TERTULLIAN VERSUS MARCION
Tertullian is an early church figure who was brilliant in his theological treatises, but fell into the Montanist heresy in his later years. Though he wrote much, he is best known for a work titled Against Marcion. Marcion claimed that there were two gods. These gods were vastly different as one created the universe and the other sent Jesus to tell of a universal salvation.
Marcion claimed that the demiurge, the false god who created the universe, was the author of the Mosaic dispensation. Tertullian set about to dispute this by saying that the Mosaic covenant was one of four dispensations that the true God had laid out. Tertullian saw God working in a dispensation with Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the millennial reign of Christ. In refutation of the made up deity of Marcion Tertullian writes, “if He has administered His dispensations, fulfilled His prophecies, promoted His laws, given reality to 16 His promises, revived His mighty power, remoulded His determinations 18 expressed His attributes, His properties. This law and this rule I earnestly request the reader to have ever in his mind, and so let him begin to investigate whether Christ be Marcion’s or the Creator’s.”
Being a docetist, Marcion did not believe that Christ had a physical body. Tertullian, of course, believed that Christ was fully God and fully man. He also believed that Christ would physically come back and have a millennial reign. This is a strong theme in dispensationalism. Tertullian tells Marcion that Christ’s Kingdom is promised on Earth for one thousand years, and it will be after the resurrection of the dead.
Whether one is a Protestant or a Catholic Augustine has greatly influenced the theology of both. One would not characterize him as a dispensationalist, but some of his teaching lean that way. Overall Augustine is amillennialistic towards his views of the end times. He does distinguish between different dispensations, such as when sacrifices were offered in the temple and that is no longer something that is done . Regarding this Augustine writes, “though in the former period of the world’s history He enjoined one kind of offerings, and in the latter period another, therein ordering the symbolic actions pertaining to the blessed doctrine of true religion in harmony with the changes of successive epochs without any change in Himself .”
DISPENSATIONALISM UP TO THE 19TH CENTURY
Up until this point the focus has been showing that concepts within dispensationalism were present from the earliest days of the church. It obviously developed much since then. So much so that it became widely popular in evangelical and fundamentalist circles in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Pierre Poiret lived from 1646-1719, and published a massive six-volume systematic theology . In his work titled L’Economie Divine, he details seven dispensations which range from infancy to the renovation of all things.
John Edwards was a pastor who published a work titled A Compleat History, or Survey of All the Dispensations. In this work, he seeks to show how God deals providentially with His creation in different stages of the world. The work itself is fairly short, and its listing of dispensations is quite interesting. He lists three dispensations, but the third dispensation (which is titled Reconciliation), has four subcategories. These subcategories range all the way from the patriarchal economy to the evangelical economy .
Before John Darby, Isaac Watts wrote hymns and was a theologian that made great headway in defining dispensationalism. He noticed that in various stages God would have different expectations and made promises that were different than that of previous generations. To this effect Charles Ryrie writes of Watts, “The Public dispensations toward God towards men are those wise and holy constitutions of his will and government, revealed or some way manifested to them, in the several successive periods or ages of the world .” He saw six dispensations laid out in Scripture with the first being the dispensation of innocence, and the last being the Christian dispensation.
John Darby is the person most people think about when they hear about dispensationalism. He was a prolific scholar, and did a masterful job in systematizing dispensational thought . He was ordained in the Church of England, but would eventually leave. He would move to Plymouth where he would lead a congregation that would eventually be called the “Plymouth Brethren’. Darby saw seven dispensations contained within Scripture.
His notion of dispensations was more advanced than the theologians previously mentioned as he noted that each dispensation comes with a condition for man. Man is unable to fulfill these conditions, and therefore it leads to failure. Darby’s systemization was popularized by C.I. Scofield and his very popular reference Bible.
The purpose of this paper is not to prove that dispensationalism is the way in which Bible prophecy should be interpreted. The goal is to show that the ideas of dispensationalism developed over time, and can be seen in the earliest days of the church. Many doctrines that we take for granted today started off as thoughts and ideas, but developed over time.
The argument that dispensationalism is a modern thought that was only developed in the 19th century lacks merit. In fact, the veracity of one who brings up such a notion should be called into question. In this paper the works of Justin Martyr, Papias, Irenaeus, and Augustine were discussed. There were other fathers not mentioned that held to primitive dispensational concepts such as Cyprian, Hippolytus, Commodian, Methodius, Melito, and Appolinaris. They all held views that would later develop into dispensationalism . Any serious theologian or church historian would do well in not dismissing dispensationalism as something that is modern. Though one may not agree with it, it is a system that should be respected and considered.
BIBLIOGRAPHYAquilina, Mike. The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers. 3rd ed. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2013.
Augustine. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Philip Schaff. Vol. 1, Letter 138. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887.
Ceasarea, Eusebius Of. An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine. London, UK: Samuel Bagster And Sons, 1847.
Chafer, Lewis S. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1976.
Easton, M.G. Easton Bible Dictionary. New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1893.
Edwards, John. A Compleat History, or Survey of All Dispensations. London, UK: John Edwards, 1699.
Ehlert, Arnold D. A Bibliographic History of Dispensationalism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1965.
Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014.
Eusebius. An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine. 142-143rd ed. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1847.
Hall, Christopher A. Learning Theology with the Church Fathers. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2002.
Jones, Timothy P. Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy. Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, 2011.
Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines. 5th ed. New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 1977.
Litfin, Bryan M. Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2007.
Lyons, Irenaeus Of. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885.
Martyr, Justin. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Buffalo, NY: 1885.
McNaughton, Ian. Opening up 2 Thessalonians: Leominster, MA: Day One Publications, 2008.
Ryrie, Charles C. Dispensationalism. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2007.
S, Mark, and Sweetnam. “Defining Dispensationalism: A Cultural Studies Perspective.” Journal of Religious History. 34, no. 2 (2010, June 1).
Sandeen, Ernest. The Roots of Fundamentalism: The Roots of British and American Millenariansim 1800-1930. Chicago: Il: University Of Chicago Press, 1970.
Sweetnam, Mark, and Crawford Gibbon. “J.n. Darby And The Irish Roots Of Dispensationalism.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 52, no. 3 (2009, September 1).
Tertullian. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Vol. 3, The Five Books Against Marcion. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885.
Yeatts, John R. Revelation. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2003.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.
 Timothy P. Jones, Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, 2011), 310.
 Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1976), 40.
 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago, IL: Moody, 2007), 47.
 M.G. Easton, Easton Bible Dictionary (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1893), 286.
 Ernest Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: The Roots of British and American Millenariansim 1800-1930 (Chicago: Il: University Of Chicago Press, 1970), 224.
 Arnold D. Ehlert, A Bibliographic History of Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1965), 25.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.
 Ian McNaughton, Opening up 2 Thessalonians: (Leominster, MA: Day One Publications, 2008), 78.
 Justin Martyr, Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, (Buffalo, NY: 1885), 209.
 Eusebius Of Ceasarea, An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine (London, UK: Samuel Bagster And Sons, 1847), 142.
 John R. Yeatts, Revelation (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2003), 389.
 Eusebius, An Ecclesiastical History to the 20th Year of the Reign of Constantine, 142-143rd ed (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1847), 144.
 Mark S and Sweetnam, “Defining Dispensationalism: A Cultural Studies Perspective,” Journal of Religious History 34, no. 2 (2010, June 1): 191-212.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.
