Psalm 108 - 114
A Song. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 108:1 My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
2 Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
6 That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
7 God has promised in his holiness:
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Valley of Succoth.
8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,
Judah my scepter.
9 Moab is my washbasin;
upon Edom I cast my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
10 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
11 Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
12 Oh grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
13 With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.
Help Me, O LORD My God
TO THE CHOIRMASTER. A PSALM OF DAVID.
Psalm 109:1 Be not silent, O God of my praise!
2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
3 They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
5 So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
6 Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8 May his days be few;
may another take his office!
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the LORD continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!
19 May it be like a garment that he wraps around him,
like a belt that he puts on every day!
20 May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
of those who speak evil against my life!
21 But you, O GOD my Lord,
deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.
26 Help me, O LORD my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love!
27 Let them know that this is your hand;
you, O LORD, have done it!
28 Let them curse, but you will bless!
They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!
30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.
Sit at My Right Hand
A PSALM OF DAVID.
Psalm 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
Great Are the LORD’s Works
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 111:1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
The Righteous Will Never Be Moved
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
2 His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
6 For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
7 He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
10 The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!
Who Is like the LORD Our God?
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 113:1 Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Tremble at the Presence of the Lord
Psalm 114:1 When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
6 O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.
What I'm Reading
By Don Carson 6/16/2018
Psalm 108 is rather distinctive in the book of Psalms. Apart from minor changes, it is made up of parts of two other Psalms. Psalm 108:1-5 follows Ps. 57:7-11; Psalm 108:6-13 follows 60:5-12. Nevertheless the “feel” of the result is startlingly different.
Both Psalms 57 and 60 find David under enormous pressure. In the former, the superscription places David in flight from King Saul, and hiding in a cave; in the latter, David and his troops have been defeated. In both cases, however, the Psalm ends in praise and confidence — and the respective sections on praise and confidence from these two Psalms are now joined together to make Psalm 108. Although Psalm 108 still hints at a stressful situation that includes some chastening by God (Ps. 108:11), the tone of the whole slips away from the dark moods for the early part of the other two Psalms, and in comparison is flooded with adoration and confidence.
That simple fact forces us to recognize something very important. The earlier two Psalms (57 and 60) will doubtless seem especially appropriate to us when we face peril — individual or corporate — or suffer some kind of humiliating defeat. The present Psalm will ring in our ears when we pause to look back on the manifold goodness of God, reminding ourselves of the sweep of his sovereignty and his utter worthiness to receive our praise. It might prove especially useful when we are about to venture on some new initiative for which our faith demands fresh grounding. This perspective of changed application occurs because the same words are now placed in a new context. And that is the point.
For although all of Scripture is true and important, deserving study, reflection, and carefully applied thought, the Lord God in his wisdom did not give us a Bible of abstract principles, but highly diverse texts woven into highly diverse situations. Despite the diversity, of course, there is still only one sweeping storyline, and only one Mind ultimately behind it. But the rich tapestry of varied human experience reflected in the different biblical books and passages — not least in the different Psalms — enables the Bible to speak to us with peculiar force and power when the “fit” between the experience of the human author and our experience is especially intimate.
For this astonishing wealth, God deserves reverent praise. What mind but his, what compass of understanding but his, what providential oversight over the production of Scripture but his, could produce a work so unified yet so profoundly diverse? Here, too, is reason to join our “Amen” to the words of 108:5: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.”
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
Why We Can Trust the Bible
By Robert Jeffress 2023
If you’re like most people, you probably have some questions about the Bible. You may be wondering, “What proof do we have that the events in the Bible actually happened?” Or, “What about all the errors and contradictions in the Bible?”
Answering these questions requires a deep dive into what makes the Bible unique and sets it apart from every other book, including religious texts, such as the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon, that also claim to be the Word of God.
Let’s start by looking at three reasons we can trust the Bible.
The Bible Is Inspired
Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” (This quote is widely attributed to Thomas Edison; however, the idea may have been in circulation before Edison published it. See Garson O’Toole, “Genius Is One Percent Inspiration, Ninety-Nine Percent Perspiration,” Quote Investigator, December 14, 2012, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/12/14/genius-ratio/. The apostle Peter famously said the Bible is 100 percent inspiration. Actually, what he said was, “No prophecy [of Scripture] was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 1:21).
2 Peter 1:21 (NASB95) for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Peter and the other Bible writers didn’t think, what this world really needs is a Bible, and we’re just the people to create it. Instead, they wrote as they were prompted by God — as they were “moved by the Holy Spirit.” The human writers never initiated the writing of Scripture. They were completely dependent on the Lord’s inspiration.
Inspiration, in this context, refers to the supernatural process God used to communicate His message through human beings without error. As 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The Greek word translated as “inspired” literally means “God-breathed,” and it illustrates the direct manner in which God worked. God spoke the universe into existence in Genesis 1, and He breathed the Bible into existence in the minds of those who wrote it.
God originated the message in every word of the Bible. He poured that message through the personalities of the writers. He used the emotional outbursts of King David, the angry rebukes of Moses, and the systematic reasoning of Paul to deliver His message. The message was recognizably God’s, while the writing styles were recognizably the authors’.
God’s guiding hand prevented the original writers from making any mistakes when they penned the words of Scripture. That’s how fallible people were able to produce an infallible Bible.
Some passages, such as the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and the messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2–3, contain God’s direct dictation. God said, “Write these words,” and the writers obeyed. Other passages, such as the Genesis account of creation, involve God revealing truths the writers had no way of knowing. However, most of the Bible was composed by the writers under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
The theological belief that every Bible writer was supernaturally inspired and directed by God is bolstered by the second of the Bible’s unique features: its unity.
The Bible Is Unified
If you’ve ever had to do a group project, you know how challenging it can be to get a room full of people with diverse personalities and experiences to complete a single assignment. Imagine having to do a group project with forty people from all over the world, before the invention of the internet, over the span of fifteen hundred years! How do you think that project would turn out?
The Bible is the most successful group project in history — one that was directed by God Himself. More than forty people wrote the various books of Scripture over a period of fifteen hundred years. Moses, the first named writer, began work on the first five books of the Old Testament around 1440 BC. The apostle John wrote the last book of the Bible around AD 95.
The forty-some people who recorded and composed God’s message were a diverse lot. Moses was a political leader. David was a shepherd. Solomon was a king. Luke was a doctor. Paul was a rabbi. Peter was a fisherman. Each writer had his own personality, his own perspective on the world, and his own peculiarities.
This diverse cast of characters composed the Bible in a variety of locations spread out across some two thousand miles, from Babylon to Jerusalem to Rome. Scripture was written in settings that included deserts, cities, and dungeons. The writers didn’t even stick to one literary style. They wrote history, law, poetry, allegory, biography, personal correspondence, prophecy, and apocalyptic literature.
With so many moving pieces and so many variables factoring into its creation, there’s no earthly reason for the Bible to function as one organic book — a unified whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Yet it does. The ties that bind the Bible’s parts together are unmistakable. The themes of sin and redemption, justice and grace, faith and forgiveness begin in Genesis and weave their way through the entire narrative, all the way to the end of Revelation.
The only explanation for such unity in a book that was composed under such varied circumstances is that a divine Author oversaw the final product.
As with inspiration, the unity of the Bible gives us reason to trust its integrity. Yet the fact remains that human beings were involved in creating God’s Word. For better or worse, these forty people were a lot like us — well-intentioned but mistake-prone. So how do we explain Christianity’s core belief that the Bible is inerrant?
The Bible Is Inerrant
Critics argue that the Bible doesn’t claim to be the inerrant Word of God. They suggest that modern-era fundamentalists came up with the concept of inerrancy as a way of promoting conservatism.
The Bible, on the other hand, makes a different claim. Hundreds of Old Testament passages contain a variation of the phrase, “The Lord said,” including these:
• “Then God spoke all these words” (Exod. 20:1).
• “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the LORD speaks” (Isa. 1:2).
• “The words of Jeremiah . . . to whom the word of the LORD came” (Jer. 1:1–2).
Psalm 95:7 contains the words, “Today, if you would hear His voice.” The human writer of these words isn’t identified in the psalm. But nearly a thousand years later, the writer of Hebrews in the New Testament identified the author of Psalm 95 as the Holy Spirit: “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice’” (Heb. 3:7).
Jesus believed in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Old Testament. He affirmed the Genesis account of creation and God’s blueprint for marriage (Matt. 19:4–6). He used the story of Jonah to illustrate His resurrection (12:39–40). He linked His second coming with Noah’s building of the ark (24:37–39). Jesus’s confidence in the Old Testament extended beyond stories and individual words to include even the letters and strokes that make up each word (5:17–18).
Evangelizing Our Children
By E. Calvin Beisner 1/1/2010
Reformed Christians take comfort from Acts 2:39: “the promise is for you and for your children.” God’s promises are multi-generational. Paul’s assurance that children even of just one believing parent are “holy” (1 Cor. 7:14) reinforces our confidence, as does his statement: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
We find the root of this comfort in God’s covenant with Abraham: “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7).
Yet simply being born of believers doesn’t guarantee salvation (Rom. 2:12–29). A child must also be raised faithfully in the covenant (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:6–9; Ps. 78:1–7), and he must believe (John 3:18). Only those “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” are children of God (John 1:10–13).
But if there is no blanket promise of salvation to the children of believers, is there no advantage to being born to Christian parents?
Yes! There is great advantage. Like the Jews, they are entrusted with the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2). That is a tremendous advantage, for “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23–25).
What other children hear the Word in the home, grow up in the church where they hear the preaching and teaching of the Word week in and week out, and where their friends and teachers encourage them to believe and obey? Where they learn the great hymns of the faith and soon have them in memory?
Yet the promise of salvation is to all who believe, and only to them. Far from unconditionally guaranteeing their salvation, the promises of Scripture to believers for their children establish Christian parents’ responsibility to evangelize our children.
God tells us to command our children to keep the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19), which includes faith in Jesus Christ. We are to command our children to trust in Jesus for their salvation. We are to teach them the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” and its implication, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1). “Child, God tells you to obey me. I tell you, repent of your sins and trust in Christ.”
In short, we must evangelize our children. We must tell them the gospel at every opportunity, before and after they ever profess faith.
That means teaching them that through law comes the knowledge of sin and therefore no flesh will be justified by works of the law but by faith apart from any such works (Rom. 3:19–28). It means repeating to them over and over again, before and after they are admitted to the Lord’s Table: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
Not only must we evangelize our children, but we also can evangelize them, and our labor will not be in vain. The normal connection between a parent’s faithfully teaching law and gospel to his child and his child’s believing is implicit in one of the qualifications of an elder — he must have “children who believe” (Titus 1:6).
But how can we evangelize our children? Here are three concrete, practical things you can do to ensure that your children regularly encounter the gospel in a context that will encourage them to believe it.
First, and foremost in their younger years, involve them frequently, preferably daily, in family worship. Don’t be intimidated. Keep it simple: read a Bible portion, pray, and sing a hymn or chorus or children’s Bible song.
Second, inculcate the habit of personal devotions. Again, keep it simple. Simply reading a chapter of the Bible and praying are all they need to do. If they want to keep a journal, prayer list, or write notes, that’s fine, but if pushing for it intimidates them, don’t.
Third, have your children, every Lord’s Day, in the worship of God, under the preaching of the Word, in the fellowship of the saints, partaking regularly of the Lord’s Supper from their earliest ability to confess their faith to the elders. While personal and family devotions are important, the Bible emphasizes corporate worship.
But the fundamental thing is this: The more they see that we, though we know ourselves sinners, “[believe] to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein; and [act] differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth,” and principally that they see we “[accept, receive, and rest] upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life,” as the Westminster Confession of Faith describes the acts of saving faith (14.2), the more likely our children will follow in our footsteps (John 5:19).
You can evangelize your children through family worship, teaching them personal devotions, and faithful participation in corporate worship. And take heart. The promise — believe and you will be saved — is to you and to your children!
Dr. E. Calvin Beisner is an OPC elder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship for Creation. He is associate professor of historical theology and social ethics.
