Proverbs 27 - 29
Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
3 A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
7 One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
8 Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home.
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him who reproaches me.
12 The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.
13 Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress.
14 Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
rising early in the morning,
will be counted as cursing.
15 A continual dripping on a rainy day
and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
16 to restrain her is to restrain the wind
or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
18 Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who guards his master will be honored.
19 As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man.
21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and a man is tested by his praise.
22 Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle
along with crushed grain,
yet his folly will not depart from him.
23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
and give attention to your herds,
24 for riches do not last forever;
and does a crown endure to all generations?
25 When the grass is gone and the new growth appears
and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered,
26 the lambs will provide your clothing,
and the goats the price of a field.
27 There will be enough goats’ milk for your food,
for the food of your household
and maintenance for your girls.
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.
2 When a land transgresses, it has many rulers,
but with a man of understanding and knowledge,
its stability will long continue.
3 A poor man who oppresses the poor
is a beating rain that leaves no food.
4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law strive against them.
5 Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.
6 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
7 The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding,
but a companion of gluttons shames his father.
8 Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit
gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,
even his prayer is an abomination.
10 Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way
will fall into his own pit,
but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.
11 A rich man is wise in his own eyes,
but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.
13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
17 If one is burdened with the blood of another,
he will be a fugitive until death;
let no one help him.
18 Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.
19 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings,
but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good,
but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.
22 A stingy man hastens after wealth
and does not know that poverty will come upon him.
23 Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
than he who flatters with his tongue.
24 Whoever robs his father or his mother
and says, “That is no transgression,”
is a companion to a man who destroys.
25 A greedy man stirs up strife,
but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched.
26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
27 Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
28 When the wicked rise, people hide themselves,
but when they perish, the righteous increase.
Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
3 He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
4 By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
5 A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.
6 An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
7 A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
8 Scoffers set a city aflame,
but the wise turn away wrath.
9 If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
10 Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless
and seek the life of the upright.
11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.
12 If a ruler listens to falsehood,
all his officials will be wicked.
13 The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.
14 If a king faithfully judges the poor,
his throne will be established forever.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.
18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
19 By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands, he will not respond.
20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21 Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
will in the end find him his heir.
22 A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.
23 One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
24 The partner of a thief hates his own life;
he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.
25 The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
26 Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.
27 An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.
What I'm Reading
Christ - Angels
By Robert Jeffress 2023
Christ - Angels
The writer of Hebrews began his book with a detailed argument about how Jesus is superior to every element of Judaism, starting with angels. He offered four compelling reasons:
1. Christ has a superior name. No angel is ever called the unique, begotten Son of God.
2. Christ is a superior object of worship. When Jesus came to earth, He didn’t worship the angels; the angels worshiped Him.
3. Christ rules over a superior kingdom. Hebrews 1:7 says angels are subjects in Christ’s kingdom, servants doing His will.
4. Christ will enjoy a superior victory. Hebrews 1:13 asks, “But to which of the angels has He [God] ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet?’”
Jesus Christ is superior to the angels in every way. One day Jesus will rule over the heavens, the earth, and hell. No angel can ever say that.
Angels were created with a will. They have the ability to choose a course of action and follow it. Isaiah 14 describes the most consequential course of action any angel ever chose when Lucifer, God’s chief angel — who sinned and then became known as Satan — said, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God” (v. 13). Five times he said, “I will.” Satan made a choice and suffered the consequences for it. Revelation 12:9 indicates that a group of angels chose to follow Satan in his rebellion, and they were cast down to the earth and under it. Their decision was irrevocable. No fallen angel (or demon) will ever be redeemed as a holy angel, and never again will an angel fall and become a demon.
Angels were created as spirit beings, according to Hebrews 1:14. And while angels don’t possess bodies, they do share some human limitations, especially when it comes to time and space. Daniel 9:21–23 speaks of angels flitting about from one place to another. Daniel 10:10–14 speaks of an angel who was delayed because of another spirit. So angels can’t be more than one place at a time.
Angels were created to inhabit certain realms. Some are in heaven with God. Some are given special assignments over nations. For example, Michael is called the archangel, or special protector, of Israel (Dan. 12:1). Perhaps other angels are assigned to other countries to fulfill God’s purpose within those borders.
Although angels are mostly invisible, at times they take on human form. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Abraham and Sarah learned that lesson the awkward way when they entertained people they later found out were actual angels in disguise (Gen. 18:1–15).
Sometimes the appearance of angels can be downright frightening. Think about the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus when the angel rolled the stone away. They were frozen in panic (Matt. 28:4). Or think about Gabriel’s appearances to Mary, Elizabeth, and the shepherds. In each case, the angel’s first words were, “Fear not.”
Angels Minister to Believers
The writer of Hebrews gave us an ideal starting point in understanding the role of angels: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (1:14). We can think of angels as God’s AAA service: always available to assist, on call day and night to render service to Christians who are in need. The Bible identifies four areas of service that angels provide for believers.
First, God uses angels to sustain and encourage us. Angels can provide for our physical needs, especially in times of stress. We see an example of this in Jesus’s life. After forty days of fasting and testing in the wilderness, Jesus was in a vulnerable condition. Matthew 4:11 says, “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.” We shouldn’t be surprised that angels do the same for us as well.
Second, angels reveal God’s will to us. An angel revealed to Joseph that he was to take Mary as his wife (1:20–21). And an angel revealed to Philip a person who needed his help (Acts 8:26). A word of caution: any message we receive from an angel must align with God’s Word. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul warned that Satan can appear as an angel of light. Any angelic message that contradicts the Word of God comes from the devil.
Third, angels protect us from physical and spiritual harm. As startling as it may seem, one of Satan’s chief strategies is to cause your premature death. If you’re not yet a Christian, he would love to kill you before you have an opportunity to trust in Christ. If you are a Christian, especially if you have an effective witness for God, he would love to kill you and extinguish that witness. Passages such as Psalm 91:11–12 suggest that angels keep him from doing it.
Do Christians Have Guardian Angels?
There is no passage in Scripture that explicitly states that every person has his or her own guardian angel. There are, however, a few passages, such as Psalm 91:11–12, Matthew 18:10, and Acts 12:13–15, that seem to support the idea of guardian angels.
However, as John Calvin pointed out in addressing this question, if there are legions of angels perpetually looking after our safety and well-being, it doesn’t really matter whether there’s one specific angel assigned to every person, does it?1
Even more amazing than the physical protection is the spiritual protection angels give us. Ephesians 6:12 says there is a spiritual war going on that we can’t see, but we can feel it. The oppression, depression, and temptations we experience don’t come out of nowhere: they’re part of the demonic world that touches our lives. Daniel 10 offers a glimpse of that world. Daniel was feeling oppressed and discouraged, so he prayed to God. But for three weeks, no answer came. An angel finally appeared to Daniel and explained that he would have come sooner but was delayed by a demonic spirit. There is an unseen but very real battle going on in the other world that affects us in this world.
Finally, God uses angels to minister to us in death. Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” For Christians, death is a blessed experience because we don’t have to face it alone. God sends His angels to usher our spirit into His presence. Look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.
According to verse 22, when Lazarus died, he “was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.” Angels will do the same for us as well. We will not face death alone.
Angels Fill Crucial Roles in God’s Plan
The work of angels is not confined to believers alone. The Bible reveals at least three ways in which angels intervene in the lives of unbelievers. First, they serve as ministers of God’s goodness. There was no sign that Hagar, the handmaid who gave birth to Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, was a believer. Yet when Hagar and her unborn son were abandoned in the wilderness, an angel appeared to her and assured her that God would care for them both (Gen. 16:7–12).
Second, angels serve as ministers of judgment against unbelievers. Angels unleashed ten plagues on Egypt (Ps. 78:49). They slaughtered 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). And they struck down Herod and allowed his body to be devoured by worms (Acts 12:23). There’s no reason to believe this morbid work of angels ended when the Scripture narrative did. The obituaries of unbelievers today list any number of causes of death: heart attack, cancer, car accident, and so forth. But sometimes — not always — the cause is an angel serving as a minister of judgment.
Third, angels will serve as ministers of eternal death. According to Matthew 13:49–50, when unbelievers will be thrown into the lake of fire after God’s final judgment, angels will do the throwing. The last thing unbelievers will see before being cast into hell will be the face of an angel.
The Bad—Satan and the Demons
In many respects, the transition from talking about angels to talking about demons isn’t much of a leap. Demons are angels. They’re just fallen ones. So if our angelic allies are formidable — and they are — then by definition, so are our demonic enemies.
As is the case with all warfare, the key to defeating demons is intelligence. The more we know about our enemies’ battle strategies, the better prepared we can be to defend ourselves. But three difficult truths complicate our planning: demons defy our expectations, attempt to lead believers astray, and attempt to harm believers. So we need to understand the influence demons can have over us.
For a more detailed study on spiritual warfare, Satan, and demons, see my book The Divine Defense: Six Simple Strategies for Winning Your Greatest Battles (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2006).