 Timothy P. Jones, Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, 2011), 39.
 J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th ed (New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 1977), 108.
 Irenaeus Of Lyons, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 428.
 Christopher A. Hall, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2002), 126.
 Bryan M. Litfin, Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2007), 106.
 Tertullian, Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 3, The Five Books Against Marcion, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 302.
 Ibid, 343.
 Mike Aquilina, The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers, 3rd ed (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2013), 245.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 553.
 Augustine, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff, vol. 1, Letter 138, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 302.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 354.
 John Edwards, A Compleat History, or Survey of All Dispensations (London, UK: John Edwards, 1699), 17.
 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago, IL: Moody, 2007), 73.
 Mark Sweetnam and Crawford Gibbon, “J.n. Darby And The Irish Roots Of Dispensationalism,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52, no. 3 (2009, September 1): 569-577.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 556.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 554.
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The Crown of Thorns Club
By Chris Donato 8/1/2010
When was the last time you went to a private social club? If you think that kind of thing is for the elite members of our society alone, guess again. The Yellow Pages are filled with lists of social clubs in which anyone in the neighborhood can become a member. They meet mainly on Sunday mornings — but don’t be foolish enough to wait for an invitation. Sacred Time and Place The Society of Friends
Unfortunately, like most other clubs, this one is designed to keep certain people in and other people out. You will find in it a decidedly internalized and individualized faith, complete with its own set of man-made regulations. You will find in it a group of folks who act as if they are enjoying life to the fullest, no matter where they are or what they are doing. And what do they do? They do exactly what they wish to do. In this Sunday club, then, it comes as no surprise that God Is He Who Exists for Me.
But in reality, this private social club has been called out of the world of clubs, not to be just another club — albeit a little cleaner (if not a lot less fun) — but to be the anti-club, the place where the mantra above is flipped: I Am He Who Exists for God. Apart from this, we would have no purpose, being left anchorless in a torrid sea, unable to know our worth as creatures among other creatures wrought and redeemed by a transcendent God.
Recovering a sense of awe over God’s grace and our extrinsic worth (our worth given to us by God in Christ) as God’s people will, at the very least, produce what it has in every generation: worship of the one true God. And worship is, primarily, a collective thing; that is, groups engage in it. No doubt, individuals do as well (though “in secret,” Matt. 6:4, 6, 18). But far and away the focus in Scripture, when it comes to worship, is its corporate dimension.
This assumes that our growth as persons (that is, our development into more fully image-bearing humans) happens only in relation to others — first with God in Christ through His Spirit, and second with the temple of the Most High, His people. Add to this the means of His grace — the preached Word and the Word made visible in the sacraments of baptism and communion — and we’ve got readymade resistance against “the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
In Ephesians 4, one word, among a few others, sums up its theme: friendship. This probably sounds trite to modern ears, but that might have more to do with how trite our friendships are in this shallow, isolated age. The apostle Paul often exhorts the church in Ephesus to simply act like a society of friends. Chapter 4 of the letter is littered with such exhortations: support each other in love and preserve unity (vv. 2–3); use your gifts to knit the body together and strengthen it (vv. 12, 16); “speak the truth” to one another (v. 25); don’t sin in your anger against a friend (vv. 26, 29, 31); and work an honest job in order to share with those in need (vv. 28, 32).
In short, practice friendship. For a church without friendship, just like a beautiful woman who turns aside from her dignity, is like “a gold ring in a pig’s snout” (Prov. 11:22).
Sacred Time and PlaceIn our time and place, riddled as it is with hyper-individualism and the temptation to live as if God doesn’t exist, we need now more than ever to recapture the biblically defined idea of sacred time and place, not as a building so much as that which presupposes and points to a personal God — the gathering of His people. “For where two or three are gathered in my name,” Jesus said, “there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20). Not one, but two or three. And then the Christ comes. Our Father, His Son the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit inhabit a new temple — the covenant people (see John 14:16–23). It is in our relationship as individuals with and in this new temple that the triune God has promised to open His love to us. In other words, worship is the way through which the love of God is made accessible to His people. “Worship is an immediate and present means of God’s love, making us new creatures and giving us the ever more abundant life now” (C. FitzSimons Allison, Fear, Love, and Worship, p. 19).
The Society of FriendsSuch living, or “faithful presence” (to use James Davison Hunter’s phrase in his recently published book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World), means enacting “the shalom of God in the circumstances in which God has placed [us] and to actively seek it on behalf of others” (p. 278). While I won’t presume to tell anybody how this shakes out with respect to politics, business, or even coaching little-league soccer, I can say the Christian club mentality wouldn’t thrive under such conditions, since the very air it breathes (a narcissistic air of superiority) would be sucked out of the room by the selfless embodiment of God’s peace (the practicing of sacrificial love) no matter where we find ourselves throughout the week — but especially as we gather for worship.
Chris Donato is Director of Communications at Trinity International University, former senior associate editor of Tabletalk magazine, and editor of Perspectives on the Sabbath.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 78Tell the Coming Generation
78 A Maskil Of Asaph.
1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
Slay Them In My Name
By Anthony Zarrella 9/18/2018Luke 19:27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’ ” ESV
Yes, Jesus said those words.
And David, in Psalms 14 and 53, did literally write, “There is no God.”
But David attributes those words as what “the fool” says “in his heart”—he is not adopting that sentiment as his own, but in fact condemning it.
Similarly, Jesus makes the quoted statement as the words of a character in a parable.
Unlike David, He is not condemning the sentiment. In fact, He is adopting it as His own. But He is not actually giving a command to His followers to slay unbelievers.
He is giving them a prophetic parable of how things will be when He returns in glory—the “nobleman” who goes away and comes back is Jesus, but He has not left yet at the time of the parable. When He returns at the eschaton, people will have the choice to follow Him and receive eternal life, or reject Him and receive an unending “second death”.
Some people might still find that objectionable. I’m well aware that there are plenty of people who wish to impose human morality upon God rather than divine morality upon humanity.
But in proper context, what this verse assuredly does not mean is that Jesus commanded His actual disciples to go out and kill people who didn’t follow Him.
Anthony Zarrella | Conservative Catholic, Attorney/Councilor, Constitutionalist
The Frozen Chosen
By Keith Mathison 8/1/2010
Reformed Christians are often accused of being cold and callous, virtual Stoics or fatalists. We’ve all heard the epithet “the frozen chosen” applied to Reformed believers. We usually protest that such a nickname does not truly describe us, and of course, we all know many brothers and sisters to whom such a name would never stick. But the fact that this nickname, this description of us, is so common should give us pause. Do we sometimes speak and act in ways that give rise to such an idea? Sadly, I believe we do.
Take grief, for example. I cringe when I think of the number of times I’ve heard completely heartless and, frankly, offensive words come out of the mouths of Reformed Christians when speaking about death. The problem is a lack of biblical balance. As believers, we do now rest assured that when believing loved ones die, they are then in the presence of the Lord, finally free from sin. We also rest assured of the resurrection, when our bodies will be raised incorruptible from the grave. And, trusting the sovereignty of God, we always attempt to be prepared for whatever time God shall choose to call us to Himself.