- 1 God in Three Persons:
- 2 Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity (TURNING POINT CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW SERIES)
- 3 Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate
- 4 Answers for Atheists, Agnostics, and Other Thoughtful Skeptics: Dialogs About Christian Faith and Life
- 5 Prospects for Growth: A Biblical View of Population, Resources, and the Future (TURNING POINT CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW SERIES)
- 6 Psalms of Promise
By Keith Mathison 1/1/2010
I’ve written a handful of books on a variety of topics, and one thing that occasionally happens when you publish a book is that people ask you to sign it. I think of signing autographs as something that famous people do, so it feels a bit awkward to sign a book. I’m happy to do it, however. If you’ve written a Christian book, many people will want something in addition to your signature. They also ask for your favorite verse of Scripture. Many authors will write down a verse such as John 3:16 or Romans 8:28. My favorite verse of Scripture is Zephaniah 3:17. “I will utterly sweep away The Lord your God is in
Years ago, I was sitting at a conference book-signing table with a prominent Reformed scholar. He saw me writing “Zeph. 3:17” under my signature. When there was a break in the line, he leaned over and whispered: “Show off.” I knew he was kidding me, but his words were important insofar as he was pointing out the obvious fact that Zephaniah is not on many Christians’ “Favorite Books of the Bible” list. When was the last time you read Zephaniah?
Before looking at Zephaniah 3:17, it may help to know who Zephaniah was. Zephaniah was a prophet of God who was called to bring a message of judgment to the people of Judah in the seventh century BC during the reign of Josiah (640–609 BC), the last of the godly kings of Judah. This was a crucial period in the history of God’s people because these were the final decades leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586. The northern kingdom of Israel had already fallen to the Assyrians in 722. Judah was on the same path of sin and rebellion. Into this context came the prophet Zephaniah.
Zephaniah’s book begins with one of the most dramatic declarations of coming judgment found anywhere in Scripture. His description of the calamity that is about to fall upon Judah hearkens back to God’s judgment of the earth during the days of Noah. Zephaniah writes (in 1: 2–3):
everything from the face of
the earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will sweep away man and beast;
I will sweep away the birds of the
heavens and the fish of the sea,
and the rubble with the wicked.
I will cut off mankind from
the face of the earth,” declares
The final section of the book (3:9–20), however, contains two oracles of salvation. This is not unusual in the prophetic books as the prophets move from oracles of woe to oracles of blessing. Zephaniah’s oracles of blessing indicate that judgment is not God’s last word for His people. He begins with an oracle concerning God’s purification of a faithful remnant (vv. 9–13). This is followed by an oracle describing God’s rejoicing with His people (vv. 14–20). In verse 14, God calls upon His people to sing and rejoice (v. 14), for He has taken away their judgments and removed their enemies (vv. 15–16). Then in verse 17, we read what O. Palmer Robertson calls “the John 3:16 of the OT.”
your midst, a mighty
one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with
Does this remind you of any New Testament passage? Consider the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32). The father in this parable, who represents God, sees his prodigal son returning home, and what does he do? He runs to him, embraces him, and kisses him. This was not something a dignified, elderly Jewish man did at the time. Jesus tells us there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7). It is not only the angels who rejoice. God rejoices as well. Zephaniah 3:17 vividly reminds us that our Father in heaven is not some distant deist god who cares nothing for us. It is a picture of profound and deep personal love, the kind of love that would sacrifice all for our sake. The kind of love that did sacrifice all for our sake. To Him be all glory, honor, and power.
“I will utterly sweep away
The Lord your God is in
Per Amazon, Keith A. Mathison (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary; PhD, Whitefield Theological Seminary) is dean of the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and an associate editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is editor of When Shall These Things Be: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism and associate editor of The Reformation Study Bible. He lives in Lake Mary, Florida, with his wife and children.Keith Mathison Books:
- 1 Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope
- 2 The Shape of Sola Scriptura
- 3 Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper
- 4 From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology
- 5 Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?
- 6 A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture
- 7 Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason
- 8 When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism
Preach the Word
By Steven Lawson 1/1/2010
Every season of reformation and every hour of spiritual awakening has been ushered in by a recovery of biblical preaching. This cause and effect is timeless and inseparable. J.H. Merle D’Aubigné, noted Reformation historian, writes, “The only true reformation is that which emanates from the Word of God.” That is to say, as the pulpit goes, so goes the church.
Such was the case in the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers were raised up by God to lead this era. At the forefront, it was their recovery of expository preaching that helped launch this religious movement that turned Europe and, eventually, Western civilization upside down. With sola Scriptura as their battle cry, a new generation of biblical preachers restored the pulpit to its former glory and revived apostolic Christianity.
The same was true in the golden era of the puritans in the seventeenth century. A recovery of biblical preaching spread like wildfire through the dry religion of Scotland and England. A resurgence of authentic Christianity came as an army of biblical expositors—John Owen, Jeremiah Burroughs, Samuel Rutherford, and others—marched upon the British Empire with an open Bible and uplifted voice. In its wake, the monarchy was shaken and history was altered.
The eighteenth century witnessed exactly the same. The Bible-saturated preaching of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and the Tennents thundered through the early colonies. The Atlantic seaboard was electrified with the proclamation of the gospel, and New England was taken by storm. The Word was preached, souls were saved, and the kingdom expanded.
The fact is, the restoration of biblical preaching has always been the leading factor in any revival of genuine Christianity. Philip Schaff writes, “Every true progress in church history is conditioned by a new and deeper study of the Scriptures.” That is to say, every great revival in the church has been ushered in by a return to expository preaching.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preacher of Westminster Chapel London, stated, “The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is the greatest need of the world also.” If the doctor’s diagnosis is correct, and this writer believes it is, then a return to true preaching—biblical preaching, expository preaching—is the greatest need in this critical hour. If a reformation is to come to the church, it must begin in the pulpit.
In his day, the prophet Amos warned of an approaching famine, a deadly drought that would cover the land. But not an absence of mere food or water, for this scarcity would be far more fatal. It would be a famine for hearing God’s Word (Amos 8:11). Surely, the church today finds itself in such similar days of shortage. Tragically, exposition is being replaced with entertainment, doctrine with drama, theology with theatrics, and preaching with performances. What is so desperately needed today is for pastors to return to their highest calling—the divine summons to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1–2).
What is expository preaching? The Genevan reformer John Calvin explained, “Preaching is the public exposition of Scripture by the man sent from God, in which God Himself is present in judgment and in grace.” In other words, God is unusually present, by His Spirit, in the preaching of His Word. Such preaching starts in a biblical text, stays in it, and shows its God-intended meaning in a life-changing fashion.
This was the final charge of Paul to young Timothy: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Such preaching necessitates declaring the full counsel of God in Scripture. The entire written Word must be expounded. No truth should be left untaught, no sin unexposed, no grace unoffered, no promise undelivered.
A heaven-sent revival will only come when Scripture is enthroned once again in the pulpit. There must be the clarion declaration of the Bible, the kind of preaching that gives a clear explanation of a biblical text with compelling application, exhortation, and appeal.
Every preacher must confine himself to the truths of Scripture. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. The man of God has nothing to say apart from the Bible. He must not parade his personal opinions in the pulpit. Nor may he expound worldly philosophies. The preacher is limited to one task—preach the Word.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “I would rather speak five words out of this book than 50,000 words of the philosophers. If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God. If we want conversions, we must put more of God’s Word into our sermons.” This remains the crying need of the hour.
May a new generation of strong men step forward and speak up, and may they do so loud and clear. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church.
Per Amazon | Dr. Steven J. Lawson is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to bring about a new reformation in the church. He is a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries, director of the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master's Seminary, and a visiting professor in the Doctor of Ministry program at the Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies.
Steven Lawson | Go to Books Page
By Don Carson 7/5/2018
It doesn't always work like this, of course. Sometimes it is not the case that the sin of one man and his family — in this case Achan — brings defeat upon the entire believing community (Josh. 7). For example, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira brought death only to themselves (Acts 5), and the punishment they suffered induced a godly fear in the rest of the assembly. On the other hand, the sin of David brought tragic repercussions on the entire nation. Perhaps the most frightening cases are those where countless sins are committed by many, many people, and God does absolutely nothing about it. For the worst judgment occurs when God turns his back on people, and resolutely lets sin take its course. Far better to be pulled up sharply before things get out of hand. That is why so much of the previous forty years of wilderness wanderings was given over to the disciplining hand of God: the purpose was as much educative as reformative.
Whatever is the case elsewhere in Scripture, here the sin of Achan and his family brings embarrassing defeat to the contingent of troops sent to take the little town of Ai. Worse, it brought death to about thirty-six Israelites (Josh. 7:5). In a sense, Achan was a murderer. When in some consternation Joshua seeks God’s face, God rather abruptly says, in effect, “Stop your praying and deal with the sin in the camp” (Josh. 7:10-12). The point is that God had given explicit and repeated instructions. They had been violated. The covenant between God and the Israelites was essentially communal, and so God is determined to teach the entire community to exercise among its own members the discipline that the covenant mandates.
No doubt there are some substantial differences to bear in mind when one turns to the new covenant. Nevertheless, here too God says some explicit things, and expects the covenant community to exercise discipline (e.g., 1 Cor. 5; cf. 2 Cor. 11:4; 13:2-3). Paul warns us that failure to take disciplinary action in the church, when there has been flagrant violation, endangers the entire community (1 Cor. 5:6). Pastors of churches and leaders of other Christian organizations who ignore this perspective are inviting disaster among all the people they are called to lead. In the name of peace, the real motivation may simply be cowardice, or worse, a failure to take God’s words seriously. The point is reinforced in the second reading assigned for this date: “I . . . will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word” (Ps. 138:2-3).
(1 Co 5:1–13) 5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.Click here to go to source
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” ESV
(2 Co 11:4) 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. ESV
(2 Co 13:2–3) 2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them— 3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. ESV
(1 Co 5:6) 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? ESV
(Ps 138:2–3) 2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 71Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent
71 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
22 I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
who sought to do me hurt.
By John Walvoord
Other Prophecies Related to the Abrahamic Covenant
The promise of the land is prominent throughout the book of Genesis and supports the conclusion that God meant literally the future land of Israel. Other aspects of the Abrahamic covenant are also fulfilled. Coupled with the promise of the land is the continued promise of descendants to Abraham. Though all the children of Abraham fulfilled the promise that his descendants would be like the stars of the heaven and the sands of the sea in number, the narrative is clear that the promise of the land was limited to a particular line of descendants — Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons.
The promise that kings would descend from Abraham would be subject to later fulfillment, especially in the history of Israel when Saul, David, and Solomon were made kings. The promise that Abraham would be a great man was certainly fulfilled in the many chapters devoted to him and his descendants in the book of Genesis. Taken as a whole, the book of Genesis confirms that God made literal promises to Abraham that would be literally fulfilled in time and in eternity.
Prophecy In Exodus
Four books are dedicated to the exodus from Egypt, the years of wandering in the wilderness, and the death of Moses. Though mainly historical books, numerous prophecies were revealed throughout this portion of the history of Israel. In most cases the prophecies describe events that were to be fulfilled soon.
Moses Called to Deliver His People
Exodus 3:1–4:31; 6:1–8. God as the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses at the burning bush and revealed to Moses that he was to be the deliverer of the children of Israel from Egypt. This experience is described in 3:5–12. The sign promised Moses (v. 12 ) was fulfilled ( 17:6 ).
Moses was reluctant to accept this challenge as described in 4:1–31, even though God promised to perform miracles (vv. 21–23 ). After his contest with Pharaoh ( Exodus 5 ), Moses was given confirmation of his prophetic role in leading the children of Israel out of Egypt ( 6:1–8 ). Subsequent history, of course, confirmed these prophetic promises (cf. 12:37–50 ).
Then Plagues on Egypt
Exodus 7:1–12:36. The ten plagues were inflicted on the Egyptians in fulfillment of the prophecy: (1) water was turned to blood ( 7:14–24 ); (2) the plague of frogs ( 8:1–15 ); (3) the plague of gnats (vv. 16–19 ); (4) the plague of files (vv. 20–30 ); (5) the plague on livestock ( 9:1–7 ); (6) the plague of boils (vv. 8–12 ); (7) the plague of hail and fire (vv. 13–35 ); (8) the plague of locusts ( 10:1–20 ); (9) the plague of darkness (vv. 21–29 ); (10) the plague of the death of the firstborn ( 11:1–10; 12:29–30 ).