Demons Defy Our Expectations
Contrary to popular Hollywood lore, demons generally don’t project themselves as monstrous, fire-spewing dragon-snakes. Or as horned mini devils, for that matter. In fact, demons probably would prefer that we not notice them at all. Stealth makes their work easier. The key to their battle plan is subtlety.
Have you ever felt an inexplicable weight of oppression you just can’t shake? Have you ever been in an argument that turned hostile for no apparent reason? Have you ever had a productive day suddenly derailed by a debilitating anxiety attack or faced a temptation that seemed custom-designed to entrap you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve likely experienced demonic work in your life — just perhaps not in the way you expected.
Setting the Stage: The First Millennium
By R.C. Sproul 8/1/2010
Volumes have been written giving detailed analyses of the extraordinary things that occurred in the first thousand years of church history, events that influenced everything that came after them. In this brief overview, I’m going to look at five dimensions of activity that had monumental impact for the future history of Christianity.
The first such matter was the rise of the so-called “mono-episcopacy.” By the end of the first century, it was seen that the bishop of Rome had grown exceedingly more influential than other bishops of that period. Within the next century or so, the authority and power of the bishop of Rome was consolidated for all future history of the Roman Catholic Church. The singular authority that became located in the bishop of Rome gave the church a unifying base. The influence of the pope in the first thousand years of the church is almost impossible to measure.
In that light, we see the second major impact come to the fore — the innovations brought to Christianity by perhaps the most important pope of the first millennium: Gregory the Great. In his activities he consolidated the power vested in the sacraments of the church and spawned the vast sacerdotal system (priests through ordination receiving the ability to act as mediators of God’s grace to man through the sacraments) with which all future Catholicism would be associated.
A third element that had great influence on the future of Christianity was the rise of the monastic movement. Beginning with the extreme asceticism of people such as Anthony of the Desert (ca. 251–356), this radical brand of self-denial became institutionalized with the rise of various monastic orders, most of which exist to this day. These orders include the Benedictines, the Augustinians, the Franciscans, and others that date back several centuries.
Perhaps most important in the first thousand years were the ecumenical councils. Of the several ecumenical councils, clearly the two most important were those that were convened in the fourth and in the fifth centuries. The fourth century saw the convening of the Council of Nicaea and the production of the historic Nicene Creed. Here the church gave its definition of the deity of Christ over against the heretic Arius, who argued that though Jesus was the first creature created by God and in that sense the firstborn of God, He nevertheless remained a creature and so was not to be worshiped as the second person of the Trinity.
The tension that was provoked by the Arian controversy and the years of deliberation and discussion that ensued finally culminated in the Council of Nicaea in 325. In that council the full deity of Christ was affirmed, and Christ, the divine Logos, the second person of the Trinity, was declared to be co-essential and co-eternal with the Father. This formula gave the church a way to distinguish among the persons of the Godhead, while at the same time attributing a singular divine essence to the three. The antitrinitarian Christology of Arius saw the beginning of its defeat with this ecumenical council.
The fifth century saw the convening of perhaps the most important christological council in all of church history at Chalcedon in 451. Here orthodox Christianity had to fight a battle on two fronts. On the one hand was the opposition to the orthodox view of the nature of Christ in His incarnation by Eutyches. Eutyches was a monophysite — he declared that Jesus had only one nature. This nature was called a single “theanthropic nature,” meaning a divinely human nature or a humanly divine nature. This position, saying that Christ had one nature (Greek: monophysis), obscured both the real deity and the real humanity that were united in the incarnation of Christ.
On the other side of the debate, the Nestorians argued that if Jesus had two natures, He had to have had two persons as well, so they separated the two natures of Christ into two persons. Over against both heresies, Chalcedon gave its famous formula by which it declared that Christ is truly God and truly man, with the natures perfectly united in such a way that they are not confused — the natures are without mixture, confusion, division, or separation; each nature retains its own attributes. This was a watershed council because it set the boundaries or parameters of christological speculation. The two natures were not to be merged or confused; the human nature, for example, would not be absorbed or swallowed up in the divine nature and vice versa. At the same time, the two natures were not to be separated so as to lose their unity in the one person.
Throughout history since Chalcedon, the church in virtually every generation has had to face the tendencies of either confusing the two natures or dividing or separating the two natures. Orthodoxy in the fifth century declared that the natures must be distinguished yet never separated. They must be distinguished and never be co-mingled.
The other noteworthy event of the first millennium was the extraordinary impact of Augustine of Hippo, perhaps the greatest theologian of that millennium. Augustine was called to defend the church against the heresies of the Donatists in their disputes about baptism and, more importantly, against the heretical views of Pelagius, who denied original sin, arguing that even apart from grace the descendents of Adam could achieve lives of perfection. Augustine’s theology of salvation shaped the future history of Christianity, particularly as it helped quicken Luther and Calvin for the Protestant Reformation. At the same time, Augustine’s view of the church solidified the power of the monoepiscopacy and the Roman magisterium for all future generations.
These five aspects of the first millennium are only illustrative of a vast number of things that in the providence of God developed over this period of time. Sadly, at the end of this millennium, the church was already groping in the darkness and biblical soteriology had declined to such a degree that the gospel was rapidly becoming obscured, even becoming almost totally eclipsed until it was recovered in the sixteenth century Reformation.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
To Be Deep in History
By Keith Mathison 9/1/2010
The nineteenth century witnessed the conversions of two prominent Anglican clergymen to Roman Catholicism. Both men would ultimately become cardinals in the Roman Church, and both men would profoundly influence Roman Catholic theology. The first was John Henry Newman (1801–1890). The second was Henry Edward Manning (1808–1892). Newman is probably most well known for his involvement in the high church Oxford Movement and for his An Essay On Development Of Christian Doctrine (Notre Dame Series in the Great Books, No 4) (1845). Manning is best known for his advocacy of social justice and for his strong support of the doctrine of papal infallibility following his conversion to Rome. He played a key role in the First Vatican Council (1869–1870). 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.
What I find most interesting about these two men is their approach to history and what it tells us about the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Newman famously said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” He believed that if one compared the teaching and practice of both Protestantism and Rome to the teaching and practice of the early church, one would be forced to conclude that Rome was the true heir of the early church. Of course, he had to posit a rather complex theory of doctrinal development in order to make such an idea plausible to himself and others not already inclined to agree. But be that as it may, Newman believed that the study of history supported the claims of Rome.
Cardinal Manning, on the other hand, claimed that for a Roman Catholic, “the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy” and that “the only divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour” (The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost). In other words, to examine church history in order to find support for the claims of Rome is to demonstrate a lack of faith in the Church of Rome. It is to place human reason over and above faith. If you want to know what the early church taught, all you have to do is look at what the Roman Catholic Church teaches today.
The Roman Catholic theologian Walter Burghardt expresses the same view in connection with the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, which was defined as dogma in 1950:
“A valid argument for a dogmatic tradition, for the Church’s teaching in the past can be constructed from her teaching in the present. And that is actually the approach theology took to the definability of the assumption before 1st November 1950. It began with a fact: the current consensus, in the Church teaching and in the Church taught, that the Corporeal Assumption was revealed by God. If that is true, if that is the teaching of the magisterium of the moment, if that is the Church’s tradition, then it was always part and parcel of the Church’s teaching, part and parcel of tradition.”
Manning and Burghardt are simply being consistent with belief in the infallibility of Rome and of the pope. If the church is infallible, appeals to history, tradition, and Scripture are superfluous. What the church teaches now must be what the church has always taught, regardless of what the actual evidence from Scripture and/or tradition might say.
Rome truly has no other choice if she wishes to maintain her current beliefs and practices. If she were to appeal to something like the Vincentian Canon (namely, that the true faith, the true interpretation of Scripture, is that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all), the pope would have to give up all claims to supremacy over the entire church, and the bulk of Roman peculiarities and practice would have to be jettisoned.
Cardinal Newman recognized the obvious difference between the current Roman Church and the early church. He was too deep in history not to see it. He had to develop his famous idea of doctrinal development to explain it. He argued that all the later Roman doctrines and practices were “hidden” in the church from the beginning. They were made explicit over time under the guidance of the Spirit. But the problem that many Roman Catholics fail to see is that there is a difference between development and contradiction. It is one thing to use different language to teach something the church has always taught (e.g., the “Trinity”). It is another thing altogether to begin teaching something that the church always denied (e.g., papal supremacy or infallibility). Those doctrines in particular were built on multitudes of forgeries.
Cardinal Manning solved the problem by treating any appeal to history as treason. He called for blind faith in the papacy and magisterium. Such might have been possible had the fruits of the papacy over 1,500 years not consistently been the precise opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Matt. 7:16).
Cardinal Newman said that to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant. The truth is that to be deep in real history, as opposed to Rome’s whitewashed, revisionist, and often forged history, is to cease to be a Roman Catholic.