To be present with the Lord is a great good. To be free from sin is a great good. For these things it is appropriate to long. This is what John Calvin means when he says, “Let us, however, consider this settled: that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.10.5). But the fact that these things are good does not mean that death, in and of itself, is good. God, in His Word, refers to death as “the wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23). Hell is “the second death” (Rev. 20:6). Paul describes death as God’s “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). Is an enemy of God good? No. Death is the result of sin. It is an unnatural abomination in God’s creation, an ally of Satan that will ultimately be eradicated. As the apostle John tells us, in the new heaven and earth “death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4).
Now because believers are in Christ and share in His resurrection, death will not conquer us, but the fact that Christ has taken the ultimate sting out of death for believers does not change the fact that death is still an enemy of God, which will be completely destroyed by Christ. This understanding of death affects the way we look at grief. The fact that believers who die are present with the Lord and that their bodies will be raised means that we do not grieve as unbelievers grieve (1 Thess. 4:13). It does not mean, however, that we do not grieve at all.
Somehow, many Reformed Christians have gotten it into their heads that to grieve with those who grieve is to deny the belief that a deceased loved one is in the presence of God. Some seem to have convinced themselves that true compassion for the grieving or true hatred of this enemy of God somehow betrays a lack of faith in the sovereignty of God. But who has a greater certainty of God’s sovereignty than Jesus? Who knows better what is on the other side of death for believers? And yet how did Jesus respond when Lazarus died? Did He look at it with a heartless Stoicism? No. Jesus wept (John 11:35). He wept, even though He knew what He was about to do in raising Lazarus back to life.
Jesus’ response is how we should respond to death in this time between the times. Jesus has already conquered death in His resurrection. He will completely destroy it at the final resurrection of the dead. Here and now, we grieve with those who grieve, not as unbelievers with no hope of the resurrection, but as believers who know death cannot defeat us, but who still hate this enemy of God and the pain and loneliness it causes to our brothers and sisters. We grieve as those who cannot wait to see death destroyed once and for all.
Is such hatred of God’s last enemy and compassion for its victims “Calvinist”? On the one hand, such a question is irrelevant, but those who doubt that it is “Calvinist” should read some of the letters of Calvin himself. Take Calvin’s letter of April 1541 to Monsieur de Richebourg as an example. Calvin wrote this letter to console him on the death of his son. Calvin writes that when he first heard the news, “I was so utterly overpowered that for many days I was fit for nothing but to grieve.” After consoling his friend with the truths I mentioned above concerning the resurrection, Calvin continues: “It is difficult … to shake off or suppress the love of a father, as not to experience grief on occasion of the loss of a son. Neither do I insist upon your laying aside all grief. Nor, in the school of Christ, do we learn any such philosophy as requires us to put off that common humanity with which God has endowed us, that, being men, we should be turned to stones.” All Calvin urges him to do is refrain from grieving as unbelievers grieve. As Jesus wept, so too did Calvin weep. If we are human, we too will weep.
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Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.Keith Mathison Books:
- 1 Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope
- 2 The Shape of Sola Scriptura
- 3 Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper
- 4 From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
- 5 Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?
- 6 A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture
- 7 Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason
- 8 When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism
By John Walvoord
Judgment Is Inevitable, but True Repentance Will Bring Restoration
Jeremiah 15:1–4. Even though Moses and Samuel interceded, God would nevertheless punish His people. They were destined to death by the sword, by starvation, and by captivity (v. 2 ). Four kinds of destroyers would attack them: the sword, the dogs, the birds, and the beasts of the earth (v. 3 ). Even the nations would abhor them because they followed the sins of Manasseh (v. 4 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah 15:5–21. No one would pity Jerusalem in her day of distress because she had rejected the Lord (vv. 5–6 ). There would be many widows, more than the sands of the sea (v. 8 ). These survivors would be put to the sword (v. 9 ). God promised to deliver Jeremiah in the time of distress. Their wealth would be plundered, and they would be enslaved to their enemies. Jeremiah was promised that if he was a worthy spokesman of God, he would be like “a fortified wall of bronze” (v. 20 ). God promised to save him from the hand of the wicked (v. 21 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
The Coming Disaster
Jeremiah 16:1–13. Jeremiah was instructed not to marry or have sons and daughters because they would be destined to die by the sword and by famine like the others.
Jeremiah was also told not to join in the funeral meal or to show pity for those in bereavement because God had withdrawn His pity from this people, and they were destined for a sad end. No more would the bride and the bridegroom celebrate with joy.
Jeremiah was instructed to tell the people that a great disaster was coming because not only they but their fathers had forsaken the Lord (vv. 10–12 ). They would be carried captive to a strange land and there would serve other gods (v. 13 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity and in Jeremiah’s experience.
God’s Ultimate Purpose to Restore Israel
Jeremiah 16:14–15. Though the near prospect for Israel was that of disaster and removal from the land, God affirmed that even in this context of apostasy He would restore them to the land: “‘However, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when men will no longer say “As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,” but they will say, “As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.” For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers.’”
Two things may be noted about this prophecy: (1) It was delivered in a time of apostasy when Israel certainly did not deserve this promise. (2) The promise of the land was still understood as a literal promise, as it is all through the Old Testament. Just as Israel was being literally carried off into captivity from her land to another, so she will be literally brought back from other lands to her homeland. The time of fulfillment will be at the second coming of Christ when Israelites will come “out of all the countries where he had banished them” (v. 15 ). Her regathering will enable her to participate in the millennial kingdom following the second advent.
Captivity to Precede Restoration
Jeremiah 16:16–18. In contrast to the merciful regathering of Israel mentioned in the preceding verses, this prophecy describes hunting down the Israelites who would be carried off into captivity. Israelites who were hidden would be searched out, and they would suffer for their sins and the sins of their forefathers. This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Gentiles Also to Be Saved
Jeremiah 16:19–21. God, who had been the refuge of those who turned to Him, would eventually bring to Himself those from all nations who trust in the Lord (v. 19 ). When they return to the Lord, He will teach them of His “power and might. Then they will know that my name is the LORD” (v. 21 ). This is fulfilled in God’s program of salvation.
The Wicked and the Righteous Contrasted
Jeremiah 17:1–18. The sin of Judah was inscribed indelibly on her heart, causing God to punish her (vv. 1–2 ). Her wealth would be taken from her (v. 3 ); she would lose her inheritance (v. 4 ) and would be enslaved (v. 4 ). God pronounced a curse on the one who trusted in man and described him as a bush in the desert (vv. 5–6 ).
By contrast, the blessed man “will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (v. 8 ). Israel at the time, however, was like a desert bush, not a righteous person drawing from an abundant supply of water. The problem with Israel and Judah was that their hearts were deceitful (v. 9 ), and this resulted in God’s forsaking them and putting them to shame (v. 13 ). Because Jeremiah’s persecutors would not believe him, Jeremiah called on God to bring the judgment he had prophesied (vv. 14–18 ).
Keeping the Sabbath
Jeremiah 17:19–27. Jeremiah’s plea with the children of Israel to keep the Sabbath went unheeded. God offered her a conditional promise: If she would keep His Sabbath and observe His Law, He would bless her; if she would not, “then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses” (v. 27 ).
Sign of the Potter’s House
Jeremiah 18:1–10. Using the illustration of a marred pot of clay being shaped in the potter’s hands, God declared to Jeremiah that He could do what the potter did as Israel was clay in His hands. God declared that if a nation under the curse of His judgment would repent of its evil, He would relieve them of the disaster (v. 8 ). If, on the other hand, He announced blessing on the nation or kingdom but it did evil, then God would “reconsider the good I had intended to do for it” (v. 10 ). Blessing under the Mosaic law was conditioned on obedience. This prophecy was fulfilled in the history of Israel.