At each of these plagues, Pharaoh was warned of the next plague. In each case, except the final plague, Pharaoh resisted letting the children of Israel go. And in each case, the prophecy of the plague was fulfilled. It is noteworthy that all of these prophecies were simple, factual prophecies of events of the future that were literally fulfilled.
Exodus 12:46; cf. Numbers 9:12. The Passover lamb was a type of Christ. The fact that no bones were broken is a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice without a bone being broken ( John 19:36 ).
The Exodus Begun
Exodus 12:31–36. After the tenth plague Pharaoh allowed the children of Israel to leave, and they were delivered from Egypt as God had prophesied to Moses. The Israelites were able to take silver and gold and other plunder from the Egyptians because the Egyptians were eager to see them leave after the tenth plague (vv. 33–36 ). The exodus from Egypt was the most important move in Israel’s history until the twentieth-century movement of Israel back to the Promised Land.
Deliverance through the Red Sea
Exodus 14:1–31. Biblical history recorded Pharaoh pursuing the Israelites to prevent their departure. God intervened and protected the Israelites. Then, miraculously, God prepared a way for them through the Red Sea. The Egyptians tried to follow, but they were thwarted by the returning waters and drowned.
Victory over the Amalekites
Exodus 17:8–15. Israel was attacked by the Amalekites, but was able to overcome them. God predicted the Amalekites would be destroyed (v. 15; 1 Chron. 4:43 ).
The Preliminary Promise of the Covenant with Moses
Exodus 19:1–13. The favored status of the people of Israel in the world was revealed (vv. 1–6 ). In connection with the giving of the covenant, the children of Israel were warned not to approach Mount Sinai (vv. 11–13 ).
Prophetic Promise of Guidance for Israel
Exodus 23:20–31. God directed Israel to follow the guidance of the Angel of the Lord, who would go ahead of them and lead them to the Promised Land. God promised to establish their borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines and from the desert to the Euphrates River. The leading of the Lord was mentioned again in 33:15; 34:10–12.
From The Dunghill To The Throne
By Charles Spurgeon 11/5/1865
Psalm 113:7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the LORD;
my horn is exalted in the LORD.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the LORD:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world.
9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
THE greatness and majesty of the Most High God are utterly inconceivable. The most masterly minds, when in the most spiritual state, have felt it impossible for the utmost stretch of their imagination to reach to the grandeur of God. Our loftiest conceptions of the universe probably fall very far short of what it really is; although the researches of astronomy have revealed facts surpassing all the powers of the human mind in the attempt to grasp them. Thought, reason, understanding, and even imagination are bewildered in the vast and illimitable fields of space amidst the marvels of God’s handiwork. Yet all the wonders which the human eye has seen or mortal spirit guessed at, are but parts of His ways. We have heard no more than one stanza of creation’s never-ending Psalm. We have viewed but one stone in the vast mosaic of the Maker’s works. A microscopic atom of life in a drop of water may know as much of the great sea as we do of the universe as a whole. An ant creeping over a sand heap by the seaside must not boast of having counted the grains which bound the ocean — nor must the most learned mortal dream that he has a full idea of the vast creation of God. Above all this, however, is the fact that all these wondrous works bear no more proportion to the unseen, all-powerful God, than one line written by the pen of Milton would bear to his masterly mind. When God has made all that He ordains to create, and when we have seen all that He has made, yet there remains in Him infinite possibilities of creation. The potter is far greater than the vessel which he fashions, and the Lord is infinitely greater than all His works. He fills all things, but all things cannot fill Him. He contains immensity; He grasps eternity; but neither immensity nor eternity can encompass Him—
“Great God, how infinite You are!
What worthless worms are we!”
“With scorn divine, He turns His eyes
From towers of haughty kings.”
“He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the dunghill.” This has frequently occurred in providence. God in His arrangements singularly alters the position of men. History is not without many instances, in which the uppermost have become lowest, and the lowest have been highest. Verily, “There are first who shall be last, and there are last who shall be first.” Solomon said, “I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking in the dust.” And the same thing has been seen even in these modern times, when kings have fled their thrones, and men who were prowling about in poverty have mounted to imperial power. God in providence often laughs at pedigree and ancestry, and stains the honor and dignity of everything in which human nature boasts itself. From the kennel to the palace is an easy ascent when heaven favors.
It is not upon providence that I intend to dilate, this morning. My text has a special bearing upon God’s acts of grace. Here it is above all others that we see the condescending sovereignty of His dealings. He takes the base things of the world, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are. He selects for Himself those whom men would have repudiated with scorn — He covers His tabernacle of witness with badgers’ skins, chooses unhewn stones to be the materials for His altar, a bush for a place of blazing manifestation, and a shepherd boy to be the man after His own heart. Those persons and things, which are despised among men, are often highly esteemed in the sight of God.
In considering the text this morning, let us notice the objects of God’s choice. First, where some of them are; secondly, how He takes them from their degraded state; thirdly, how He lifts them up; and fourthly, where He puts them.
It will be the history of a child of God, from the dunghill to the throne. Novelists are plastering our walls with sensational titles; here is one which might even satisfy them in their ambition to delight the morbid cravings of this age. “From the dunghill to the throne,” is a subject which ought to win your attention, and if it does not, the fault must surely lie with me; in it there will always be a blessed novelty of interest; and yet, we thank God that it is a correct description of the upward experience of all the Lord’s people. He finds tens of thousands in the dunghill-state, and bears them up by the arms of His mercy, till He makes them to sit among the princes of His people.
I. We will begin where God began with us. WHERE GOD’S CHOSEN ONES ARE WHEN HE MEETS WITH THEM.
The expression used in the text implies, in the first place, that many of them are in the lowest scale socially. Sovereign grace has a people everywhere, in all ranks and conditions of men. Were we taken up to heaven, and did the heavenly spirits wear any token of their rank on earth, we would, on returning, say, “Here and there I saw a king; I marked a few princes of the blood, and a handful of peers of the realm; I observed a little company of the prudent, and a slender band of the rich and famous; but I saw a great company of the poor and the unknown, who were rich in faith and known unto the Lord.” The Lord excludes no man from His election on account of his rank or condition. We shall not err if we say—
“While grace is given to the prince,
The poor receive their share.
No mortal has a just pretense
To perish in despair.”
My poor hearer, you may this morning, while sitting in that pew, feel as if you were scarcely respectable enough to be in a place of worship, but I pray you, let not your poverty hinder your receiving the gospel, whose peculiar glory it is that it is preached to the poor! You may have nothing at all in this world, not a foot of ground which you can call your own; you may have been fighting against adversity, a deadly struggle, year after year, and yet, you may still be as poor as poverty itself. I will neither commend nor upbraid your poverty, for there is nothing necessarily good or bad morally in any state of life, but I beg that you will not let your circumstances discourage you in the matter of your spiritual interest before God. Come as a beggar if you are a beggar. Come in rags, if you have no other covering. “He who has no money, come, buy and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price!”
The expression in the text does not refer merely to social gradations. I have no doubt it has a more spiritual meaning. The dunghill is a place where men throw their worthless things. When you have quite done with an article, and cannot put it to any further use, you throw it away. It has been turned to two or three accounts since it was first employed for its original intention, and now it is in the way and can no longer be harbored. It is of no use to be sold even as old metal, and therefore, you throw it on the dunghill that it may be taken away with the rubbish. How often have God’s own chosen people felt themselves to be mere refuse and sweepings, good for nothing but to be cast away? ( and likewise the elderly. ) You, dear friends, are in a like case, for you have discovered your own utter worthlessness. Looking upon yourself in the light which you have received from heaven, your fancied value has all departed. You were very important once in your own esteem, but you now perceive that your loss, so far from affecting heaven and earth, would be of no more consequence to the world at large, than the throwing of rotten fruit upon the dunghill, or the falling of a leaf from one forest tree amidst a myriad. In your own estimation there is in you a lack of adaptation for any useful purpose; you are of no more use than salt which has lost its savor. You cannot glorify God as you wish; you do not wish as much as you should. You can neither pray with the earnestness you desire, nor praise with the gratitude you wish to feel. Looking back upon your past life, you are heartily ashamed. In a corner you mourn out, “Lord, what a worthless piece of lumber I have been in this world! What a cumberer of the ground! What an unprofitable servant!” You have been useful to your family, or to your country, and once you thought this enough — but now you measure yourself as in the light of God; and inasmuch as you have never glorified Him who made you, and have brought no honor to Him who is your kind and gracious preserver, you feel yourself to be so worthless, that if the Lord should throw you on the dunghill, and say, “Put him away! He is as worthless as dross and dung,” He would only treat you as you richly deserve. My dear friend, this estimate of yourself, though it brings you much unhappiness, is a very healthy sign. When we think little of ourselves, God thinks much of us. “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.” He will not break you, O you bruised reed! He will not quench you, O you smoking flax! But though you are only fit to be cast on the dunghill, His mercy will tenderly consider you, and exalt you among the princes of His people!
Again, the dunghill is a place of contempt. Contempt sometimes sneeringly says of its victim, “He is such a person, that I would not pick him up if I saw him on a dunghill.” The sneer of the world condemns some persons thus — “Oh, they are good for nothing; a dunghill is too good for them.” Possibly, my hearer, you may be placed in a family where you are much despised. You may not have the ability and sharpness of others of the household, and therefore you are much looked down upon, and are regarded as a poor simpleton, not worth noticing. You have not succeeded in life as others have done, and consequently, you are viewed with much contempt by those who have prospered much and speedily. You may even feel, this morning, as if you merited the contempt poured upon you. You have been saying, “Ah, you despise me, but if you knew me as I know myself, you would despise me more. You think nothing of me, and I am less than nothing. You call me an ill name, but could you see the deceitfulness of my base heart, you would understand that the name might be worn in truth though given in jest.” Well, despised one, let me remind you that the Lord has often looked upon those whom man has despised; and though your own parents may have taken no pleasure in you, and society may sneer at you, and you may, yourself, now feel as if the sneer were well deserved, yet take confidence and be of good heart, for God visits dunghills when He does not visit palaces, and He will lift up the humble and meek from the dust where they pine and languish.
The next remark may, perhaps, afford more comfort — the dunghill is the place for filthy and offensive things. We say of a foul and unsavory thing, “It is too bad to be borne in the house, let it be swept away; put it away with the filth; cover it up.” When a matter becomes noxious, putrid, offensive, we want it to be removed at once. Ah, sad that we should have to say this of any of our fellow creatures, but we must say it. There are some whose sins are terribly foul; their iniquities are so vile, that they are an offense in the eyes and ears of all decent men — and the Holy God looks upon their actions with wrath and detestation. Some sinners have become so infamous in character, that they are an injury to all associated with them; they cannot enter into any company without spreading the contagion of their sin; their example is so bad, that it is enough to poison the parish where they live. They are only fit to be put as so much rottenness, foulness, and putridity, on the dunghill where immorality rots out its hour of abomination. But, oh, the love of my Master! He has often stooped to rescue the abandoned from the dunghill. In heaven I see those who had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, who once were harlots like Rahab, adulterers like David, and idolaters like Manasseh. Before the throne of God there stand today, among the peers of God, those who, in their days of unregeneracy, were thieves, and drunkards, and blasphemers. Heaven’s courts are trod by many who once were the chief of sinners, but who now are brightest among the saints. I pray you, beloved, never think that the gospel of Christ saved great offenders in years gone by, but that now, it is only for the upright and moral! The moral are freely invited to Christ, which we never forget to testify, but the immoral are welcome too. The Lord came to our earth as a Physician; and He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; He came not to heal those who are already sound in health, but the sick. O my hearer, if you are so sick with sin that your whole head is sick and your whole heart faint, and from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet there is no soundness in you — nothing but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores — yet still, the love of my Master will stoop to you!
If you have added lust to theft, and even murder to lust; if you are red-handed with infamous iniquity, yet the sacred crimson bath, which was filled from the heart of Jesus, can wash away “all manner of sin and blasphemy.” Whoever believes in Him is justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses. Refined minds thought just now, that I was using a very ugly expression when I spoke of rescuing rottenness from the dunghill, but the expression is all too clean when compared with sin; for all the filth and loathsomeness that ever offended eye and nostril are sweetness itself compared with sin. The foulest and most detestable thing in the whole universe is sin. It is this which keeps the fire of hell burning as God’s great sanitary necessity. There cannot but be a constant Tophet where there is such constant sin. We read that in certain French towns they kindled great public fires because of the cholera. The cholera? What is it compared with sin? Well may God cause the fiery flames of eternal torment to go up forever and ever, for it is only by such terrific punishment, that the plague of sin can be at all restrained within bounds. Sin is a horrible evil, a deadly poison; and yet, sinner, though you are as full of it as an egg is full of meat, and as reeking with it as the foulest piece of noxious matter can be reeking with foul smell — yet the infinite mercy of God in Christ Jesus can lift you from this utmost degradation, and make you shine as a star in His kingdom at the last!