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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:
Across the Great Divide
By Rod Mays 9/1/2010
I started working with younger men and women (campus ministry) when I was turning fifty. A decade later, I see how this work has transformed my perspective on the church and ministry. I’ve seen the importance of knowing one’s demographic and understanding more about how the individual relates to the whole in today’s cultural environment. I’ve gained a good deal of insight into gender issues and learned a ton about multigenerational interaction. I think I can accurately state that at one time or another, every one of us has been frustrated with the generation just older or younger than ourselves. “Turn up your Beltones!” the younger generation yells. The older generation shouts, “Take those plugs out of your ears!” The solution to the communication gap would be easy if it were as simple as providing hearing aids or eliminating iPods.
Scripture speaks to multigenerational issues. In 1 Timothy 4–5, Paul gives cautions about how the generations are to treat each another. Youth should not be despised, if the younger believer sets a good example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Older men are not to be rebuked by younger men, but encouraged as one would a father. All generations in the church are to be focused on the same goal — to see people changed by the gospel. Yet there are different styles of relating in the body. Many older believers tend to “keep their distance” and order the struggling among us to “just stop it.” A younger generation will often be more relational, saying, “Let me walk through this with you.” The church can breed alienation by its resistance to engage across generational lines, which can enrage all its members.
We all know our own generation best. Are we willing to admit our flaws? Do we really trust across generational lines? The church needs the rising generation to assume the responsibilities of a generation of incumbents whose leadership younger men and women have doubted and even ridiculed. Older men and women feel marginalized and defensive toward the attitude of entitlement younger leaders have exhibited. The older generation has been critical of both the methodology and melody of the emerging generations. The fathers and older brothers have often been unwilling to recognize that younger preachers and teachers have, indeed, embraced a fixed theology passed down from generation to generation. Perhaps the younger demographic has embraced the “doctrines of our holy religion” in a kinder, gentler, more “relevant” way. Good biblical mentoring has not been widely practiced by my generation. When it has occurred, there has been a tendency for it to be more theoretical in nature, and it has sometimes developed into a rigid method for passing on traditionalism rather than an encouraging relationship inviting serious theological reflection. When the older generations talk theology, they use the ancient buzzwords and inside, exclusive language. The younger generations fear the theological terms will be a turnoff, because they have felt shut out and rejected by many who use them. Younger men and women want to put their fingerprints on the church but can be resistant to understanding the value of historical, traditional, and biblical structures. Older men and women have struggled with how to “tell the next generation the great things that God has done.”
A younger generation does not need to be disillusioned by what it perceives as the harsh, angry self-righteousness of older Calvinists. All generations need to learn how to use the awesome biblical language of sovereignty, predestination, and election, and younger generations need to be comfortable using those great words to artfully wield Reformed theology, understanding that the language represents timeless, redemptive truth. There is much to be admired in older and younger generations. There is also enough sin to be shared across generational lines. All generations tend to speak loudly where Scripture is silent and go silent where Scripture is loud. Though it may sound like too much of a generalization, it seems that older generations need to rediscover grace while younger generations need to rediscover holiness.
As older and younger begin to talk, they may be surprised to discover there really was no gap, only the perception of one. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he, who can no longer listen to his brother, will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words.” Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1954) Paperback
What an older generation has taken for granted in its theology and commitment to a system of propositions, a younger generation needs to see embodied confessionally, ecclesiastically, and incarnationally.
Jerusalem and Athens
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 9/1/2010
What hath Jerusalem to do with Athens? Much in every way. On the negative side, we would do well to remember that the citizens of God’s city, like those in the city of man, are still sinners. Though we are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, though we have been given hearts of flesh, we remain sinners on this side of the veil, not unlike those around us. Thus Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, enjoins us not to do that which still comes all too naturally to us, to fret and worry about our food or our clothing. Such things, He tells us, the heathen worry about.
On a more positive note, Jerusalem and Athens have this in common: they are ruled by the same Man. That is, Jesus is Lord of both. There is no city over which Jesus does not reign. He is Lord over all of creation. We must be zealous to make this affirmation with boldness. We must, however, do so with care.
That Jesus is Lord of Athens does not mean that all is well with Athens. We cannot safely assume the city to be safe because our Lord rules over it. Instead, remembering the antithesis, the biblical truth that the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent will war against one another until the kingdom comes in its fullness, the reign of Jesus over Athens means Athens is in trouble. The city belongs to Jesus, and yet it rebels against Him. His lordship is less an imprimatur over the city and more a Sword of Damocles, a constant threat of judgment.
There is a third thing these cities have in common. Not only does Jesus rule both, not only are both cities populated by sinners, but both are populated by those who bear God’s image. Though the seed of the Serpent is at war with God and His people, they still bear His imprint. We see this theme repeated several times in the Bible. God calls His children to exercise dominion over the creation. The wicked line of Cain is not lazy with respect to exercising dominion. Bearing God’s image, it goes to work, turns mud into bricks, and builds a tower to make a name for itself. That this line does not labor for God’s glory but its own is a sign of sin. That it builds at all is a sign of God’s image. The same is true with respect to worship. In Romans 1, Paul belabors both that all men everywhere worship and that outside of Gods’ active grace in our lives, we all worship creatures rather than the Creator. Because we are God’s image bearers, we worship. Because we are in rebellion, we worship falsely.
This ought to inform our understanding of how these two cities relate. We do not send out envoys of peace against the enemies of God, beating our swords into plowshares. Neither, however, do we allow our sense of antithesis to cloud our common humanity, or better still, our common bearing of God’s image. Thus, we do not determine that piety demands that we who worship the risen Lord ought to walk on our hands, because the children of darkness walk on their feet. We do not assume that the right thing is for Christians to hate their children because unbelievers love their children. Instead, we thank the Lord of all for all that we still have in common. Instead, we encourage all that is good, true, and beautiful in Athens, knowing that, in the end, it all must belong to the Lord.
The Athenian Plato was not, contra those who would forget the antithesis, a sadly uninformed but brilliant man whose well intentioned philosophical meanderings can be richly gleaned for wisdom. He was instead, as we all were prior to the work of the Spirit of God in us, an enemy of God. His philosophical thoughts had as their end goal the denying of God. Plato was, with respect to wisdom, deaf, dumb and blind. He could not, according to the Scripture, even see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). There is wisdom, however, in that nugget that suggests “even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.” Plato did not tell us anything we did not already know when he first suggested that the three high virtues are goodness, truth, and beauty. He did, however, speak well, truthfully, and beautifully in so saying. Plato, in drawing our attention to goodness, truth, and beauty, made manifest the image of God in his own life, and in turn taught us how to better recognize that image in others. When unbelieving firefighters act heroically — when they exhibit the good — we have no reason for shame. When unbelieving scientists speak truthfully, we have no reason for shame. When unbelieving musicians create moments of beauty, we have no reason for shame. For these things neither belong in the end to Jerusalem nor to Athens. Instead, they belong to the One who is Lord of both.
Plato recognized the goodness, truth, and beauty of goodness, truth, and beauty. Jesus is goodness, truth and beauty, and every other perfection infinitely. If we would pursue goodness, truth, and beauty, we must pursue Him. We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us.
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Is Heaven an Immaterial Realm?
By Bill Pratt 12/30/15
Not the eternal Heaven (New Earth) that all believers will occupy when they are resurrected. The eternal Heaven (New Earth) will be a physical world with material objects, not some ghostly place where we float on spiritual “clouds.” Randy Alcorn sets us straight about the eternal Heaven in his book called ISBN-13: 978-0842379427. Alcorn laments:
Many books on Heaven say nothing about the New Earth. Sometimes a few paragraphs, vaguely worded, are tacked on at the end. Other books address the New Earth but undercut its true nature: “Is this new earth like our present earth? Probably not.” But if it isn’t, why does God call it a New Earth? One author says, “The eternal phase of Heaven will be so unlike what we are familiar with that our present language can’t even describe it.” Certainly our present language can’t fully describe it, but it does in fact describe it (e.g., Revelation 21– 22).
Does anybody want to live forever in a disembodied state? I don’t. Does anybody want to live forever on this sin-filled mess we call planet earth? I don’t. So what is it we crave? What do we desire?
We are homesick for Eden. We’re nostalgic for what is implanted in our hearts. It’s built into us, perhaps even at a genetic level. We long for what the first man and woman once enjoyed— a perfect and beautiful Earth with free and untainted relationships with God, each other, animals, and our environment. Every attempt at human progress has been an attempt to overcome what was lost in the Fall.
Bill Pratt | Why am I writing this blog? I am passionate about intellectually defending and explaining the Christian faith to all who will listen. I especially like to tackle tough questions that many folks have, but are afraid to ask. If you’ve ever wanted to dig into the Christian faith and seek answers that your friends, parents, or pastor can’t answer, then you’ve come to the right place. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can help honest questioners with their search for honest answers.
It is my goal to provide a place where people can clear away any intellectual barriers to the Christian faith that are plaguing them. I understand these barriers, as I have had many in my own life. In clearing away those barriers, I hope to give people a clear view of Jesus Christ, the only One worth seeing.
What are my credentials?