Jeremiah 18:11–23. In light of this, God declared, “‘Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart’” (vv. 11–12 ). God charged Israel with a “most horrible thing” (v. 13 ). Israel had forgotten God and had been burning incense to idols that were worthless (v. 15 ). As a result, “their land will be laid waste, an object of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads” (v. 16 ). Jeremiah asked God to fulfill His plans to punish Israel because she was making plots against Jeremiah himself.
Sign of the Broken Pot
Jeremiah 19:1–15. Jeremiah was instructed to buy a clay jar from the potter and then pronounce judgment on Israel because of her sins (vv. 1–5 ). Instead of calling the place “Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom,” they would call it “the Valley of Slaughter” (v. 6 ). God described the terrible judgment on Israel that would devastate her cities and even cause her to eat the flesh of her children (vv. 7–9 ). Jeremiah then broke the jar and declared that God “will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no room” (v. 11 ). God will defile Jerusalem just as He defiled Topheth (vv. 12–13 ).
Jeremiah repeated his judgment that God would bring disaster on Jerusalem and the surrounding villages because “they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words” (v. 15 ). This judgment was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah 20:1–6. After Jeremiah was beaten by Pashhur the priest (vv. 1–2 ), Jeremiah repeated the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (v. 4 ). He declared that they would see their friends fall by the sword and see the treasures of Jerusalem taken to Babylon (vv. 4–5 ). He predicted that Pashhur himself would go into exile in Babylon and would die and be buried there (v. 6 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity ( 2 Chron. 36:15–21).
The Continual Burnt Offering (Luke 9:26)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
July 21Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. ESV
The claims of Christ are paramount to all others. He asks for a full, unreserved surrender to Himself. None but God is entitled to this. He is God become man for our redemption. Therefore all authority is His. To yield to Him will mean the recognition that we are not our own, but are to be henceforth at His command. To lay down our lives is to put them absolutely at His disposal. If this ever means literally to die for Him, it will but open the door to eternal bliss. To shrink from suffering, to seek to avoid death by denying Him, will mean the life — the true self — lost. To acknowledge Him openly before men, whatever the consequences, will mean an open acknowledgment of us by Him in the day of His revelation, His glorious appearing. He who died to redeem the soul claims our fullest allegiance.
Not my own, but saved by Jesus,
Who redeemed me by His blood,
Gladly I accept the message,
I belong to Christ the Lord.
Not my own! My time, my talents,
Freely all to Christ I bring;
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.
--- D. W. Whittle
The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
16. And (to despatch these beasts in their own arena) if any sacrament
is sought here, would it not have been much more plausible to maintain that the absolution of the priest is a sacrament, than penitence either
external or internal? For it might obviously have been said that it is
a ceremony to confirm our faith in the forgiveness of sins, and that it
has the promise of the keys, as they describe them: "Whatsoever ye
shall bind or loose on earth, shall be bound or loosed in heaven." But
some one will object that to most of those who are absolved by priests
nothing of the kind is given by the absolution, whereas, according to
their dogma, the sacraments of the new dispensation ought to effect
what they figure. This is ridiculous. As in the eucharist, they make
out a twofold eating--a sacramental, which is common to the good and
bad alike, and a spiritual, which is proper only to the good; why
should they not also pretend that absolution is given in two ways? And
yet I have never been able to understand what they meant by their
dogma. How much it is at variance with the truth of God, we showed when
we formally discussed that subject. Here I only wish to show that no
scruple should prevent them from giving the name of a sacrament to the
absolution of the priest. For they might have answered by the mouth of
Augustine,  that there is a sanctification without a visible
sacrament, and a visible sacrament without internal sanctification.
Again, that in the elect alone sacraments effect what they figure.
Again, that some put on Christ so far as the receiving of the
sacrament, and others so far as sanctification; that the former is done
equally by the good and the bad, the latter by the good only. Surely
they were more deluded than children, and blind in the full light of
the sun when they toiled with so much difficulty, and perceived not a
matter so plain and obvious to every man.
17. Lest they become elated, however, whatever be the part in which they place the sacrament, I deny that it can justly be regarded as a sacrament; first, because there exists not to this effect any special promise of God, which is the only ground of a sacrament;  and, secondly, because whatever ceremony is here used is a mere invention of man; whereas, as has already been shown, the ceremonies of sacraments can only be appointed by God. Their fiction of the sacrament of penance, therefore, was falsehood and imposture. This fictitious sacrament they adorned with the befitting eulogium, that it was the second plank in the case of shipwreck, because if any one had, by sin, injured the garment of innocence received in baptism, he might repair it by penitence.  This was a saying of Jerome. Let it be whose it may, as it is plainly impious, it cannot be excused if understood in this sense; as if baptism were effaced by sin, and were not rather to be recalled to the mind of the sinner whenever he thinks of the forgiveness of sins, that he may thereby recollect himself, regain courage, and be confirmed in the belief that he shall obtain the forgiveness of sins which was promised him in baptism. What Jerome said harshly and improperly--viz. that baptism, which is fallen from by those who deserve to be excommunicated from the Church, is repaired by penitence, these worthy expositors wrest to their own impiety. You will speak most correctly, therefore, if you call baptism the sacrament of penitence, seeing it is given to those who aim at repentance to confirm their faith and seal their confidence. But lest you should think this our invention, it appears, that besides being conformable to the words of Scripture, it was generally regarded in the early Church as an indubitable axiom. For in the short Treatise on Faith addressed to Peter, and bearing the name of Augustine, it is called, The sacrament of faith and repentance. But why have recourse to doubtful writings, as if anything can be required more distinct than the statement of the Evangelist, that John preached "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins"? (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).
OF EXTREME UNCTION, SO CALLED.
18. The third fictitious sacrament is Extreme Unction, which is performed only by a priest, and, as they express it, in extremis, with oil consecrated by the bishop, and with this form of words, "By this holy unction, and his most tender mercy, may God forgive you whatever sin you have committed, by the eye, the ear, the smell, the touch, the taste" (see Calv. Epist. de Fugiend. Illicit. Sac.). They pretend that there are two virtues in it--the forgiveness of sins, and relief of bodily disease, if so expedient; if not expedient, the salvation of the soul. For they say, that the institution was set down by James, whose words are, "Is any sick among you? let him send for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14). The same account is here to be given of this unction as we lately gave of the laying on of hands; in other words, it is mere hypocritical stage-play, by which, without reason or result, they would resemble the apostles. Mark relates that the apostles, on their first mission, agreeably to the command which they had received of the Lord, raised the dead, cast out devils, cleansed lepers, healed the sick, and, in healing, used oil. He says, they "anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6:13). To this James referred when he ordered the presbyters of the Church to be called to anoint the sick. That no deeper mystery lay under this ceremony will easily be perceived by those who consider how great liberty both our Lord and his apostles used in those external things.  Our Lord, when about to give sight to the blind man, spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle; some he cured by a touch, others by a word. In like manner the apostles cured some diseases by word only, others by touch, others by anointing. But it is probable that neither this anointing nor any of the other things were used at random. I admit this; not, however, that they were instruments of the cure, but only symbols to remind the ignorant whence this great virtue proceeded, and prevent them from ascribing the praise to the apostles. To designate the Holy Spirit and his gifts by oil is trite and common (Ps. 45:8). But the gift of hearing disappeared with the other miraculous powers which the Lord was pleased to give for a time, that it might render the new preaching of the gospel for ever wonderful. Therefore, even were we to grant that anointing was a sacrament of those powers which were then administered by the hands of the apostles, it pertains not to us, to whom no such powers have been committed.
