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11/16/2023     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Acts 9 - 10

Acts 9

The Conversion of Saul

Acts 9:1     But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Saul Escapes from Damascus

23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Saul in Jerusalem

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

The Healing of Aeneas

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

Dorcas Restored to Life

36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

Acts 10

Peter and Cornelius

Acts 10:1     At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

Gentiles Hear the Good News

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

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What I'm Reading

Why The Abortion Industry Wants To Ban Funerals For Miscarried Babies

By Anna Paprocki 11/14/16

     Even in death, unborn infants receive no respect from an abortion industry anxious to portray such human beings as trash.

     Abortion advocates have recently released a flood of outlandish and deceptive claims intended to defeat and discredit efforts to ensure that deceased infants receive dignified and respectful treatment. Many in the media have joined the abortion industry’s hysterical crusade, castigating these infant dignity laws as clandestine abortion regulations designed to shutter clinics and deny women choices. Even in death, unborn infants receive no respect from an abortion industry anxious to portray such human beings as trash.

     In reality, these laws do not address, much less regulate, a woman’s access to abortion. Infant dignity laws give families more choices when grieving the loss of their tiniest members.

     The Need for Infant Dignity Laws

     States began considering “infant dignity” laws in response to diverse and tragic occurrences—some of which followed abortions, and many that did not. Hospitals refused to release miscarried infants’ remains to their mothers for burial, families were unable to obtain certificates of stillbirth because their infants were miscarried too early, and, not surprisingly, deceased infants’ body parts were discovered in dumpsters behind abortion clinics.

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Attorney Anna Paprocki is staff counsel at Americans United for Life.

A river of lost souls runs through western Colorado

By Amy Ellis Nutt 11/6/16

     UNNATURAL CAUSES | SICK AND DYING IN SMALL-TOWN AMERICA: Since the turn of this century, death rates have risen for whites in midlife, particularly women. In this series, The Washington Post is exploring this trend and the forces driving it. Read the other stories in this series here.

     LA PLATA COUNTY, COLO. — The river gallops past ghost towns and plunges through canyons of quiet before tumbling into the old mining town of Durango. Legend has it that the Spanish christened these waters more than 300 years ago to honor a small band of conquistadors who died on its banks without receiving the sacrament of last rites. They called it El Rio de las Animas Perdidas.

     The River of Lost Souls.

     Today, some 53,000 people live in Durango and the surrounding county of La Plata. And all along the Animas, people are still dying before their time, particularly women in midlife, succumbing not to diabetes or heart disease, but to suicide.

     Two-and-a-half times as many people die by suicide as homicide in this country; among whites in 2014, it was nearly nine times as many, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although more men than women take their own lives, the rate of suicide has nearly doubled among middle-aged white women since 1999 — rising from 7 per 100,000 to 12.6 in 2014 — helping to explain a startling increase in their early mortality.

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     Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Amy Ellis Nutt covers health and science for The Washington Post. Follow @amyellisnutt

5 Myths about Teaching Apologetics to Students

By Sean McDowell 5/6/16

     Training students in apologetics is one of the most important tasks for any youth leader today. Whether through classroom teaching, speaking, personal conversation, on apologetics mission trips, or through writing, I have been training students to defend their faith for nearly two decades. While there are certainly some exceptions, in my experience, the vast majority love it.

     Nevertheless, some leaders continue to resist the need for apologetics training for students. In this post, I briefly respond to five common myths about teaching students apologetics:

     Myth 1: Students will become arrogant and argumentative if they study apologetics

     One of my favorite presentations to do at churches, camps, and conferences is my “Atheist Encounter.” I put on my “atheist glasses” and do my best to role-play the atheist worldview while taking questions from the audience. Interestingly, student groups (and really all groups) tend to become agitated, defensive, and argumentative. After the experience, I often ask groups the reason for their defensiveness. And the point I make is this: we get defensive when we don’t really know why we believe what we believe. Confident people, who have a good rationale for their beliefs, don’t tend to get defensive. Rather than making them arrogant, apologetics can actually help young people develop a calm confidence in their faith so they can engage others in thoughtful spiritual conversations.

     Myth 2: Students need information dumbed down for them

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     Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell Books:

Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

By Stephen C. Meyer 7/4/16

     On Independence Day, it's appropriate to review the sources of our rights as citizens. There is one source that is more basic than any other, yet that receives less than the attention it deserves. I refer to the idea that there is an intelligent creator who can be known by reason from nature, a key tenet underlying the Declaration of Independence -- as well as, curiously, the modern theory of intelligent design.

     The birth of our republic was announced in the Declaration through the pen of Thomas Jefferson. He and the other Founders based their vision on a belief in an intrinsic human dignity, bestowed by virtue of our having been made according to the design and in the image of a purposeful creator.

     As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." If we had received our rights only from the government, then the government could justifiably take them away.

     Jefferson himself thought that there was scientific evidence for design in nature. In 1823, he insisted so in a letter to John Adams:

     I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition.

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     Philosopher of science Dr. Stephen C. Meyer is examining and explaining the amazing depth of digital technology found in each and every living cell, such as nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, and genomic operating systems.

     Meyer is developing a more fundamental argument for intelligent design that is based not on a single feature like the bacterial flagellum, but rather on a pervasive feature of all living systems. Alongside matter and energy, Dr. Meyer shows that there is a third fundamental entity in the universe needed for life: information.

How Should We Analyze a Worldview?

By Bill Pratt 6/8/12

     There are many worldviews out there to choose from: Christianity, Islam, secular humanism, New Age spiritualism, and so on. Since choosing a worldview is perhaps one of the most important things a person must do, it is highly important that we have a trustworthy method to evaluate the options. Our worldview colors the way we see almost everything around us, so we must choose wisely.

     Apologist Ravi Zacharias offers what he calls the 3-4-5 method of analyzing worldviews. I would like to share it with you because it will provide you a method with which to judge worldview options.

     First, there are three tests that a worldview must pass. It must be:

  1. logically consistent – Its teachings cannot be self-contradictory.
  2. empirically adequate – Its teachings must match what we see in reality.
  3. existentially relevant – Its teachings must speak directly to how we actually live our lives.
     Second, each worldview must address the following four ultimate questions:

  1. origin – Where do the universe and human beings come from?
  2. meaning – What is the meaning or purpose of life?
  3. morality – How do we know what is right and what is wrong?
  4. destiny – What happens to us after we die?
     Third, there are five academic disciplines that must be employed to study a worldview:

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     Bill Pratt | Why am I writing this blog? I am passionate about intellectually defending and explaining the Christian faith to all who will listen. I especially like to tackle tough questions that many folks have, but are afraid to ask. If you’ve ever wanted to dig into the Christian faith and seek answers that your friends, parents, or pastor can’t answer, then you’ve come to the right place. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can help honest questioners with their search for honest answers.

     It is my goal to provide a place where people can clear away any intellectual barriers to the Christian faith that are plaguing them. I understand these barriers, as I have had many in my own life. In clearing away those barriers, I hope to give people a clear view of Jesus Christ, the only One worth seeing.

     What are my credentials?

     I have been studying Christian apologetics (rational defense of the Christian faith), theology, and philosophy for 14 years. I hold a Masters Degree in Christian Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, which is one of the finest apologetics seminaries in the world. I teach and speak about apologetics at my local church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is a conservative evangelical church in Greensboro, NC. My wife and I are writing a youth small group curriculum which marches through the Bible chronologically, hitting the highlights.

     Personal Information | I have been married to my beautiful wife for 22 years and we have two children – a 19-year old boy and a 16-year old girl. I am vice president of technology for a semiconductor start-up based in Greensboro, NC.

Acts 9

By Don Carson 7/22/2018

     What was Paul's perspective before he was converted (Acts 9)? Elsewhere (Acts 22:2; Acts 23:6; Phil. 3:4-6) he tells us that he was a strict Pharisee, brought up (apparently) in Jerusalem, taught by one of the most renowned rabbis of the day. For him, the notion of a crucified Messiah was a contradiction in terms. Messiahs rule, they triumph, they win. The LAW insists that those who hang on a tree are cursed by God. Surely, therefore, the insistence that Jesus is the Messiah is not only stupid, but verges on the blasphemous. It might lead to political insurrection: the fledgling church was growing, and might become a dangerous block. It had to be stopped; indeed, what was needed was a man of courage like Saul, a man like Phinehas who averted the wrath of God by his decisive action against the perverters of truth and probity (Num. 25), someone who really understood the implications of these wretched delusions and who saw where they would lead.

     But now on the Damascus Road Saul meets the resurrected, glorified Jesus. Whether he had seen him before we cannot be sure; that he sees him now, Saul cannot doubt. And a great deal of his theology, worked out and displayed in his letters, stems from that brute fact.

     If Jesus were alive and glorified, then somehow his death on the cross did not prove he was damned. Far from it: the claim of believers that God had raised him from the dead, and that they had seen him, must be true — and that could only mean that God had vindicated Jesus. Then what on earth did his death mean?

     From that vantage point, everything looked different. If Jesus was under the curse of God when he died, yet was vindicated by God himself, he must have died for others. Somehow his death absorbed the righteous curse of God that was due others and canceled it out. In that light, the entire history of the Hebrew Scriptures looked different.

     Was it not written that a Suffering Servant (see yesterday’s meditation) would be wounded for our transgressions and chastised for our iniquities? Does the death of countless lambs and bulls really take away human sin? Or do we need, as it were, a human “lamb of God,” a human “Passover Lamb”? If the tabernacle and temple rituals are read as pointing to the final solution, what does scriptural texts that promise a new covenant, a great outpouring of the Spirit in the last days (Acts 2:17-21; see Joel 2:28-32)? What place does the promise to Abraham have in the scheme of things, that in Abraham’s offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3)?

     Grant that Jesus is alive and vindicated, and everything changes.

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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

Acts 10

By Don Carson 1/1/2018

     The account of the conversion of Cornelius occupies much space in the book of Acts. As the Gospel moves outward from its Jewish confines, each step is carefully charted. First it was the Samaritans, a mixed race with a peculiar view of Scripture. (They accepted only Torah, what we call the Pentateuch.) Then it was the Ethiopian eunuch, who could not be a full proselyte — but (it might be argued) perhaps he would have been one if he had not been mutilated. Then comes the conversion of the man who will be the apostle to the Gentiles (see 9:15). Here in Acts 10 is the conversion of a God-fearer, a Gentile much attached to the Scriptures and to the Jewish synagogue who had chosen not to become circumcised and thus an unqualified proselyte — a convert — to Judaism.

     The apostle whom God prepares to go to Caesarea and preach the Gospel to Cornelius and his household is Peter. Peter’s repeated vision concerns ritually unclean food. Three times he is told to kill and eat unclean creatures; three times he declines, viewing himself as under the Law’s food prohibitions. Many have asked how Peter could be so dense, considering the fact that, according to Mark 7:19, Jesus had already uttered a saying declaring all foods clean. But it is far from clear that his disciples understood the ramifications of Jesus’ utterance at the time.

Mark 7:19  since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)   ESV

     Mark is writing later, about A. D. 60, long after the Cornelius episode; and, reflecting on what Jesus said, Mark perceives the implications in Jesus’ words that were not grasped at the time. Even the commission to take the Gospel everywhere, or Jesus’ insistence that people would come from all over the world and join the patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 8:11), had not brought the pieces together for the apostles. Small wonder, then, that Peter is at this stage still sorting things out.

Matthew 8:11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,   ESV

     So he wakes up and ponders what the vision means. Providential timing makes that point clear. Kosher Jews were always nervous in a Gentile home — but here God sends Peter not only to spend time in a non-kosher Gentile home, but to preach the Gospel there. Initially, no one is more surprised than Peter (Acts 10: 28-29, 34), but it is not long before he swings into a full-orbed presentation of the Gospel to these Gentiles. Even while Peter is speaking, the Holy Spirit descends on this Gentile household as he had descended on the Jews at Pentecost, and no one is more surprised than Peter and the Jews traveling with him (Acts 10: 45-47).

Acts 10:28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

Acts 10:34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “ Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,

Acts 10:45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

     The initial impetus to cross lines of race and heritage with the Gospel of Jesus Christ arose not from a committee planning world evangelization, but from God himself.