I have been studying Christian apologetics (rational defense of the Christian faith), theology, and philosophy for 14 years. I hold a Masters Degree in Christian Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, which is one of the finest apologetics seminaries in the world. I teach and speak about apologetics at my local church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is a conservative evangelical church in Greensboro, NC. My wife and I are writing a youth small group curriculum which marches through the Bible chronologically, hitting the highlights.
Personal Information | I have been married to my beautiful wife for 22 years and we have two children – a 19-year old boy and a 16-year old girl. I am vice president of technology for a semiconductor start-up based in Greensboro, NC.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 78Tell the Coming Generation
78 A Maskil Of Asaph.
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
9 The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
11 They forgot his works
and the wonders that he had shown them.
12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all the night with a fiery light.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of the rock
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
By John Walvoord
Judah’s Kings Warned
Jeremiah 21:1–7. After Jeremiah complained that the Lord was allowing him to be rejected ( 20:7–18 ), Jeremiah received an invitation from King Zedekiah to ask the Lord about Nebuchadnezzar and his attack (vv. 1–2 ). Jeremiah replied, however, that Jerusalem would be conquered (vv. 3–4 ), that God was against them (v. 5 ), and that both man and animals will die “of a terrible plague” (v. 6 ). Zedekiah himself and his officials as well as the people of the city would be handed over to Nebuchadnezzar, who would put many of them to the sword and not show pity or compassion (v. 7 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity ( 2 Chron. 36:15–21 ).
Jerusalem to Be Destroyed
Jeremiah 21:8–14. Jeremiah delivered God’s message that those who stayed in the city would “die by the sword, famine or plague” (v. 9 ). By contrast, “whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; he will escape with his life” (v. 9 ). The city of Jerusalem itself would be destroyed by fire (v. 10 ). The destruction of Jerusalem was again prophesied, and those who think they will have refuge there will be punished because of their evil deeds (vv. 11–14 ). This was fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity ( 2 Chron. 36:15–21 ).
Judah’s Kings to Be Destroyed
Jeremiah 22:1–30. Jeremiah was instructed to go to the palace of the king and urge the officials to rule righteously (vv. 2–3 ). Jeremiah promised that if they obeyed the Lord, they would continue to reign on the throne of David (v. 4 ). If they did not obey, the palace would be ruined (v. 5 ).
Jeremiah described the destruction of the temple in graphic terms (vv. 6–7 ). He prophesied that people from other nations would ask why Jerusalem was destroyed, and the answer would be that they had forsaken God’s covenant (vv. 8–9 ). Jeremiah declared that they should not weep for the dead but rather weep for the fact that they were exiled and no longer would come back to their native land (v. 10 ). What was true of many of the captives was especially true of Shallum, son of Josiah, who succeeded his father, who was king of Judah. Shallum is another name for Jehoahaz, who was carried off captive.
Jeremiah described the judgment of God on those who built a palace and would not pay the workmen (vv. 13–14 ). Jeremiah pointed out that the king’s father did better than he in defending the poor. God charged Shallum with being dishonest and shedding innocent blood (v. 17 ). Just as Shallum (Jehoahaz) forsook the example of his father Josiah and as a result was carried off captive to Egypt, so Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah who succeeded him, acted corruptly in trying to build a big palace at the expense of the laborers (vv. 13–14 ). Jeremiah records the judgment of God on him: “They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my master! Alas, his splendor!’ He will have the burial of a donkey — dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem” (vv. 18–19 ). The judgment of God would not only fall on Jehoiakim but on his people (vv. 20–23 ).
God also pronounced judgment on Jehoiachin (also known as Coniah and as Jekoniah). The prophecy that he would be handed over to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and die in a strange country (vv. 25–27 ) was fulfilled (cf. Jer. 24:1; 29:2 ). He would be considered childless, and his children would not sit on the throne (vv. 29–30 ).
The question was raised why Jehoiachin was thus cast out of the land. God declared, “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah” (v. 30 ). Actually, Jehoiachin had many children (cf. 1 Chron. 3:17–18 ), but none would sit permanently on the throne of David. His son Zerubbabel ( 1 Chron. 3:17–19; Matt. 1:12 ) became a governor of Judah but not king. Zedekiah, another son of Josiah, sat on the throne for a period after Jehoiachin because he was not a son of Jehoiachin. The Scriptures that state that none of his offspring would reign were fulfilled. Because of Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, he ultimately saw his two sons killed and then was blinded and carried off to Babylon ( Jer. 52:9–11 ).
The accuracy of these prophecies may be noted by comparison to the genealogies of Christ in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. The line of Joseph came through Jehoiachin, called Jekoniah in Matthew 1:12 (cf. 1 Chron. 3:17 ). If Joseph had been the actual father of Christ, the lineage would have been disqualified because of the prophecy that none of Jehoiachin’s heirs would sit on the throne. Instead, Luke’s genealogy presents the physical line of Christ through Mary and did not come under the curse of Jehoiachin (cf. Matt. 1:2–17; Luke 3:24–38 ). These prophecies are fulfilled in history and prophecy.
Judgment on Israel’s Shepherds
Jeremiah 23:1–4. God pronounced judgment on the shepherds, the spiritual leaders of Israel, because they had led His people astray and had scattered the flock (vv. 1–2 ). God announced, however, that He would “gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number” (v. 3 ). God declared that then He would have shepherds to care for them who would properly tend the sheep (v. 4 ). These prophecies are related to the second coming of Christ and speak of the millennial situation.
The Promise of a Righteous King
Jeremiah 23:5–8. In this passage God reveals His long-range program to restore Israel and declares that He will restore the Davidic monarchy (v. 5 ). Christ’s coming as the King of Israel is clearly predicted (vv. 5–6 ). God promised that in that day both Judah (the two tribes) and Israel (the ten tribes) “will live in safety” (v. 6 ). The reference to Christ was made evident by the fact that He was called “the LORD Our Righteousness” (v. 6 ). No such event has been fulfilled in history, and it must be related, like many other passages, to the second coming of Christ.
The Coming Regathering of Israel
As this prophecy would be fulfilled, God predicted, “‘So then, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when people 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 descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all countries where he had banished them.” Then they will live in their own land’” (vv. 7–8 ).
In keeping with many other prophecies, God predicted the restoration and regathering of Israel from all over the world to her ancient land, a movement that began in the twentieth century but will be fulfilled completely following the second coming of Christ. Though Israel was restored to her land after the years of captivity in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, and though a portion has returned to the land in the twentieth century, this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled and is subject to future fulfillment in connection with the second advent. This important passage is a clear support for the premillennial interpretation of prophecy.
Judgment on the Lying Prophets
Jeremiah 23:9–40. Having declared the sure prophecy of the restoration of Israel, God, who does not lie, continued His judgment on the lying prophets. The wickedness of those in the land was revealed by the fact that “the land is full of adulterers” (v. 10 ); “‘both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness’ declares the LORD” (v. 11 ). The description of their wickedness, their worship of Baal, their adultery, and their lies that made Israel like Sodom and made Jerusalem like Gomorrah is detailed (vv. 12–14 ). God predicted their judgment would lead to their drinking poisoned water (v. 15 ). Their prophecies gave “false hopes” (v. 16 ). The coming judgment was pictured like a storm about to break on them (v. 19 ). God’s anger will continue until His judgment is complete (vv. 20–24 ). He continued to denounce the dreams from which they prophesied falsely (vv. 25–32 ). They were false prophets speaking false oracles (vv. 33–37 ). Instead of fulfilling their promises, God would bring on them everlasting disgrace (vv. 39–40 ). These prophecies were fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity ( 2 Chron. 36:11–15 ).
The Two Baskets of Figs
Jeremiah 24:1–10. God showed Jeremiah two baskets of fruit, one very good and the other very bad (vv. 1–2 ). These were used as illustrations. The good figs represented those carried off into exile to Babylon. God promised to watch over them, protect them, and eventually bring them back to their land (vv. 5–7 ).
By contrast, the bad figs represented those left in the land with Zedekiah as their king. Whether they remained in the land or went to Egypt, God promised to destroy them (vv. 8–10 ). This was fulfilled in history.
Seventy Years of Captivity
Jeremiah 25:1–14. Jeremiah reminded them that they had turned away from the prophets, and even though God promised that He would bless them if they turned from their evil ways (v. 5 ), He declared that they had not listened to Him (v. 7 ). Because they had not listened to God, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, would completely destroy them, and the songs of joy and gladness would no longer be heard (vv. 9–10 ). The result would be that the whole country would become waste, and they would serve the king of Babylon for seventy years (v. 11 ).
This prophecy of seventy years of captivity is very important prophetically because it gives the chronology of the captivity. Sixty-seven years later Daniel would read this portion of Jeremiah and would be led to pray for the return of the people to Israel ( Dan. 9 ). It is illuminating that Daniel took the prophecy to mean literal years and the promise of the return to the land as a literal promise.