19. And what better reason have they for making a sacrament of this unction, than of any of the other symbols which are mentioned in Scripture? Why do they not dedicate some pool of Siloam, into which, at certain seasons the sick may plunge themselves? That, they say, were done in vain. Certainly not more in vain than unction. Why do they not lay themselves on the dead, seeing that Paul, in raising up the dead youth, lay upon him? Why is not clay made of dust and spittle a sacrament? The other cases were special, but this is commanded by James. In other words, James spake agreeably to the time when the Church still enjoyed this blessing from God. They affirm, indeed, that there is still the same virtue in their unction, but we experience differently. Let no man now wonder that they have with so much confidence deluded souls which they knew to be stupid and blind, because deprived of the word of God, that is, of his light and life, seeing they blush not to attempt to deceive the bodily perceptions of those who are alive, and have all their senses about them. They make themselves ridiculous, therefore, by pretending that they are endued with the gift of healing. The Lord, doubtless, is present with his people in all ages, and cures their sicknesses as often as there is need, not less than formerly; and yet he does not exert those manifest powers, nor dispense miracles by the hands of apostles, because that gift was temporary, and owing, in some measure, to the ingratitude of men, immediately ceased.
20. Wherefore, as the apostles, not without cause, openly declared, by the symbol of oil, that the gift of healing committed to them was not their own, but the power of the Holy Spirit; so, on the other hand, these men insult the Holy Spirit by making his power consist in a filthy oil of no efficacy. It is just as if one were to say that all oil is the power of the Holy Spirit, because it is called by that name in Scripture, and that every dove is the Holy Spirit, because he appeared in that form. Let them see to this: it is sufficient for us that we perceive, with absolute certainty, that their unction is no sacrament, as it is neither a ceremony appointed by God, nor has any promise. For when we require, in a sacrament, these two things, that it be a ceremony appointed by God, and have a promise from God, we at the same time demand that that ceremony be delivered to us, and that that promise have reference to us.  No man contends that circumcision is now a sacrament of the Christian Church, although it was both an ordinance of God, and had his promise annexed to it, because it was neither commanded to us, nor was the promise annexed to it given us on the same condition. The promise of which they vaunt so much in unction, as we have clearly demonstrated, and they themselves show by experience, has not been given to us. The ceremony behoved to be used only by those who had been endued with the gift of healing, not by those murderers, who do more by slaying and butchering than by curing.
21. Even were it granted that this precept of unction, which has nothing to do with the present age, were perfectly adapted to it, they will not even thus have advanced much in support of their unction, with which they have hitherto besmeared us. James would have all the sick to be anointed: these men besmear, with their oil, not the sick, but half-dead carcasses, when life is quivering on the lips, or, as they say, in extremis. If they have a present cure in their sacrament, with which they can either alleviate the bitterness of disease, or at least give some solace to the soul, they are cruel in never curing in time. James would have the sick man to be anointed by the elders of the Church. They admit no anointer but a priestling. When they interpret the elders of James to be priests, and allege that the plural number is used for honour, the thing is absurd; as if the Church had at that time abounded with swarms of priests, so that they could set out in long procession, bearing a dish of sacred oil. James, in ordering simply that the sick be anointed, seems to me to mean no other anointing than that of common oil, nor is any other mentioned in the narrative of Mark. These men deign not to use any oil but that which has been consecrated by a bishop, that is warmed with much breath, charmed by much muttering, and saluted nine times on bended knee, Thrice Hail, holy oil! thrice Hail, holy chrism! thrice Hail, holy balsam! From whom did they derive these exorcisms? James says, that when the sick man shall have been anointed with oil, and prayer shall have been made over him, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him--viz. that his guilt being forgiven, he shall obtain a mitigation of the punishment, not meaning that sins are effaced by oil, but that the prayers by which believers commended their afflicted brother to God would not be in vain. These men are impiously false in saying that sins are forgiven by their sacred, that is, abominable unction. See how little they gain, even when they are allowed to abuse the passage of James as they list. And to save us the trouble of a laborious proof, their own annals relieve us from all difficulty; for they relate that Pope Innocent, who presided over the church of Rome in the age of Augustine, ordained, that not elders only, but all Christians, should use oil in anointing, in their own necessity, or in that of their friends.  Our authority for this is Sigebert, in his Chronicles.
OF ECCLESIASTICAL ORDERS.
22. The fourth place in their catalogue is held by the sacrament of Orders, one so prolific, as to beget of itself seven lesser sacraments. It is very ridiculous that, after affirming that there are seven sacraments, when they begin to count, they make out thirteen. It cannot be alleged that they are one sacrament, because they all tend to one priesthood, and are a kind of steps to the same thing. For while it is certain that the ceremonies in each are different, and they themselves say that the graces are different, no man can doubt that if their dogmas are admitted, they ought to be called seven sacraments. And why debate it as a doubtful matter, when they themselves plainly and distinctly declare that they are seven? First, then, we shall glance at them in passing, and show to how many absurdities they introduce us when they would recommend their orders to us as sacraments; and, secondly, we shall see whether the ceremony which churches use in ordaining ministers ought at all to be called a sacrament. They make seven ecclesiastical orders, or degrees, which they distinguish by the title of a sacrament. These are Doorkeepers, Readers, Exorcists, Acolytes, Subdeacons, Deacons, and Priests. And they say that they are seven, because of the seven kinds of graces of the Holy Spirit with which those who are promoted to them ought to be endued. This grace is increased and more liberally accumulated on promotion. The mere number has been consecrated by a perversion of Scripture, because they think they read in Isaiah that there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, whereas truly not more than six are mentioned by Isaiah, who, however, meant not to include all in that passage. For, in other passages are mentioned the spirit of life, of sanctification, of the adoption of sons, as well as there, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.  Although others who are more acute make not seven orders, but nine, in imitation, as they say, of the Church triumphant. But among these, also, there is a contest; because some insist that the clerical tonsure is the first order of all, and the episcopate the last; while others, excluding the tonsure, class the office of archbishop among the orders. Isiodorus distinguishes differently, for he makes Psalmists and Readers different.  To the former, he gives the charge of chanting; to the latter, that of reading the Scriptures for the instruction of the common people. And this distinction is observed by the canons. In this great variety, what would they have us to follow or to avoid? Shall we say that there are seven orders? So the master of the school teaches, but the most illuminated doctors determine otherwise. On the other hand, they are at variance among themselves. Besides, the most sacred canons call us in a different direction. Such, indeed, is the concord of men when they discuss divine things apart from the word of God.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
10/1/2014 Every Jot and Tittle
Although we don’t like to admit it, the reason many of us don’t read the Bible regularly is because we are afraid of it. We are afraid of the Bible because we are ignorant of the Bible. Many of the theological words and concepts we come across in the Bible are foreign to us and, therefore, frighten us. When we come across such words, we often don’t know what to make of them. So, we just move on to the next word and, to our own detriment, fail to grasp the full meaning and beauty of the passage we’re reading. This isn’t just the case with big theological words we run into from time to time, but with common words we’re familiar with that appear on every page of the Bible. Part of the reason we move on is because we are often trying to read the Bible simply to get through a particular chapter or book rather than digging into it to study it in its fullness. In fact, the Bible doesn’t ever call us just to read it. Rather, the Bible calls us to study it, to examine it, to devour it, to meditate on it, to let it dwell within our hearts richly, and to hide it in our hearts that we might not sin against the Lord.