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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

What Is Civil Disobedience?

By Charles C. Ryrie     1970

     If disobedience is a “violation of a command or prohibition,” then civil disobedience is that in respect to the laws of the State. In view of today’s scene, we would probably wish to elaborate on this definition by noting some qualifying characteristics of the disobedience and suggesting some motives for it. Thus a more elaborate definition as suggested by one philosopher is that it is public, illegal action designed to protest, frustrate, and influence the repeal, enactment, reinterpretation or alteration of any law or policy of the State. Whether one agrees or not with that description, there are several points to underscore about civil disobedience. First, acts of civil disobedience are illegal actions. They are crimes. Second, civil disobedience is public. Concealment is not a characteristic of it as it is of other crimes. Third, it is aimed at some sort of p 98 change in the existing code of laws. These features would probably be minimal in describing civil disobedience.

The Justification of Civil Disobedience on Philosophical Grounds

     Various philosophical criteria have been offered to justify instances of civil disobedience. The first that is often heard is that no laws are to be broken other than clearly unconstitutional ones. The obvious fallacy in this is the question of what is clearly unconstitutional? The tendency of the Supreme Court in recent years  ( This was written in 1970 ) to interpret the Constitution liberally makes it difficult to establish with certainty the constitutionality of any law. No one can meet the criterion of certainty of the unconstitutionality of a law in order to justify civil disobedience simply because certainty cannot be established. When there is doubt a citizen may become deliberately disobedient in order to test the law in relation to the Constitution. This was done, for instance, in testing the validity of the “Monkey Law” in Arkansas. However, it must be remembered that the one who breaks the law must submit to the penalty of the law if the case is lost. It may be observed, too, that under our legal system testing a law in court does not require mass violations of it in order to bring it to that test.

     A second proposed criterion for justifying civil disobedience is that it must be used only as a last resort after all available grievance procedures have been exhausted. But, again, who is to decide when we have arrived at that last resort which will justify an act of civil disobedience? Furthermore, someone might well decide that normal legal procedures for expressing grievances would consume too much time and therefore he cannot wait until the matter comes to a last resort. The physician may need to make an immediate decision concerning an abortion without waiting for legal procedures to justify his act. He may do the right thing medically by not waiting, but not legally nor justifiably according to this criterion.

     A third possibility, and one that is heard loudly today, is that disobedience is justifiable if done conscientiously. “Justification is by appeal to the incompatibility between political circumstances and moral convictions.” In other words, self-interest or personal gain is supposedly absent as a motive for the disobedience while appeals to morality and conscience are the bases. The obvious problem with this criterion is the difficulty of judging the conscientiousness of an action. Such judgment is in all instances subjective. Furthermore, as ex-Justice Abe Fortas put it: “But good motives do not excuse action which will injure others. The individual’s conscience does not give him license to indulge individual conviction without regard to the rights of others.”

     A fourth suggested criterion is that civil disobedience in order to be justified must be accompanied by complete submission to arrest and punishment. “Law presents a clear alternative: obey this law or suffer this penalty. It is a precious right to be able to say to government: ‘I will not obey this law, but I will accept the punishment connected with that disobedience. I will endure your penalty rather than commit an injustice.’ … The law cannot say simply ‘do this or do not do this.’ It must say, ‘do this or do not do this — or else.’ And the ‘or else’ provides an essential alternative within the structure of law … The man who acts in defiance of law with the intent to escape both the command and the punishment is acting outside the law. The man who says ‘NO’ to the law’s command and stands still for the law’s ‘or else’ is operating within the law.”

     The problem with this viewpoint, though seemingly incontrovertible, is simply that it can be made to justify any act of civil disobedience whether or not constitutionality seems to be involved, whether or not it is as a last resort, and whether or not it stems from a moral judgment about the matter. Punishment for breaking the law is commonly regarded as a moral retribution, not as a perfectly respectable choice freely open to everyone.

     It is significant that all of these philosophical criteria involve a large measure of subjective judgment in using them. Who decides what is clearly unconstitutional? When have we come to the last resort? Whose conscience is to be trusted as right in a matter? Who can decree that willingness to accept punishment justifies breaking the law? In other words, philosophy offers no authoritative working basis that is not subject to whatever amount of flexibility the person trying to relate to that basis wants to use.

The Biblical Teaching on Civil Disobedience

     Some may insist that the biblical teaching is open to subjective interpretation too. To the philosopher we point out that at the most it could be no more subjective than these philosophical bases. But there is a very major difference between philosophic bases and the biblical basis. However one interprets or interacts with the biblical teaching, it has the authority of God behind it, whereas all other criteria are man-made and thus authoritative only to the extent that any one or any group chooses to make them so. Christian doctrine has an existential dimension to it, but it is in the use of that doctrine, and not in its content which is God-given.

     1. Didactic data. Our Lord clearly taught that His followers are citizens of two worlds and that they must discharge responsibilities in both realms. His classic statement on the subject was: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” ( Mark 12:17 ). In relation to the spiritual kingdom, God’s servants do not fight ( John 18:36 ); but soldiers, even repentant ones, are a legitimate part of the order of this world’s kingdoms ( Luke 3:14 ).

     It is the apostles, however, who gave more detail concerning the believer’s responsibility to the government under which he lives. Paul commanded submission to the government ( Rom 13:1–7 ) because authority is ordained of God (v.  1 ) (notice that nothing is said about only certain forms of government being ordained of God), because resistance to government is ultimately resistance to God (v.  2 ), because government opposes evil (v.  4 ) and because conscience tells us to be subject (v.  5 ). Interestingly, no exceptions are given to these four reasons for obeying government that would justify civil disobedience. On the contrary, ways are spelled out to show obedience; and they are dues (personal taxes), tribute (probably export and import taxes), fear and honor.

     Eight or nine years later, after having had much personal involvement with the Roman government under which he lived (including several imprisonments), Paul had not changed his mind about the teaching he had written before in  Romans. He said again essentially the same thing: “Put them in mind to be subject [this is the same verb as in  Rom 13:1 ] to principalities and powers [this is also the same word as in the previous passage], to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” ( Titus 3:1 ). Maltreatment at the hands of the Roman government had evidently not provided Paul sufficient existential grounds for changing his teaching (cf.  1 Thess 2:2 ).

     About the same time as Paul was writing to Titus, Peter wrote a similar word on submitting to government ( 1 Pet 2:13–17 ). The reasons he lists for obeying are: in order to show by obeying God - ordained government our obedience to God Himself (v.  13 ), because it is the will of God (v.  15 ), and it is a part of a good testimony to the unsaved (v.  15 ). This obedience, according to Peter, should extend to every ordinance and to all rulers. Again no exceptions are indicated either because of the type of government or the conscience of the believer. Actually the principle underlying this concept of civil obedience is the believer’s position as a servant of God (v.  16 ). In summary, the didactic data of Scripture teaches complete civil obedience on the part of Christians and does not indicate any exceptions to this principle.

     2. Historical data. Both the Pauline and Petrine teaching were written under the reign of the Emperor Nero (54–68).  Romans was written during the first period of his reign, the celebrated quinquennium, which was characterized by good government and popularity. It is reported that Seneca said of Nero that he was incapable of learning cruelty. Royal intrigue, however led by his mother, resulted in her death in A.D. 60 and in a definite change of pattern of life and government on the part of Nero. He plunged deeper and deeper into personal dissipation and brought the empire into bankruptcy. On July 18, 64, Rome began to burn, and whatever Nero’s part may or may not have been in this, the populace wanted a scapegoat and suspicion surrounded Nero. To divert this from himself he attempted to lay the blame on the Christians. Tacitus described the process in this way:

     “Wherefore in order to allay the rumor he [Nero] put forward as guilty, and afflicted with the most exquisite punishments those who were hated for their abominations and called ‘Christians’ by the populace … Therefore first of all those who confessed [to being Christians] were arrested, and then as a result of their information to a large number were implicated, not so much on the charge of incendiarism as for hatred of the human race. They died by methods of mockery; some were covered with the skins of wild beasts and then torn by dogs, some were crucified, some were burned as torches to give light at night … Men felt that their destruction was not on account of the public welfare but to gratify the cruelty of one [Nero]” (Annals, xv. 44).

     Though not unquestioned, many place the writing of  1 Peter shortly after the beginning of this Neronian persecution. If Peter was in Rome at this time (which may be likely from  1 Peter 5:13 ), this makes his teaching about civil obedience even more significant.

     3. Illustrative evidence. Thus far we have discovered no grounds for civil disobedience in the didactic or historical data. Are there illustrations which would give guidelines for possible exceptions to the principle of submission?

     Peter’s responses to the Sanhedrin ( Acts 4:19, 5:29 ) are usually cited as examples of proper civil disobedience on the part of the believers. They are not the best because the disobedience was not directed against the civil power, Rome, but against the religious authority of the Jewish Sanhedrin. And yet, in a certain sense these are good examples, for the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin was rather wide at the time of Christ. It had authority to order arrests by its own officers and to judge cases which did not involve capital punishment. Nevertheless, the area of jurisdiction an the cases judged were, as far as New Testament examples are concerned, in the realm of religious and not strictly civil matters. But from these instances in  Acts a principle does emerge:  disobedience of higher authority seems justified when the authority requires a believer to disobey the laws of God. 

     Failure to distinguish between civil and religious authority in the time of Christ has led some to picture our Lord as an example of civil disobedience. One underground newspaper caricature recently described Him as “a serious threat to established law and order” while another pictured Him as “conspiring to overthrow the established government.” It is true that our Lord was a threat to the religious establishment, but He Himself stated that He was not concerned about the kingdom of Rome, and Pilate understood Him clearly ( John 18:33–38 ). This is a most interesting dialog, for when Pilate asked the Lord if He were King of the Jews, the Lord immediately countered by asking Pilate from whose viewpoint he asked the question. From a Jewish viewpoint He admitted to the claim, but from the Roman viewpoint He had no designs to be king. And the Roman context was all that concerned Pilate; thus he declared Him innocent. This shows that our Lord was not an anarchist trying to overthrow the Roman government.

     When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were brought into direct conflict with Nebauchadnezzar’s decree to worship the golden image because of their God-given religion, they disobeyed. In this case, God vindicated their actions by delivering them from the fiery furnace punishment. The same was true for Daniel who disobeyed the unalterable law of the Medes and Persians and who also was delivered from the den-of-lion punishment. In neither of these cases was there any possibility of changing the law of the land. But the principle illustrated is the same as in  Acts:  subjection to the law of God takes priority in a believer’s life over obedience to the laws of man.

     It should not be assumed, however, that the path of disobedience in the name of obedience to God will always result in divine intervention for deliverance. “Others were tortured … others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings … of bonds and imprisonments; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented” ( Heb 11:35–37 ). When civil law are in opposition, the biblical illustrations seem to sanction, if not oblige, the believer to disobey.

     Indeed, our Lord’s words concerning rendering to Caesar the things that are his and to God the things that are God’s in effect deny to the state control over man’s relations with God.  Whenever a believer feels obliged to disobey his government, he must be sure it is not because the government has denied him his rights but because it has denied him God’s rights.

The Contemporary Ramification of The Doctrine of Obedience

     The doctrine of civil obedience is but a part of the larger teaching of Scripture on subjection to constituted authority. Angelic beings are subject to Christ ( 1 Pet 3:22 ); believers are to be subject to one another ( 1 Pet 5:5 ); the church is subject to Christ ( Eph 5:24 ); the Son shall be subject to the Father ( 1 Cor 15:28 ); servants are subject to their masters ( 1 Pet 2:18 ); children are under their parents ( 1 Tim 3:4 ); wives are subject to their husbands ( Col 3:18 ); young people are to be subject to their elders ( 1 Pet 5:5 ); church members are to be governed by their leaders ( Heb 13:7, 17 ); and believers are to be subject to their government. It is part of a total doctrine of obedience.