God promised that after the seventy years He would judge Babylon and “make it desolate forever” ( Jer. 25:12 ). This prophecy has never been fulfilled. When the Medes and the Persians took over Babylon, they did not destroy the city. As a matter of fact, Babylon continued for hundreds of years, even after Christ, and gradually became the desolate place it is today. Some scholars believe Babylon will be rebuilt in the last days and destroyed summarily by Jesus Christ at His second coming, as may be indicated in Revelation 18 and other Scriptures. Some rebuilding of Babylon is already in progress to make it a tourist attraction. Though God used the Babylonians to discipline the people of Israel, in due time He will judge the Babylonians for their wickedness and enslave them as they enslaved Israel ( Jer. 25:13–14 ).
The Continual Burnt Offering (Luke 10:33-34)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
July 22Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. ESV
He who sees in the parable of the good Samaritan only a lesson of neighborliness and consideration for the needy has failed utterly to get what Jesus had in mind. That He was teaching the importance of compassion for the needy is clear enough on the surface of the story. But there is something far deeper than this. We are all like the poor man dying on the roadside. We have all been robbed and wounded by sin, and sore bruised by Satan and his emissaries. Our case is hopeless so far as law keeping is concerned. No works of righteousness can avail to deliver us from our wretched condition (Titus 3:5). Only the mercy of God as revealed in Christ Jesus, the One who was “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3) can, and will, undertake for us. He is neighbor indeed to all who submit to His grace. Apart from Him there is no deliverance possible. But he who trusts in Him will henceforth be characterized by loving care for others. To profess to love Him, while indifferent to the need of distressed humanity, is but hypocrisy (1 John 3:17).
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
In lovingkindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim.
And from the depths of sin and shame
In grace He lifted me.
He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiven, He lifted me.
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
11/1/2014 The True Reformers
Semper reformanda has been hijacked. It is one of the more abused, misused, and misunderstood slogans of our day. Progressives have captured and mutilated the seventeenth-century motto and have demanded that our theology, our churches, and our confessions be always changing in order to conform to our ever-changing culture. However, semper reformanda doesn’t mean what they think it means.
Semper reformanda doesn’t mean “always changing,” “always morphing,” or even “always reforming.” Rather, it means “always being reformed.” When it was first used, semper reformanda was part of the larger statement ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed and always being reformed). To make the statement more clear, the phrase secundum verbum Dei (according to the Word of God) was later added, making the statement “The church reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.” It grew out of a pastoral concern that we as God’s people would always be reformed by God’s Word—that our theology would not be merely theoretical knowledge but that our theology would be known, loved, and practiced in all of life. Simply put, that our reformed theology according to God’s Word would be always reforming our lives.
Fundamentally, Reformed theology is theology founded on and fashioned by God’s Word. For it is God’s Word that forms our theology, and it is we who are reformed by that theology as we constantly return to God’s Word every day and in every generation. At its core, this is what the sixteenth-century Reformation was all about, and it’s what being Reformed is all about—confessing and practicing what God’s Word teaches. God’s Word and God’s Spirit reform the church. That said, mere men are not the true reformers, but rather they are stewards and servants of God’s reformation.
In this sense, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others were not reformers. Luther and Calvin did not boldly set out to reform the church; they humbly submitted to the reforming truth of the Word and the reforming power of the Spirit. The Word and the Spirit reformed the church in the sixteenth century, and they have been reforming the church ever since. Luther and Calvin were the ones who helped point the church back to Scripture, and Scripture alone, as the infallible authority for faith and life.
The Reformation isn’t over, nor will it ever be over, because reformation—God’s Word and God’s Spirit reforming His church—will never end. God’s Word is always powerful and God’s Spirit is always working to renew our minds, transform our hearts, and change our lives. Therefore, the people of God, the church, will be always “being reformed” according to the unchanging Word of God, not according to our ever-changing culture.
click here for article source
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
“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on,” wrote poet Carl Sandburg, who died this day, July 22, 1967. Sandburg received the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His two volume history of Abraham Lincoln received such acclaim that he was asked to address a joint session of Congress on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday. Carl Sandburg wrote: “I see America not in the setting sun of a black night of despair …. I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God.”
Compilation by RickAdams7
His words will be purer than the finest gold, the best.…
His words will be as the words of the holy ones,
among sanctified peoples.
Blessed are those born in those days
to see the good fortune of Israel.…
The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha ( 2 Volume set)
This one book (the Bible) ... has attracted to it, and had concentrated on it, vastly more thought and has called forth more works, explanatory, illustrative, apologetic, upon its text, its meaning, its geography, its theology, its chronology, its evidences, its inspiration, its origin, than all the rest of the literature of the world put together. An immense bulk of the world’s literature owes its origin to this book.
--- Carlyle B Heynes
The Bible: is it a true book?: An inquiry into the origin, authenticity, history, and character of the sacred writings of Christianity
Each member in the body of Christ is important (1 Cor. 12:12–31), and we all need one another and to minister to one another. Since there’s no competition in the work of the Lord (John 4:34–38; 1 Cor. 3:5–9), there’s no need for us to promote ourselves. The important thing is that God receives the glory.
--- Warren Wiersbe
Be Available (Judges): Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy (Be Series: Ot Commentary)
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
4.24 "Had I perceived that you were all zealously disposed to go to war with the Romans, and that the purer and more sincere part of the people did not propose to live in peace, I had not come out to you, nor been so bold as to give you counsel; for all discourses that tend to persuade men to do what they ought to do are superfluous, when the hearers are agreed to do the contrary. But because some are earnest to go to war because they are young, and without experience of the miseries it brings, and because some are for it out of an unreasonable expectation of regaining their liberty, and because others hope to get by it, and are therefore earnestly bent upon it, that in the confusion of your affairs they may gain what belongs to those that are too weak to resist them, I have thought proper to get you all together, and to say to you what I think to be for your advantage; that so the former may grow wiser, and change their minds, and that the best men may come to no harm by the ill conduct of some others. And let not any one be tumultuous against me, in case what they hear me say do not please them; for as to those that admit of no cure, but are resolved upon a revolt, it will still be in their power to retain the same sentiments after my exhortation is over; but still my discourse will fall to the ground, even with a relation to those that have a mind to hear me, unless you will all keep silence. I am well aware that many make a tragical exclamation concerning the injuries that have been offered you by your procurators, and concerning the glorious advantages of liberty; but before I begin the inquiry, who you are that must go to war, and who they are against whom you must fight, I shall first separate those pretenses that are by some connected together; for if you aim at avenging yourselves on those that have done you injury, why do you pretend this to be a war for recovering your liberty? but if you think all servitude intolerable, to what purpose serve your complaint against your particular governors? for if they treated you with moderation, it would still be equally an unworthy thing to be in servitude. Consider now the several cases that may be supposed, how little occasion there is for your going to war. Your first occasion is the accusations you have to make against your procurators; now here you ought to be submissive to those in authority, and not give them any provocation; but when you reproach men greatly for small offenses, you excite those whom you reproach to be your adversaries; for this will only make them leave off hurting you privately, and with some degree of modesty, and to lay what you have waste openly. Now nothing so much damps the force of strokes as bearing them with patience; and the quietness of those who are injured diverts the injurious persons from afflicting. But let us take it for granted that the Roman ministers are injurious to you, and are incurably severe; yet are they not all the Romans who thus injure you; nor hath Caesar, against whom you are going to make war, injured you: it is not by their command that any wicked governor is sent to you; for they who are in the west cannot see those that are in the east; nor indeed is it easy for them there even to hear what is done in these parts. Now it is absurd to make war with a great many for the sake of one, to do so with such mighty people for a small cause; and this when these people are not able to know of what you complain: nay, such crimes as we complain of may soon be corrected, for the same procurator will not continue for ever; and probable it is that the successors will come with more moderate inclinations. But as for war, if it be once begun, it is not easily laid down again, nor borne without calamities coming therewith. However, as to the desire of recovering your liberty, it is unseasonable to indulge it so late; whereas you ought to have labored earnestly in old time that you might never have lost it; for the first experience of slavery was hard to be endured, and the struggle that you might never have been subject to it would have been just; but that slave who hath been once brought into subjection, and then runs away, is rather a refractory slave than a lover of liberty; for it was then the proper time for doing all that was possible, that you might never have admitted the Romans [into your city], when Pompey came first into the country. But so it was, that our ancestors and their kings, who were in much better circumstances than we are, both as to money, and strong bodies, and [valiant] souls, did not bear the onset of a small body of the Roman army. And yet you, who have now accustomed yourselves to obedience from one generation to another, and who are so much inferior to those who first submitted, in your circumstances will venture to oppose the entire empire of the Romans. While those Athenians, who, in order to preserve the liberty of Greece, did once set fire to their own city; who pursued Xerxes, that proud prince, when he sailed upon the land, and walked upon the sea, and could not be contained by the seas, but conducted such an army as was too broad for Europe; and made him run away like a fugitive in a single ship, and brake so great a part of Asia at the Lesser Salamis; are yet at this time servants to the Romans; and those injunctions which are sent from Italy become laws to the principal governing city of Greece. Those Lacedemonians also who got the great victories at Thermopylae and Platea, and had Agesilaus [for their king], and searched every corner of Asia, are contented to admit the same lords. Those Macedonians also, who still fancy what great men their Philip and Alexander were, and see that the latter had promised them the empire over the world, these bear so great a change, and pay their obedience to those whom fortune hath advanced in their stead. Moreover, ten thousand ether nations there are who had greater reason than we to claim their entire liberty, and yet do submit. You are the only people who think it a disgrace to be servants to those to whom all the world hath submitted. What sort of an army do you rely on? What are the arms you depend on? Where is your fleet, that may seize upon the Roman seas? and where are those treasures which may be sufficient for your undertakings? Do you suppose, I pray you, that you are to make war with the Egyptians, and with the Arabians? Will you not carefully reflect upon the Roman empire? Will you not estimate your own weakness? Hath not your army been often beaten even by your neighboring nations, while the power of the Romans is invincible in all parts of the habitable earth? nay, rather they seek for somewhat still beyond that; for all Euphrates is not a sufficient boundary for them on the east side, nor the Danube on the north; and for their southern limit, Libya hath been searched over by them, as far as countries uninhabited, as is Cadiz their limit on the west; nay, indeed, they have sought for another habitable earth beyond the ocean, and have carried their arms as far as such British islands as were never known before. What therefore do you pretend to? Are you richer than the Gauls, stronger than the Germans, wiser than the Greeks, more numerous than all men upon the habitable earth? What confidence is it that elevates you to oppose the Romans? Perhaps it will be said, It is hard to endure slavery. Yes; but how much harder is this to the Greeks, who were esteemed the noblest of all people under the sun! These, though they inhabit in a large country, are in subjection to six bundles of Roman rods. It is the same case with the Macedonians, who have juster reason to claim their liberty than you have.