As a pastor, one of my greatest concerns is that people know the Bible for themselves so that they might know God, love God, glorify God, and enjoy God. As Dr. R.C. Sproul and I preach every Sunday at Saint Andrew’s Chapel, we strive to help our congregation know the Bible by preaching verse-by-verse through entire books of the Bible. Recently, I completed preaching 150 sermons through 1 and 2 Corinthians, and in most of these sermons, following the example set by Dr. Sproul, I defined key theological words so that the congregation would be better equipped and unafraid to study Scripture on their own and with their families.
Some words we come across in the Bible require that we not only examine their meaning, but also the meanings of related words. This is because a word itself is often just one part of a two-part concept—a dichotomy—in Scripture. For instance, when we come across the word blessing, we must also know the biblical and theological distinction between blessing and its opposite, cursing. Similarly, in order to fully grasp the meaning of wisdom, we must examine the meaning of foolishness. If we study one without the other, we do ourselves a great disservice in our understanding and application of the theology of God’s Word. God’s Word is truth—it not only contains the truth, it defines the truth, and it is by that truth we are sanctified. Consequently, the more we know God’s truth, the more we will grow in the grace, knowledge, and holiness of Jesus Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore study not only the major stories and theological themes of the Bible, but also every word, every jot and tittle, that we might know and love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, coram Deo, before the face of the God who has revealed Himself to us for our eternal good and His eternal glory.
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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
The famous Monkey Trial ended this day, July 21, 1925, as John Scopes, a Highschool biology teacher in Tennessee was fined for teaching a theory of origins called evolution. Williams Jennings Bryan, three time Democratic Presidential candidate, was the prosecuting attorney. He objected to a tooth being presented as proof of humans evolving from apes. Later the tooth was admitted to be that of a pig. William Jennings Bryan, who died five days after the trial, once stated: “I am interested in the science of government, but I am more interested in religion … and I shall be in the church even after I am out of politics.”
Compilation by RickAdams7
Thus it was fitting that man should be created,
in the first place,
so that he could will both good and evil--
not without reward, if he willed the good;
not without punishment, if he willed the evil.
But in the future life he will not have the power
to will evil;
and yet this will not thereby restrict his free will.
Indeed, his will will be much freer,
because he will then have no power whatever to serve sin.
For we surely ought not to find fault with such a will,
nor say it is no will,
or that it is not rightly called free,
when we so desire happiness
that we not only are unwilling to be miserable,
but have no power whatsoever to will it.
--- Saint Augustine
All that is thought should not be said,
all that is said should not be written,
all that is written should not be published,
all that is published should not be read.
--- Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Tomashov
(the Kotzker Rebbe)
Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face;
here would I touch and handle things unseen,
here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
and all my weariness upon Thee lean.
Here would I feed upon the bread of God,
here drink with Thee the royal wine of heav’n.
Here would I lay aside each earthly load,
here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiv’n.
--- Horatius Bonar
You know a constellation of imperishable values. Live by the mighty truth and power of God. Live above the sludge of a sick society. Live among dispirited humans as the vanguard of peace and good news. Remember, our Commander in Chief has no use for tin soldiers.
--- Carl F.H. Henry
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
Cestius Sends Neopolitanus The Tribune To See In What Condition The Affairs Of The Jews Were. Agrippa Makes A Speech To The People Of The Jews That He May Divert Them From Their Intentions Of Making War With The Romans.
1. However, Florus contrived another way to oblige the Jews to begin the war, and sent to Cestius, and accused the Jews falsely of revolting [from the Roman government], and imputed the beginning of the former fight to them, and pretended they had been the authors of that disturbance, wherein they were only the sufferers. Yet were not the governors of Jerusalem silent upon this occasion, but did themselves write to Cestius, as did Bernice also, about the illegal practices of which Florus had been guilty against the city; who, upon reading both accounts, consulted with his captains [what he should do]. Now some of them thought it best for Cestius to go up with his army, either to punish the revolt, if it was real, or to settle the Roman affairs on a surer foundation, if the Jews continued quiet under them; but he thought it best himself to send one of his intimate friends beforehand, to see the state of affairs, and to give him a faithful account of the intentions of the Jews. Accordingly, he sent one of his tribunes, whose name was Neopolitanus, who met with king Agrippa as he was returning from Alexandria, at Jamnia, and told him who it was that sent him, and on what errands he was sent.
2. And here it was that the high priests, and men of power among the Jews, as well as the sanhedrim, came to congratulate the king [upon his safe return]; and after they had paid him their respects, they lamented their own calamities, and related to him what barbarous treatment they had met with from Florus. At which barbarity Agrippa had great indignation, but transferred, after a subtle manner, his anger towards those Jews whom he really pitied, that he might beat down their high thoughts of themselves, and would have them believe that they had not been so unjustly treated, in order to dissuade them from avenging themselves. So these great men, as of better understanding than the rest, and desirous of peace, because of the possessions they had, understood that this rebuke which the king gave them was intended for their good; but as to the people, they came sixty furlongs out of Jerusalem, and congratulated both Agrippa and Neopolitanus; but the wives of those that had been slain came running first of all and lamenting. The people also, when they heard their mourning, fell into lamentations also, and besought Agrippa to assist them: they also cried out to Neopolitanus, and complained of the many miseries they had endured under Florus; and they showed them, when they were come into the city, how the market-place was made desolate, and the houses plundered. They then persuaded Neopolitanus, by the means of Agrippa, that he would walk round the city, with one only servant, as far as Siloam, that he might inform himself that the Jews submitted to all the rest of the Romans, and were only displeased at Florus, by reason of his exceeding barbarity to them. So he walked round, and had sufficient experience of the good temper the people were in, and then went up to the temple, where he called the multitude together, and highly commended them for their fidelity to the Romans, and earnestly exhorted them to keep the peace; and having performed such parts of Divine worship at the temple as he was allowed to do, he returned to Cestius.
3. But as for the multitude of the Jews, they addressed themselves to the king, and to the high priests, and desired they might have leave to send ambassadors to Nero against Florus, and not by their silence afford a suspicion that they had been the occasions of such great slaughters as had been made, and were disposed to revolt, alleging that they should seem to have been the first beginners of the war, if they did not prevent the report by showing who it was that began it; and it appeared openly that they would not be quiet, if any body should hinder them from sending such an embassage. But Agrippa, although he thought it too dangerous a thing for them to appoint men to go as the accusers of Florus, yet did he not think it fit for him to overlook them, as they were in a disposition for war. He therefore called the multitude together into a large gallery, and placed his sister Bernice in the house of the Asamoneans, that she might be seen by them, [which house was over the gallery, at the passage to the upper city, where the bridge joined the temple to the gallery,] and spake to them as follows:
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
finds life, prosperity and honor.
22 A wise man can go up into a city of warriors
and undermine the strength in which it trusts.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The gateway to the kingdom
Blessed are the poor in spirit. --- Matthew 5:3.
Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I cannot attain. What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near? I am happier without knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be—to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.
The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man—the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. ‘Blessed are the paupers in spirit,’ that is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility—‘I cannot begin to do it.’ Then Jesus says—‘Blessed are you.’ That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us on to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
A Priest To His People
Men of the hills, wantoners, men of Wales,
With your sheep and your pigs and your ponies,
your sweaty females,
How I have hated you for your irreverence,
your scorn even
Of the refinements of art
and the mysteries of the Church,
I whose invective would spurt like a flame of fire
To be quenched always in the coldness of your stare.
Men of bone, wrenched from the bitter moorland,
Who have not yet shaken the moss from your savage skulls,
Or prayed the peat from your eyes,
Did you detect like an ewe or an ailing whether,
Driven into the undergrowth by the nagging flies,
My true heart wandering in a wood of lies?
You are curt and graceless, yet your sudden
Is sharp and bright as a whipped pool,
When the win strikes or the clouds are flying;
And all the devices of church and school
Have failed to ripple your unhallowed movements,
Or put a halter on your wild soul.
You are lean and spare, yet your strength is a
Of the pale words in the black Book,
And why should you come like sparrows for prayer
Whose hands can dabble in the world's blood?
I have taxed your ignorance of rhyme and sonnet,
Your want of deference to the painter's skill,
But I know, as I listen, that your speech has in it
The source of all poetry, clear as a rill
Bubbling from your lips; and what a brushwork
The artistry of your dwelling on the bare hill?
You will forgive, then, my initial hatred,
My first intolerance of your uncouth ways,
You who are indifferent to all that I can offer,
Caring not whether I blame or praise.
With your pigs and your sheep and your sons
and holly-cheeked daughters
You will still continue to unwind your days
In a crude tapestry under the jealous heavens
To affront, bewilder, yet compel my gaze.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Hebrew word for elder, זָקֵן/zaken, is related to the Hebrew word for beard, זָקֵן/zakan. Just as a beard comes with age, so too, the Midrash believes, does wisdom. The young were taught to revere their elders, not out of pity for those who were old and infirm and decrepit, but because those who had lived many years had accumulated much experience and wisdom. These were to be found not in cyberspace, but in the head of a man with a beard who had been blessed with long life and had learned much along the way.
Imagine a young person, two thousand years ago, having to make a trek across a desert. There were no Jeeps to rent, no guides to hire, no guidebooks to buy. Just one person, on his own, against the elements. How did he know which route to take? Where would he find drinkable water? What hostile tribes and wild animals did he need to look out for? When was the best time to travel? If he wanted to survive, he would go to an elder in the family or the clan, sit at his feet, and learn all that he could. With the elder resided the accumulated experience and wisdom that had been passed down from generation to generation for a thousand years.
Mark Twain had a classic witticism that wonderfully captures the initial arrogance of youth, and the lessons they come to learn about their elders:
When I was 14, my father was so stupid I could barely stand to have the old man around. When I was 21, I was amazed at how much he had learned in seven years.…
The rabbis had another proverb that tells us about the young who never learned the lesson:…
There are many old camels bearing the hides of young camels on their backs. (Sanhedrin 52a)…
We learn to respect our elders—not simply for their sakes, but for our own.
Let’s make a case for those without beards, youth and women, for Rabbinic literature was written by Rabbis, and these were all men. A lot of them probably had beards. The Rabbis spoke in a language that was quite gendered: It was masculine both in its grammar and its outlook. Thus, the Hebrew word for elder, from the same root as “beard,” denotes someone with knowledge, someone who has something to contribute to the discussion. Those without a beard—females and the young—were too often easily dismissed.
Yet even the Rabbis themselves realized that wisdom isn’t always dressed in a beard. In the Talmud, in a selection quoted in the Passover Haggadah, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah compares himself to one who is seventy years old. The Rabbis tell us that Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah was only eighteen at the time. He had only recently assumed the responsibility of being head of the study house and felt as if he were seventy. He was chronologically young but old enough in wisdom (and aged by the burden of leadership) to guide scholars many years older. At age eighteen, Rabbi Elazar was a זָקֵן/zaken, “elder,” even though his beard may not have been long and white.
In our world, younger people often have knowledge and experience that the elders do not. Our children may surpass us with knowledge of technology. Youngsters race through their homework using the Internet as a tool, while “elders” take longer to do research in books and catalogues.
And it’s not just a question of age; it’s also one of gender. In the Midrash, we hear few women’s voices. On several occasions, Beruriah, wife of Rabbi Meir, is quoted in the Talmud for her sagacity and sensitivity. How would the collections of Midrash have read if the feminine perspective had been added throughout? What additional and enriching views would women have added to the Rabbis’ reading of the Bible? How fascinating that the word for counsel and advice, עֵצָה/eitzah, is feminine! We can only guess what women might have contributed then; fortunately, we can hear and benefit from their wisdom now.
Today, we recognize that the Rabbis often grouped “women and children” into one category, glossing over the significant differences between them. Let’s take advice and wisdom from every source, regardless of age or gender.
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.
We can always find him where we are. (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.) And since this is so, go to him as people did when he was on earth. Many testify that they have gone and been heard, and none [have] been sent away empty—go, and you too will hear him say, “Your sins are forgiven.” Go with the same humility the Syrophoenician woman felt when she pleaded that the dogs, though they should not eat the children’s food, might yet have the crumbs that fell under the table—and that she, though a Gentile, might yet have some humble share in salvation. Go with all the earnestness the poor blind man felt. He heard that Jesus was passing, and none could hinder him from crying, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And when the Savior commanded him to be called, they said to him, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Even so, my hearer, Jesus commands you to be called, as you sit in your spiritual blindness. Just as Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak that nothing might hinder him and went eagerly to Jesus, so you go at once to him and ask that you may receive your sight. You too shall hear him say, “Go, your faith has healed you.”
And go to Jesus just as you are. Do not wait to be ready—don’t think of being prepared, don’t dream of being fit to go. The readiness, the preparation, the fitness—all must be his gift. How wrong to put off your going to him till you have that which he alone can give! You are a burdened sinner—isn’t it so? Jesus invites you, “Come to me.” Do you say you are not sorry for sin as you ought to be? I know you are not. But go to Jesus and ask that he will help you to repent. If you have no faith, ask that he will give you faith. All must come from him. Let him be your Savior and your all.
You shall find rest. He will not send you away. He came into the world to save sinners—he suffered and died to save sinners—he invited burdened sinners to him. Then take this invitation to yourself—go to Jesus, and your soul shall live. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life”
--- Rev. 22:17.
--- John A. Broadus
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
O Susanna July 21
What a difficult life. She was the twenty-fifth child in a Dissenter’s family. Though brilliant, she procured little education. Though strong-willed, she lived in a male-dominated age. She married an older man and bore him 19 children. Nine of them died. Her house burned up, her barn fell down, her health failed, and she lived with a wolf at the door.
She was Susanna Wesley.
Samuel and Susanna, married in 1689, began pastoring in dreary little Epworth in 1697. They served there 40 years, enduring hardships like these:
• Samuel’s salary was so small (and he was so incapable of managing it) that he was thrown into debtor’s prison, leaving Susanna to fend for herself.