     At least one educator has recognized the integral relationship between all these facets of life. Dr. Max Rafferty lays the blame for the present disorder on misdirected ministers, soft judges, permissive psychologists, but mostly on parents who have abdicated their parental authority.  ( and again, this was written in 1970 ) Whether or not one agrees with his analysis, it is difficult to deny the fact that many areas of obedience to authority are interrelated in the Scriptures. Therefore, breakdown in one will likely involve breakdowns in the others, and that is exactly what is happening in our contemporary society. Civil disobedience is only a public display of ecclesiastical disobedience which in turn is the fruit of disobedience in the home, and so on. If this is true, then the Christian should demonstrate orderliness within the various spheres to which he is related. When he is under authority he should submit obediently; when he is in authority he should lead decisively. It is nothing short of hypocrisy for a Christian to decry public acts of disobedience while he perpetrates private ones.

The Eschatological Ramification of Disobedience

     But the world seems to be plunging rapidly down the path of increasing lawlessness in many areas of life. Where will it all end? The Bible answers that question quite plainly and vividly in  2 Timothy 3:1–5. There are listed eighteen characteristics of the hard times of the last days, and many of them reflect lawlessness. Blasphemy is lawlessness against God; disobedience to parents is lawlessness in the family; without natural affection is lawlessness against one’s own body; truce-breaking is lawlessness with others; fierce means untamed which speaks for itself; despisers of those that are good is lawlessness in respect to the established order; heady means reckless, and so it goes. No city, country, no class, no institution is exempt from this rampant lawlessness.

     I can think of no better situation into which a dictator could more easily move than into this state of lawlessness. Perhaps you read or saw The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The pieces of that picture should never have fit together. There was the unknown fanatic who was disliked and distrusted by almost everyone except his small band of followers; there were intelligent, civilized, and cultured people who should have seen what was happening, and there was a democratic government that should have prevented such a takeover. The pieces would not have fit together except for one ingredient which was present in the situation and that was lawlessness. In the wake of lawlessness Hitler was swept to power. The impossible happened, and the lawless situation was replaced by the law of a lawless dictator. And this is exactly what will happen on a worldwide scale before long. The lawlessness of our day is ripening the world for a takeover by some who will promise to bring order, even by the use of force, out of this chaos. Such a one will arise — to be sure after the church has gone to meet the Lord in the air — and, paradoxically, he is called the lawless one ( 2 Thess 2:8 ). History will repeat itself, only this time on a much larger scale. Christians today must be certain they are not contributing to this climate of lawlessness in any sphere of life.

     Is not the Christian to take leadership in trying to correct the ills of society and will not this responsibility sometimes involve and justify acts of civil disobedience? Certainly the believer has a social responsibility and in a word it is to do good to all men and especially to other believers. But he also has a civic responsibility and that is to be an obedient citizen. If the government under which he lives allows for means of legitimate protest and change, he surely may use them. But to take the law into his own hands finds no support in the Scriptures. The only exception seems to be if the government forbids his worshipping God. To serve Caesar and even fight for him, the Christian must do; to worship Caesar, he must not do. It is well to remember that the New Testament writers did not crusade against one of the worst social ills of their day — slavery. Paul advised Christian slaves not to let it matter to them ( 1 Cor 7:22 ). He did not advise them to become martyrs in the cause of liberation. Indeed even when writing to a Christian master about a runaway slave who had become a believer, he only suggested that he be taken back and not punished. He never even hinted that the master should free his slaves because this was the Christian thing to do ( Philemon 17 ).

     The Christian’s primary responsibilities are evangelism and godly living. Through witnessing he changes men; through righteous living he affects society; through private and public obedience he honors God.

Dallas Theological Seminary. (1970; 2002). Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 127 (127:153–162). Dallas Theological Seminary.

Charles C. Ryrie Books

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 120

Deliver me, O LORD
120 A Song Of Ascents.

120:1 In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, O LORD,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.

3 What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!

5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!

ESV Study Bible

Fox's Book Of Martyrs

By John Foxe 1563

CHAPTER XII | The Life and Story of the True Servant and Martyr of God,

William Tyndale

     We have now to enter into the story of the good martyr of God, William Tyndale; which William Tyndale, as he was a special organ of the Lord appointed, and as God's mattock to shake the inward roots and foundation of the pope's proud prelacy, so the great prince of darkness, with his impious imps, having a special malice against him, left no way unsought how craftily to entrap him, and falsely to betray him, and maliciously to spill his life, as by the process of his story here following may appear.

     William Tyndale, the faithful minister of Christ, was born about the borders of Wales, and brought up from a child in the University of Oxford, where he, by long continuance, increased as well in the knowledge of tongues, and other liberal arts, as especially in the knowledge of the Scriptures, whereunto his mind was singularly addicted; insomuch that he, lying then in Magdalen Hall, read privily to certain students and fellows of Magdalen College some parcel of divinity; instructing them in the knowledge and truth of the Scriptures. His manners and conversation being correspondent to the same, were such that all they that knew him reputed him to be a man of most virtuous disposition, and of life unspotted.

     Thus he, in the University of Oxford, increasing more and more in learning, and proceeding in degrees of the schools, spying his time, removed from thence to the University of Cambridge, where he likewise made his abode a certain space. Being now further ripened in the knowledge of God's Word, leaving that university, he resorted to one Master Welch, a knight of Gloucestershire, and was there schoolmaster to his children, and in good favor with his master. As this gentleman kept a good ordinary commonly at his table, there resorted to him many times sundry abbots, deans, archdeacons, with divers other doctors, and great beneficed men; who there, together with Master Tyndale siting at the same table, did use many times to enter communication, and talk of learned men, as of Luther and of Erasmus; also of divers other controversies and questions upon the Scripture.

     Then Master Tyndale, as he was learned and well practiced in God's matters, spared not to show unto them simply and plainly his judgment, and when they at any time did vary from Tyndale in opinions, he would show them in the Book, and lay plainly before them the open and manifest places of the Scriptures, to confute their errors, and confirm his sayings. And thus continued they for a certain season, reasoning and contending together divers times, until at length they waxed weary, and bare a secret grudge in their hearts against him.

     As this grew on, the priests of the country, clustering together, began to grudge and storm against Tyndale, railing against him in alehouses and other places, affirming that his sayings were heresy; and accused him secretly to the chancellor, and others of the bishop's officers.

     It followed not long after this that there was a sitting of the bishop's chancellor appointed, and warning was given to the priests to appear, amongst whom Master Tyndale was also warned to be there. And whether he had any misdoubt by their threatenings, or knowledge given him that they would lay some things to his charge, it is uncertain; but certain this is (as he himself declared), that he doubted their privy accusations; so that he by the way, in going thitherwards, cried in his mind heartily to God, to give him strength fast to stand in the truth of His Word.

     When the time came for his appearance before the chancellor, he threatened him grievously, reviling and rating him as though he had been a dog, and laid to his charge many things whereof no accuser could be brought forth, notwithstanding that the priests of the country were there present. Thus Master Tyndale, escaping out of their hands, departed home, and returned to his master again.

     There dwelt not far off a certain doctor, that he been chancellor to a bishop, who had been of old, familiar acquaintance with Master Tyndale, and favored him well; unto whom Master Tyndale went and opened his mind upon divers questions of the Scripture: for to him he durst be bold to disclose his heart. Unto whom the doctor said, "Do you not know that the pope is very Antichrist, whom the Scripture speaketh of? But beware what you say; for if you shall be perceived to be of that opinion, it will cost you your life."

     Not long after, Master Tyndale happened to be in the company of a certain divine, recounted for a learned man, and, in communing and disputing with him, he drove him to that issue, that the said great doctor burst out into these blasphemous words, "We were better to be without God's laws than the pope's." Master Tyndale, hearing this, full of godly zeal, and not bearing that blasphemous saying, replied, "I defy the pope, and all his laws;" and added, "If God spared him life, ere many years he would cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than he did."

     The grudge of the priests increasing still more and more against Tyndale, they never ceased barking and rating at him, and laid many things sorely to his charge, saying that he was a heretic. Being so molested and vexed, he was constrained to leave that country, and to seek another place; and so coming to Master Welch, he desired him, of his good will, that he might depart from him, saying: "Sir, I perceive that I shall not be suffered to tarry long here in this country, neither shall you be able, though you would, to keep me out of the hands of the spirituality; what displeasure might grow to you by keeping me, God knoweth; for the which I should be right sorry."

     So that in fine, Master Tyndale, with the good will of his master, departed, and eftsoons came up to London, and there preached a while, as he had done in the country.

     Bethinking himself of Cuthbert Tonstal, then bishop of London, and especially of the great commendation of Erasmus, who, in his annotations, so extolleth the said Tonstal for his learning, Tyndale thus cast with himself, that if he might attain unto his service, he were a happy man. Coming to Sir Henry Guilford, the king's comptroller, and bringing with him an oration of Isocrates, which he had translated out of Greek into English, he desired him to speak to the said bishop of London for him; which he also did; and willed him moreover to write an epistle to the bishop, and to go himself with him. This he did, and delivered his epistle to a servant of his, named William Hebilthwait, a man of his old acquaintance. But God, who secretly disposeth the course of things, saw that was not best for Tyndale's purpose, nor for the profit of His Church, and therefore gave him to find little favor in the bishop's sight; the answer of whom was this: his house was full; he had more than he could well find: and he advised him to seek in London abroad, where, he said, he could lack no service.

     Being refused of the bishop he came to Humphrey Mummuth, alderman of London, and besought him to help him: who the same time took him into his house, where the said Tyndale lived (as Mummuth said) like a good priest, studying both night and day. He would eat but sodden meat by his good will, nor drink but small single beer. He was never seen in the house to wear linen about him, all the space of his being there.

     And so remained Master Tyndale in London almost a year, marking with himself the course of the world, and especially the demeanor of the preachers, how they boasted themselves, and set up their authority; beholding also the pomp of the prelates, with other things more, which greatly misliked him; insomuch that he understood not only that there was no room in the bishop's house for him to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England.

     Therefore, having by God's providence some aid ministered unto him by Humphrey Mummuth, and certain other good men, he took his leave of the realm, and departed into Germany, where the good man, being inflamed with a tender care and zeal of his country, refused no travail nor diligence, how, by all means possible, to reduce his brethren and countrymen of England to the same taste and understanding of God's holy Word and verity, which the Lord had endued him withal. Whereupon, considering in his mind, and conferring also with John Frith, Tyndale thought with himself no way more to conduce thereunto, than if the Scripture were turned into the vulgar speech, that the poor people might read and see the simple plain Word of God. He perceived that it was not possible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the Scriptures were so plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue that they might see the meaning of the text; for else, whatsoever truth should be taught them, the enemies of the truth would quench it, either with reasons of sophistry, and traditions of their own making, founded without all ground of Scripture; or else juggling with the text, expounding it in such a sense as it were impossible to gather of the text, if the right meaning thereof were seen.

     Master Tyndale considered this only, or most chiefly, to be the cause of all mischief in the Church, that the Scriptures of God were hidden from the people's eyes; for so long the abominable doings and idolatries maintained by the pharisaical clergy could not be espied; and therefore all their labor was with might and main to keep it down, so that either it should not be read at all, or if it were, they would darken the right sense with the mist of their sophistry, and so entangle those who reguked or despised their abominations; wresting the Scripture unto their own purpose, contrary unto the meaning of the text, they would so delude the unlearned lay people, that though thou felt in thy heart, and wert sure that all were false that they said, yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles.

     For these and such other considerations this good man was stirred up of God to translate the Scripture into his mother tongue, for the profit of the simple people of his country; first setting in hand with the New Testament, which came forth in print about A.D. 1525. Cuthbert Tonstal, bishop of London, with Sir Thomas More, being sore aggrieved, despised how to destroy that false erroneous translation, as they called it.

     It happened that one Augustine Packington, a mercer, was then at Antwerp, where the bishop was. This man favored Tyndale, but showed the contrary unto the bishop. The bishop, being desirous to bring his purpose to pass, communed how that he would gladly buy the New Testaments. Packington hearing him say so, said, "My lord! I can do more in this matter than most merchants that be here, if it be your pleasure; for I know the Dutchmen and strangers that have brought them of Tyndale, and have them here to sell; so that if it be your lordship's pleasure, I must disburse money to pay for them, or else I cannot have them: and so I will assure you to have every book of them that is printed and unsold." The bishop, thinking he had God "by the toe," said, "Do your diligence, gentle Master Packington! get them for me, and I will pay whatsoever they cost; for I intend to burn and destroy them all at Paul's Cross." This Augustine Packington went unto William Tyndale, and declared the whole matter, and so, upon compact made between them, the bishop of London had the books, Packington had the thanks, and Tyndale had the money.