Once more, the dunghill may be spiritually considered as the place of condemnation. You look at a certain article of food, for instance, and the economical housewife does not wish to waste anything. Well, if it may not serve for food, may it not be useful for something else? At last, when she sees that it is of no service, the sentence of condemnation is, “Let it be cast on the dunghill.” Nebuchadnezzar, in his memorable proclamation concerning the Lord Jehovah, said that whoever should speak a word against Him should be cut in pieces, and his house should be made a dunghill. There is a connection, then, between the dunghill and condemnation. Now there may be in this audience, this morning, a man who feels himself to be under sentence of condemnation. You have so often had pricks of conscience; so frequently have been taught better, and yet you have sinned against light and knowledge, and now you consider yourself to have sinned beyond the reach of mercy. My voice, this morning, very likely grates on your ears; though it is meant to convey to you the most gladsome tidings that ever silver trumpet rung out to bankrupt sinners on the day of jubilee, yet it sounds to you like the voice which proclaims your doom. Well, poor sinner, if you are, in yourself, condemned, and a hoarse voice has said, “To the dunghill with him! To the flames of hell with him!” yet I come to you in Jehovah’s name, and bid you hear this Word of God this morning — “He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the dunghill; that He may set him with princes.” What do you say to this? What if God should forgive you this morning? What if He should make you His child? What if He should give you a crown of life that fades not away? “Oh,” you say, “if He would, I would love and bless Him.” Sinner, He will do it if you can now believe in the Lord Jesus, whose blood cleanses us from all sin. By the death of Jesus, I beseech you trust in the atoning sacrifice of Calvary, and you shall live to praise His redeeming love.
I must not, however, leave out a thought which just occurred to me. A thing which lies upon the dunghill is in contact with disgusting associates; and, therefore, the text may represent those, who have up to now, lived in the midst of evil associations. When these doors are opened, there often come in here, out of curiosity, persons who are not regular attendants at places of worship — I must say the most hopeful class that I ever address — for some of you who have heard my voice, and the voices of other ministers so long are almost hopeless; we might as well give you up, for we have pleaded with you so frequently, and put the truth of God before you so constantly, that surely if it ever was to have been blessed to you, it would have been blessed already. But those to whom the gospel is a new thing occasionally drop in, and some of these come from the very worst society, fresh from the theater, the gin palace, and worse places still — the name of Jesus scarcely known, except as it may be used in blasphemy, and the person never thought of God Most High, except as He is invoked in a curse. Friend, we are glad that you are here! You have been on the dunghill, you are on the dunghill now; you have been living with publicans and harlots; you have kept bad company; you have not been nurtured among the choice and the elite of mankind, on the contrary, you have been among the pots and dwelt in the hedges. Now it is such as you are, that Jesus Christ bids us gather in. “Go out quickly into the lanes, and into the hedges, and as many as you find bid to the supper.” And they brought in the blind, and the halt, and the lame, and they took their seats and feasted where others who were first invited refused to come! I call to you, then, if such there are within my hearing, to you who do not often darken the doors of God’s sanctuary, to you who live among the profane and the debauched, turn to Jesus Christ, I pray you! May the eternal Spirit turn you this day, and may you be found among the chosen of God! Alas, and woe is me that I should have to say it, some of you, my hearers, who have been moral and excellent, and have listened to the word these years, will, I solemnly fear, perish in your sins; for verily, verily, I say unto you, publicans and harlots will enter into the kingdom of heaven before some of you who hear the word, but do it not, and listen to it, but feel not its power, and know the joyful sound, but do not receive it into your hearts.
Thus much, then, as to where some of God’s people are found. Let me say that in a certain sense this is where they all are — all on the dunghill of Adam’s fall, all on the dunghill of self-conceit, selfrighteousness, and depravity, and sin, and corruption; but sovereign mercy comes to them just as they lie there rotting in heaps of ruin, and rescues them by effectual grace.
II. In the second place, we desire to describe HOW THE LORD RAISES THEM FROM IT.
He lifts the needy out of the dunghill. It is a dead lift, and none but an eternal arm could do it. It is a feat of omnipotence to lift a sinner out of his natural degradation; it is all done by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word, filled with the energy of God. The operation is somewhat on this wise. When the Lord begins to deal with the needy sinner, the first lift He gives him raises his desires. The man is not satisfied to be where he was, and what he was. That dunghill he had not perceived to be as foul as it really is; and the first sign of spiritual life is horror at his lost condition, and an anxious desire to escape from it. Dear hearer, have you advanced as far as this? Do you feel that all is wrong with you? And do you desire to be saved from your present state? So long as you can say, “It is well with me,” and boast that you are no worse than others, I have no hope for you. God does not lift those up who are lifted up already! But when you begin to feel that your present state is one of degradation and ruin, and that you desire to escape from it, then the Lord has put the lever under you! He has begun to raise you up.
The next sign generally is that to such a man sin loses all sweetness. When the Lord begins to work with you, even before you find Christ to the joy of your soul, you will find the joy of sin to have departed. A quickened soul that feels the weight of sin cannot find pleasure in it. Although, without faith in Jesus, the evil of sin cannot clearly and evangelically be perceived, yet the conscience of an awakened sinner, perceiving the terribly defiling character of some sins, compels him to give them up. The alehouse is abandoned; the scorner’s seat is given up; the lusts of the flesh are forsaken, and though this does not lift the sinner from the dunghill, yet it is a sign, that the Lord has begun His work of grace. When sin grows bitter, mercy grows sweet. O, my friend, may the Lord wean you from the world’s sweet poisons, and bring you to the true pleasures which are hidden in Christ Jesus! It is another blessed sign that the man is being lifted from the dunghill when he begins to feel that his own self-righteousness is no assistance to him — when, having prayed, he looks upon his prayers with repentance, and having gone to God’s house, rests not in the outward form. It is well when a man is cut off entirely from all confidence in himself. He may still be on the dunghill, but I am sure he will not be there long, for when you and yourself have quarreled, God and yourself begin to be at peace; when you can see through that cobweb righteousness of yours, which once seemed to be such a fair silken garment; when you can hate that counterfeit coin which once seemed to glitter and to chink like true gold; when you are plunged in the ditch, and your own clothes abhor you, it is not long before you shall be saved with an everlasting salvation!
Now comes the true lift from off the dunghill. That poor, guilty, lost, worthless one, hears of Jesus Christ, that He came into the world to save sinners — that poor soul looks to Him with a look which means, “Lord, You are my last resort! If You do not save me, I will perish; and You must save me altogether, for I cannot help You. I cannot give a thread with which to finish Your perfect righteousness. If it is unfinished, I cannot contribute one farthing to make up my own ransom — if You have not completely ransomed me, then Your redemption is of no service to me. Lord, I am a drowning, sinking man; I grasp You as I sink; O save me for Your mercy’s sake!”—
“All my help on You is stayed.
All my trust from You I bring.
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Your wing.”
III. The third point is, HOW HE RAISES THEM UP.
It is a blessed thing to be saved from degradation, but praise be to Jehovah, He does not stop there. The Lord does nothing by halves. Oh, the lengths and breadths of love! When He has come right down to where we are, it is only half His journey — it remains for Him to bear us right up to where He is. Oh, it is a blessed thing to be taken off the dunghill, even if our lot were that of hired servants in our father’s house; but this does not satisfy the infinite heart of Jehovah — He will lift His people up above all commonplace joys, he will take them right up, up, up as on eagles’ wings, till He sets them in the place of princes, and makes them to reign with Him!
Now, let us have a few minutes’ consideration of how our blessed Lord lifts His people up from the common level of humanity to make them rank with princes. In the first place, they are lifted up by complete justification. Every Christian here this morning, whatever may have been his past life, is at this instant perfect in the sight of God through Jesus Christ. The spotless righteousness of Christ is imputed to that sinner believing in Him, so that he stands, this morning, “accepted in the Beloved.” Now beloved, weigh this, turn it over, and meditate upon it. Poor, needy, but believing sinner, you are as accepted before God at this present time through Christ Jesus, as if you had never sinned, as if you had done and performed every work of His most righteous law, without the slightest failure. Is not this sitting among princes? Complete justification furnishes the believer with a throne as safe as it is lofty, as happy as it is glorious. Ah, you descendants of imperial houses, some of you know nothing of this. This is a note which many an emperor could never sing, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?” Speak of sitting in pavilions of pleasure, or on couches of state with nobles, princes, kings, Caesars — why the figure flags, it falls short of the mark, for the state of the soul completely justified, outshines all this as the sun outshines yon glimmering candle.
Take the next step. The children of God who have been taken from the dunghill, many of them, enjoy full assurance of faith. They are certain that they are saved; they can say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” As to whether they are children of God or not, they have no question; the infallible witness of the Holy Spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are born of God. Christ is their elder Brother, God is their Father, and they breathe the filial spirit by which they cry, “Abba, Father!” They know their own security; they are convinced that neither “things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus their Lord.” I ask every one of understanding heart, whether this is not sitting among princes? Beloved, I would not give a farthing for a prince’s throne, but I would give all I had a thousand times told, if I might always enjoy full assurance of faith! The full assurance of faith is a better joy than Shushan’s palace of lilies, or Solomon’s house of the forest of Lebanon could ever yield. A sense of divine loving kindness is better than life itself — it is a young heaven maturing below to be fully developed above. To know that my Beloved is mine, and that I am His and that He loved me and gave Himself for me, this is far better than to be heir-apparent to a number of empires!
We go further, the children of God favored by divine grace, are permitted to have interviews with Jesus Christ. Like Enoch, we walk with God. Just as a child walks with his father, putting his hand into his father’s hand, looking up with loving eyes, so the chosen people walk with their Father God most lovingly, confidingly, familiarly, talking to Him, telling Him their griefs, and hearing from His gracious mouth the secrets of His Love. They are a happy people, for they have communion with Jesus of a more intimate and tender sort than even angels know. We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones; we are married unto Him; He has betrothed us unto Himself in faithfulness and in righteousness; we are dearer to Himself than His own flesh and blood — that He gave to die — and none of us shall ever perish, neither shall any take us out of His hand. Now, is not this sitting among princes? Princes? Princes? We look down upon your pomp from the eminence on which grace has placed us! Wear your crowns! Put on your purple! Deck yourselves in all your regal pomp, but when our souls can sit with Jesus, and reign as kings and priests, with Him, your splendors are not worth a thought. Communion with Jesus is a richer gem than ever glittered in any imperial diadem. Union with the Lord is a coronet of beauty outshining all the crowns of earth.
Nor is this all — the elect of God, in addition to receiving complete justification, full assurance and communion with Christ, are favored with the Holy Spirit’s sanctification. God the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian; however humble he may be, he is a walking temple in which resides Deity. God the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and we in Him; and that Spirit sanctifies the daily actions of the Christian, so that he does everything as unto God; if he lives, it is to Christ, and if he dies, it is gain. O beloved, it is, indeed, to sit among princes when you feel the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. O, my God, if I might always feel Your Spirit, overcoming my corruption and compelling my soul to holiness, I would not so much as think of a prince, in comparison with my own joy. O my dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, I am sure you can bear witness that when you fall into sin at any time, it brings you very low; you smell that vile dunghill once again, and are ready to die under its fearful stench; but when the Holy Spirit enables you to overcome sin, and to live as Christ lived, you feel that you have a royal standing, and a more than imperial privilege in being sanctified in Christ Jesus!