The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
by D.H. Stern
keeps himself out of trouble.
24 “Scoffer” is what you call a proud, insolent person
who acts with overweening conceit.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
by Frank W. Boreham
I have allowed the Mushrooms on the Moor to throw the glamour of their name over the entire volume because, in some respects, they are the most typical and representative things in it. They express so little but suggest so much! What fun we had, in the days of auld lang syne, when we scoured the dewy fields in search of them! And yet how small a proportion of our enjoyment the mushrooms themselves represented! Our flushed cheeks, our prodigious appetites, and our boisterous merriment told of gains immensely greater than any that our baskets could have held. What a contrast, for example, between mushrooms from the moor on the one hand and mushrooms from the market on the other! What memories of the soft summer mornings; the fresh and fragrant air; the diffused and misty sunshine; the sparkle of the dew on the tall wisps of speargrass; the beaded and shining cobwebs; the scamper, barefooted, across the glittering green! It was part of childhood's wild romance. And, in the sterner days that have followed those tremendous frolics, we have learned that life is full of just such suggestive things. As I glance back upon the years that lie behind me, I find that they have been almost equally divided between two hemispheres. But I have discovered that, under any stars,
There's part o' the sun in an apple;
There's part o' the moon in a rose;
There's part o' the flaming Pleiades
In every leaf that grows.
And I shall reckon this book no failure if some of the ideas that I have tried to suggest are found to point at all steadily to that conclusion.
FRANK W. BOREHAM. | HOBART, TASMANIA, JUNE, 1915.
PART I | A SLICE OF INFINITY
Really, as I sit here in this quiet study, and glance round at the books upon the shelves, I can scarcely refrain from laughing at the fun we have had together. And to think of the way in which they came into my possession! It seems like a fairy story or a chapter from romance. If a man wants to spend an hour or so as delightfully as it is possible to spend it, let him invite to his fireside some old and valued friend, the companion of many a frolic and the sharer of many a sorrow; let him seat his old comrade there in the place of honour on the opposite side of the hearth, and then let them talk. 'Do you remember, Tom, the way we met for the first time?' 'My word, I do! Shall I ever forget it?' And Tom slaps his knee at the memory of it, and they enjoy a long and hearty laugh together. It is not that the circumstances under which they met were so ludicrous or dramatic; it is that they were so commonplace. It seems, on looking back, the oddest chance in the world that first brought them together, the merest whim of chance, the veriest freak of circumstance; and yet how all life has taken its colour and drawn its enrichment from that casual meeting! They happened to enter the same compartment of a railway train; or they sat next each other on the tramcar; or they walked home together from a political meeting; or they caught each other admiring the same rose at a flower show. Neither sought the other; neither felt the slightest desire for the other; neither knew, until that moment, of the existence of the other; and yet there it is! They met; and out of that apparently accidental meeting there has sprung up a friendship that many changes cannot change, and a love that many waters cannot quench. Either would cross all the continents and oceans of the world to-day to find the other; but as they remember how they met for the first time it seems too queer to be credible. And they lie back in their easy chairs and laugh again.
That is why I laugh at my books. Some day I intend to draw up a list of them and divide them into classes. In one class I shall put the books that I bought, once upon a time, because I was given to understand that they were the right sort of books to have. Everybody else had them; and my shelves would therefore be scarcely decent without them. I purchased them, accordingly, and they have stood on the shelves there ever since. As far as I know they have done nobody the slightest harm in all their long untroubled lives. Indeed, they have imparted such an air of gravity, and such an odour of sanctity, to the establishment as must have had a steadying effect on their less sombre companions. But it is not at these formidable volumes that I am laughing. I would not dare. I glance at them with reverential awe, and am more than half afraid of them. Then, again, there are other books that I bought because I felt that I needed them. And so I did, more than perhaps I guessed when I bore them proudly home. Glorious times I have had with them. I look up at them gratefully and lovingly. It is not at these that I am laughing. But there are others, old and trusted friends, that came into my life in the oddest possible way. I do not mean that I stole them. I mean rather that they stole me. They seemed to pounce out at me, and before I knew what had happened I belonged to them: I certainly did not seek them. In some cases I never heard of their existence until after they became my own. They have since proved invaluable to me, and I can scarcely review our long companionship without emotion. Yet when I glance up at them, and remember the whimsical way in which we met for the first time, I can scarce restrain my laughter.
It was like this. Years ago I went to an auction sale. A library was being submitted to the hammer. The books were all tied up in lots. The work had evidently been done by somebody who knew as much about books as a Hottentot knows about icebergs. John Bunyan was tied tightly to Nat Gould, and Thomas Carlyle was firmly fastened to Charles Garvice. I looked round; took a note of the numbers of those lots that contained books that I wanted, and waited for the auctioneer to get to business. In due time I became the purchaser of half a dozen lots. I had bought six books that I wanted, and thirty that I didn't. Now the question arose: What shall I do with these thirty waifs and strays? I glanced over them and took pity on them. Many of them dealt with matters in which I had never taken the slightest interest. But were they to blame for that? or was I? I saw at once that the fault was entirely mine, and that these unoffending volumes had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I vowed that I would read the lot, and I did. From one or two of them I derived as far as I know, no profit at all. But these were the exceptions. Some of these volumes have been the delight of my life during all the days of my pilgrimage. And as I look tenderly up at them, as they stand in their very familiar places before me, I salute them as the two old comrades saluted each other across the hearthstone. But I cannot help laughing at the odd manner of our first acquaintance. It was thus that I learned one of the most valuable lessons that experience ever taught me. It is sometimes a fine thing to sample infinity.
When I was a small boy I dreaded the policeman; when I grew older I feared the bookseller. And as the years go by I find that my dread of the policeman has quite evaporated, but my fear of the bookseller grows upon me. I had an idea as a boy that one day a policeman, mistaking my identity, would snatch me up and hurl me into some horrid little dungeon, where I might languish for many a long day. But since I have grown up I have discovered that it is only the bookseller who does that sort of thing. And in his case he does it deliberately and of malice aforethought. It is no case of mistaken identity; he knows who you are, and he knows you are innocent. But he has his dungeon ready. The bookseller is a very dangerous person, and every member of the community should guard against his blandishments. It is not that he will sell you too many books. He will probably not sell you half as many as are good for you. But he will sell you the wrong books. He will sell you the books you least need, and keep on his own shelves the intellectual pabulum for which your soul is starving. And all with a view to getting you at last into his wretched little dungeon. See how he goes about it. A friend of yours goes to the West Indies. You suddenly wake up to the fact that you know very little about that wonderful region. You go to your bookseller and ask for the latest reliable work on the West Indies. You buy it, and he, the rascal, takes a mental note of the fact. Next time you walk into the shop he is at you like a flash.
'Good afternoon, sir. You are specially interested, I know, in the West Indies. We have a very fine thing coming out now in monthly parts . . .'
And so on. His attribution to you of special interest in the West Indies is no empty flattery. The book you bought on your first visit has charmed you, and you are most deeply and sincerely interested in those fascinating islands. You order the monthly parts and the interest deepens. The bookseller does the thing so slyly that you do not notice that he is boxing you up in the West Indies. He is doing in sober fact what the policeman did in childish imagination. He is driving us into a blind alley, and, unless we are very careful, he will have us cribb'd, cabin'd, and confined before we know where we are.