• The two were strong-willed and argumentative. Samuel once prayed for the king and waited for Susanna’s “Amen.” She didn’t say it. “I do not believe the prince of Orange to be the king,” she said spiritedly. “Then you and I must part,” replied Samuel, “for if we have two kings we must have two beds.” They separated, to be reunited only after the king’s death.
• They also disagreed about Susanna’s ministry, for her Bible lessons drew more listeners than his RS Thomas.
• Susanna gave birth to a daughter during the election of 1705. The nurse, exhausted by overnight revelry, slept so heavily the next Morning that she rolled on the baby and smothered it.
• Susanna herself was often bedfast, having to delegate home duties to the children. But several of her children were so wayward that she called them “a constant affliction.”
• Her brother, having promised her a sizable gift, disappeared mysteriously and was never heard from again.
• Finally, on July 21, 1731, Susanna described an accident in which her horses stampeded, throwing Samuel from their wagon and injuring him so that he was never well from that day.
A difficult life. And yet …
And yet the parsonage at Epworth was destined to become the most celebrated in English history, for from it came two of the greatest evangelists of all time, John and Charles Wesley. And the mother who raised them shook the world.
… it looks like nothing. But cheer up! Because I, the LORD All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work, just as I promised your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. Don’t worry. My Spirit is right here with you.
--- Haggai 2:3b-5.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - July 21
“The daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.” --- Isaiah 37:22.
Reassured by the Word of the Lord, the poor trembling citizens of Zion grew bold, and shook their heads at Sennacherib’s boastful threats. Strong faith enables the servants of God to look with calm contempt upon their most haughty foes. We know that our enemies are attempting impossibilities. They seek to destroy the eternal life, which cannot die while Jesus lives; to overthrow the citadel, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. They kick against the pricks to their own wounding, and rush upon the bosses of Jehovah’s buckler to their own hurt.
We know their weakness. What are they but men? And what is man but a worm? They roar and swell like waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame. When the Lord ariseth, they shall fly as chaff before the wind, and be consumed as crackling thorns. Their utter powerlessness to do damage to the cause of God and his truth, may make the weakest soldiers in Zion’s ranks laugh them to scorn.
Above all, we know that the Most High is with us, and when he dresses himself in arms, where are his enemies? If he cometh forth from his place, the potsherds of the earth will not long contend with their Maker. His rod of iron shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, and their very remembrance shall perish from the earth. Away, then, all fears, the kingdom is safe in the King’s hands. Let us shout for joy, for the Lord reigneth, and his foes shall be as straw for the dunghill.
“As true as God’s own word is true;
Nor earth, nor hell, with all their crew,
Against us shall prevail.
A jest, and by-word, are they grown;
God is with us, we are his own,
Our victory cannot fail.”
Evening - July 21
“Why go I mourning?” --- Psalm 42:9.
Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long leagues of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! For God fails thee not. Dost thou not know that thy God loves thee in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to thee now as it was in thy brightest moments. No father chastens always: thy Lord hates the rod as much as thou dost; he only cares to use it for that reason which should make thee willing to receive it, namely, that it works thy lasting good. Thou shalt yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold him who sits at the top of it—thy covenant God. Thou shalt yet, amidst the splendours of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led thee through them, and wrought thy lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with thine exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “for ever with the Lord,” thy bliss shall never wane.
“Faint not nor fear, his arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and thou shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee.”
Morning and Evening
’TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS
Louisa M. R. Stead, c. 1850–1917
That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:12)KJV
Out of one of the darkest hours of her life—the tragic drowning of her husband— a young mother proclaimed through her tears, “ ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus … and I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end.” As Louisa Stead, her husband and their little daughter were enjoying an ocean side picnic one day, a drowning boy cried for help. Mr. Stead rushed to save him but was pulled under by the terrified boy. Both drowned as Louisa and her daughter watched helplessly. During the sorrowful days that followed, the words of this hymn came from the grief stricken wife’s heart.
Soon after this Mrs. Stead and her daughter left for missionary work in South Africa. After more than 25 years of fruitful service, Louisa was forced to retire because of ill health. She died a few years later in Southern Rhodesia. Her fellow missionaries had always loved “ ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” and wrote this tribute after her death:
We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language.
Out of a deep human tragedy early in her life, Louisa Stead learned simply to trust in her Lord. She was used to “the praise of His glory” for the remainder of her life. Still today, her ministry continues each time we sing and apply the truth of these words:
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood, just in simple faith to plunge me ’neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease, just from Jesus simply taking life and rest and joy and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; and I know that Thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end.
Chorus: Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!
For Today: Psalm 91:4; Isaiah 26:3, 4; Acts 10:43; Romans 1:16, 17; 5:1, 2; Ephesians 1:3–14.
Express thanks to God for the lessons of trust He has taught you. Sing with this hymn writer—“O for grace to trust Him more!” Carry this musical reminder with you because ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. XCIII. — THIS, therefore, is not the place, this is not the time for adoring those Corycian caverns, but for adoring the true Majesty in its to-be-feared, wonderful, and incomprehensible judgments; and saying, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. vi. 10). Whereas, we are no where more irreverent and rash, than in trespassing and arguing upon these very inscrutable mysteries and judgments. And while we are pretending to a great reverence in searching the Holy Scriptures, those which God has commanded to be searched, we search not; but those which He has forbidden us to search into, those we search into and none other; and that with an unceasing temerity, not to say, blasphemy.
For is it not searching with temerity, when we attempt to make the all-free prescience of God to harmonize with our freedom, prepared to derogate prescience from God, rather than lose our own liberty? Is it not temerity, when He imposes necessity upon us, to say, with murmurings and blasphemies, “Why doth He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will?” (Rom. ix. 19). Where is the God by nature most merciful? Where is He who “willeth not the death of a sinner?” Has He then created us for this purpose only, that He might delight Himself in the torments of men? And many things of the same kind, which will be howled forth by the damned in hell to all eternity.
But however, natural Reason herself is compelled to confess, that the living and true God must be such an one as, by His own liberty, to impose necessity on us. For He must be a ridiculous God, or idol rather, who did not, to a certainty, foreknow the future, or was liable to be deceived in events, when even the Gentiles ascribed to their gods ‘fate inevitable.” And He would be equally ridiculous, if He could not do and did not all things, or if any thing could be done without Him. If then the prescience and omnipotence of God be granted, it naturally follows, as an irrefragable consequence that we neither were made by ourselves, nor live by ourselves, nor do any thing by ourselves, but by His Omnipotence. And since He at the first foreknew that we should be such, and since He has made us such, and moves and rules over us as such, how, I ask, can it be pretended, that there is any liberty in us to do, in any respect, otherwise than He at first foreknew and now proceeds in action!
Wherefore, the prescience and Omnipotence of God, are diametrically opposite to our “Free-will.” And it must be, that either God is deceived in His prescience and errs in His action, (which is impossible) or we act, and are acted upon, according to His prescience and action. — But by the Omnipotence of God, I mean, not that power by which He does not many things that He could do, but that actual power by which He powerfully works all in all, in which sense the Scripture calls Him Omnipotent. This Omnipotence and prescience of God, I say, utterly abolishes the doctrine of “Free-will.” No pretext can here be framed about the obscurity of the Scripture, or the difficulty of the subject-point: the words are most clear, and known to every school-boy; and the point is plain and easy and stands proved by judgment of common sense; so that the series of ages, of times, or of persons, either writing or teaching to the contrary, be it as great as it may, amounts to nothing at all.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
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