Moreover, many saints receive, in addition to sanctification, the blessing of usefulness; and, mark the word, every useful man is of princely rank. I am not exaggerating now, but speaking the sober truth; he is the true prince among men who blesses his fellows. To be able to drop pearls from your lips might make you a prince in a fairy tale, but when those lips bless the souls of men by leading them to Jesus— this is to be a prince in very deed! To feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to reclaim the fallen, to teach the ignorant, to cheer the desponding, to inspire the wavering, and to conduct saints up to God’s right hand, my brethren, this is to wear a luster which stars and ribbons, orders and distinctions, could never confer. This is the privilege of each one of you, according as the Spirit of God has given you the measure of faith. You, who once did mischief, now subserve the interest of virtue; you, who rendered up your members servants unto unrighteousness, now make those same members servants of righteousness, to the praise and glory of God. No courts of sovereigns can bestow such true honors as dwell in holiness, charity, and zeal.
And once more, God lifts His people up in another sense — while He gives them sanctification and usefulness, He also anoints them with joy. Oh, the joy of being a Christian! I know the world’s idea is that we are a miserable people. If you read the pages of history, the writers speak of the gay cavaliers as being men of high spirit and overflowing joy; but the poor Puritans, what a wretched set they were, blaspheming Christmas Day, abhorring games and sports, and going about the world looking so terribly miserable, that it were a pity they should go to hell, for they had enough of torment here! Now this talk is all untrue, or at best is a gross caricature! Hypocrites, then as now, did wear a long face, and a rueful countenance, but there were to be found among the Puritans hosts of men whose holy mirth and joy were not to be equaled, no, not to be dreamed of, or understood by those poor grinning fools, who fluttered around the heartless rogue whose hypocrisies had lifted him to the English throne. The cavaliers’ mirth was the crackling of thorns under a pot, but a deep and unquenchable joy dwelt in the breasts of those men—
“Who trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong,
Who sat in the high places, and slew the saints of God.”
“Solid joy and lasting pleasure
None but Zion’s children know.”
IV. To conclude, we have to notice in the last place, WHERE IT IS THAT OUR LORD SETS HIS PEOPLE.
“Among princes,” we are told. We have already dwelt upon the same thought, but we will examine another side of it. “Among princes,” is the place of select society. They do not admit everybody into that charmed circle. Among an aristocracy the poor plebeian must not venture. The blue blood runs in rather a narrow channel, and it cannot be expected that the common crimson should be allowed to invigorate the flagging current. The true Christian lives in very select society. Listen! “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Speak of select society, there is none like this! We are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood. “We are not come unto Mount Sinai, but we are come unto the blood of sprinkling, and unto the general assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.” This is select society. Next, they have courtly audience — the prince may be expected to have admittance to royalty, when common people like ourselves, must stand afar off. Now, the child of God has free access to the royalty of heaven. Our courtly privileges are of the highest order. Listen! “For through Him we both have access by one spirit unto the Father.” “Let us come boldly,” says the Apostle, “to the throne of the heavenly grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We have courtly audience and peculiarly select society.
Next to this, it is supposed that among princes there is abundant wealth, but what is the wealth of princes compared with the riches of believers? For “all things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” “He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Among princes, again, there dwells peculiar power. A prince has influence; he wields a scepter in his own domain — and, “He has made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign forever and ever.” We are not kings of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and yet we have a triple dominion; we reign over spirit, soul and body. We reign over the united kingdom of time and eternity; we reign in this world, and we shall reign in the world that is yet to come — for we shall reign forever and ever. Princes, again, have special honor. Everyone in the crowd desires to gaze upon a prince, and would be delighted to do him service. Let him have the first position in the empire; he is a prince of the blood, and is to be had in esteem and respect.
Beloved, hear His Word — “He has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” so that we share the honor of Christ as we share His cross. Paul was taken from the dunghill of persecution, but he is not second to any in glory; and you, though you may have been the chief of sinners, shall fare none the worse when He comes in His kingdom; but as He acknowledged you on earth, and redeemed you with His precious blood, so will He acknowledge you in the future state, and make you sit with Him and reign among princes, world without end. May the Lord bless these words for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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By Don Carson 6/17/2017
The Old Testament Chapter quoted most often in the New Testament is Psalm 110. It is an oracular Psalm: i.e., it does not so much disclose the experience of its writer as set forth words that the writer has received by direct and immediate revelation — as an “oracle” from God. Perhaps there are even parts of it the psalmist himself did not fathom too well (just as Daniel did not understand the meaning of all that he saw in his visions and was required to record for the benefit of a later generation (Dan. 12:4, 8-10).
In the Psalm, the LORD, Yahweh, speaks to someone whom David himself addresses as “my Lord.” This element, as much as any other, has convinced countless interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, that this is explicitly a messianic psalm, and that the person whom David addresses is the anticipated Messiah.
I shall focus on verse 4: “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’” Granted that Yahweh here addresses the Messiah, what do his words mean? Two elements attract attention:
First, Melchizedek himself — this is only the second mention of him in the Bible. The first is Genesis 14:18-20: after the defeat of the kings, Abraham meets this strange priest-king and pays him a tithe of the spoils. Various things can be inferred from the brief account (see meditation for January 13), but then Melchizedek drops from view until this psalm, written almost a millennium later.
Second, by this time much has taken place in the history of Israel. The people had endured slavery in Egypt, had been rescued at the Exodus, had received the Law of God at Sinai, had entered the Promised Land, and had lived through the period of the judges to reach this point of the beginning of the Davidic dynasty. Above all, Sinai had prescribed a tabernacle and the associated rites, all to be administered by Levites and by high priests drawn from that tribe. The Mosaic Law made it abundantly clear that Levites alone could discharge these priestly functions. Yet here is an oracle from God insisting that God himself will raise up another priest-king with very different links. Yahweh will extend this king’s mighty scepter from Zion: i.e., his kingly power is connected with Zion, with Jerusalem, and thus with the fledgling Davidic dynasty. And as priest, he will be aligned, not with the order of Levi, but with the order of Melchizedek.
Small wonder the writer to the Hebrews understands that this is an announcement of the obsolescence of the Mosaic Covenant (Heb. 7:11-12). We needed a better priesthood; and we have one.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).Don Carson Books | Go to Books Page
The Continual Burnt Offering (Mark 9:38-40)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
July 5Mark 9:38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. ESV
It is a great thing to learn that each servant of Christ must act individually as before the Lord and yet, on the other hand, that he is responsible to cooperate with his fellow servants so far as possible, without seeking to control or dictate to them.
We are always prone to forget that we are not to judge one another, but to remember that each one stands or falls to his own master (Romans 14:4). But this should not make us self-centered and disinterested in the work of others. The trials of our fellow-servants should move us to prayer on their behalf, and their victories should cause us to rejoice. We cannot properly appraise even our work now, let alone that of our brethren, but all will come out when “the Lord comes” (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).
It seemed hard for our Lord’s disciples to learn these things, and it is evident that few of us have learned them today. We are so apt to overestimate the importance of our own ministry and to undervalue the work of our fellow servants. This is a subtle form of pride which is most hateful to God, and most harmful to the work of the Lord.
Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
1 Corinthians 4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. ESV
Ah, the judgment-seat was not for thee—
These servants, they were not thine:
And the Eye which adjudges the praise and the blame,
Sees further far than thine.
Wait till the evening falls, my child,
Wait till the evening falls;
The Master is near, and knoweth it all—
Wait till the Master calls.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
19. But faith, they say, cometh by hearing, the use of which infants
have not yet obtained, nor can they be fit to know God, being, as Moses
declares, without the knowledge of good and evil (Deut. 1:39). But they
observe not that where the apostle makes hearing the beginning of
faith, he is only describing the usual economy and dispensation which
the Lord is wont to employ in calling his people, and not laying down
an invariable rule, for which no other method can be substituted. Many
he certainly has called and endued with the true knowledge of himself,
by internal means, by the illumination of the Spirit, without the
intervention of preaching. But since they deem it very absurd to
attribute any knowledge of God to infants, whom Moses makes void of the
knowledge of' good and evil, let them tell me where the danger lies if
they are said now to receive some part of that grace, of which they are
to have the full measure shortly after. For if fulness of life consists
in the perfect knowledge of God, since some of those whom death hurries
away in the first moments of infancy pass into life eternal, they are
certainly admitted to behold the immediate presence of God. Those,
therefore, whom the Lord is to illumine with the full brightness of his
light, why may he not, if he so pleases, irradiate at present with some
small beam, especially if he does not remove their ignorance, before he
delivers them from the prison of the flesh? I would not rashly affirm
that they are endued with the same faith which we experience in
ourselves, or have any knowledge at all resembling faith (this I would
rather leave undecided);  but I would somewhat curb the stolid
arrogance of those men who, as with inflated cheeks, affirm or deny
whatever suits them.
20. In order to gain a stronger footing here, they add, that baptism is a sacrament of penitence and faith, and as neither of these is applicable to tender infancy, we must beware of rendering its meaning empty and vain, by admitting infants to the communion of baptism. But these darts are directed more against God then against us; since the fact that circumcision was a sign of repentance is completely established by many passages of Scripture (Jer. 4:4). Thus Paul terms it a seal of the righteousness of faith (Rom. 4:11). Let God, then, be demanded why he ordered circumcision to be performed on the bodies of infants? For baptism and circumcision being here in the same case, they cannot give anything to the latter without conceding it to the former. If they recur to their usual evasion, that, by the age of infancy, spiritual infants were then figured, we have already closed this means of escape against them. We say, then, that since God imparted circumcision, the sign of repentance and faith, to infants, it should not seem absurd that they are now made partakers of baptism, unless men choose to clamour against an institution of God. But as in all his acts, so here also, enough of wisdom and righteousness shines forth to repress the slanders of the ungodly. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature--a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults. In fine, the objection is easily disposed of by the tact, that children are baptised for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit. This answer at once overthrows all the objections which are twisted against us out of the meaning of baptism; for instance, the title by which Paul distinguishes it when he terms it the "washing of regeneration and renewing" (Tit. 3:5). Hence they argue, that it is not to be given to any but to those who are capable of such feelings. But we, on the other hand, may object, that neither ought circumcision, which is designated regeneration, to be conferred on any but the regenerate. In this way, we shall condemn a divine institution. Thus, as we have already hinted, all the arguments which tend to shake circumcision are of no force in assailing baptism. Nor can they escape by saying, that everything which rests on the authority of God is absolutely fixed, though there should be no reason for it, but that this reverence is not due to pædobaptism, nor other similar things which are not recommended to us by the express word of God. They always remain caught in this dilemma. The command of God to circumcise infants was either legitimate and exempt from cavil, or deserved reprehension. If there was nothing incompetent or absurd in it, no absurdity can be shown in the observance of pædobaptism.
21. The charge of absurdity with which they attempt to stigmatise it, we thus dispose of. If those on whom the Lord has bestowed his election, after receiving the sign of regeneration, depart this life before they become adults, he, by the incomprehensible energy of his Spirit, renews them in the way which he alone sees to be expedient. Should they reach an age when they can be instructed in the meaning of baptism, they will thereby be animated to greater zeal for renovation, the badge of which they will learn that they received in earliest infancy, in order that they might aspire to it during their whole lives. To the same effect are the two passages in which Paul teaches, that we are buried with Christ by baptism (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). For by this he means not that he who is to be initiated by baptism must have previously been buried with Christ; he simply declares the doctrine which is taught by baptism, and that to those already baptised: so that the most senseless cannot maintain from this passage that it ought to precede baptism. In this way, Moses and the prophets reminded the people of the thing meant by circumcision, which however infants received. To the same effect, Paul says to the Galatians, "As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). Why so? That they might thereafter live to Christ, to whom previously they had not lived. And though, in adults, the receiving of the sign ought to follow the understanding of its meaning, yet, as will shortly be explained, a different rule must be followed with children. No other conclusion can be drawn from a passage in Peter, on which they strongly found. He says, that baptism is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:21). From this they contend that nothing is left for pædobaptism, which becomes mere empty smoke, as being altogether at variance with the meaning of baptism. But the delusion which misleads them is, that they would always have the thing to precede the sign in the order of time.  For the truth of circumcision consisted in the same answer of a good conscience; but if the truth must necessarily have preceded, infants would never have been circumcised by the command of God. But he himself, showing that the answer of a good conscience forms the truth of circumcision, and, at the same time, commanding infants to be circumcised, plainly intimates that, in their case, circumcision had reference to the future. Wherefore, nothing more of present effect is to be required in pædobaptism, than to confirm and sanction the covenant which the Lord has made with them. The other part of the meaning of the sacrament will follow at the time which God himself has provided.