It was my experience in the auction-room that saved me. When I had read all these books which I should never have bought if I could have helped it, I discovered the folly of buying books that interest you. If a book appeals to me at first sight it is probably because I know a good deal about the subject with which it deals. But, as against that, see how many subjects there are of which I know nothing at all! And just look at all these books that have no attraction for me! And tell me this: Why do they not appeal to me? Only one answer is possible. They do not appeal to me because I am so grossly, wofully, culpably ignorant of the subjects whereof they treat. If, therefore, my bookseller approaches me, with a nice new book under his arm, and observes coaxingly that he knows I am interested in history, I always ask him to be good enough to show me the latest work on psychology. If he reminds me of my fondness for astronomy, I ask him for a handbook of botany. If he refers to my predilection for agriculture, I inquire if there is anything new in the way of poetry; and if he politely refers to my weakness for the West Indies, I ask him to bring me something dealing with Lapland. The bookseller must be circumvented, defeated, and crushed at any cost. He is too clever at trapping us in his narrow little cell. If a man wants to feel that the world is wide, and a good place to live in, he must be for ever and for ever sampling infinity. He must shun the books that he dearly wants to buy, and buy the books he would do anything to shun.
Yes, I bought thirty-six books that day in the auction-room; six that I wanted and thirty that I didn't. And some of those thirty volumes have been the charmers of my solitude and the classics of my soul ever since. I do not advise any man to rush off to the nearest auction mart and repeat my experiment. We must not gamble with life. Infinity must be sampled intelligently. But, if a man is to keep himself alive in a world like this, infinity must be sampled. Like a dog on a country road I must poke into as many holes as I can. If I am naturally fond of music, I had better study mining. If I love painting, I shall be wise to go in for gardening. If I glory in the seaside, I must make a point of climbing mountains and scouring the bush. If I am attached to the things just under my nose, I must be careful to read books dealing with distant lands. If I am deeply interested in contemporary affairs, I must at once read the records of the days of long ago and explore the annals of the splendid past. I must be faithful to old friends, but I must get to know new people and to know them well. If I hold to one opinion, I must studiously cultivate the acquaintance of men who hold the opposite view, and investigate the hidden recesses of their minds with scientific and painstaking diligence. Above all must I be constantly sampling infinity in matters of faith. If I find that the Epistles are gaining a commanding influence upon my mind, I must at once set out to explore the prophets. If I find some special phase of truth powerfully attracting me, I must, without shunning it, pay increasing attention to all other aspects. 'The Lord has yet more truth to break from out His Word!' said John Robinson; and I must try to find it. Mr. Goodman is a splendid fellow; but he fell in love with one lonely little truth one day, and now he never thinks or reads or preaches of any other. It would be his salvation, and the salvation of his people, if he would set out to climb the peaks that have no attraction for him. He would find, when he stood on their sunlit summits, that they too are part of God's great world. He would have the time of his life if he would only commence to sample infinity. His people are accustomed to seeing him every now and again in a new suit of clothes. If he begins to-day to sample infinity, they will next week experience a fresh sensation. They will see the same suit of clothes with a new man inside it.
Mushrooms on the Moor (Dodo Press)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
This is the will of God, even your sanctification. --- 1 Thess. 4:3.
The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get sepulchral. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. “If any man come to Me, and hate not … his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but ‘myself,’ that is the place of death. Am I willing to be ‘myself,’ and nothing more—no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest, simply ready for death? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. ‘But it is so stern,’ we say; “He cannot wish me to do that.’ Our Lord is stern; and He does wish me to do that.
Am I willing to reduce myself simply to ‘me,’ determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with everything but God.
When I pray—‘Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,’ He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself in me.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
She woke up under a loose quilt
Of leaf patterns, woven by the light
At the small window, busy with the boughs
Of a young cherry; but wearily she lay,
Waiting for the siren, slow to trust
Nature’s deceptive peace, and then afraid
Of the long silence, she would have crept
Uneasily from the bedroom with its frieze
Of fresh sunlight, had not a cock crowed,
Shattering the surface of that limpid pool
Of stillness, and before the ripples died
One by one in the field’s shallows
The farm awoke with uninhibited din.
And now the noise and not the silence drew her
Down the bare stairs at great speed.
The sounds and voices were a rough sheet
Waiting to catch her, as though she leaped
From a scorched story to the charred past.
And there the table and the gallery
Of farm faces trying to be kind
Beckoned her nearer, and she sat down
Under the awning of salt hams.
And so she grew, a shy bird in the nest
Of welcome that was built around her,
Home now after so long away
In the flowerless streets of the drab town.
The men watched her busy with the hens,
The soft flesh ripening warm as corn
On the sticks of limbs, the grey eyes clear,
Rinsed with dew of their long dread,
The men watched her, and nodding, smiled
With earth’s charity, patient and strong.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Idiot! Who ever saw a Kohen in a cemetery?
BIBLE TEXT / Exodus 5:1–2 / Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Let my people go that they may celebrate a festival for Me in the wilderness.” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should heed Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
MIDRASH TEXT / Exodus Rabbah 5, 14 / Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said, “That day was a day of Pharaoh’s reception of ambassadors, and all the kings came to pay him honor. They brought gifts of crowns with which to crown him, for it was the Day of the Cosmocrator [the lord of the world], and they brought their gods with them. After they [the ambassadors and kings] had crowned him, Moses and Aaron were standing by the door of Pharaoh’s palace. His servants entered and said, ‘Two elders ate standing at the door.’ He said to them, ‘Let them come up.’ When they came up, he looked at them—perhaps they would crown him, or perhaps they would give him letters—but they did not even greet him. He said to them, ‘Who are you?’ They said to him, ‘We are representatives of the Holy One, praised is He.’ ‘What do you request?’ They said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Let my people go.…’ At that moment he got angry and said, ‘Who is the Lord that I should heed Him and let Israel go? He didn’t even know enough to send me a crown; rather with words [alone] you come to me? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.’ He said to them, ‘Wait for me until I check my book.’ He immediately entered his palace and looked up each and every nation and its gods. He began to read: the gods of Moab, and the gods of Ammon, and the gods of Sidon. He said to them, ‘I searched for his name in my archives but I could not find it.’ ”
Rabbi Levi said, “A parable: To what is this similar? To a Kohen who had an idiot servant. The Kohen went outside the province. The servant went to seek his master in a cemetery. He began calling to the people standing there, ‘You haven’t seen my master here?’ They said to him, ‘Your master, isn’t he a Kohen?’ He said to them, ‘Yes.’ They said to him, ‘Idiot! Who ever saw a Kohen in a cemetery?’ So too, Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh, ‘Idiot—is it the way of the dead to be sought after among the living, or the living from among the dead? Our God is alive; those others you mentioned are dead. But our God is a living God and an eternal King.’ ”
CONTEXT / Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba takes the very spare biblical text and imagines a much more detailed and dramatic story of Moses’ and Aaron’s encounter with Pharaoh. While purporting to tell us something about the Egyptian court, Rabbi Ḥiyya draws upon Roman custom and language. (Cosmocrator is one of the titles used by the emperor.) We are presented a picture of a king so powerful that all the nations of the world come to pay homage to him—all the kings came to pay him honor—yet at the same time, this king is totally ignorant of the existence of the one true God—Who is the Lord that I should heed him?
Rabbi Levi builds on Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba’s story. A parable: He likens the great and mighty Pharaoh to a lowly servant (and an idiotic one, at that). We can’t help but wonder if the ridicule of Pharaoh was actually a veiled attack by Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba and Rabbi Levi on the political leadership of their own time and place (early-to mid-fourth century Israel).
The parable about the idiot servant is based on the law in the Torah that a Kohen, “priest” (one who traced his roots back to Aaron and his family), was not allowed to become “defiled by the dead.” In order to officiate in the Temple service, a Kohen had to be in a state of ritual purity. Contact with or proximity to the dead rendered a person ritually impure and disqualified a Kohen from offering the sacrifices. The priest had to avoid being in the same room with a dead body and also had to stay away from cemeteries. (Exceptions were allowed when the Kohen’s immediate family member had died.) Even after the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 C.E. by the Romans, the laws concerning the Kohen’s avoidance of contact with the dead remained in effect, either out of reverence to the past or in anticipation of the future rebuilding of the Temple. To this day, many Kohanim (plural of Kohen) do not attend a funeral or enter a cemetery.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Christ… the wisdom of God. --- 1 Corinthians 1:24.
Our age is eager in its pursuit of knowledge. (Horatius Bonar, “Divine Philosophy,” in Family Sermons It professes to be a truth-loving and a truth-seeking age. It is quite awake to science and thoroughly in love with its marvels. It has obtained insight into the processes of that which is called “nature.” It has witnessed one substance, and another and another, yielding up their hidden wonders. It has seen earth and sea and air giving out their treasures, and it has wrung the deepest secrets from every region of being. It has taken possession of unreclaimed territory and covered the waste places of former days with verdure and fragrance and beauty.