     After this, Tyndale corrected the same New Testaments again, and caused them to be newly imprinted, so that they came thick and threefold over into England. When the bishop perceived that, he sent for Packington, and said to him, "How cometh this, that there are so many New Testaments abroad? You promised me that you would buy them all." Then answered Packington, "Surely, I bought all that were to be had, but I perceive they have printed more since. I see it will never be better so long as they have letters and stamps: wherefore you were best to buy the stamps too, and so you shall be sure," at which answer the bishop smiled, and so the matter ended.

     In short space after, it fortuned that George Constantine was apprehended by Sir Thomas More, who was then chancellor of England, as suspected of certain heresies. Master More asked of him, saying, "Constantine! I would have thee be plain with me in one thing that I will ask; and I promise thee I will show thee favor in all other things whereof thou art accused. There is beyond the sea, Tyndale, Joye, and a great many of you: I know they cannot live without help. There are some that succor them with money; and thou, being one of them, hadst thy part thereof, and therefore knowest whence it came. I pray thee, tell me, who be they that help them thus?" "My lord," quoth Constantine, "I will tell you truly: it is the bishop of London that hath holpen us, for he hath bestowed among us a great deal of money upon New Testaments to burn them; and that hath been, and yet is, our only succor and comfort." "Now by my troth," quoth More, "I think even the same; for so much I told the bishop before he went about it."

     After that, Master Tyndale took in hand to translate the Old Testament, finishing the five books of Moses, with sundry most learned and godly prologues most worthy to be read and read again by all good Christians. These books being sent over into England, it cannot be spoken what a door of light they opened to the eyes of the whole English nation, which before were shut up in darkness.

     At his first departing out of the realm he took his journey into Germany, where he had conference with Luther and other learned men; after he had continued there a certain season he came down into the Netherlands, and had his most abiding in the town of Antwerp.

     The godly books of Tyndale, and especially the New Testament of his translation, after that they began to come into men's hands, and to spread abroad, wrought great and singular profit to the godly; but the ungodly (envying and disdaining that the people should be anything wiser than they and, fearing lest by the shining beams of truth, their works of darkness should be discerned) began to sir with no small ado.

     At what time Tyndale had translated Deuteronomy, minding to print the same at Hamburg, he sailed thitherward; upon the coast of Holland he suffered shipwreck, by which he lost all his books, writings, and copies, his money and his time, and so was compelled to begin all again. He came in another ship to Hamburg, where, at his appointment, Master Coverdale tarried for him, and helped him in the translating of the whole five books of Moses, from Easter until December, in the house of a worshipful widow, Mistress Margaret Van Emmerson, A.D. 1529; a great sweating sickness being at the same time in the town. So, having dispatched his business at Hamburg, he returned to Antwerp.

     When God's will was, that the New Testament in the common tongue should come abroad, Tyndale, the translator thereof, added to the latter end a certain epistle, wherein he desired them that were learned to amend, if ought were found amiss. Wherefore if there had been any such default deserving correction, it had been the part of courtesy and gentleness, for men of knowledge and judgment to have showed their learning therein, and to have redressed what was to be amended. But the clergy, not willing to have that book prosper, cried out upon it, that there were a thousand heresies in it, and that it was not to be corrected, but utterly to be suppressed. Some said it was not possible to translate the Scriptures into English; some that it was not lawful for the lay people to have it in their mother tongue; some, that it would make them all heretics. And to the intent to induce the temporal rulers unto their purpose, they said it would make the people to rebel against the king.

     All this Tyndale himself, in his prologue before the first book of Moses, declareth; showing further what great pains were taken in examining that translation, and comparing it with their own imaginations, that with less labor, he supposeth, they might have translated a great part of the Bible; showing moreover that they scanned and examined every title and point in such sort, and so narrowly, that there was not one i therein, but if it lacked a prick over his head, they did note it, and numbered it unto the ignorant people for a heresy.

     So great were then the froward devices of the English clergy (who should have been the guides of light unto the people), to drive the people from the knowledge of the Scripture, which neither they would translate themselves, nor yet abide it to be translated of others; to the intent (as Tyndale saith) that the world being kept still in darkness, they might sit in the consciences of the people through vain superstition and false doctrine, to satisfy their ambition, and insatiable covetousness, and to exalt their own honor above king and emperor.

     The bishops and prelates never rested before they had brought the king to their consent; by reason whereof, a proclamation in all haste was devised and set forth under public authority, that the Testament of Tyndale's translation was inhibited-which was about A.D. 1537. And not content herewith, they proceeded further, how to entangle him in their nets, and to bereave him of his life; which how they brought to pass, now it remaineth to be declared.

     In the registers of London it appeareth manifest how that the bishops and Sir Thomas More having before them such as had been at Antwerp, most studiously would search and examine all things belonging to Tyndale, where and with whom he hosted, whereabouts stood the house, what was his stature, in what apparel he went, what resort he had; all which things when they had diligently learned then began they to work their feats.

     William Tyndale, being in the town of Antwerp, had been lodged about one whole year in the house of Thomas Pointz, an Englishman, who kept a house of English merchants. Came thither one out of England, whose name was Henry Philips, his father being customer of Poole, a comely fellow, like as he had been a gentleman having a servant with him: but wherefore he came, or for what purpose he was sent thither, no man could tell.

     Master Tyndale divers times was desired forth to dinner and support amongst merchants; by means whereof this Henry Philips became acquainted with him, so that within short space Master Tyndale had a great confidence in him, and brought him to his lodging, to the house of Thomas Pointz; and had him also once or twice with him to dinner and supper, and further entered such friendship with him, that through his procurement he lay in the same house of the sait Pointz; to whom he showed moreover his books,a nd other secrets of his study, so little did Tyndale then mistrust this traitor.

     But Pointz, having no great confidence in the fellow, asked Master Tyndale how he came acquainted with this Philips. Master Tyndale answered, that he was an honest man, handsomely learned, and very conformable. Pointz, perceiving that he bare such favor to him, said no more, thinking that he was brought acquainted with him by some friend of his. The said Philips, being in the town three or four days, upon a time desired Pointz to walk with him forth of the town to show him the commodities thereof, and in walking together without the town, had communication of divers things, and some of the king's affairs; by which talk Pointz as yet suspected nothing. But after, when the time was past, Pointz perceived this to be the mind of Philips, to feel whether the said Pointz might, for lucre of money, help him to his purpose, for he perceived before that Philips was monied, and would that Pointz should think no less. For he had desired Pointz before to help him to divers things; and such things as he named, he required might be of the best, "for," said he, "I have money enough."

     Philips went from Antwerp to the court of Brussels, which is from thence twenty-four English miles, whence he brought with him to Antwerp, the procurator-general, who is the emperor's attorney, with certain other officers.

     Within three or four days, Pointz went forth to the town of Barois, being eighteen English miles from Antwerp, where he had business to do for the space of a month or six weeks; and in the time of his absence Henry Philips came again to Antwerp, to the house of Pointz, and coming in, spake with his wife, asking whether Master Tyndale were within. Then went he forth again and set the officers whom he had brought with him from Brussels, in the street, and about the door. About noon he came again, and went to Master Tyndale, and desired him to lend him forty shillings; "for," said he, "I lost my purse this morning, coming over at the passage between this and Mechlin." So Master Tyndale took him forty shillings, which was easy to be had of him, if he had it; for in the wily subtleties of this world he was simple and inexpert. Then said Philips, "Master Tyndale! you shall be my guest here this day." "No," said Master Tyndale, "I go forth this day to dinner, and you shall go with me, and be my guest, where you shall be welcome."

     So when it was dinner time, Master Tyndale went forth with Philips, and at the going forth of Pointz's house, was a long narrow entry, so that two could not go in front. Master Tyndale would have put Philips before him, but Philips would in no wise, but put Master Tyndale before, for that he pretended to show great humanity. So Master Tyndale, being a man of no great stature, went before, and Philips, a tall, comely person, followed behind him; who had set officers on either side of the door upon two seats, who might see who came in the entry. Philips pointed with his finger over Master Tyndale's head down to him, that the officers might see that it was he whom they should take. The officers afterwards told Pointz, when they had laid him in prison, that they pitied to see his simplicity. They brought him to the emperor's attorney, where he dined. Then came the procurator-general to the house of Pointz, and sent away all that was there of Master Tyndale's, as well his books as other things; and from thence Tyndale was had to the castle of Vilvorde, eighteen English miles from Antwerp.

     Master Tyndale, remaining in prison, was proffered an advocate and a procurator; the which he refused, saying that he would make answer for himself. He had so preached to them who had him in charge, and such as was there conversant with him in the Castle that they reported of him, that if he were not a good Christian man, they knew not whom they might take to be one.

     At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor's decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg. Brought forth to the place of execution, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, "Lord! open the king of England's eyes."

     Such was the power of his doctrine, and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half), he converted, it is said, his keeper, the keeper's daughter, and others of his household.

     As touching his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be full of heresies, he wrote to John Frith, as followeth, "I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God's Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me."

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Continual Burnt Offering (1 Timothy 4:4)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

November 16
1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.    ESV

     Blessed it is to recognize in the temporal, creative mercies of each day, the evidences of a loving Father’s care. He “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). To receive all as from His own hand, giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus, is to honor the Giver in the use of His gifts.

     Every day my bride and I confess to ourselves and to each other that God is our portion. It started as a word from the Lord to Lily for me. Over these many years we have come to understand more and more what this really means. Over and over we read in the Bible that God is our portion going back to God's declaration, I am that I am. We think about it every day. We are aware that God has put a hedge around us and our family. We do not take God's blessings for granted and we pray that God will make us more and more aware of God's blessings and more and more grateful.

     The Christian must avoid both fleshly asceticism on the one hand and carnal self-indulgence on the other. The former discounts many of God’s gifts and thus discredits Him who provides them. The latter uses the mercies of God without regard to their source, and thus turns even our blessings into curses. We should ever recognize the bounty of our Father in these things, and whether we eat or drink do all to His glory, our hearts going out to Him in adoring gratitude.

1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.   ESV

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart,
That tastes those gifts with joy.
Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue;
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.
Through all eternity, to Thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all Thy praise!
--- Joseph Addison

The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     Introduction by The Rev. John Murray, M.A., Th.M.

     The publication in English of another edition of the opus magnum of Christian theology is an event fraught with much encouragement. Notwithstanding the decadence so patent in our present-day world and particularly in the realm of Christian thought and life, the publishers have confidence that there is sufficient interest to warrant such an undertaking. If this faith is justified we have reason for thanksgiving to God. For what would be a better harbinger of another Reformation than widespread recourse to the earnest and sober study of the Word of God which would be evinced by the readiness carefully to peruse The Institutes of the Christian Religion.

     Dr. B. B. Warfield in his admirable article, "On the Literary History of the Institutes," has condensed for us the appraisal accorded Calvin's work by the critics who have been most competent to judge. Among these tributes none expresses more adequately, and none with comparable terseness, the appraisal which is Calvin's due than that of the learned Joseph Scaliger, "Solus inter theologos Calvinus."

     It would be a presumptuous undertaking to try to set forth all the reasons why Calvin holds that position of eminence in the history of Christian theology. By the grace and in the overruling providence of God there was the convergence of multiple factors, and all of these it would be impossible to trace in their various interrelations and interactions. One of these, however, calls for special mention. Calvin was an exegete and biblical theologian of the first rank. No other one factor comparably served to equip Calvin for the successful prosecution of his greatest work which in 1559 received its definitive edition.

     The attitude to Scripture entertained by Calvin and the principles which guided him in its exposition are nowhere stated with more simplicity and fervor than in the Epistle Dedicatory to his first commentary, the commentary on the epistle to the Romans. "Such veneration," he says, "we ought indeed to entertain for the Word of God, that we ought not to pervert it in the least degree by varying expositions; for its majesty is diminished, I know not how much, especially when not expounded with great discretion and with great sobriety. And if it be deemed a great wickedness to contaminate any thing that is dedicated to God, he surely cannot be endured, who, with impure, or even with unprepared hands, will handle that very thing, which of all things is the most sacred on earth. It is therefore an audacity, closely allied to a sacrilege, rashly to turn Scripture in any way we please, and to indulge our fancies as in sport; which has been done by many in former times" (English Translation, Grand Rapids, 1947, p. 27).

     It was Calvin preeminently who set the pattern for the exercise of that sobriety which guards the science of exegesis against those distortions and perversions to which allegorizing methods are ever prone to subject the interpretation and application of Scripture. The debt we owe to Calvin in establishing sound canons of interpretation and in thus directing the future course of exegetical study is incalculable. It is only to be lamented that too frequently the preaching of Protestant and even Reformed communions has not been sufficiently grounded in the hermeneutical principles which Calvin so nobly exemplified.

     One feature of Calvin's exegetical work is his concern for the analogy of Scripture. He is always careful to take account of the unity and harmony of Scripture teaching. His expositions are not therefore afflicted with the vice of expounding particular passages without respect to the teaching of Scripture elsewhere and without respect to the system of truth set forth in the Word of God. His exegesis, in a word, is theologically oriented. It is this quality that lies close to that which was par excellence his genius.

     However highly we assess Calvin's exegetical talent and product, his eminence as an exegete must not be allowed to overshadow what was, after all, his greatest gift. He was par excellence a theologian. It was his systematizing genius preeminently that equipped him for the prosecution and completion of his masterpiece.

     When we say that he was par excellence a theologian we must dissociate from our use of this word every notion that is suggestive of the purely speculative. No one has ever fulminated with more passion and eloquence against "vacuous and meteoric speculation" than has Calvin. And no one has ever been more keenly conscious that the theologian's task was the humble and, at the same time, truly noble one of being a disciple of the Scripture. "No man," he declares, "can have the least knowledge of true and sound doctrine without having been a disciple of the Scripture. Hence originates all true wisdom, when we embrace with reverence the testimony which God hath been pleased therein to deliver concerning himself. For obedience is the source, not only of an absolutely perfect and complete faith, but of all right knowledge of God" (Inst. 1, 6, 2). In the words of William Cunningham: "In theology there is, of course, no room for originality properly so called, for its whole materials are contained in the actual statements of God's word; and he is the greatest and best theologian who has most accurately apprehended the meaning of the statements of Scripture--who, by comparing and combining them, has most fully and correctly brought out the whole mind of God on all the topics on which the Scriptures give us information--who classifies and digests the truths of Scripture in the way best fitted to commend them to the apprehension and acceptance of men--and who can most clearly and forcibly bring out their scriptural evidence, and most skillfully and effectively defend them against the assaults of adversaries . . . Calvin was far above the weakness of aiming at the invention of novelties in theology, or of wishing to be regarded as the discoverer of new opinions" (The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, Edinburgh, 1866, p. 296). As we bring even elementary understanding to bear upon our reading of the Institutes we shall immediately discover the profound sense of the majesty of God, veneration for the Word of God, and the jealous care for faithful exposition and systematization which were marked features of the author. And because of this we shall find the Institutes to be suffused with the warmth of godly fear. The Institutes is not only the classic of Christian theology; it is also a model of Christian devotion. For what Calvin sought to foster was that "pure and genuine religion" which consists in "faith united with the serious fear of God, such fear as may embrace voluntary reverence and draw along with it legitimate worship such as is prescribed in the law" (Inst. 1, 2, 2).

     The present edition is from the translation made by Henry Beveridge in 1845 for the Calvin Translation Society. The reader may be assured that the translation faithfully reflects the teaching of Calvin but must also bear in mind that no translation can perfectly convey the thought of the original. It may also be added that a more adequate translation of Calvin's Institutes into English is a real desideratum. In fulfilling this need the translator or translators would perform the greatest service if the work of translation were supplemented by footnotes in which at crucial points, where translation is difficult or most accurate translation impossible, the Latin text would be reproduced and comment made on its more exact import. Furthermore, footnotes which would supply the reader with references to other places in Calvin's writings where he deals with the same subject would be an invaluable help to students of Calvin and to the cause of truth. Admittedly such work requires linguistic skill of the highest order, thorough knowledge of Calvin's writings, and deep sympathy with his theology. It would also involve prodigious labour. We may hope that the seed being sown by the present venture may bear fruit some day in such a harvest.

     John Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary. | Philadelphia, Penna.



     Good reader, here is now offered you, the fourth time printed in English, M. Calvin's book of the Institution of Christian Religion; a book of great labour to the author, and of great profit to the Church of God. M. Calvin first wrote it when he was a young man, a book of small volume, and since that season he has at sundry times published it with new increases, still protesting at every edition himself to be one of those qui scribendo proficiunt, et proficiendo scribunt, which with their writing do grow in profiting, and with their profiting do proceed in writing. At length having, in many [of] his other works, traveled about exposition of sundry books of the Scriptures, and in the same finding occasion to discourse of sundry common-places and matters of doctrine, which being handled according to the occasions of the text that were offered him, and not in any other method, were not so ready for the reader's use, he therefore entered into this purpose to enlarge this book of Institutions, and therein to treat of all those titles and commonplaces largely, with this intent, that whensoever any occasion fell in his other books to treat of any such cause, he would not newly amplify his books of commentaries and expositions therewith, but refer his reader wholly to this storehouse and treasure of that sort of divine learning. As age and weakness grew upon him, so he hastened his labour; and, according to his petition to God, he in manner ended his life with his work, for he lived not long after.

     So great a jewel was meet to be made most beneficial, that is to say, applied to most common use. Therefore, in the very beginning of the Queen's Majesty's most blessed reign, I translated it out of Latin into English for the commodity of the Church of Christ, at the special request of my dear friends of worthy memory, Reginald Wolfe and Edward Whitchurch, the one her Majesty's printer for the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues, the other her Highness' printer of the books of Common Prayer. I performed my work in the house of my said friend, Edward Whitchurch, a man well known of upright heart and dealing, an ancient zealous gospeller, as plain and true a friend as ever I knew living, and as desirous to do anything to common good, especially by the advancement of true religion.

     At my said first edition of this book, I considered how the author thereof had of long time purposely laboured to write the same most exactly, and to pack great plenty of matter in small room of words; yea, and those so circumspectly and precisely ordered, to avoid the cavillations of such as for enmity to the truth therein contained would gladly seek and abuse all advantages which might be found by any oversight in penning of it, that the sentences were thereby become so full as nothing might well be added without idle superfluity, and again so highly pared, that nothing could be diminished without taking away some necessary substance of matter therein expressed. This manner of writing, beside the peculiar terms of arts and figures, and the difficulty of the matters themselves, being throughout interlaced with the school men's controversies, made a great hardness in the author's own book, in that tongue wherein otherwise he is both plentiful and easy, insomuch that it sufficeth not to read him once, unless you can be content to read in vain. This consideration encumbered me with great doubtfulness for the whole order and frame of my translation. If I should follow the words, I saw that of necessity the hardness in the translation must needs be greater than was in the tongue wherein it was originally written. If I should leave the course of words, and grant myself liberty after the natural manner of my own tongue, to say that in English which I conceived to be his meaning in Latin, I plainly perceived how hardly I might escape error, and on the other side, in this matter of faith and religion, how perilous it was to err. For I durst not presume to warrant myself to have his meaning without his words. And they that wet what it is to translate well and faithfully, especially in matters of religion, do know that not the only grammatical construction of words sufficeth, but the very building and order to observe all advantages of vehemence or grace, by placing or accent of words, maketh much to the true setting forth of a writer's mind.

     In the end, I rested upon this determination, to follow the words so near as the phrase of the English tongue would suffer me. Which purpose I so performed, that if the English book were printed in such paper and letter as the Latin is, it should not exceed the Latin in quantity. Whereby, beside all other commodities that a faithful translation of so good a work may bring, this one benefit is moreover provided for such as are desirous to attain some knowledge of the Latin tongue (which is, at this time, to be wished in many of those men for whose profession this book most fitly serveth), that they shall not find any more English than shall suffice to construe the Latin withal, except in such few places where the great difference of the phrases of the languages enforced me: so that, comparing the one with the other, they shall both profit in good matter, and furnish themselves with understanding of that speech, wherein the greatest treasures of knowledge are disclosed.

     In the doing hereof, I did not only trust mine own wit or ability, but examined my whole doing from sentence to sentence throughout the whole book with conference and overlooking of such learned men, as my translation being allowed by their Judgment, I did both satisfy mine own conscience that I had done truly, and their approving of it might be a good warrant to the reader that nothing should herein be delivered him but sound, unmingled, and uncorrupted doctrine, even in such sort as the author himself had first framed it. All that I wrote, the grave, learned, and virtuous man, M. David Whitehead (whom I name with honourable remembrance), did, among others, compare with the Latin, examining every sentence throughout the whole book. Beside all this, I privately required many, and generally all men with whom I ever had any talk of this matter, that if they found anything either not truly translated, or not plainly Englished, they would inform me thereof, promising either to satisfy them or to amend it. Since which time, I have not been advertised by any man of anything which they would require to be altered. Neither had I myself, by reason of my profession, being otherwise occupied, any leisure to peruse it. And that is the cause, why not only at the second and third time, but also at this impression, you have no change at all in the work, but altogether as it was before.

      Indeed, I perceived many men well-minded and studious of this book, to require a table for their ease and furtherance. Their honest desire I have fulfilled in the second edition, and have added thereto a plentiful table, which is also here inserted, which I have translated out of the Latin, wherein the principal matters discoursed in this book are named by their due titles in order of alphabet, and under every title is set forth a brief sum of the whole doctrine taught in this book concerning the matter belonging to that title or common-place; and therewith is added the book, chapter, and section or division of the chapter, where the same doctrine is more largely expressed and proved. And for the readier finding thereof, I have caused the number of the chapters to be set upon every leaf in the book, and quoted the sections also by their due numbers with the usual figures of algorism. And now at this last publishing, my friends, by whose charge it is now newly imprinted in a Roman letter and smaller volume, with divers other Tables which, since my second edition, were gathered by M. Marlorate, to be translated and here added for your benefit.

     Moreover, whereas in the first edition the evil manner of my scribbling hand, the interlining of my copy, and some other causes well known among workmen of that faculty, made very many faults to pass the printer, I have, in the second impression, caused the book to be composed by the printed copy, and corrected by the written; whereby it must needs be that it was much more truly done than the other was, as I myself do know above three hundred faults amended. And now at this last printing, the composing after a printed copy bringeth some ease, and the diligence used about the correction having been right faithfully looked unto, it cannot be but much more truly set forth. This also is performed, that the volume being smaller, with a letter fair and legible, it is of more easy price, that it may be of more common use, and so to more large communicating of so great a treasure to those that desire Christian knowledge for instruction of their faith, and guiding of their duties. Thus, on the printer's behalf and mine, your ease and commodity (good readers) provided for. Now resteth your own diligence, for your own profit, in studying it.

     To spend many words in commending the work itself were needless; yet thus much I think, I may both not unruly and not vainly say, that though many great learned men have written books of common-places of our religion, as Melancthon, Sarcerius, and others, whose works are very good and profitable to the Church of God, yet by the consenting Judgment of those that understand the same, there is none to be compared to this work of Calvin, both for his substantial sufficiency of doctrine, the sound declaration of truth in articles of our religion, the large and learned confirmation of the same, and the most deep and strong confutation of all old and new heresies; so that (the Holy Scriptures excepted) this is one of the most profitable books for all students of Christian divinity. Wherein (good readers), as I am glad for the glory of God, and for your benefit, that you may have this profit of my travel, so I beseech you let me have this use of your gentleness, that my doings may be construed to such good end as I have meant them; and that if any thing mislike you by reason of hardness, or any other cause that may seem to be my default, you will not forthwith condemn the work, but read it after; in which doing you will find (as many have confessed to me that they have found by experience) that those things which at the first reading shall displease you for hardness, shall be found so easy as so hard matter would suffer, and, for the most part, more easy than some other phrase which should with greater looseness and smoother sliding away deceive your understanding. I confess, indeed, it is not finely and pleasantly written, nor carrieth with it such delightful grace of speech as some great wise men have bestowed upon some foolisher things, yet it containeth sound truth set forth with faithful plainness, without wrong done to the author's meaning; and so, if you accept and use it, you shall not fail to have great profit thereby, and I shall think my labour very well employed.

     Thomas Norton.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

  • Acts 9
    Lecture 12
  • Acts 10-11
    Lecture 13
  • Acts 12-13
    Lecture 14

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Nurture your children
     11/16/2017    Bob Gass

     ‘Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’

(Eph 6:4) 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ESV

     We keep being shocked by stories of children killing teachers and other children in school, and then turning the gun on themselves. Two boys, aged twelve and thirteen, beat a man to death outside a convenience store just for the pleasure of watching him die. Another boy shot a man sitting in a car at a stop sign. When asked why, he replied, ‘Because he looked at me.’ What is causing this? Easy access to guns? Hours spent watching violent videos? Those may be factors. But after extensive research, scientists are concluding that violent behaviour is often related to early childhood abuse and neglect. When a baby spends three days or more in dirty nappies, or when children are burned, beaten, or ignored, their blood is filled with stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline among others. These hormones bombard and affect the brains of those children. So for the rest of their lives they will not think and feel what others do. They actually lose the capacity to empathise with those who suffer. The same research has concluded that babies and young children are incredibly vulnerable between birth and three years of age. If their families don’t protect them, love and care for them, society will pay a terrible price for it in years to come. The Bible uses the word ‘nurture’. It means to love, protect, encourage, compliment, and try to bring out the best in your child.

Ezek 33-34
James 5

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “My Country ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty…” This patriotic hymn was written by Samuel Francis Smith, who died this day, November 16, 1895. A classmate at Harvard with the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, he became a Baptist minister and professor. While in seminary, Samuel heard the national anthems for England, Sweden and Russia. He sat down and within a half hour wrote My Country ’tis of Thee. The fourth verse reads: “Our fathers’ God, to thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing; Long may our land be bright With freedom’s holy light: Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King.”

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God

     I read in a religious paper, "Nothing is more important than to teach children to use the sign of the cross." Nothing? Not compassion, nor veracity, nor justice? Voila l'ennemi.

     One must, however, walk warily, for the truth that religion as a department has really no right to exist can be misunderstood. Some will conclude that this illegitimate department ought to be abolished. Others will think, coming nearer to the truth, that it ought to cease to be departmental by being extended to the whole of life, but will misinterpret this. They will think it means that more and more of our secular transactions should be "opened with prayer," that a wearisomely explicit pietism should infest our talk, that there should be no more cakes and ale. A third sort, well aware that God still rules a very small part of their lives, and that "a departmental religion" is no good, may despair. It would have to be carefully explained to them to be "still only a part" is not the same as being a permanent department. In all of us God "still" holds only a part. D-Day is only a week ago. The bite so far taken out of Normandy shows small on the map of Europe. The resistance is strong, the casualties heavy, and the event uncertain. There is, we have to admit, a line of demarcation between God's part in us and the enemy's region. But it is, we hope, a fighting line; not a frontier fixed by agreement.

     But I suspect the real misunderstanding of Vidler's talk lay elsewhere. We have been speaking of religion as a pattern of behavior-which, if contentedly departmental, cannot really be Christian behavior. But people also, and more often, use religion to mean a system of beliefs. When they heard that Vidler wanted a church with "less religion," they thought he meant that the little-the very little-which liberal theology has still left of the "faith once given" was to be emptied out. Hence someone asked, "Is he a Theist?"

     Well, he certainly is. He wants-I think he wants very earnestly-to retain some Christian doctrines. But he is prepared to scrap a good deal. "Traditional doctrines" are to be tested. Many things will have to be "outgrown" or "survive chiefly as venerable archaisms or as fairy-stories." He feels quite happy about this undefined program of jettison because he trusts in the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit. A noble faith; provided, of course, there is any such being as the Holy Spirit. But I suppose His existence is itself one of the "traditional doctrines" which, on Vidler's premises, we might any day find we had outgrown. So with the doctrine­ Vidler calls it ''the fact"-that man is "a two-fold creature­ not only a political creature, but also a spiritual being." Vidler and you and I (and Plato) think it a fact. Tens of thousands, perhaps millions, think it a fantasy. The neutral description of it is "a traditional doctrine." Do you think he means that these two doctrines-and why just these two?¬ are the hard core of his belief, exempt from the threat of rejection which overhangs all other doctrines? Or would he say that, as the title of the book implies, he is only "taking soundings"-and if the line is not long enough to reach bottom, soundings can yield only negative information to the navigator?

  Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fulness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariable wise.
--- J.I. Packer

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.
--- Thomas Merton

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.
--- Galileo Galilei

Scientists often have a naive faith that if only they could discover enough facts about a problem, these facts would somehow arrange themselves in a compelling and true solution.
--- Theodosius Dobzhansky

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 28:23-24
     by D.H. Stern

23     He who rebukes another person
in the end gets more thanks than the flatterer.

24     Whoever robs mother or father and says, “That’s not a crime!”
is comrade to the destroyer.

Proverbs from the Complete Jewish Bible : Eng Vers of Tanakh (OT) & B'Rit Hadashah (NT)

My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Still human!

     Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. --- 1 Cor. 10:31.

     The great marvel of the Incarnation slips into ordinary childhood’s life; the great marvel of the Transfiguration vanishes in the devil-possessed valley; the glory of the Resurrection descends into a breakfast on the sea-shore. This is not an anticlimax, but a great revelation of God.

     The tendency is to look for the marvellous in our experience; we mistake the sense of the heroic for being heroes. It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us. If we do not want medieval haloes, we want something that will make people say—‘What a wonderful man of prayer he is!’ ‘What a pious, devoted woman she is!’ If you are rightly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the sublime height where no one ever thinks of noticing you, all that is noticed is that the power of God comes through you all the time.

     'Oh, I have had a wonderful call from God!’ It takes Almighty God Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty to the glory of God. It takes God’s Spirit in us to make us so absolutely humanly His that we are utterly unnoticeable. The test of the life of a saint is not success, but faithfulness in human life as it actually is. We will set up success in Christian work as the aim; the aim is to manifest the glory of God in human life, to live the life hid with Christ in God in human conditions. Our human relationships are the actual conditions in which the ideal life of God is to be exhibited.

My Utmost for His Highest

After Jericho
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                After Jericho

  There is an aggression of fact
to be resisted successfully
only in verse, that fights language
with its own tools. Smile, poet,
among the ruins of a vocabulary
you blew your trumpet against.
It was a conscript army; your words,
every one of them, are volunteers.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     During the rabbinic period, silent prayer expresses the level of those individuals who need not turn to God exclusively because of crises but can worship God for His own sake. Silent prayer is a form of worship for one who, even under conditions of exile, can appreciate the joy of contemplating God’s perfection. The form of worship for the majority of the community who cannot transcend the historical conditions of exile is petitional prayer. In chapter thirty-one of the Guide, Maimonides attempts to show how historical conditions influence the community’s understanding of religious worship. Once the community would be liberated from its condition of suffering and abuse, it too would be capable of aspiring toward disinterested forms of worship. Under conditions of messianism, contemplative prayer would not be rejected as absurd by members of the community.

     Maimonides’ analysis of the three forms of worship reflects his understanding of the relationship between the individual and the community within Jewish spirituality. The three forms of worship—sacrifices, verbal petitional prayer, and silent contemplative prayer—symbolize three stages of Jewish history, i.e., the biblical, rabbinic, and messianic. Whereas the prime concern of the biblical period was to uproot idolatry, the rabbinic period focused on strengthening the community’s ability to withstand the cynicism which the sufferings of exile could bring about. Messianic prayer (contemplative prayer), reflects the worship of a community not burdened by the political conditions of oppression.

     Maimonides’ distinction in the Guide between petitional and contemplative prayer does not indicate, that as a philosopher, he had negated the halakhic modes of worship of his tradition. The Halakhah, according to Maimonides, defines prayer as avodah shebelev, worship of the heart. The form taken by this worship of the heart depends upon the religious understanding and spiritual capacities of the individual. (The Lonely Man of Faith ) One need not necessarily look to Avicenna to account for Maimonides’ approach to contemplative prayer, for it reflects his deeply Jewish attitude to the meaning of disinterested love of God. Just as he distinguished between olam ha-ba and messianism, so too does Maimonides distinguish between contemplative and petitional prayer.

     The different regulations which apply to verbal prayer and to sacrifices in the Bible reflect the wisdom of the divine lawgiver in His attempt to lead the community from a lower level of spirituality to the highest level of human development, the love of God. The Torah provides a way in which both the community and its singular individuals can find expression for their spiritual capacities. Just as God, in the Bible, complements sacrifices with verbal prayer, so too does Maimonides, in the Guide, complement petitional prayer with silent, contemplative prayer.

     As a religious thinker, Maimonides understood different historical periods from the perspective of stages in man’s worship of God. Maimonides was not simply a cultural anthropologist or a sociologist doing work in comparative religion. That his work is of interest to later studies in comparative religion should not confuse us into thinking that this was his intention. (Philosophies of Judaism ) The impetus to look at the Bible from a historical perspective has its source in the tradition’s developmental approach to worship. Just as the rabbis proclaimed that in the rabbinic period the community had overcome the biblical Jews’ passion for idolatry, so too did Maimonides claim that messianism would enable the community to aspire toward higher forms of worship. The tradition, as understood by Maimonides, was cognizant of a development in worship from the biblical to the rabbinic and, ultimately, to the messianic period of history. To view the Bible, therefore, as representing the first stage of worship is within the tradition’s concept of religious history. Maimonides’ understanding of biblical history is derived from his study of Sabeanism; his historical approach to the Bible is rooted in his understanding of talmudic Judaism.

     Thus far it has been shown that Maimonides’ description of the relationship of petitional to contemplative prayer, and his explanation of sacrifices in terms of the biblical struggle against idolatry, reflect the consistent approach in his legal works regarding the relationship between the individual and community within Halakhah. Let us continue the analysis of how Maimonides led the philosophic Jew to understand how Torah and nature reflect the same God. The chapters in the Guide which deal with Maimonides’ historical approach to commandments are preceded by a number of chapters which indicate that Maimonides’ theory of commandments must be understood together with the broader religious concerns which we have discussed until now.

ISBN-13: 978-0827602557

Take Heart
     November 16

     Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” --- John 20:27.

     How [else] are we to deal with those who are in intellectual difficulty?  Classic Sermons on Faith and DoubtTurn away from the reason and open a new door into the practical side of human nature. Entreat doubters not to postpone their usefulness until they have settled the problems of the universe. Tell them those problems will never all be settled, that their lives will be done before they have begun to settle them, and ask them what they are doing with their lives meantime. Invite them to deal with the moral and practical difficulties of the world and leave the intellectual difficulties as they go along. To spend time on these is to prove the less important before the more important, and as the French say, The good is the enemy of the best. It is a good thing to think; it is a better thing to work—it is a better thing to do good. And you have them there. They can’t get beyond that. Tell them, in fact, that there are two organs of knowledge, the one reason, the other obedience. And now tell them, since they have tried the first and found the little in it, just for a moment try the second. And when they ask whom they are to obey, tell them there is but one, and lead them to the historical figure who calls all people to him, the one perfect life, the Savior of humankind, the one Light of the world. Ask them to begin to obey Christ, and, doing his will, they will know whether his teaching comes from God.

     That is about the only thing you can do with people, to get them into practical contact with the needs of the world and to let them lose their intellectual difficulties meantime. Don’t ask them to give them up altogether. Tell them to solve them afterward one by one if they can, but meantime to give their lives to Christ and their time to the kingdom of God. You fetch them completely around when you do that. You have taken them away from the false side of their natures, and for the first time in their lives perhaps, they put things in their true place. They put their natures in the relations in which they ought to be, and they then only begin to live. By obedience they will soon become learners—Christ will teach them things. And they will find whatever problems are solvable gradually solved as they go along the path of practical duty.
--- Henry Drummond

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   
     November 16
     The Legacy

     On Sunday, November 16, 1572, Robert Fairley of Edinburgh didn’t go home after church. The reformer John Knox lay dying nearby, and he went to see him. Fairley sat at a table near Knox’s bed, both men sharing food and fellowship.

     Fairley, longing to be the last to see the great reformer alive, followed Knox’s illness. Sensing the end, he visited again on Thursday. Waiting till everyone else had left the room, he crept beside the dying man. Knox looked over and whispered, “I have been greatly indebted to you. I shall never be able to recompense you, but I commit you to One who is able to do it—to the Eternal God.”

     Fairley never forgot those words. He told his children. They told theirs. The story passed from generation to generation until young Marion Fairley was told, “Your great grandfather was committed in prayer to the Eternal God by his servant, John Knox.” Moved by that legacy and by her father’s preaching, Marion gave herself to Christ.

     Marion grew up to marry godly William Veitch. One night soldiers burst in, carrying William to prison for his Gospel preaching. “All the time the officers were in the house,” Marion later wrote, “(the Lord) supported me so that I was not in the least discouraged before them.”

     Presently, news arrived that William was to be hanged. Marion rode horseback through a blinding January snowstorm to Morpeth jail, arriving at midnight. At daybreak she was given a few moments with her husband, “then I went to a friend’s house and wept my fill.” That day prosecutor Thomas Bell announced, “Veitch will hang tomorrow as he deserves.”

     But that Evening prosecutor Bell tarried at a friend’s house, drinking and talking until past ten. The night was dark and cold when he left for home. He never arrived. Two days later his body was found in the river, frozen up to his arms in solid ice.

     William Veitch was released, and he and Marion lived to ripe old age, passing their godly heritage on to their children and grandchildren.

     These are things we learned from our ancestors, And we will tell them to the next generation. We won’t keep secret the glorious deeds And the mighty miracles of the LORD.
--- Psalm 78:3,4.

On This Day, 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - November 16

     “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.” --- Lamentations 3:24.

     It is not “The Lord is partly my portion,” nor “The Lord is in my portion”; but he himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not his grace merely, nor his love, nor his covenant, but Jehovah himself. He has chosen us for his portion, and we have chosen him for ours. It is true that the Lord must first choose our inheritance for us, or else we shall never choose it for ourselves; but if we are really called according to the purpose of electing love, we can sing ---

     “Lov’d of my God for him again
     With love intense I burn;
     Chosen of him ere time began,
     I choose him in return.”

     The Lord is our all-sufficient portion. God fills himself; and if God is all-sufficient in himself, he must be all- sufficient for us. It is not easy to satisfy man’s desires. When he dreams that he is satisfied, anon he wakes to the perception that there is somewhat yet beyond, and straightway the horse-leech in his heart cries, “Give, give.” But all that we can wish for is to be found in our divine portion, so that we ask, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Well may we “delight ourselves in the Lord” who makes us to drink of the river of his pleasures. Our faith stretches her wings and mounts like an eagle into the heaven of divine love as to her proper dwelling-place. “The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage.” Let us rejoice in the Lord always; let us show to the world that we are a happy and a blessed people, and thus induce them to exclaim, “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

          Evening - November 16

     “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.” --- Isaiah 33:17.

     The more you know about Christ the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of him; and the more deeply you study his transactions in the eternal covenant, his engagements on your behalf as the eternal Surety, and the fulness of his grace which shines in all his offices, the more truly will you see the King in his beauty. Be much in such outlooks. Long more and more to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus after a better sort than we could have seen him if we had lived in the days of his flesh. Would that our conversation were more in heaven, and that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more resplendence. Beloved, it is very probable that we shall have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before, when we come to die. Many saints in dying have looked up from amidst the stormy waters, and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea, and heard him say, “It is I, be not afraid.” Ah, yes! when the tenement begins to shake, and the clay falls away, we see Christ through the rifts, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven comes streaming in. But if we want to see face to face the “King in his beauty” we must go to heaven for the sight, or the King must come here in person. O that he would come on the wings of the wind! He is our Husband, and we are widowed by his absence; he is our Brother dear and fair, and we are lonely without him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: when shall the day break and the shadows flee away? Oh, long-expected day, begin!

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     November 16


     Robert Robinson, 1735–1790

     O Lord, You are my God: I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. (Isaiah 25:1)

     It would be enlightening if the people in the pew could stand on the platform and observe the congregational singing during an average church service. One would soon concur that there are many who appear to have attended church without the express purpose of having a personal encounter with God. Comparatively few people reveal evidence of losing themselves in worship and praise or of appropriating the great truths about which they sing.

     How different would be our times of corporate praise if each of us would heed the apostle Paul’s teaching of “singing with the Spirit and with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Not all of us are able to sing tunefully, but everyone in whom the Spirit of God dwells can and should respond with joyful praise when the opportunity is presented.

     During his early teen years, Robert Robinson lived in London, where he mixed with a notorious gang of hoodlums and led a life of debauchery. At the age of 17 he attended a meeting where the noted evangelist George Whitefield was preaching. Robinson went for the purpose of “scoffing at those poor, deluded Methodists” and ended up professing faith in Christ as his Savior. Soon he felt called to preach the Gospel and subsequently became the pastor of a rather large Baptist church in Cambridge, England. Despite his young age, Robinson became known as an able minister and scholar, writing various theological books as well as several hymns, including these words written when he was just 23 years of age:

     Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above; praise the mount—I’m fixed upon it—mount of Thy redeeming love.
     Here I raise mine Ebenezer—hither by Thy help I’m come; and I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger wand’ring from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.
     O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wand’ring heart to Thee: Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it—prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart—O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

     For Today: 1 Samuel 7:10–12; Psalm 68:19; Zechariah 13:1; Romans 5:2

     Why not raise your “Ebenezer” (a memorial to God’s faithfulness) with these words ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

     2d. The holiness of God is not tainted by this, because he was under no obligation to hinder their commission of sin. Ceasing to act, whereby to prevent a crime or mischief, brings not a person permitting it under guilt, unless where he is under an obligation to prevent it; but God, in regard of his absolute dominion, cannot be charged with any such obligation. One man, that doth not hinder the murder of another, when it is in his power, is guilty of the murder in part; but, it is to be considered, that he is under a tie by nature, as being of the same kind, and being the other’s brother, by a communion of blood, also under an obligation of the law of charity, enacted by the common Sovereign of the world: but what he was there upon God, since the infinite transcendancy of his nature, and his sovereign dominion, frees him from any such obligation (Job 9:12)? “If he takes away, who shall say, What dost thou?” God might have prevented the fall of men and angels; he might have confirmed them all in a state of perpetual innocency; but where is the obligation? He had made the creature a debtor to himself, but he owed nothing to the creature. Before God can be charged with any guilt in this case, it must be proved, not only that he could, but that he was bound to hinder it. No person can be justly charged with another’s fault, merely for not preventing it, unless he be bound to prevent it; else, not only the first sin of angels and man would be imputed to God, as the Author, but all the sins of men. He could not be obliged by any law, because he had no superior to impose any law upon him; and it will be hard to prove that he was obliged, from his own nature, to prevent the entrance of sin, which he would use as an occasion to declare his own holiness, so transcendent a perfection of his nature, more than ever it could have been manifested by a total exclusion of it, viz. in the death of Christ. He is no more bound, in his own nature, to preserve, by supernatural grace, his creature from falling, after he had framed him with a sufficient strength to stand, than he was obliged, in his own nature, to bring his creature into being when it was nothing. He is not bound to create a rational creature, much less bound to create him with supernatural gifts; though, since God would make a rational creaturc, he could not but make him with a natural uprightness and rectitude.

     God did as much for angels and men as became a wise governor: he had published his law, backed it with severe penalties, and the creature wanted not a natural strength to observe and obey it. Had not man power to obey all the precepts of the law, as well as one? How was God bound to give him more grace, since what he had already was enough to shield him, and keep up his resistance against all the power of hell? It had been enough to have pointed his will against the temptation, and he had kept off the force of it. Was there any promise past to Adam of any further grace which he could plead as a tie upon God? No such voluntary limit upon God’s supreme dominion appears upon record. Was anything due to man which he had not? anything promised him which was not performed? What action of debt, then, can the creature bring against God? Indeed, when man began to neglect the light of his own reason, and became inconsiderate of the precept, God might have enlightened his understanding by a special flash, a supernatural beam, and imprinted upon him a particular consideration of the necessity of his obedience, the misery he was approaching to by his sin, the folly of any apprehension of an equality in knowledge; he might have convinced him of the falsity of the serpent’s arguments, and uncased to him the venom that lay under those baits. But how doth it appear that God was bound to those additional acts when he had already lighted up in him a “spirit, which was the candle of the Lord” (Prov. 20:27), whereby he was able to discern all, if he had attended to it. It was enough that God did not necessitate man to sin, did not counsel him to it; that he had given him sufficient warning in the threatening, and sufficient strength in his faculties, to fortify him against temptation. He gave him what was due to him as a creature of his own framing; he withdrew no help from him, that was due to him as a creature, and what was not due he was not bound to impart. Man did not beg preserving grace of God, and God was not bound to offer it, when he was not petitioned for it especially: yet if he had begged it, God having before furnished him sufficiently, might, by the right of his sovereign dominion, have denied it without any impeachment of his holiness and righteousness. Though he would not in such a case have dealt so bountifully with his creature as he might have done, yet he could not have been impleaded, as dealing unrighteously with his creature. The single word that God bad already uttered, when he gave him his precept, was enough to oppose against all the devil’s wiles, which tended to invalidate that word: the understanding of man could not imagine that the word of God was vainly spoken; and the very suggestion of the devil, as if the Creator should envy his creature, would have appeared ridiculous, if he had attended to the voice of his own reason. God had done enough for him, and was obliged to do no more, and dealt not unrighteously in leaving him to act according to the principles of his nature. To conclude, if God’s permission of sin were enough to charge it upon God, or if God had been obliged to give Adam supernatural grace, Adam, that had so capacious a brain, could not be without that plea in his mouth, “Lord thou mightest have prevented it; the commission of it by me could not have been without thy permission of it:” or, “Thou hast been wanting to me, as the author of my nature.” No such plea is brought by Adam into the court, when God tried and cast him; no such pleas can have any strength in them. Adam had reason enough to know, that there was sufficient reason to overrule such a plea.

     Since the permission of sin casts no dirt upon the holiness of God, as I think hath been cleared, we may under this head consider two things more.

     1. That God’s permission of sin is not so much as his restraint or limitation of it. Since the entrance of the first sin into the world by Adam, God is more a hinderer than a permitter of it. If he hath permitted that which he could have prevented, he prevents a world more, that he might, if he pleased, permit: the hedges about sin are larger than the outlets; they are but a few streams that glide about the world, in comparison of that mighty torrent he dams up both in men and devils. He that understands what a lake of Sodom is in every man’s nature, since the universal infection of human nature, as the apostle describes it (Rom. 3:9, 10), must acknowledge, that if God should cast the reins upon the necks of sinful men, they would run into thousands of abominable crimes, more than they do the impression of all natural laws would be raced out, the world would be a public stew, and a more bloody slaughter house; human society would sink into a chaos; no starlight of commendable morality would be seen in it; the world would be no longer an earth, but an hell, and have lain deeper in wickedness than it doth. If God did not limit sin, as he doth the sea, and put bars to the waves of the heart, as well as those of the waters, and say of them, “Hitherto you shall go, and no further;” man hath such a furious ocean in him, as would overflow the banks; and where it makes a breach in one place, it would in a thousand, if God should suffer it to act according to its impetuous current. As the devil hath lust enough to destroy all mankind, if God did not bridle him; deal with every man as he did with Job, ruin their comforts, and deform their bodies with scabs; infect religion with a thousand more errors; fling disorders into commonwealths, and make them as a fiery furnace, full of nothing but flame; if he were not chained by that powerful arm, that might let him loose to fulfil his malicious fury; what rapines, murders, thefts, would be committed, if he did not stint him! Abimelech would not only lust after Sarah, but deflour her; Laban not only pursue Jacob, but rifle him; Saul not only hate David, but murder him; David not only threaten Nabal, but root him up, and his family, did not God girdle in the wrath of man: a greater remainder of wrath is pent in, than flames out , which yet swells for an outlet. God may be concluded more holy in preventing men’s sins, than the author of sin in permitting some; since, were it not for his restraints by the pull-back of conscience, and infused motions and outward impediments, the world would swarm more with this cursed brood.

     2. His permission of sin is in order to his own glory, and a greater good. It is no reflection upon the Divine goodness to leave man to his own conduct, whereby such a deformity as sin sets foot in the world; since he makes his wisdom illustrious in bringing good out of evil, and a good greater than that evil he suffered to spring up. God did not permit sin, as sin, or permit it barely for itself: As sin is not lovely in its own nature, so neither is the permission of sin intrinsically good or amiable for itself, but for those ends aimed at in the permission of it. God permitted sin, but approved not of the object of that permission, sin; because that, considered in its own nature, is solely evil: nor can we think that God could approve of the act of permission, considered only in itself as an act; but as it respected that event which his wisdom would order by it. We cannot suppose that God should permit sin, but for some great and glorious end: for it is the manifestation of his own glorious perfections he intends in all the acts of his will (Prov. 16:4), “The Lord hath made all things for himself”— פעל hath wrought all things; which is not only his act of creation, but ordination: “for himself;” that is, for the discovery of the excellency of his nature, and the communication of himself to his creature. Sin indeed, in its own nature, hath no tendency to a good end; the womb of it teems with nothing but monsters; it is a spurn at God’s sovereignty, and a slight of his goodness: it both deforms and torments the person that acts it; it is black and abominable, and hath not a mite of goodness in the nature of it. If it ends in any good, it is only from that Infinite transcendency of skill, that can bring good out of evil, as well as light out of darkness. Therefore God did not permit it as sin, but as it was an occasion for the manifestation of his own glory. Though the goodness of God would have appeared in the preservation of the world, as well as it did in the creation of it, yet his mercy could not have appeared without the entrance of sin, because the object of mercy is a miserable creature; but man could not be miserable as long as he remained innocent. The reign of sin opened a door for the reign and triumph of grace (Rom. 5:21), “As sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness to eternal life;” without it, the bowels of mercy had never sounded, and the ravishing music of Divine grace could never have been heard by the creature. Mercy, which renders God so amiable, could never else have beamed out to the world. Angels and men upon this occasion beheld the stirrings of Divine grace, and the tenderness of Divine nature, and the glory of the Divine persons in their several functions about the redemption of man, which had else been a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed; the song of glory to God, and good will to men in a way of redemption had never been sung by them. It appears in his dealing with Adam, that he permitted his fall, not only to show his justice in punishing, but principally his mercy in rescuing; since he proclaims to him first the promise of a Redeemer to “bruise the serpent’s head,” before he settled the punishment he should smart under in the world (Gen. 3:15–17). And what fairer prospect could the creature have of the holiness of God, and his hatred of sin, than in the edge of that sword of justice, which punished it in the sinner; but glittered more in the punishment of a Surety so near allied to him? Had not man been criminal, he could not have been punishable, nor any been punishable for him: and the pulse of Divine holiness could not have eaten so quick, and been so visible, without an exercise of his vindicative justice. He left man’s mutable nature, to fall under righteousness, that thereby he might commend the righteousness of his own nature (Rom. 3:7). Adam’s sin in its nature tended to the ruin of the world, and God takes an occasion from it for the glory of his grace in the redemption of the world; he brings forth thereby a new scene of wonders from heaven, and a surprising knowledge on earth; as the sun breaks out more strongly after a night of darkness and tempest. As God in creation framed a chaos by his power, to manifest his wisdom in bringing order out of disorder, light out of darkness, beauty out of confusion and deformity, when he was able by a word to have made all creatures stand up in their beauty, without the precedency of a chaos; so God permitted a moral chaos to manifest a greater wisdom in the repairing a broken image, and restoring a deplorable creature, and bringing out those perfections of his nature, which had else been wrapt up in a perpetual silence in his own bosom. It was therefore very congruous to the holiness of God to permit that which he could make subservient for his own glory, and particularly for the manifestation of this attribute of holiness, which seems to be in opposition to such a permission.

     Prop. V. The holiness of God is not blemished by his concurrence with the creature in the material part of a sinful act. Some to free God from having any hand in sin, deny his concurrence to the actions of the creature; because, if he concurs to a sinful action, he concurs to the sin also: not understanding how there can be a distinction between the act, and the sinfulness or viciousness of it; and how God can concur to a natural action, without being stained by that moral evil which cleaves to it. For the understanding of this, observe,

     1. There is a concurrence of God to all the acts of the creature (Acts 17:28); “in him we live, and move, and have our being.” We depend upon God in our acting as well as in our being: there is as much an efficacy of God in our motion as in our production; as none have life without his power in producing it, so none have any operation without his providence concurring with it. In him, or by him, that is, by his virtue preserving and governing our motions, as well as by his power bringing us into being. Hence man is compared to an axe (Isa. 10:15), an instrument that hath no action, without the co-operation of a superior agent handling it: and the actions of the second causes are ascribed to God; the grass, that is, the product of the sun, rain, and earth, he is said to make to grow upon the mountains (Psalm 147:8); and the skin and flesh, which is by natural generation, he is said to clothe us with (Job 10:5), in regard of his co- working with second causes, according to their natures. As nothing can exist, so nothing can operate without him; let his concurrence be removed, and the being and action of the creature cease; remove the sun from the horizon, or a candle from a room, and the light which flowed from either of them ceaseth. Without God’s preserving and concurring power, the course of nature would sink, and the creation be in vain. All created things depend upon God as agents, as well as beings, and are subordinate to him in a way of action, as well as in a way of existing. If God suspend his influence from their action, they would cease to act, as the fire did from burning the three children, as well as if God suspend his influence from their being, they would cease to be. God supports the nature whereby actions are wrought, the mind where actions are consulted, and the will where actions are determined, and the motive-power whereby actions are produced. The mind could not contrive, nor the hand act, a wickedness, if God did not support the power of the one in designing, and the strength of the other in executing a wicked intention. Every faculty in its being, and every faculty in its motion, hath a dependence upon the influence of God. To make the creature independent upon God in anything which speaks perfection, as action considered as action is, is to make the creature a sovereign being. Indeed, we cannot imagine the concurrence of God to the good actions of men since the fall, without granting a concurrence of God to evil actions; because there is no action so purely good but hath a mixture of evil in it, though it takes its denomination of good from the better part (Eccles. 7:20), “There is no man that doth good, and sins not.”

     2. Though the natural virtue of doing a sinful action be from God, and supported by him, yet this doth not blemish the holiness of God; while God concurs with them in the act, he instils no evil into men.

     (1.) No act, in regard of the substance of it, is evil. Most of the actions of our faculties, as they are actions, might have been in the state of innocency. Eating is an act Adam would have used if he had stood firm, but not eating to excess. Worship was an act that should have been performed to God in innocence, but not hypocritically. Every action is good by a physical goodness, as it is an act of the mind or hand, which have a natural goodness by creation; but every action is not morally good: the physical goodness of the action depends on God, the moral evil on the creature. There is no action, as a corporeal action, is prohibited by the law of God; but as it springs from an evil disposition, and is tainted by a venomous temper of mind. There is no action so bad, as attended with such objects and circumstances; but if the objects and circumstances were changed, might be a brave and commendable action: so that the moral goodness or badness of an act is not to be esteemed from the substance of the act, which hath always a physical goodness; but from the objects, circumstances, and constitution of the mind in the doing of it. Worship is an act good in itself; but the worship of an image is bad in regard of the object. Were that act of worship directed to God that is paid to a statue, and offered up to him with a sincere frame of mind, it would be morally good. The act, in regard of its substance, is the same in both, and considered as separated from the object to which the worship is directed, hath the same real goodness in regard of the substance; but when you consider this action in relation to the different objects, the one hath a moral goodness, and the other a moral evil. So in speaking: speaking being a motion of the tongue in the forming of words, is an excellency belonging to a reasonable creature; an endowment bestowed, continued, and supported by God. Now, if the same tongue forms words whereby it curseth God this minute, and forms words whereby it blesses and praises God the next minute, the faculty of speaking is the same, the motion of the tongue is the same in pronouncing the name of God either in a way of cursing or blessing (James 3:9, 10); it is the “same mouth that blesseth and curseth;” and the motion of it is naturally good in regard of the substance of the act in both; it is the use of an excellent power God hath given, and which God preserves, in the use of it. But the estimation of the moral goodness or evil is not from the act itself, but from the disposition of the mind. Once more: killing, as an act is good; nor is it unlawful as an act; for if so, God would never have commanded his people Israel to wage any war, and justice could not be done upon malefactors by the magistrate. A man were bound to sacrifice his life to the fury of an invader, rather than secure it by dispatching that of an enemy; but killing an innocent, or killing without authority, or out of revenge, is bad. It is not the material part of the act, but the object, manner , and circumstance, that makes it good or evil. It is no blemish to God’s holiness to concur to the substance of an action, without having any hand in the immorality of it; because, whatsoever is real in the substance of the action might be done without evil. It is not evil as it is an act, as it is a motion of the tongue or hand, for then every motion of the tongue or hand would be evil.

The Existence and Attributes of God

Acts 9
     John MacArthur

Acts 9:1–9
Astounding Conversion of Paul

Acts 9:10–17
Paul’s Transformation pt 1

Acts 9:10–17
Paul’s Transformation pt 2

John MacArthur

Creation 1-3
     Garry DeWeese

Creation Belongs to God

Creation as God's Temple

Humanity's Place in Creation

Garry DeWeese | Biola University

Acts 9-10
     Jon Courson

Acts 9:4
Persecuting Jesus?
Jon Courson

click here
July 22, 2018

Acts 9
Jon Courson

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July 25, 2018

Acts 10
Jon Courson

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August 1, 2018

Acts 9:25
Let Down? Look Up!
Jon Courson

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Acts 9:32-43
What Would Jesus Do?
Jon Courson

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Acts 9
Let Down? Look Up!
Jon Courson

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Acts 10:9-20
Jon Courson

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Acts 10
Jon Courson

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Jon Courson

Acts 9-10
     Skip Heitzig

Acts 9:20-43
Skip Heitzig

Acts 10
Skip Heitzig

Skip Heitzig | Calvary Chapel

Acts 9-10
     Paul LeBoutillier

Acts 9:1-32
The Conversion of Paul
Paul LeBoutillier

October 13, 2014

Acts 9:32-43
The Ministry of Peter
Paul LeBoutillier

October 19, 2014

Acts 10
What God Has Made Clean
Paul LeBoutillier

October 26, 2014

Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Acts 9-10
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Synopsis | As we study through the first half of Acts 9, we witness the dramatic conversion of Saul and the courageous obedience of Ananias.

Kicking Against the Goads
Acts 9:1-19
s1-493 | 06-27-2010

Only audio available | click here

Synopsis | As we continue on through Acts 9, we gain understanding as to what was going on in the early church at the time. We study the drastic change in Saul’s life, Peter’s ministry and the much-loved Tabitha.

Acts 9:20-43
m1-508 | 06-30-2010

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Synopsis | Our text, Acts 10:34-36, talks about the nation that fears God and does what is right. What does this mean for America? We take some time on this Fourth of July to look at our godly heritage as a nation and to ponder how we as Christians should contribute to our country’s future.

4th of July 2010
Acts 10:34-36
s1-494 | 07-04-2010

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Synopsis | In this ground-breaking time for the early church, the Lord uses Peter and Cornelius to show the rest of the believers that salvation is for everyone - Jews AND Gentiles. As believers today, we are still reaping the rich benefits of these godly men and their bold obedience unto the Lord.

Acts 10
m1-509 | 07-07-2010

Only audio available | click here


Acts 10
Lessons From A
Jew And A Gentile
Gary Hamrick

May 14, 2023

Acts 9:1-9
Two Questions
David Guzik

Acts 9:10-31
A Certain Disciple
David Guzik

Acts 9:31-43
Four Miracles
David Guzik

Acts 10:1-23
The Conversion of Peter
David Guzik

Acts 10:24-48
Whoever Believes in Him
David Guzik

Eric Metaxas from Ryan
Eric Metaxas | Harvest

Fine Tuned Universe?
William Lane Craig | Reasonable Faith

Can We Be "Good" Without God?
William Lane Craig | Reasonable Faith

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
William Lane Craig | Reasonable Faith