22. Every one must, I think, clearly perceive, that all arguments of this stamp are mere perversions of Scripture. The other remaining arguments akin to these we shall cursorily examine. They object, that baptism is given for the remission of sins. When this is conceded, it strongly supports our view; for, seeing we are born sinners, we stand in need of forgiveness and pardon from the very womb. Moreover, since God does not preclude this age from the hope of mercy, but rather gives assurance of it, why should we deprive it of the sign, which is much inferior to the reality? The arrow, therefore, which they aim at us, we throw back upon themselves. Infants receive forgiveness of sins; therefore, they are not to be deprived of the sign. They adduce the passage from the Ephesians, that Christ gave himself for the Church, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26). Nothing could be quoted more appropriate than this to overthrow their error: it furnishes us with an easy proof. If, by baptism, Christ intends to attest the ablution by which he cleanses his Church, it would seem not equitable to deny this attestation to infants, who are justly deemed part of the Church, seeing they are called heirs of the heavenly kingdom. For Paul comprehends the whole Church when he says that it was cleansed by the washing of water. In like manner, from his expression in another place, that by baptism we are ingrafted into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 7:13), we infer, that infants, whom he enumerates among his members, are to be baptised, in order that they may not be dissevered from his body. See the violent onset which they make with all their engines on the bulwarks of our faith.
23. They now come down to the custom and practice of the apostolic age, alleging that there is no instance of any one having been admitted to baptism without a previous profession of faith and repentance. For when Peter is asked by his hearers, who were pricked in their heart, "What shall we do?" his advise is, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:37, 38). In like manner, when Philip was asked by the eunuch to baptise him, he answered, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Hence they think they can make out that baptism cannot be lawfully given to any one without previous faith and repentance. If we yield to this argument, the former passage, in which there is no mention of faith, will prove that repentance alone is sufficient, and the latter, which makes no requirement of repentance, that there is need only of faith. They will object, I presume, that the one passage helps the other, and that both, therefore, are to be connected. I, in my turn, maintain that these two must be compared with other passages which contribute somewhat to the solution of this difficulty. There are many passages of Scripture whose meaning depends on their peculiar position. Of this we have an example in the present instance. Those to whom these things are said by Peter and Philip are of an age fit to aim at repentance, and receive faith. We strenuously insist that such men are not to be baptised unless their conversion and faith are discerned, at least in as far as human judgment can ascertain it. But it is perfectly clear that infants must be placed in a different class. For when any one formerly joined the religious communion of Israel, he behoved to be taught the covenant, and instructed in the law of the Lord, before he received circumcision, because he was of a different nation; in other words, an alien from the people of Israel, with whom the covenant, which circumcision sanctioned, had been made.
24. Thus the Lord, when he chose Abraham for himself, did not commence with circumcision, in the meanwhile concealing what he meant by that sign, but first announced that he intended to make a covenant with him, and, after his faith in the promise, made him partaker of the sacrament. Why does the sacrament come after faith in Abraham, and precede all intelligence in his son Isaac? It is right that he who, in adult age, is admitted to the fellowship of a covenant by one from whom he had hitherto been alienated, should previously learn its conditions; but it is not so with the infant born to him. He, according to the terms of the promise, is included in the promise by hereditary right from his mother's womb. Or, to state the matter more briefly and more clearly, If the children of believers, without the help of understanding, are partakers of the covenant, there is no reason why they should be denied the sign, because they are unable to swear to its stipulations. This undoubtedly is the reason why the Lord sometimes declares that the children born to the Israelites are begotten and born to him (Ezek. 16:20; 23:37). For he undoubtedly gives the place of sons to the children of those to whose seed he has promised that he will be a Father. But the child descended from unbelieving parents is deemed an alien to the covenant until he is united to God by faith. Hence, it is not strange that the sign is withheld when the thing signified would be vain and fallacious. In that view, Paul says that the Gentiles, so long as they were plunged in idolatry, were strangers to the covenant (Eph. 2:11). The whole matter may, if I mistake not, be thus briefly and clearly expounded: Those who, in adult age, embrace the faith of Christ, having hitherto been aliens from the covenant, are not to receive the sign of baptism without previous faith and repentance. These alone can give them access to the fellowship of the covenant, whereas children, deriving their origin from Christians, as they are immediately on their birth received by God as heirs of the covenant, are also to be admitted to baptism. To this we must refer the narrative of the Evangelist, that those who were baptised by John confessed their sins (Mt. 3:6). This example, we hold, ought to be observed in the present day. Were a Turk to offer himself for baptism, we would not at once perform the rite without receiving a confession which was satisfactory to the Church.
25. Another passage which they adduce is from the third chapter of John, where our Saviour's words seem to them to imply that a present regeneration is required in baptism, "Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). See, they say, how baptism is termed regeneration by the lips of our Lord himself, and on what pretext, therefore, with what consistency is baptism given to those who, it is perfectly obvious, are not at all capable of regeneration? First, they are in error in imagining that there is any mention of baptism in this passage, merely because the word water is used. Nicodemus, after our Saviour had explained to him the corruption of nature, and the necessity of being born again, kept dreaming of a corporeal birth, and hence our Saviour intimates the mode in which God regenerates us--viz. by water and the Spirit; in other words, by the Spirit, who, in irrigating and cleansing the souls of believers, operates in the manner of water. By "water and the Spirit," therefore, I simply understand the Spirit, which is water. Nor is the expression new. It perfectly accords with that which is used in the third chapter of Matthew, "He that cometh after me is mightier than I;" "he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Mt. 3:11). Therefore, as to baptise with the Holy Spirit, and with fire, is to confer the Holy Spirit, who, in regeneration, has the office and nature of fire, so to be born again of water, and of the Spirit, is nothing else than to receive that power of the Spirit, which has the same effect on the soul that water has on the body. I know that a different interpretation is given, but I have no doubt that this is the genuine meaning, because our Saviour's only purpose was to teach, that all who aspire to the kingdom of heaven must lay aside their own disposition. And yet were we disposed to imitate these men in their mode of cavilling, we might easily, after conceding what they wish, reply to them, that baptism is prior to faith and repentance, since, in this passage, our Saviour mentions it before the Spirit. This certainly must be understood of spiritual gifts, and if they follow baptism, I have gained all I contend for. But, cavilling aside, the simple interpretation to be adopted is that which I have given--viz. that no man, until renewed by living water, that is, by the Spirit, can enter the kingdom of God.
26. This, moreover, plainly explodes the fiction of those who consign all the unbaptised to eternal death.  Let us suppose, then, that, as they insist, baptism is administered to adults only. What will they make of a youth who, after being embued duly and properly with the rudiments of piety, while waiting for the day of baptism, is unexpectedly carried off by sudden death? The promise of our Lord is clear, "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). We nowhere read of his having condemned him who was not yet baptised. I would not be understood as insinuating that baptism may be contemned with impunity. So far from excusing this contempt, I hold that it violates the covenant of the Lord. The passage only serves to show, that we must not deem baptism so necessary as to suppose that every one who has lost the opportunity of obtaining it has forthwith perished. By assenting to their fiction, we should condemn all, without exception, whom any accident may have prevented from procuring baptism, how much soever they may have been endued with the faith by which Christ himself is possessed. Moreover, baptism being, as they hold, necessary to salvation, they, in denying it to infants, consign them all to eternal death. Let them now consider what kind of agreement they have with the words of Christ, who says, that "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 19:14). And though we were to concede everything to them, in regard to the meaning of this passage, they will extract nothing from it, until they have previously overthrown the doctrine which we have already established concerning the regeneration of infants.
27. But they boast of having their strongest bulwark in the very institution of baptism, which they find in the last chapter of Matthew, where Christ, sending his disciples into all the world, commands them to teach and then baptise. Then, in the last chapter of Mark, it is added, "He that believeth, and is baptised, shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). What more (say they) do we ask, since the words of Christ distinctly declare, that teaching must precede baptism, and assign to baptism the place next to faith? Of this arrangement our Lord himself gave an example, in choosing not to be baptised till his thirtieth year. In how many ways do they here entangle themselves, and betray their ignorance! They err more than childishly in this, that they derive the first institution of baptism from this passage, whereas Christ had, from the commencement of his ministry, ordered it to be administered by the apostles. There is no ground, therefore, for contending that the law and rule of baptism is to be sought from these two passages. as containing the first institution. But to indulge them in their error, how nerveless is this mode of arguing? Were I disposed to evasion, I have not only a place of escape, but a wide field to expatiate in. For when they cling so desperately to the order of the words, insisting that because it is said, "Go, preach and baptise," and again, "Whosoever believes and is baptised," they must preach before baptising, and believe before being baptised, why may not we in our turn object, that they must baptise before teaching the observance of those things which Christ commanded, because it is said, "Baptise, teaching whatsoever I have commanded you"? The same thing we observed in the other passage in which Christ speaks of the regeneration of water and of the Spirit. For if we interpret as they insist, then baptism must take precedence of spiritual regeneration, because it is first mentioned. Christ teaches that we are to be born again, not of the Spirit and of water, but of water and of the Spirit.
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Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
6/1/2013 A Life of Faith and Forgiveness
If you travel to Wittenberg, Germany, the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, you may find yourself scratching your head wondering how Martin Luther managed to nail his 95 theses to the solid-bronze door of the 500-year-old castle church. It wouldn’t take you long, however, to realize that the bronze door is a relatively new addition. During the Seven Year’s War (1756–1763), the original, wooden door was lost in the great fire that consumed much of the church building in 1760. As a result, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia had the door replaced with the present bronze door, upon which are inscribed Luther’s 95 theses. And while many Christians are familiar with the history surrounding Luther’s 95 theses, most are unaware of their contents. Largely, they address the abuses of the papacy, especially the grandiose abuses of the papacy’s cohorts, pertaining to the supposed power and efficacy of indulgences. Luther’s first thesis is penetrating. It reads, “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
The amazing thing about Luther’s statement is it teaches that repentance is not simply a one-time action, but is that which is to characterize the entirety of a believer’s life. Repentance takes place not only when a sinner is converted to Christ but every day of a believer’s life in Christ. For that is what the Lord’s Prayer teaches us in the fifth petition: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are taught by our Lord to ask forgiveness for all past sins that the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance and even the multitude of sins that we fail to remember.
The Word of God teaches us that God requires faith and repentance to be justified. Faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin—we cannot express true faith without genuine repentance. We cannot trust Christ without turning away from our trust in ourselves. On this point, John Calvin writes in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Now it ought to be a fact beyond controversy that repentance not only constantly follows faith but is also born of faith” (3.3.1). Our expression of repentance and faith is not simply relegated to that point in our lives when we “got saved,” nor is it simply that which we proclaim to others; rather, the message of faith and repentance is something we proclaim to ourselves each and every day, reminding ourselves of the gospel and our justified status before God in Christ. We who have been justified on account of God’s grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone have been forgiven fully and finally, and this forgiveness leads to a life of asking forgiveness, forgiving others, and trusting Christ alone every day of our lives as we live coram Deo, before the face of our forgiving Father in heaven.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
Once political enemies they became close friends, and died yesterday, July 4th in the year 1826. An awe swept America as these two men, at distance of 700 hundred miles from each other, died on the same day exactly 50 years since they both signed the Declaration of Independence. Their names: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. President John Quincy Adams stated: “A coincidence … so wonderful gives confidence … that the patriotic efforts of these … men were Heaven directed, and furnishes a new … hope that the prosperity of these States is under the special protection of a kind Providence.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Love is spontaneous,
but it has to be maintained by discipline.
--- Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest:
In prayer it is better to have a heart without words
than words without a heart.
--- John Bunyan
The Complete Works of John Bunyan: With an Introduction (Classic Reprint)
Whoever loves much, does much.
--- Thomas a‘ Kempis
Thomas a Kempis Selection: 5 Books
It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.
--- A.W. Tozer
The Spirit’s witness begins by binding us to the center of Scripture, namely Jesus Christ.
--- G. C. Berkouwer, ISBN-13: 978-0802848215
... from here, there and everywhere
PART III / Verses 3–6
CHAPTER 16 / “With All Your Heart
and All Your Soul and All Your Might”
The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
“With All Your Might”
Most English-language prayer books translate u-ve’khol me’odekha as “with all your might,” a translation undoubtedly derived from the King James translation of the Bible. Although none of the standard Jewish exegetes explains the word that way, it is nevertheless a legitimate translation of the word, for reasons that will become clear presently.