Its fields of discovery lie all around us, near and far. Wherever it has turned its steps, it has found stores of truth. What a profundity of miracle there is contained in every ray of light, every drop of dew, every pebble of the brook, every fragment of rock, every blade of grass. What an exemplification of order and law there is revealed in every natural process—the motion of earth and sun and stars, the flow of tides, the rush of the breeze, the braiding of the rainbow on the cloud, the change of seasons, the springing, growth, blossoming, and fruit-bearing of flower and shrub and tree!
These are the works of God, the laws of God, the daily miracles of God. In all of them wisdom is seen, divine wisdom—wisdom as profound as it is perfect, as incomprehensible as it is glorious, as magnificent in its minuteness as in its vastness—in the grain of sand as in the mighty mountain, in the blush of the unnoticed desert flower as in the splendor of a new-lighted star.
In all this there is wisdom, wisdom that we do well to study. Yet all these are only parts, mere fragments, and, even when gathered together, they still form only the minutest portion of a whole, whose dimensions are vaster than the created universe—a whole of which nothing less than the infinity of Godhead is the measure. There is some proportion between a drop and the ocean, between the stream and the fountain, between a beam and the sun, between a moment and a million of ages, but there is no proportion between the fragments of wisdom that lie scattered over creation and the great whole, which can be contained in no treasure-house except that which is infinite and divine.
--- Horatius Bonar
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
The Mayflower July 22
Many nations originate amid heathenism and are slowly converted to Christ. America is uniquely different. Of all the nations of history, it alone began as a Christian venture and has slowly sunk into heathenism.
It began during the reign of King James. The Puritans weren’t happy with mere political reform in the church in England; they wanted genuine spiritual reform. James rejected their demands (except for approving a new translation of the Bible), and this left the Puritans unsettled. Some, believing the Church of England beyond help, separated from it into independent congregations of their own. These people became known as Separatists, and King James, viewing them as traitors, “harried them out of the land.”
In 1607–1608 two groups fled to Holland. One of them, while studying Scripture, concluded that baptism was a rite for believers only (rather than for infants), and the Baptist movement was born. The other group, led by William Brewster and John Robinson, remained in Holland until July 22, 1620, when with packed bags and children in tow, its members sailed back to England and there boarded the Mayflower for the trip of their lives.
• The Pilgrims arrived off the coast of Cape Cod in November of that year and paused long enough to draw up an organizing charter, the Mayflower Compact, the first written agreement for self-government ever put in force in America.
• Its words plainly stated the purpose of the first government on American shores: In ye name of God Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, and Ireland king, defender of ye faith. Haveing undertaken, for ye glories of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith and honour of our king and countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and covenant, and combine ourselves togeather into a Civill body politick; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of ye ends aforesaid. …
• If I promise to make a nation strong, but its people start disobeying me and doing evil, then I will change my mind and not help them at all. So listen to me.
--- Jeremiah 18:9-11a.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - July 22
“I am married unto you.” --- Jeremiah 3:14.
Christ Jesus is joined unto his people in marriage-union. In love he espoused his Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection he toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented his betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as his wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to his heart, precious in his sight, written on his hands, and united with his person. On earth he exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume his name, and to share in all his wealth. Nor will he ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce he will never mention, for “He hateth putting away.” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvellous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and his Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left his Father, and became one flesh with her.
Evening - July 22
“Behold the man!” --- John 19:5.
If there be one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of his people, it is where he plunged deepest into the depths of woe. Come hither, gracious souls, and behold the man in the garden of Gethsemane; behold his heart so brimming with love that he cannot hold it in—so full of sorrow that it must find a vent. Behold the bloody sweat as it distils from every pore of his body, and falls upon the ground. Behold the man as they drive the nails into his hands and feet. Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord. Mark him, as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown, and adorn with priceless gems the diadem of the King of Misery. Behold the man when all his bones are out of joint, and he is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death; God hath forsaken him, and hell compasseth him about. Behold and see, was there ever sorrow like unto his sorrow that is done unto him? All ye that pass by draw near and look upon this spectacle of grief, unique, unparalleled, a wonder to men and angels, a prodigy unmatched. Behold the Emperor of Woe who had no equal or rival in his agonies! Gaze upon him, ye mourners, for if there be not consolation in a crucified Christ there is no joy in earth or heaven. If in the ransom price of his blood there be not hope, ye harps of heaven, there is no joy in you, and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures for evermore. We have only to sit more continually at the cross foot to be less troubled with our doubts and woes. We have but to see his sorrows, and our sorrows we shall be ashamed to mention. We have but to gaze into his wounds and heal our own. If we would live aright it must be by the contemplation of his death; if we would rise to dignity, it must be by considering his humiliation and his sorrow.
Morning and Evening
A CHILD OF THE KING
Harriett E. Buell, 1834–1910
We are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. (Romans 8:16, 17)KJV
As children of the heavenly kingdom, we should learn to enjoy and possess the rich spiritual blessings that belong to us as heirs of God’s riches.
• We have been justified and made acceptable to God—Romans 5:1
• We have been adopted into God’s royal family—Romans 8:16, 17
• We have been given a citizenship in heaven—Philippians 3:20
• We possess the indwelling Holy Spirit—1 Corinthians 6:19
• We have been placed into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love—Colossians 1:13
• We have the promise that the best is yet to come—a heavenly home—1 Corinthians 2:9
Whether you are great or small in God’s kingdom, you are still God’s child. An infant is as truly a child of its parents as is a full-grown person. You are as dear to your heavenly Father as the most prominent member in His family.
Harriett Buell wrote the words for “A Child of the King” one Sunday Morning while walking home from her Methodist church service. She sent her text to the Northern Christian Advocate, and it was printed in the February 1, 1877 issue of the magazine. John Sumner, a singing school music teacher, saw the words and composed the music without Harriett Buell’s knowledge. The hymn has been widely used since then to remind believers who they really are—bearers of God’s image (Genesis 1:26) and children of the King of kings.
My Father is rich in houses and lands; He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands! Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full—He has riches untold.
My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men, once wandered o’er earth as the poorest of them; but now He is reigning forever on high, and will give me a home in heav’n by and by.
I once was an outcast stranger on earth, a sinner by choice and an alien by birth; but I’ve been adopted; my name’s written down—an heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown.
A tent or a cottage, why should I care? They’re building a palace for me over there! Tho exiled from home, yet still I may sing: All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.
Chorus: I’m a child of the King! With Jesus, my Savior, I’m a child of the King!
For Today: Romans 8:14–17; Galatians 4:1– 7; Ephesians 1:5; James 2:5.
As an heir of God and a citizen of heaven, strive to make your walk and actions consistent with this high calling. Sing as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. XCIV. — BUT it is this, that seems to give the greatest offence to common sense or natural reason, — that the God, who is set forth as being so full of mercy and goodness, should, of His mere will, leave men, harden them, and damn them, as though He delighted in the sins, and in the great and eternal torments of the miserable. To think thus of God, seems iniquitous, cruel, intolerable; and it is this that has given offence to so many and great men of so many ages.
And who would not be offended? I myself have been offended more than once, even unto the deepest abyss of desperation; nay, so far, as even to wish that I had never been born a man; that is, before I was brought to know how healthful that desperation was, and how near it was unto grace. Here it is, that there has been so much toiling and labouring, to excuse the goodness of God, and to accuse the will of man. Here it is, that distinctions have been invented between the ordinary will of God and the absolute will of God: between the necessity of the consequence, and the necessity of the thing consequent: and many other inventions of the same kind. By which, nothing has ever been effected but an imposition upon the un-learned, by vanities of words, and by “oppositions of science falsely so called.” For after all, a conscious conviction has been left deeply rooted in the heart both of the learned and the unlearned, if ever they have come to an experience of these things; and a knowledge, that our necessity, is a consequence that must follow upon the belief of the prescience and Omnipotence of God.
And even natural Reason herself, who is so offended at this necessity, and who invents so many contrivances to take it out of the way, is compelled to grant it upon her own conviction from her own judgment, even though there were no Scripture at all. For all men find these sentiments written in their hearts, and they acknowledge and approve them (though against their will) whenever they hear them treated on. — First, that God is Omnipotent, not only in power but in action (as I said before): and that, if it were not so, He would be a ridiculous God. — And next, that He knows and foreknows all things, and neither can err nor be deceived. These two points then being granted by the hearts and minds of all, they are at once compelled, from an inevitable consequence, to admit, — that we are not made from our own will, but from necessity: and moreover, that we do not what we will according to the law of “Free-will,” but as God foreknew and proceeds in action, according to His infallible and immutable counsel and power. Wherefore, it is found written alike in the hearts of all men, that there is no such thing as “Free-will”; though that writing be obscured by so many contending disputations, and by the great authority of so many men who have, through so many ages, taught otherwise. Even as every other law also, which, according to the testimony of Paul, is written in our hearts, is then acknowledged when it is rightly set forth, and then obscured, when it is confused by wicked teachers, and drawn aside by other opinions.
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Robert C. Newman | Biblical eLearning
Brett Meador | Athey Creek