The Talmud interprets me’odekha, first, as “your money” (kol mamonkha) (15) or “possessions” (so, for instance, Onkelos: u-ve’khol nikhsakh). The second translation is more of an interpretation: “no matter what destiny He metes out to you, thank Him” (a play on the words me’od-middah-modeh). Both talmudic explanations of the word are cited by Rashi in his Bible commentary. (16) Leaving aside the second interpretation as more homiletic than literal, we are left with two alternative translations: “might” or “money/possessions.” There is, however, no need to choose between them. Ramban and Ibn Ezra before him both point to the obvious origin of the word as me’od, “very.” (17) For Ibn Ezra, the phrase translates into “love Him very very much”; Ramban reconciles this understanding with the rabbinic term mamon, “money,” related either conceptually or etymologically—Ramban can be read both ways—to hammon, “multitude” or “large numbers.” “Very-ness” is thus akin to “money” or possessions. Ramban also relates me’od to ḥayyil, which means “wealth,” both of numbers and of substance, and also implies power or might. The word is often translated as “hosts” (indicating large numbers) while at the same time implying the power that comes with large numbers. So, ḥayyil means “soldier” and, in slightly different contexts, simply “might.” All the three alternative meanings—money, might, and multitude—are related to each other, and all derive, directly or indirectly, from the concept of me’od, “very.” We are commanded to love God with “all your very-ness”—with all we have that speaks of power and possessions. (18)
(15) Mishnah Berakhot 9:1 and Gemara Berakhot 61b.
(16) This second interpretation is a variation on the theme of “one must bless God for the bad [news] as well as for the good” (Mishnah Berakhot 9:1; see too Berakhot 33b). In a sense, this more imaginative interpretation may be a further example of “very-ness,” in that we must love God in all extremes of emotion—whether very happy or very sad.
(17) Both in their respective commentaries to Deut. 6:5.
(18) In similar fashion, R. Shneur Zalman explains the rabbinic dictum that the mitzvah of charity (tzedakah) is equivalent to all the other commandments put together by saying that a man’s material means are gained at the expense of all his effort and toil and labor, indeed the very juices of his life; hence when he shares this with those less fortunate, he is giving them not just alms but his “vital soul,” part of his very self. See his Tanya, 1:37.
Now, if indeed “with all your might” means that we must express our love for God by sacrificing our material means, how far must we go in doing so? What, in other words, are the halakhic guidelines that define and limit this obligation?
R. Baruch Epstein (19) raises the question of whether we are halakhically required, on this basis, to abandon all our possessions and be reduced to utter penury if forced to violate any negative commandment. Is such extreme financial self-sacrifice mandated to avoid any and every transgression, or does it apply only to the cases of the three cardinal sins—murder, idolatry, and certain categories of sexual immorality—concerning which we are instructed yehareg ve’al yaavor, it is preferable to submit to martyrdom? If the latter is the case, then “with all your might/money” carries the same demands as “with all your soul,” but not more than that. That is, we need to surrender all our worldly goods, as well as to submit to martyrdom, only to avoid committing the three cardinal sins.
(19) Torah Temimah to Deut. 6:5.
The most extreme opinion, that of R. Moses Isserles (Rema), author of the famous glosses to the universally accepted Code of Jewish Law, the Shulḥan Arukh, requires we abandon all our material possessions for the sake of our faith, or our love for God, and not only in the case of the three most serious sins. Without identifying them by name, he cites certain Rishonim (Talmudists of the medieval era) who hold that in order to avoid transgressing any negative commandment, we must be prepared to surrender all we possess. Rema does not distinguish between the three major negative commandments mentioned and the entire gamut of 365 such negative mitzvot. (20)
(20) Rema to Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 248:16.
R. Epstein questions this decision, basing his opposition on a passage in the Talmud (Berakhot 61b) that records the Rabbis’ puzzlement about why, after being commanded to risk our lives (“with all your soul”) for God, we now have to be commanded to risk our substance as well: surely, if we accept the former obligation, is it not self-evident that we commit ourselves to the latter? The Rabbis respond with a paradoxical but realistic psychological insight: some people would prefer to yield their lives rather than their substance; such people must be made to understand that they have to be ready to sacrifice not only their lives but also their money. In this passage, the Talmud establishes the equivalence of the phrases “with all your soul” and “with all your might/money.” Therefore, just as the former is operative only with regard to the three major transgressions, so too is the latter. For losing all our worldly goods and being reduced to mendicancy is as devastating as losing our lives. We thus should not sacrifice all our worldly possessions under duress (o’nes) except in the case of the three cardinal sins. Such indeed is the decision of R. Abraham Abele Gombiner, (21) who rules that if confronted by robbers who threaten to take all our possessions on Shabbat, leaving us utterly destitute, we are permitted to violate the Sabbath in order to resist, because such financial devastation is tantamount to pikuaḥ nefesh, a risk to life itself. With some hesitancy, R. Epstein inclines to this view over that of Rema. (22)
(21) Magen Avraham, commentary to Shulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 248:16.
(22) In Torah Temimah to Deut. 6:5, no. 24, he offers the following insight as support: The words be’khol me’odkha are mentioned in the singular (“your”) in the first paragraph of the Shema, but the parallel plural, be’khol me’odkhem, “with all your (plural) might/money,” is omitted in the next paragraph of the Shema, where it belongs for reasons of symmetry after “with all your (plural) heart” and “with all your (plural) soul.” The reason for this omission, he suggests, is that the first paragraph has as its theme “the accepting of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven,” the very essence of the first verse of the Shema and its implied denial of idolatry. Now, idolatry is one of the three cardinal sins, and here the sacrifice of one’s possessions is equivalent to the sacrifice of one’s very life. However, the second paragraph deals with the mitzvot in general—“And it shall come to pass if you will listen carefully to My commandments,” etc.—and one is not required to sacrifice all one’s worldly goods for transgressions other than the cardinal three—just as one need not suffer martyrdom for them. However, this interpretation comes to grief because of the fact that the second paragraph of the Shema does contain the command to love God “with all your heart” and “with all your soul.” To be consistent, that would have to imply the necessity for martyrdom even in minor cases, such as the other negative commandments, which, however, is certainly not the case. R. Epstein is aware of the question, but his answer is far from adequate. He writes: in this second paragraph, the two elements of heart and soul are not meant to serve as Halakha, directing the offering up of one’s life, but rather as a general expression of intent and love in serving the Creator. This, however, again violates simple consistency, for then “with all your money” could be explained in the same way—as hortatory rather than halakhic.
Having touched on the phrase “with all your might” from a halakhic perspective, we will now turn to two homiletical but equally compelling insights, the first by a leading hasidic thinker who was radical in his interpretation of our phrase and whose comments are consistent with the general Weltanschauung of the hasidic movement; and the second by his younger contemporary, a leading mitnagdic Talmudist and Torah commentator.
Thanks to Meir Yona
Archelaus Goes To Rome With A Great Number Of His Kindred. He Is There Accused Before Caesar By Antipater; But Is Superior To His Accusers In Judgment By The Means Of That Defense Which Nicolaus Made For Him.
1. Archelaus went down now to the sea-side, with his mother and his friends, Poplas, and Ptolemy, and Nicolaus, and left behind him Philip, to be his steward in the palace, and to take care of his domestic affairs. Salome went also along with him with her sons, as did also the king's brethren and sons-in-law. These, in appearance, went to give him all the assistance they were able, in order to secure his succession, but in reality to accuse him for his breach of the laws by what he had done at the temple.
2. But as they were come to Cesarea, Sabinus, the procurator of Syria, met them; he was going up to Judea, to secure Herod's effects; but Varus, [president of Syria,] who was come thither, restrained him from going any farther. This Varus Archelaus had sent for, by the earnest entreaty of Ptolemy. At this time, indeed, Sabinus, to gratify Varus, neither went to the citadels, nor did he shut up the treasuries where his father's money was laid up, but promised that he would lie still, until Caesar should have taken cognizance of the affair. So he abode at Cesarea; but as soon as those that were his hinderance were gone, when Varus was gone to Antioch, and Archelaus was sailed to Rome, he immediately went on to Jerusalem, and seized upon the palace. And when he had called for the governors of the citadels, and the stewards [of the king's private affairs], he tried to sift out the accounts of the money, and to take possession of the citadels. But the governors of those citadels were not unmindful of the commands laid upon them by Archelaus, and continued to guard them, and said the custody of them rather belonged to Caesar than to Archelaus.
3. In the mean time, Antipas went also to Rome, to strive for the kingdom, and to insist that the former testament, wherein he was named to be king, was valid before the latter testament. Salome had also promised to assist him, as had many of Archelaus's kindred, who sailed along with Archelaus himself also. He also carried along with him his mother, and Ptolemy, the brother of Nicolaus, who seemed one of great weight, on account of the great trust Herod put in him, he having been one of his most honored friends. However, Antipas depended chiefly upon Ireneus, the orator; upon whose authority he had rejected such as advised him to yield to Archelaus, because he was his elder brother, and because the second testament gave the kingdom to him. The inclinations also of all Archelaus's kindred, who hated him, were removed to Antipas, when they came to Rome; although in the first place every one rather desired to live under their own laws [without a king], and to be under a Roman governor; but if they should fail in that point, these desired that Antipas might be their king.
4. Sabinus did also afford these his assistance to the same purpose by letters he sent, wherein he accused Archelaus before Caesar, and highly commended Antipas. Salome also, and those with her, put the crimes which they accused Archelaus of in order, and put them into Caesar's hands; and after they had done that, Archelaus wrote down the reasons of his claim, and, by Ptolemy, sent in his father's ring, and his father's accounts. And when Caesar had maturely weighed by himself what both had to allege for themselves, as also had considered of the great burden of the kingdom, and largeness of the revenues, and withal the number of the children Herod had left behind him, and had moreover read the letters he had received from Varus and Sabinus on this occasion, he assembled the principal persons among the Romans together, [in which assembly Caius, the son of Agrippa, and his daughter Julias, but by himself adopted for his own son, sat in the first seat,] and gave the pleaders leave to speak.
by D.H. Stern
will not be blessed in the end.
22 Don’t say, “I’ll pay back evil for evil”;
wait for ADONAI to save you.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Don’t calculate without God
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.
--- Psalm 37:5.
Don’t calculate without God.
God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the things we have calculated on without taking Him into account. We get into circumstances which were not chosen by God, and suddenly we find we have been calculating without God; He has not entered in as a living factor. The one thing that keeps us from the possibility of worrying is bringing God in as the greatest factor in all our calculations.
In our religion it is customary to put God first, but we are apt to think it is an impertinence to put Him first in the practical issues of our lives. If we imagine we have to put on our Sunday moods before we come near to God, we will never come near Him. We must come as we are.
Don’t calculate with the evil in view.
Does God really mean us to take no account of the evil? “Love … taketh no account of the evil.” Love is not ignorant of the existence of the evil, but it does not take it in as a calculating factor. Apart from God, we do reckon with evil; we calculate with it in view and work all reasonings from that standpoint.
Don’t calculate with the rainy day in view.
You cannot lay up for a rainy day if you are trusting Jesus Christ. Jesus said—“Let not your heart be troubled.” God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command—“Let not …” Haul yourself up a hundred and one times a day in order to do it, until you get into the habit of putting God first and calculating with Him in view.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
In The Clan
There was Edward Thomas. He was very good
Though it was late before even he knew.
They gave him a gun and sent him away.
Two months he lasted, until a stray shell
With his name on it exploded at Arras.
There was Dylan Thomas. He was bloody good.
Every Evening after the versifying
He would sit in a bar with the boyos
Staring cymrically into his whisky,
Pouring it down his throat like a fish.
There was D M Thomas too. He was OK
If you liked sex and psychoanalysis and such
And goings-on in white hotels.
In time, poetry ceased to be his field,
But he of course was not Welsh.
Lastly there was Thomas the Church.
Duw, that was not an easy man to know,
Unless your name was Puw or Prytherch,
But those who read his quiet books
Reach the simple verdict: he was good.
“Hang on, sweetie, I just have to fax this to my boss …”
“… Mr. Johnson, I’m sorry, but my son has the chicken pox. I faxed you as much of the report as I could do today. I’ll get to the rest tomorrow, assuming that I don’t get sick. Sorry, gotta run. My husband’s on the other line.”
“… Honey, could you stop on the way home and pick up something for dinner? Between the chicken pox and the report that was due yesterday, I didn’t have time to make anything for dinner. I know you have a late meeting. We’ll manage on munchies till you get home.”
Sound like the pilot of the new television series, Supermom Meets Reality? For many of us today, it is probably an all-too-familiar scene. We’re doing a lot of things at once and often not doing them well. We want to be good parents, children, siblings; we want to excel at work; we’d like to keep up various friendships and business relationships; we want to be involved in the affairs of our community. All of these are positive values. Few of us would say, “Don’t care about your family.” Or “Do a sloppy job at work.” Or “Let someone else worry about the quality of life in the neighborhood.”
However, having good intentions doesn’t mean that we can act on them. People today often bite off more than they can chew, the result being scenes from a sitcom. We’ve been told “You can have it all.” But we can’t, and deep down we know it, even when “all” are good, positive, and enriching values. If an angel can’t do two missions at once, if God cannot demand that divine messengers carry out multiple functions, then there is a message for us humans: We cannot do a whole array of things at once and do them well. To think that we can is a recipe for failure.
Even when our hearts are in the right place, our heads have to be screwed on properly. We have to be smart enough, and humble enough, to follow the model of God’s angels. Trying to juggle too many balls at once will ultimately leave us with a mess on the floor, our good intentions ruined and our goals unsatisfied.
Since time immemorial, people have been busy. But “busy” should not be used as an excuse. Women have often been excluded from activities that would be rewarding and enriching to them with phrases like “You can’t have it all.” Translated, this means: “Stay home, raise your children, and keep out of the world of men.” This is patently unfair to women.
And it’s especially unjust because the real issue is not “doing too much” but “doing it all at once.” “You can’t have it all—at one time.” The concern here should be on focus, on keeping one’s eye on the ball. People can and do have many dimensions. You can be a good mom or dad, a hard-working employee, a devoted son or daughter, a concerned neighbor and friend. It’s just hard to be all of those at the same time. If we can learn to focus on the important concern of that moment, then we can succeed in many roles, one after another.
The angel Raphael could have done Gabriel’s job but didn’t. Raphael was focused on his own mission; even an angel can’t juggle two things at once. If we think of our family while at work, and constantly pine over the lost time with them, we’ll probably lose focus on our responsibilities there and do poorly. Similarly, if during our time with family we’re busy planning for the next work project, then our time with the people who are important to us may be less than satisfying.
The secret is really no secret at all. It’s what Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael did: Concentrate on the matter at hand, and then move on to the next concern. When we’re with our families, we can leave the work at the office. At work, we can do a good job so that we can enjoy family later. Done the right way, with the right priorities, we can have it all.
Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
You will have a covenant with the stones of the field.
--- Job 5:23.
This vital connection of the outward world with the grandeur or the debasement of human moral nature is one of the great and neglected truths of Scripture. (The unlighted lustre: Addresses from a Glasgow pulpit ) From the story of Eden with its idyllic environment, through the Fall with its curse of thistles and of thorns, on to the last picture of a new-created earth that will be in harmony with new-created humanity, everywhere the Word of God shows us the kinship between nature and human moral life. Think of what Paul says: “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” That is the Bible outlook on the world. The world is not a mere stage for a brief play. It is lit by our triumphs, shadowed by our guilt, touched by our sorrows, watered by our tears. By every right thing we do it is made richer. It grows meaner and poorer by every sin we sin. It is ourselves that are impressed upon the world. It is the story of our own hearts we read in nature. We talk of the voices of the winds and waves, but the voices are only the echo of our souls. And that is why, when you get a soul like Christ’s, infinitely beautiful and filled like a chalice with God, the meanest flower that blows has got a glory with which even the glory of Solomon cannot be compared.
We quicken or deaden everything we see by the life we live and the sins that we commit. For a bad man or woman there is really no summer, just as there is really no heaven.
What this summer will mean to you and how you will enjoy it is, after all, a moral and spiritual question. To be at peace with God is to be at peace with nature, and to love God is to see traces of him everywhere. As is my heart with God so is the world of this fresh June to me.
--- George H. Morrison
Bread and Book July 5
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
When parents grow exasperated with their children, they often need to remember that God frames us all differently, giving each child a unique perspective and personality. George Borrow was born on July 5, 1803, during the age of Napoleon, and George’s soldier-father expected a disciplined and eager son. Instead, George was moody and introspective with a penchant for running away. He was bored with the conventional and intrigued by the odd. He hated school but possessed an insatiable curiosity about herbalists, fortune-tellers, snakes, and dwarfs. He picked up languages with remarkable ease yet adopted a gypsy life, eventually becoming a tinker with cart and pony, selling pots and pans.
One Evening while sleeping under the stars, George was awakened by a muffled voice saying, “Cut the rope, this is his pony.” By the faint glow of smoking embers, George saw two figures stealing his rig. He leaped on them, and for two hours the men fought and wrestled. Finally, one of the thieves smashed George’s head with a rock, and the rogues threw his body into the underbrush.
The next Morning, two traveling Welsh evangelists saw a pair of feet sticking from a thicket. They dragged George to a clearing and attended his cuts with a damp cloth. The men gave him some bread and a book before going their way. George sat in the grass for hours, devouring both the bread and the book, a Bible—the Bread of Life. His brilliant mind soon discovered the Lord.
In coming years, George learned dozens of languages and became a Bible translator. His autobiography, telling his adventures as a colporteur for the British and Foreign Bible Society, is full of breathtaking perils, narrow escapes, imprisonments, and gypsy-like journeys, especially in Spain. This odd man and his remarkable ministry captured the imagination of England and greatly advanced the cause of European Bible distribution.
Don’t forget how the LORD your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was teaching you that people need more than food to live—they need every word that the LORD has spoken.
--- Deuteronomy 8:2,3.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - July 5
“Called to be saints.” --- Romans 1:7.
We are very apt to regard the apostolic saints as if they were “saints” in a more especial manner than the other children of God. All are “saints” whom God has called by His grace, and sanctified by His Spirit; but we are apt to look upon the apostles as extraordinary beings, scarcely subject to the same weaknesses and temptations as ourselves. Yet in so doing we are forgetful of this truth, that the nearer a man lives to God the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart; and the more his Master honours him in his service, the more also doth the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day. The fact is, if we had seen the apostle Paul, we should have thought him remarkably like the rest of the chosen family: and if we had talked with him, we should have said, “We find that his experience and ours are much the same. He is more faithful, more holy, and more deeply taught than we are, but he has the selfsame trials to endure. Nay, in some respects he is more sorely tried than ourselves.” Do not, then, look upon the ancient saints as being exempt either from infirmities or sins; and do not regard them with that mystic reverence which will almost make us idolaters. Their holiness is attainable even by us. We are “called to be saints” by that same voice which constrained them to their high vocation. It is a Christian’s duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship; and if these saints were superior to us in their attainments, as they certainly were, let us follow them; let us emulate their ardour and holiness. We have the same light that they had, the same grace is accessible to us, and why should we rest satisfied until we have equalled them in heavenly character? They lived with Jesus, they lived for Jesus, therefore they grew like Jesus. Let us live by the same Spirit as they did, “looking unto Jesus,” and our saintship will soon be apparent.
Evening - July 5
"Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." --- Isaiah 26:4.
Seeing that we have such a God to trust to, let us rest upon him with all our weight; let us resolutely drive out all unbelief, and endeavour to get rid of doubts and fears, which so much mar our comfort; since there is no excuse for fear where God is the foundation of our trust. A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him; and how ungenerous, how unkind is our conduct when we put so little confidence in our heavenly Father who has never failed us, and who never will. It were well if doubting were banished from the household of God; but it is to be feared that old Unbelief is as nimble nowadays as when the psalmist asked, “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Will he be favourable no more?” David had not made any very lengthy trial of the mighty sword of the giant Goliath, and yet he said, “There is none like it.” He had tried it once in the hour of his youthful victory, and it had proved itself to be of the right metal, and therefore he praised it ever afterwards; even so should we speak well of our God, there is none like unto him in the heaven above or the earth beneath; “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” There is no rock like unto the rock of Jacob, our enemies themselves being judges. So far from suffering doubts to live in our hearts, we will take the whole detestable crew, as Elijah did the prophets of Baal, and slay them over the brook; and for a stream to kill them at, we will select the sacred torrent which wells forth from our Saviour’s wounded side. We have been in many trials, but we have never yet been cast where we could not find in our God all that we needed. Let us then be encouraged to trust in the Lord for ever, assured that his ever lasting strength will be, as it has been, our succour and stay.
PEACE, PERFECT PEACE
Edward H. Bickersteth, 1825–1906
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
The quest for inner calm and peace has been a universal struggle for mankind throughout the ages. Even for those of us who profess to be followers of Christ, it is difficult to realize with consistency that “God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.” It often becomes normal for us to make our own plans without consulting Him for His perfect will.
This comforting hymn, which reminds us that God’s perfect peace is found only in Christ Jesus, was written by an English minister of the Anglican church. Edward Bickersteth, Jr. served as the Bishop of Exeter, England, and became well-known for his many books of RS Thomas, poetry, and hymns.
While vacationing in August, 1875, Bickersteth heard a sermon on Isaiah 26:3 and was deeply moved by the way this verse reads in Hebrew: “Thou wilt keep him in peace, peace whose mind is stayed on Thee …” The repetition of the word conveyed the idea of absolute perfection. That afternoon while visiting a dying aged relative, Bickersteth read this verse from Isaiah to comfort the man. Then at the bedside he quickly composed the lines of this hymn text just as it reads today.
From the Hebrew expression of “peace peace” came the beginning phrase of each stanza, “Peace, perfect peace.” Then questions were posed. For each of these five questions Edward Bickersteth supplied a positive spiritual answer.
As these completed lines were read to the dying relative, they were no doubt a source of great comfort—as they have continued to be for troubled hearts throughout the years.
Peace, perfect peace—in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace—by thronging duties pressed? To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace—with sorrows surging round? On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace—with loved ones far away? In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace—our future all unknown? Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
For Today: Isaiah 26:3; 32:17; John 14:27; Ephesians 1:14; Philippians 4:7.
Experience the perfect peace of God in your life by realizing anew that it is only obtained through the presence of Christ in our lives—He is our peace (Ephesians 1:14). Carry this musical message as you go ---
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Sect. LXXVI. — THE Diatribe, having thus first cited numberless passages of Scripture, as it were a most formidable army in support of “Free-will,” in order that it might inspire courage into the confessors and martyrs, the men saints and women saints on the side of “Free-will,” and strike terror into all the fearful and trembling deniers of, and transgressors against “Free-will,” imagines to itself a poor contemptible handful only standing up to oppose “Free-will:” and therefore it brings forward no more than two Scriptures, which seem to be more prominent than the rest, to stand up on their side: intent only upon slaughter, and that, to be executed without much trouble. The one of these passages is from Exod. ix. 13, “The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh:” the other is from Malachi i. 2-3, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Paul has explained at large both these passages in the Romans ix. 11-17. But, according to the judgment of the Diatribe, what a detestable and useless discussion has he made of it! So that, did not the Holy Spirit know a little something of rhetoric, there would be some danger, lest, being broken at the outset by such an artfully managed show of contempt, he should despair of his cause, and openly yield to “Free-will” before the sound of the trumpet for the battle. But, however, I, as a recruit taken into the rear of those two passages, will display the forces on our side. Although, where the state of the battle is such, that one can put to flight ten thousand, there is no need of forces. If therefore, one passage shall defeat “Free-will,” its numberless forces will profit it nothing.
New Covenant 11
People Of God 12
People Of God 13
People Of God 14
Image Of God 15
Image Of God 16
Kingdom of God Part 17
New Exodus 18
New Exodus 19
Jesus' Death 22
Jesus' Death and Resurrection 23
Holy Spirit 24
Psalm 108 Trusting God
even when things look bleak
Psalm 109 A prayer when someone
is spreading lies about you
Psalm 110 A priest
forever in the order of Melchizedek
Psalm 111 A Call to Praise God
for His Wonderful Works
Psalm 112 The heart
of a God-centered life
Psalm 113 The Name of the Lord
is to be praised!
Psalm 114 The God
who delivers His people
Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon