Acts 14 - 15
Paul and Barnabas at IconiumActs 14:1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.
Paul and Barnabas at Lystra8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” In the end, only the prophet knows where a nation stands and where the outer boundary that God has placed on its life lies (see Acts 14:15-17; 17:26-28). No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
Paul Stoned at Lystra19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.
The Jerusalem CouncilActs 15:1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 “ ‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’
The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
Paul and Barnabas Separate36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
What I'm Reading
Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior”?
By J. Warner Wallace 11/15/2017
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior is an ancient text purportedly providing detail about the childhood of Jesus. But is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it really written by eyewitnesses who observed Jesus as a child? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reported. The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who would have truly known Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this fictional account was rejected by the early Church. In spite of this, The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior still references accurate details related to Jesus. Although it is a legendary fabrication written by an author hoped to provide detail about the childhood of Jesus, much can still be learned about the historic Jesus from this late text:
The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior (450-550AD)
This Infancy Gospel (like other apocryphal Infancy Gospels) was likely written to satisfy the curiosity of those who wanted more detail related to the childhood of Jesus. It appears to be a compilation written originally in Syriac and then later translated into Arabic, and it clearly draws from (and amplifies) information from prior Infancy Gospels. The document borrows heavily from The Infancy Gospel of James for material related to the Virgin Mary, from The Infancy Gospel of Thomas for material related to the childhood of Jesus, and then provides additional information (from an unknown source) related to the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt.
Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable?
This text appears very late in history; scholars date the compilation to the 5th-6th centuries. It is first mentioned by Isho’dad of Merv, (a 9th century Church leader in the Syrian Church) in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. The text contains a number of obvious embellishments on the Infancy Gospels of Thomas and James, two documents that already appear too late in history to contain true eyewitness accounts. The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior is a late fictional account drawing from other fictional documents from the apocrypha.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Blaming the Reformation for Secularism?
By Justin Taylor 10/30/2017
Baylor recently hosted a splendid conference on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, with talks by Mark Noll, Bruce Gordon, Beth Allison Barr, and many more. One of the most intriguing talks I attended was by Westminster Seminary’s Carl Trueman, who addressed the work of a trio of scholars—Charles Taylor, ( A Secular Age ) Carlos Eire, ( Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 ) and especially Brad Gregory ( The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society ) —who have blamed a host of modern ills on the Reformation. (Collin Hansen and TGC have recently produced a book on Taylor’s thought, ( A Secular Age ) in which Trueman is one of the contributors.) These ills include radical individualism, moral relativism, and an utterly fractured church and culture.
Most profoundly, they blame the Reformation for the secularism of modernity. This is not secularism as the “absence” of religion, but a secularism that turns religion into one choice among many, as opposed to an inheritance. It is also a secularism in which the world becomes “disenchanted,” and naturalistic explanations rule in science and in everyday life.
Trueman’s talk raised a number of problems with these types of criticisms. He readily conceded that modern Western culture is characterized by most of the ills highlighted by the Reformation’s critics. But how do we know the Reformation caused the ills, when there are so many other possible causes?
Trueman proposed that we consider material explanations for individualism, relativism, and secularism, as much as ideological and theological explanations. Here I want to give just one example of such material explanations: the advent of the automobile, a development that Trueman says was devastating to church discipline. Sure, the Reformation helped to inaugurate the fundamentally divided nature of Christendom, but the Catholic Church itself had long since aided that process in episodes such as its break with the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1054.
Trueman notes that religious “choice” remained quite limited at least until the era of disestablishment and religious liberty in the 19th century. (This is a Charles Taylor-inspired line of investigation also pursued by Lincoln Mullen in his book The Chance of Salvation, about which I interviewed Mullen recently.)
Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds and Evangelical History. You can follow him on Twitter.
Jesus, the Shema, and the Glorious Trinity
By Scott Redd 11/17/2017
The call of Deuteronomy 6:4–5, often referred to as the Shema (the first Hebrew word in v. 4, which means “Hear!”), is one of the most important texts of the old covenant mediated by Moses between God and the nation of Israel. It reads: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
The text was of great significance during the New Testament period, a significance that seems understood between Jesus and His interlocutors (Matt. 22:36–40; Mark 12:28–34; Luke 10:25–28). Students of the Bible who read the New Testament with an ear for the Shema will find references to it elsewhere among the new covenant writings. For instance, the Apostle Paul develops the Shema in 1 Corinthians 8:6 when he teaches that not only is God one, but this arrangement should be understood in a Trinitarian sense: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” Paul is obviously not affirming two deities here. Rather, he is using the two divine names of the Old Testament, “God” and “Lord,” to help us understand the Father and the Son as two persons but nevertheless one God.
Elsewhere, Paul includes the Holy Spirit in his formulation of the Shema. In Ephesians 4:4–6, the Spirit figures prominently in the oneness of God: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Paul is clear that the Shema was not made obsolete by the Christian gospel, but rather that Christians are called to observe it in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ and the filling of the Spirit, both of whom are one with the Father in heaven.
Jesus’ Exposition Of The Shema | In the gospel of John, we find what is perhaps the most expansive theological reading and exposition of the Shema in the New Testament Scriptures. In the finale of His High Priestly Prayer (John 17:20–26), Jesus takes up the language of the Shema in order to describe first His identity with the Father, then His identity with His people, and finally the identity of His people with one another. In this passage, He prays that the oneness of the triune God would be expressed in the oneness of the people with the result of love.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Dr. Scott Redd is president and associate professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
The Blessing of a Bad Reputation
By Jon Bloom 11/17/2017
How important to you is people’s approval? How important to you is faithfully obeying God? Sometimes we’re forced to sacrifice one in order to have or do the other.
The last time you faced this choice, which did you choose? Was your choice an anomaly, or did it follow a pattern of previous choices?
A good reputation is a very good thing — better than silver or gold, the Bible says (Proverbs 22:1). The apostles required people’s approval of the seven men chosen to ensure Hellenistic widows stopped being neglected (Acts 6:3). They required a good reputation of elders, both inside and outside the church (1 Timothy 3:2, 7), as well as of widows supported by the church (1 Timothy 5:9–10). Cornelius (Acts 10:22), Timothy (Acts 16:1–2), and Ananias of Damascus (Acts 22:12) are documented, in Scripture, as men who had good reputations.
(Pr 22)22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. ESV
(Ac 6:3) 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. ESV
(1 Ti 3:2) 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, ESV
(1 Ti 3:7) 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. ESV
(1 Ti 5:9–10) 9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. ESV
(Ac 10:22) 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.” ESV
(Ac 16:1–2) 16 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. ESV
(Ac 22:12) 12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, ESV
We should want to be thought well of by others because of our integrity and the purity of our conduct. But it’s evil to want to be thought well of by others so much that, when push comes to shove, we compromise the integrity and purity of our conduct to get it.
When Good Is Very Bad | Consider this: the same God who commends a good reputation, also made this statement: (Luke 6:26)
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Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.John Bloom Books | Go to Books Page
Nine Points about Biblical Slavery and Skeptics’ Condemnation of the Bible
By S.J. Thomason
“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” (Letter from Paul to Philemon about Philemon’s slave)
The horrific treatment of slaves in the United States between 1619 and 1865 has led many Bible skeptics to question the often-mentioned practice of Biblical slavery, with the assumption that the systems of the U.S. were similar to those in Biblical times. The intention of the present blog is to offer contextual evidence that counters this assertion and other condemnations of the Bible.
1. The Bible is an historical textbook, which documented actual events in our history.
2. Slavery was an integral part of the functioning of societies in Biblical times.
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She's spent the past few decades attempting to reconcile the logic and rationality of nature with the unexplained force of love within. World religions address the latter, yet none so perfectly and comprehensively as Christianity. By diving into the academic, literary, and church communities, she's found many answers to the complicated questions of life, strengthening her commitment and dedication to Christ.
She's also discovered that life's short, sometimes ugly, and there are no guarantees. Spreading the Christian message should be everyone's priority, but far too many are either apathetic or burdened with materialistic pursuits. If she were to be hit by a bus tomorrow (which might very well happen), she'll rest in peace knowing that a permanent record of her discoveries of the way, the truth, and the life exists for her family, friends, and anyone else interested.
She can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @sjthomason1225
S.J. Thomason Books:
By Don Carson 7/28/2018
Here I shall squeeze two separate meditations into this space, one on each of the primary passages.
In Acts 15, it is critically important to understand what the dispute was about that called into existence what has since been labeled “the Jerusalem Council.” Some (Jewish) men traveled from Judea to Antioch and began teaching the believers there that even though they believed in Jesus they could not be saved unless they were circumcised in compliance with the law of Moses (Acts 15:1). Later history has attached the name Judaizers to these people.
From the perspective of the Judaizers, Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and one could not really follow this Jewish Messiah without becoming a Jew. Doubtless some Jews felt threatened by this influx of uncircumcised Gentiles into the church: the Jewish self-identity was in terrible danger of being diluted and even lost. If these Gentiles all became Jews, however, as signaled by circumcision, that danger would dissolve.
Yet the issue is deeper than the question of Jewish self-identity. It finally develops into the question of how your whole Bible is put together. The Judaizers elevated the law of Moses above Jesus. Jesus could be accepted as the Messiah, only if the result was a group of people even more devoutly committed to obeying the Mosaic Covenant — food laws, circumcision, temple culture and all. By contrast, the leaders point in another direction.
The law was never well obeyed by the Jews (Acts 15:10); why impose it on the Gentiles? More importantly, the revelation reflected in the old covenant points to Jesus. He is its goal, not its servant. Peter reminds the assembled crowd that in the Cornelius episode God poured out his Spirit on the Gentiles without their being circumcised (15:7-8). At issue, finally, is the freedom of God’s grace (Acts 15:11).
The reports of Paul and Barnabas prove helpful. James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus — by this time apparently the chief elder of the Jerusalem church — offers both a telling exposition of an Old Testament text and his own pastoral judgment (Acts 15:13-21). The combination wins the day — though the argument flares up repeatedly during the next few decades. Understand these issues aright, and your Bible comes together.
Judges 11:30-31, 34-40 is a stellar example of a promise that should not have been made, and a promise that should not have been kept. Despite strong biblical insistence that one should keep one’s vows, a vow to do something evil should not be kept but repented of, lest one commit two sins instead of one. Moreover, here is further evidence of the descending spiral of theological and moral stupidity in Israel at the time of judges.
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
Grim Reality of Last Days
By John MacArthur
11/7/2017 my son Chris texted his brothers, mom and me, "Just a thought why do people fear times of peace and accept times of war. We wait for peace and calm in the world but we never stop hurting one another. Just so much backwards thinking these days." I know he doesn't remember that text, but now on 11/8/2018, he texts us a very similat text after the killings in California. Regarding his two texts I think the video below is a must watch.
Isaiah preceeded Jesus by 8 centuries, 8 centuries!
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!
24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. ESV
The following is an excerpt from an excellent teaching I listened to right after Chris texted his question.
Perspectives on Social Ethics 1 - Theological Perspectives on Social Ethics
By Charles C. Ryrie 1976
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of four articles, first delivered by the author as the Louis S. Bauman Memorial Lectures at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, February 10–13, 1976.]
Many evangelicals trace the emergence of modern thought about the social implications of the gospel to Carl Henry’s book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, which first appeared in 1947. From that same author have also come such works is Christian personal ethics (1957), Aspects of Christian social ethics (Twin brooks series) (1964), and A plea for evangelical demonstration, (1971). Sociologist David Moberg wrote The Church as a Social Institution: The Sociology of American Religion in 1962 and Inasmuch in 1965. The subtitle of the latter was “Christian Social Responsibility in the Twentieth Century.” Sherwood Wirt, former editor of Decision magazine, wrote The Social Conscience of the Evangelical (1968), which is a strong call to action rather than a detailed discussion of the issues per se. A professor at Philadelphia College of Bible, Charles Y. Furness, produced in 1972 the book The Christian and social action, which gives blueprints for implementing social concern. In addition, there have been countless articles, seminars, and consultations on the subject.
When new evangelicalism set forth its manifesto, one of its main concerns was to do something about the social implications of the gospel which, in the opinion of the new evangelicals, fundamentalists had abandoned. Now a generation later, there has appeared the unbelievable spectacle of another group pushing aside the new evangelicals (actually the old new evangelicals) and insisting that they are the true new evangelicals. And so, what was new evangelicalism from the late 1940s through the 1960s is now being called in the 1970s the “establishment evangelicalism”; it has been supplanted by the self-proclaimed young evangelicals who, according to their own publicity, are the only ones who have a genuine social concern. Richard Quebedeaux, their spokesman, charges:
We have found social concern among Establishment Evangelicals to be often merely an offering of pious words rather than a demonstration of prophetic action. Hence, if we are looking for a powerful expression of spiritual renewal in Orthodox Christianity — one genuinely committed to reconciliation and active faith in a secular society — we shall have to search elsewhere.
The International Congress on World Evangelization held in Lausanne in 1974 devoted an entire article in its covenant to “Christian Social Responsibility.” Indeed, one receives the impression that this was one of the most significant articles in the entire covenant since almost every news story about the congress devoted considerable space to it. Carl Henry deplored the fact that the covenant “left ill doubt whether social concern … is a legitimate aspect of — and not simply compatible with and supplementary to — evangelism.”
In January, 1976 an ecumenical group of twenty-one Boston area theologians, replying to the conservative - oriented Hartford Declaration of the year before, deplored “escapist” tendencies among conservatives and sought to “anchor social concern in the biblical message and in the central tradition of the church.” Significantly, the New York Times noted that “omitted from the document were precise definitions of the significance of Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the nature of salvation.” One could go on, but the point is clear: this is a timely subject of current interest.
This first article in the series will examine the theological foundations for social ethics, and for this a systematic theology methodology will be employed. Then, using the methodology of biblical theology the other three articles will investigate the Old Testament perspective, Jesus’ perspective, and the perspective of the apostles on the subject.
Four areas of theology are often cited as relevant to social ethics. They are the doctrine of God (theology proper), the doctrine of man (anthropology), the doctrine of the Christian life, and the doctrine of last things (eschatology).
The Doctrine Of God
One’s concept of God is basic to all other doctrines. Henry has correctly emphasized this point:
Christian doctrine is a harmonious unity whose main axis is the nature of God. For this reason a correct understanding of the whole range of Christian faith and duty turns on a proper comprehension of divine attributes. How the theologian defines and relates God’s sovereignty, righteousness, and love actually predetermines his exposition of basic positions in many areas — in social ethics …
Writers of all theological persuasions recognize this truth, though not all have the same view of God, nor do all consistently apply their doctrine of God to their doctrine of social ethics. For the liberal, love is the only attribute of God for all practical purposes. All ideas of justice and righteousness are dissolved into love. Though the Barthian distinguishes justice and love, ultimately he considers all acts to be acts of love, including acts of judgment. Unfortunately, evangelicals are not always clear as to which attributes of God relate to social problems, and exactly how they relate. One writer lists relevant attributes, then centers on only one, viz., love. “God is righteous, generous, good, and just. His love is extended to the whole world, not merely to those who love Him.” Why cannot one also say, “His justice is extended to the whole world?” What attributes of God do in fact relate to social ethics?
The first attribute is sovereignty. Basically, sovereignty means not that God is a dictator, but that He is the supreme ruler. The word sovereignty does not of itself tell how He rules. But the Bible does. He rules by working all things after the counsel of His own will ( Eph 1:11 ). He works those things together in various ways. Sometimes He directly intervenes, as when He elected the nation Israel, a decision which certainly carried profound social ramifications for Israel and the rest of the world. Or He sends rain on one city and not on another ( Amos 4:7 ). In the future He will send worldwide judgments which will bring all kinds of social problems. Sometimes He permits men to have free rein over their sinful desires, again with far-reaching social ramifications ( Rom 1 ). In the realm of government, God raises up and removes rulers ( Dan 4:35 ), sometimes by direct intervention ( Acts 12:23 ) and sometimes by permitting them to carry out exceedingly sinful purposes ( Rev 13:5–7 ). But He is in control of all things, regardless of His means of operation. More of this will be discussed later under the topic of eschatology.
A second attribute of God relating to social ethics is love. What is love? It is seeking the highest good in the object loved, and ultimately “good” is what brings glory to God. Love in its purest form is seeking the glory of God. When the Bible says that God is love, it is saying that He glorifies Himself, without any suggestion of selfishness or pride. In obeying the biblical command to love one another, believers are to seek the glory of God in each other’s lives. In loving outside the family of God, believers are to seek God’s glory in the lives of those unbelievers. To love those outside the family of God (that is, to glorify God in their lives) means primarily to seek their salvation, for an individual can glorify God in no better way than by displaying His grace throughout all eternity ( Eph 2:7 ). Of course, there are degrees of glorifying God. Whenever He is imitated, He is glorified. Every attribute of God, when reflected in man’s actions, brings glory to Him, but perhaps none does so as much as the display of His grace in the salvation of a person.
God’s goodness is manifested in many facets of common grace: in nature ( Matt 5:45 ), in the arrangement of the seasons so that humans may eat ( Acts 14:17 ), in the restraining of sin, and in allowing men to be pricked by the gospel. Writers on social ethics recognize this and usually emphasize it, but they do not generally elaborate on the variety of God’s goodness or the reason He is good. God’s goodness also includes being kind to the wicked and allowing them to prosper ( Luke 6:35 ). In other words, in the overall perfect design of the sovereign God, injustice is sometimes permitted to triumph in order to accomplish an often unrevealed purpose of God. Why is God good in these evil-sounding ways? From Romans 2:4 the answer is clear: in order to lead men to repentance.
Love must always be tempered with justice. When either love or justice is sacrificed to the other, theology and practice both go awry. Since God’s justice will triumph, some leaders emphasize that social ethics should be concerned with bringing justice to the world now. They desire justice for the poor by dividing the wealth, or they stress justice for oppressed races by any means, including (in the opinion of some) violent revolution. Micah 6:8 is often cited: “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” But these are personal requirements, not programs for social action. To do justice may be different from imposing justice on others. God’s just judgments are often delayed for higher purposes known only to Him. This implies that there can be a higher purpose than bringing immediate justice to all men. This is not to say that God is pleased with the injustices men bring on each other, but it is to say He often tolerates scoffers who live lustfully and inflict injustice on others because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” ( 2 Pet 3:8 ). So it may be said that there is ultimate justice which God Himself will bring about; there is present justice which can sometimes be accomplished; and there is postponed justice which is often involuntary but is sometimes used by God for higher purposes. How will the believer know when he should fight for immediate justice, or when he must grieve over justice that must be postponed and wait patiently instead for God’s ultimate justice?
Suppose a Christian worker who is not being treated fairly by his employer, seeks redress through his union. Or suppose a Christian citizen being defrauded by his government seeks redress in the courts. Or suppose a Christian’s neighbor is violating something in the city code and the Christian complains to city hall. These are legitimate avenues of protest and legitimate reasons for lodging a complaint. All the actions are just. But should men insist on their rights because God is just, or deny themselves their rights because God is longsuffering? In insisting on justice, the worker, the citizen, or the home owner may alienate those aqainst whom he has the grievance. Contrariwise, not to insist on their rights may also alienate those people. Either action might open or close the door to the gospel witness. Merely saying that “Christian social concern imitates God’s concern” is to mouth a pious platitude that says little theologically or practically. For God’s concern is sometimes expressed in love which is kind, and other times in love which is harsh. Sometimes it is expressed in goodness which tolerates evil, and other times in justice which does not. How will the believer know which is the proper course of social action? Only through intimate fellowship with the living Lord will he know what to do in each situation. And that is much more difficult than a well-planned universal course of action. God’s nature is multifaceted and His attributes are many; so the believer’s imitation of Him must be Spirit-directed or it will not be a true representation of His character.
The Doctrine Of Man
In this area of doctrine two themes relating to social ethics commonly appear in the literature on social ethics: the oneness of humanity, and the image of God.
The oneness or solidarity of humanity finds its roots in man’s common relation to Adam, consisting of limitations and sinfulness. The limitations are seen in bodies made of dust which return to dust ( Gen 2:7; 1 Cor 15:47–50 ), bodies that are soulish ( 1 Cor 15:44–45 ), and bodies of flesh ( Gal 4:14; Col 2:5 ). All these characteristics exude limitation. The solidarity is also exhibited in man’s sinfulness. This is certainly the principal thought of Romans 5:12–21, where Paul describes a sinfulness which brings death to all, both spiritually and physically.
The most obvious ramification of this concept of solidarity is in the field of evangelism. If all men are limited and sinful, then the remedy of eternal salvation through Christ is of primary importance.
A second ramification is in the area of racial prejudice. Paul wrote of God making of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth ( Acts 17:26 ). Although some have taken the phrase “bounds of their habitation” to support such things as apartheid, proper exegesis forbids such an interpretation. God has determined how long each nation should flourish and what the boundaries of its territory should be. Since all men are of the same blood, and God’s offspring by creation, there can be no superior or inferior race of people. James elaborated on the problem of prejudice in the second chapter of his epistle, and plainly labelled it sin. Thus the concept of solidarity of the race underscores the urgency of evangelism and prohibits all racial or national prejudice.
The Image of God
What is the image of God? The answers are numerous. Eichrodt thinks there is a physical similarity between God and man, but most theologians do not see any physical connotations in the image. Chafer taught that it consists of the attributes of personality — intellect, sensibility, and will. Systematic Theology (4 Volume Set) Calvin stated that “there is no doubt that the proper seat of his image is in the soul” and that the image “includes all the excellence in which the nature of man surpasses all the other species of animals.” Institutes of the Christian Religion Keil and Delitzsch find the image of God in the spiritual or self-conscious personality of man. The Pentateuch (Biblical commentary on the Old Testament / by C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch) According to this writer, the image of God includes (a) the dominion which God, the supreme Sovereign, delegated to man ( Gen 1:26 relates the image to man’s ruling over the creatures of the earth), (b) intelligence, for one of Adam’s first acts was to name the animals ( Gen 2:20 ), and (c) life itself ( Gen 2:7 ) in all its creative potential.
Most commentators agree that the image was greatly marred by Adam’s rebellion, though not totally erased. Feinberg says, “In spite of the fall man did not become a beast or a demon, but retained his humanity. He did lose, however, his communion with God, his righteousness, his conformity to the will of God. And he became mortal.”
The Scriptures suggest at least three specific ways in which the marred image of God should affect social ethics. First, James prohibits cursing another person because even in his fallen state man reflects the image of God in which be was created ( 3:9 ). Second, capital punishment was instituted because taking a life demands the ultimate in retribution for one who was made in the image of God ( Gen 9:6 ). Third, Paul relates the image of God to the matter of church ethics when he wrote of the uncovering of a man’s head in the public worship of the church. He should be uncovered because he was made in the image of God; by contrast, a woman should be covered because she “is the glory of the man” ( 1 Cor 11:7 ). It is obvious that this area of ethics is not made much of these days even though its basis in God’s original acts of creation can hardly be written off as cultural and thus inapplicable.
The Doctrine Of The Christian Life
Two emphases commonly found in writings on social ethics which relate to the Christian life need to be evaluated. They are the incarnational model and the servant concept.
The Incarnational Model
In a word, the incarnational model is this: just as God performed His great work in the world through the incarnation of Christ, so now He continues that work through Christians in whom Christ is continually incarnated. Just as God was in Christ coming to the rescue of the world, so now Christ is in believers to continue His work.
This idea is not entirely unscriptural, but the best one can say is that it is not the most carefully stated concept. The Incarnation is the eternal Word become flesh. Jesus Christ’s indwelling of believers is in no sense His becoming flesh again. The means of the Incarnation was the virgin birth; after the Resurrection, the humanity of Christ was a risen and glorified humanity. The incarnational model seems to imply that the present form of the humanity of Christ is the bodies of believers which He indwells. But that is not so. His present form is described in Revelation 1, in which the humanity of the God-man is seen as His body wounded and risen. That Christ lives in and works today through believers is indisputable, but not because of any incarnation in believers, it may be nice sounding, but it is theological confusion.
The Servant Concept
The servant concept is more accurate. The Incarnation resulted in Christ’s taking the form of a servant, and that example is held up to believers in several places in the New Testament: Philippians 2; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6, to name but a few. However, two important facts of the servant concept need to be emphasized and delineated. One answers the question: Why did He become a servant? The other: To whom did He become a servant?
First, why did He become a servant? He became a servant in order to die. That self-sacrificing love is what is exalted as the example for believers to follow ( John 13:1–17; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 John 2:6 ). This does not mean that the believer’s responsibility as a servant is limited to giving his life for someone else, and that if he cannot do that then he is relieved of all obligation. John makes it clear that most believers will never be called on to die for another; therefore, they can show their self-sacrificing love by giving to the brethren ( 1 John 3:15–16 ). Peter relates the servant concept to the obedience of slaves to their masters, whether unsaved or saved ( 1 Pet 2:18–21 ). In Philippians 2 Paul likens the work of himself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus to the self-sacrificing service of the Lord. Thus the servant concept refers to sacrificial service in the work of the Lord, in testimony before the unsaved, and in selfless giving to other believers.
Whom do Christians serve? The answer in the New Testament is clear: “you serve the Lord Christ” ( Col 3:24 ). What has happened in the thinking of some ethics writers represents a kind of mutation, whereby the servant of the Lord becomes the servant of the world. “The practical conclusion to which this leads, in practice if not in theory, is that the Church now takes its cues from the world. Casting herself in the role of servant, the church, perhaps unthinkingly, has cast the world in the role of master.” The Scriptures indicate that Christ, not the world, is the Christian’s master. The ultimate goal in imitating Christ is to do always the things that please the Father ( John 8:29 ). Christenson continues:
The church is sent into the world to serve—sent by the Lord. But that is quite another thing from being called by the world. The list of needs which the world sets for itself may be quite different than the priorities which God sets for it. The church serves the world only at those places and in those ways and toward those ends which God may determine.
The servant concept is an important theological consideration in social ethics, as long as one understands that his greatest service is to exhibit the self-sacrificing love of Christ in specific ways which are directed by the Lord whom he serves.
The Doctrine Of Last Things
Dispensational premiliennialism is regularly accused of such pessimism as to make it useless in the realm of personal and social ethics. In personal ethics it is commonly characterized as negative; in social ethics, as impotent. Quebedeaux characterizes what he labels separatist fundamentalism “with its Dispensational pessimism about the human situation” as having “nothing to offer” in regard to social concern. Oddly, however, those he cites as separatist fundamentalists are actually not dispensationalists at all. What he calls “open fundamentalism” (which is, in fact, dispensationalism) comes under the same condemnation: “The unyielding Dispensational view of the present human situation which characterizes Open Fundamentalism deprives it of a meaningful social ethic.” Vernon Grounds stated this idea as follows:
Though Moberg does not connect the following with dispensationalism, he feels that some evangelicals have sometimes misinterpreted the prophecy that perilous times shall come in the last days so that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” ( 2 Tim 3:13 ). They have pessimistically taken this to mean that no matter what Christians and other men do, conditions will go from bad to worse; therefore, it is no use trying to do anything about social problems except to rescue souls through personal evangelism.”
Why these charges? Undoubtedly they stem from teachings often associated with dispensationalism: the apostate church, steadily worsening conditions in the world, no enduring peace until Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom. From these concepts (which, not so incidentally, are biblical) it is inferred that dispensational premillennialists also teach that there is no point in trying to do anything good to reverse temporarily the evil trends in the world and the church. And perhaps dispensationalists have given that impression.
In viewing the coming of Christ and the ultimate triumph of His rule, premillennialists are optimistic. In viewing the present scene up to the time of His return, they are pessimistic. How do premillennialists properly balance these two opposites? On one occasion during this writer’s early years of teaching, he overheard a group of professors heatedly discussing the question of whether a premillennialist was optimistic or pessimistic. After the arguments had been wrung dry (and some were that way to begin with), one sage in the group calmly put the matter in its proper biblical perspective. He quietly said, “A premillennialist is realistic. He recognizes the present pessimism and the ultimate optimism, and in the meantime is a realist.” That is the whole point in a nutshell. Premillennialists are not so optimistic (or unbiblical) as to think that in the present they can do for the world what only Christ can do when He comes to establish universal righteousness. On the other hand, they are not so pessimistic (or unbiblical) as to sit on their hands and do nothing to combat evil.
This is one of those tensions under which Christians live. They know that they cannot bring in peace, righteousness, or social justice; these will be accomplished only by Christ at His second coming. At the same time they know equally well that they ought to pray for peace and practice righteousness. Realistic dispensational premillennialism acknowledges both. Christians will not win the war until He comes; yet they must fight to win battles now. “Evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse” ( 2 Tim 3:13 ), but in the meantime believers must “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” ( 2 Pet 3:14 ). Alva McClain expressed this point well:
The premillennial philosophy of history makes sense. It lays a biblical and rational basis for a truly optimistic view of human history. Furthermore, rightly apprehended, it has practical effects. It says that life here and now, in spite of the tragedy of sin, is nevertheless something worthwhile; and therefore all efforts to make it better are also worthwhile. All the true values of human life will be preserved and carried over into the coming kingdom; nothing worthwhile will be lost.
Premillennialism then does not have pessimism as its logical corollary. There is no prophetic necessity for the outbreak of global war now, the unchecked growth of apostasy now, the irreversible collapse of civilization now. Instead, there may be an indeterminable delay of divine judgment, an era of peace, a time of spiritual renewal, an epoch of order and freedom and creativity. Consequently, one may adhere to premillenarianism and still hold out for the world penuitimately as well as ultimately. The Christian attitude, one suggests, is like that of a physician who knows that eventually his patient must die. All the skill that doctors and surgeons possess cannot prevent the inevitable end of life. But does that inevitability discourage the physician when illness strikes? Does it reduce him to unethical apathy? By no means! He utilizes all of his abilities and resources to prevent not only that particular illness from becoming fatal, but also to restore health and vitality for how long a time only God knows. So the premillenarian … ought to view no particular world-crisis as helpless. The Christian’s God-assigned duty is not only to evangelize, but to pray and work for freedom, justice, and peace, doing everything he can within the limits of his opportunity and discernment to secure optimal conditions for a more successful on-going of the Gospel.
These, then, are some of the doctrinal perspectives on social ethics. The doctrine of God is a reminder that He is in absolute control and that He must lead through specific displays of His love and justice, since human views of love and justice are often warped and their timing misguided. The doctrine of man points out kinship of all human beings with one another as sinners and in need of mutual respect. The Christian is above all a servant of the Lord and is to do His will by imitating his Master in sacrificial love. This ought to give believers a realistic outlook on life as they seek to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith (Gal 6:10), even though they know that universal righteousness awaits the return of Christ.
Vernon Grounds stated this idea as follows:
Charles C. Ryrie Books
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 122Let Us Go to the House of the LORD
122 A Song Of Ascents. Of David.
122:1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563
CHAPTER XIV | An Account of the Persecutions in Great Britain and Ireland, Prior to the Reign of Queen Mary IGildas, the most ancient British writer extant, who lived about the time that the Saxons left the island of Great Britain, has drawn a most shocking instance of the barbarity of those people.
The Saxons, on their arrival, being heathens like the Scots and Picts, destroyed the churches and murdered the clergy wherever they came: but they could not destroy Christianity, for those who would not submit to the Saxon yoke, went and resided beyond the Severn. Neither have we the names of those Christian sufferers transmitted to us, especially those of the clergy.
The most dreadful instance of barbarity under the Saxon government, was the massacre of the monks of Bangor, A.D. 586. These monks were in all respects different from those men who bear the same name at present.
In the eighth century, the Danes, a roving crew of barbarians, landed in different parts of Britain, both in England and Scotland.
At first they were repulsed, but in A.D. 857, a party of them landed somewhere near Southampton, and not only robbed the people but burned down the churches, and murdered the clergy.
In A.D. 868, these barbarians penetrated into the center of England, and took up their quarters at Nottingham; but the English, under their king, Ethelred, drove them from their posts, and obligted them to retire to Northumberland.
In 870, another body of these barbarians landed at Norfolk, and engaged in battle with the English at Hertford. Victory declared in favor of the pagans, who took Edmund, king of the East Angles, prisoner, and after treating him with a thousand indignities, transfixed his body with arrows, and then beheaded him.
In Fifeshire, in Scotland, they burned many of the churches, and among the rest that belonging to the Culdees, at St. Andrews. The piety of these men made them objects of abhorrence to the Danes, who, wherever they went singled out the Christian priests for destruction, of whom no less than two hundred were massacred in Scotland.
It was much the same in that part of Ireland now called Leinster, there the Danes murdered and burned the priests alive in their own churches; they carried destruction along with them wherever they went, sparing neither age nor sex, but the clergy were the most obnoxious to them, because they ridiculed their idolatry, and persuaded their people to have nothing to do with them.
In the reign of Edward III the Church of England was extremely corrupted with errors and superstition; and the light of the Gospel of Christ was greatly eclipsed and darkened with human inventions, burthensome ceremonies and gross idolatry.
The followers of Wickliffe, then called Lollards, were become extremely numerous, and the clergy were so vexed to see them increase; whatever power or influence they might have to molest them in an underhand manner, they had no authority by law to put them to death. However, the clergy embraced the favorable opportunity, and prevailed upon the king to suffer a bill to be brought into parliament, by which all Lollards who remained obstinate, should be delivered over to the secular power, and burnt as heretics. This act was the first in Britain for the burning of people for their religious sentiments; it passed in the year 1401, and was soon after put into execution.
The first person who suffered in consequence of this cruel act was William Santree, or Sawtree, a priest, who was burnt to death in Smithfield.
Soon after this, Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, in consequence of his attachment to the doctrines of Wickliffe, was accused of heresy, and being condemned to be hanged and burnt, was accordingly executed in Lincoln's Inn Fields, A.D. 1419. In his written defense Lord Cobham said:
"As for images, I understand that they be not of belief, but that they were ordained since the belief of Christ was given by sufferance of the Church, to represent and bring to mind the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and martyrdom and good living of other saints: and that whoso it be, that doth the worship to dead images that is due to God, or putteth such hope or trust in help of them, as he should do to God, or hath affection in one more than in another, he doth in that, the greatest sin of idol worship.
"Also I suppose this fully, that every man in this earth is a pilgrim toward bliss, or toward pain; and that he that knoweth not, we will not know, we keep the holy commandments of God in his living here (albeit that he go on pilgrimages to all the world, and he die so), he shall be damned: he that knoweth the holy commandments of God, and keepeth them to his end, he shall be saved, though he never in his life go on pilgrimage, as men now use, to Canterbury, or to Rome, or to any other place."
Upon the day appointed, Lord Cobham was brought out of the Tower with his arms bound behind him, having a very cheerful countenance. Then was he laid upon a hurdle, as though he had been a most heinous traitor to the crown, and so drawn forth into St. Giles's field. As he was come to the place of execution, and was taken from the hurdle, he fell down devoutly upon his knees, desiring Almighty God to forgive his enemies. Then stood he up and beheld the multitude, exhorting them in most godly manner to follow the laws of God written in the Scriptures, and to beware of such teachers as they see contrary to Christ in their conversation and living. Then was he hanged up by the middle in chains of iron, and so consumed alive in the fire, praising the name of God, so long as his life lasted; the people, there present, showing great dolor. And this was done A.D. 1418.
How the priests that time fared, blasphemed, and accursed, requiring the people not to pray for him, but to judge him damned in hell, for that he departed not in the obedience of their pope, it were too long to write.
Thus resteth this valiant Christian knight, Sir John Oldcastle, under the altar of God, which is Jesus Christ, among that godly company, who, in the kingdom of patience, suffered great tribulation with the death of their bodies, for His faithful word and testimony.
In August, 1473, one Thomas Granter was apprehended in London; he was accused of professing the doctrines of Wickliffe, for which he was condemned as an obstinate heretic. This pious man, being brought to the sheriff's house, on the morning of the day appointed for his execution, desired a little refreshment, and having ate some, he said to the people present, "I eat now a very good meal, for I have a strange conflict to engage with before I go to supper"; and having eaten, he returned thanks to God for the bounties of His all-gracious providence, requesting that he might be instantly led to the place of execution, to bear testimony to the truth of those principles which he had professed. Accordingly he was chained to a stake on Tower-hill, where he was burnt alive, professing the truth with his last breath.
In the year 1499, one Badram, a pious man, was brought before the bishop of Norwich, having been accused by some of the priests, with holding the doctrines of Wickliffe. He confessed he did believe everything that was objected against him. For this, he was condemned as an obstinate heretic, and a warrant was granted for his execution; accordingly he was brought to the stake at Norwich, where he suffered with great constancy.
In 1506, one William Tilfrey, a pious man, was burnt alive at Amersham, in a close called Stoneyprat, and at the same time, his daughter, Joan Clarke, a married women, was obliged to light the fagots that were to burn her father.
This year also one Father Roberts, a priest, was convicted of being a Lollard before the bishop of Lincoln, and burnt alive at Buckingham.
In 1507 one Thomas Norris was burnt alive for the testimony of the truth of the Gospel, at Norwich. This man was a poor, inoffensive, harmless person, but his parish priest conversing with him one day, conjectured he was a Lollard. In consequence of this supposition he gave information to the bishop, and Norris was apprehended.
In 1508, one Lawrence Guale, who had been kept in prison two years, was burnt alive at Salisbury, for denying the real presence in the Sacrament. It appeared that this man kept a shop in Salisbury, and entertained some Lollards in his house; for which he was informed against to the bishop; but he abode by his first testimony, and was condemned to suffer as a heretic.
A pious woman was burnt at Chippen Sudburne, by order of the chancellor, Dr. Whittenham. After she had been consumed in the flames, and the people were returning home, a bull broke loose from a butcher and singling out the chancellor from all the rest of the company, he gored him through the body, and on his horns carried his entrails. This was seen by all the people, and it is remarkable that the animal did not meddle with any other person whatever.
October 18, 1511, William Succling and John Bannister, who had formerly recanted, returned again to the profession of the faith, and were burnt alive in Smithfield.
In the year 1517, one John Brown (who had recanted before in the reign of Henry VII and borne a fagot round St. Paul's,) was condemned by Dr. Wonhaman, archbishop of Canterbury, and burnt alive at Ashford. Before he was chained to the stake, the archbishop Wonhaman, and Yester, bishop of Rochester, caused his feet to be burnt in a fire until all the flesh came off, even to the bones. This was done in order to make him again recant, but he persisted in his attachment to the truth to the last.
Much about this time one Richard Hunn, a merchant tailor of the city of London, was apprehended, having refused to pay the priest his fees for the funeral of a child; and being conveyed to the Lollards' Tower, in the palace of Lambeth, was there privately murdered by some of the servants of the archbishop.
September 24, 1518, John Stilincen, who had before recanted, was apprehended, brought before Richard Fitz-James, bishop of London, and on the twenty-fifth of October was condemned as a heretic. He was chained to the stake in Smithfield amidst a vast crowd of spectators, and sealed his testimony to the truth with his blood. He declared that he was a Lollard, and that he had always believed the opinions of Wickliffe; and although he had been weak enough to recant his opinions, yet he was now willing to convince the world that he was ready to die for the truth.
In the year 1519, Thomas Mann was burnt in London, as was one Robert Celin, a plain, honest man for speaking against image worship and pilgrimages.
Much about this time, was executed in Smithfield, in London, James Brewster, a native of Colchester. His sentiments were the same as the rest of the Lollards, or those who followed the doctrines of Wickliffe; but notwithstanding the innocence of his life, and the regularity of his manners, he was obliged to submit to papal revenge.
During this year, one Christopher, a shoemaker, was burnt alive at Newbury, in Berkshire, for denying those popish articles which we have already mentioned. This man had gotten some books in English, which were sufficient to render him obnoxious to the Romish clergy.
Robert Silks, who had been condemned in the bishop's court as a heretic, made his escape out of prison, but was taken two years afterward, and brought back to Coventry, where he was burnt alive. The sheriffs always seized the goods of the martyrs for their own use, so that their wives and children were left to starve.
In 1532, Thomas Harding, who with his wife, had been accused of heresy, was brought before the bishop of Lincoln, and condemned for denying the real presence in the Sacrament. He was then chained to a stake, erected for the purpose, at Chesham in the Pell, near Botely; and when they had set fire to the fagots, one of the spectators dashed out his brains with a billet. The priests told the people that whoever brought fagots to burn heretics would have an indulgence to commit sins for forty days.
During the latter end of this year, Worham, archbishop of Canterbury, apprehended one Hitten, a priest at Maidstone; and after he had been long tortured in prison, and several times examined by the archbishop, and Fisher, bishop of Rochester, he was condemned as a heretic, and burnt alive before the door of his own parish church.
Thomas Bilney, professor of civil law at Cambridge, was brought before the bishop of London, and several other bishops, in the Chapter house, Westminster, and being several times threatened with the stake and flames, he was weak enough to recant; but he repented severely afterward.
For this he was brought before the bishop a second time, and condemned to death. Before he went to the stake he confessed his adherence to those opinions which Luther held; and, when at it, he smiled, and said, "I have had many storms in this world, but now my vessel will soon be on shore in heaven." He stood unmoved in the flames, crying out, "Jesus, I believe"; and these were the last words he was heard to utter.
A few weeks after Bilney had suffered, Richard Byfield was cast into prison, and endured some whipping, for his adherence to the doctrines of Luther: this Mr. Byfield had been some time a monk, at Barnes, in Surrey, but was converted by reading Tyndale's version of the New Testament. The sufferings this man underwent for the truth were so great that it would require a volume to contain them. Sometimes he was shut up in a dungeon, where he was almost suffocated by the offensive and horrid smell of filth and stagnant water. At other times he was tied up by the arms, until almost all his joints were dislocated. He was whipped at the post several times, until scarcely any flesh was left on his back; and all this was done to make him recant. He was then taken to the Lollard's Tower in Lambeth palace, where he was chained by the neck to the wall, and once every day beaten in the most cruel manner by the archbishop's servants. At last he was condemned, degraded, and burnt in Smithfield.
The next person that suffered was John Tewkesbury. This was a plain, simple man, who had been guilty of no other offence against what was called the holy Mother Church, than that of reading Tyndale's translation of the New Testament. At first he was weak enough to adjure, but afterward repented, and acknowledged the truth. For this he was brought before the bishop of London, who condemned him as an obstinate heretic. He suffered greatly during the time of his imprisonment, so that when they brought him out to execution, he was almost dead. He was conducted to the stake in Smithfield, where he was burned, declaring his utter abhorrence of popery, and professing a firm belief that his cause was just in the sight of God.
The next person that suffered in this reign was James Baynham, a reputable citizen in London, who had married the widow of a gentleman in the Temple. When chained to the stake he embraced the fagots, and said, "Oh, ye papists, behold! ye look for miracles; here now may you see a miracle; for in this fire I feel no more pain than if I were in bed; for it is as sweet to me as a bed of roses." Thus he resigned his soul into the hands of his Redeemer.
Soon after the death of this martyr, one Traxnal, an inoffensive countryman, was burned alive at Bradford in Wiltshire, because he would not acknowledge the real presence in the Sacrament, nor own the papal supremacy over the consciences of men.
In the year 1533, John Frith, a noted martyr, died for the truth. When brought to the stake in Smithfield, he embraced the fagots, and exhorted a young man named Andrew Hewit, who suffered with him, to trust his soul to that God who had redeemed it. Both these sufferers endured much torment, for the wind blew the flames away from them, so that they were above two hours in agony before they expired.
In the year 1538, one Collins, a madman, suffered death with his dog in Smithfield. The circumstances were as follows: Collins happened to be in church when the priest elevated the host; and Collins, in derision of the sacrifice of the Mass, lifted up his dog above his head. For this crime Collins, who ought to have been sent to a madhouse, or whipped at the cart's tail, was brought before the bishop of London; and although he was really mad, yet such was the force of popish power, such the corruption in Church and state, that the poor madman, and his dog, were both carried to the stake in Smithfield, where they were burned to ashes, amidst a vast crowd of spectators.
There were some other persons who suffered the same year, of whom we shall take notice in the order they lie before us.
One Cowbridge suffered at Oxford; and although he was reputed to be a madman, yet he showed great signs of piety when he was fastened to the stake, and after the flames were kindled around him.
About the same time one Purderve was put to death for saying privately to a priest, after he had drunk the wine, "He blessed the hungry people with the empty chalice."
At the same time was condemned William Letton, a monk of great age, in the county of Suffolk, who was burned at Norwich for speaking against an idol that was carried in procession; and for asserting, that the Sacrament should be administered in both kinds.
Sometime before the burning of these men, Nicholas Peke was executed at Norwich; and when the fire was lighted, he was so scorched that he was as black as pitch. Dr. Reading standing before him, with Dr. Hearne and Dr. Spragwell, having a long white want in his hand, struck him upon the right shoulder, and said, "Peke, recant, and believe in the Sacrament." To this he answered, "I despise thee and it also;" and with great violence he spit blood, occasioned by the anguish of his sufferings. Dr. Reading granted forty days' indulgence for the sufferer, in order that he might recant his opinions. But he persisted in his adherence to the truth, without paying any regard to the malice of his enemies; and he was burned alive, rejoicing that Christ had counted him worthy to suffer for His name's sake.
On July 28, 1540, or 1541, (for the chronology differs) Thomas Cromwell, earl of Essex, was brought to a scaffold on Tower-hill, where he was executed with some striking instances of cruelty. He made a short speech to the people, and then meekly resigned himself to the axe.
It is, we think, with great propriety, that this nobleman is ranked among the martyrs; for although the accusations preferred against him, did not relate to anything in religion, yet had it not been for his zeal to demolish popery, he might have to the last retained the king's favor. To this may be added, that the papists plotted his destruction, for he did more towards promoting the Reformation, than any man in that age, except the good Dr. Cranmer.
Soon after the execution of Cromwell, Dr. Cuthbert Barnes, Thomas Garnet, and William Jerome, were brought before the ecclesiastical court of the bishop of London, and accused of heresy.
Being before the bishop of London, Dr. Barnes was asked whether the saints prayed for us? To this he answered, that "he would leave that to God; but (said he) I will pray for you."
On the thirteenth of July, 1541, these men were brought from the Tower to Smithfield, where they were all chained to one stake; and there suffered death with a constancy that nothing less than a firm faith in Jesus Christ could inspire.
One Thomas Sommers, an honest merchant, with three others, was thrown into prison, for reading some of Luther's books, and they were condemned to carry those books to a fire in Cheapside; there they were to throw them in the flames; but Sommers threw his over, for which he was sent back to the Tower, where he was stoned to death.
Dreadful persecutions were at this time carried on at Lincoln, under Dr. Longland, the bishop of that diocese. At Buckingham, Thomas Bainard, and James Moreton, the one for reading the Lord's Prayer in English, and the other for reading St. James' Epistles ion English, were both condemned and burnt alive.
Anthony Parsons, a priest, together with two others, was sent to Windsor, to be examined concerning heresy; and several articles were tendered to them to subscribe, which they refused. This was carried on by the bishop of Salisbury, who was the most violent persecutor of any in that age, except Bonner. When they were brought to the stake, Parsons asked for some drink, which being brought him, he drank to his fellow-sufferers, saying, "Be merry, my brethren, and lift up your hearts to God; for after this sharp breakfast I trust we shall have a good dinner in the Kingdom of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer." At these words Eastwood, one of the sufferers, lifteed up his eyes and hands to heaven, desiring the Lord above to receive his spirit. Parsons pulled the straw near to him, and then said to the spectators, "This is God's armor, and now I am a Christian soldier prepared for battle: I look for no mercy but through the merits of Christ; He is my only Savior, in Him do I trust for salvation;" and soon after the fires were lighted, which burned their bodies, but could not hurt their precious and immortal souls. Their constancy triumphed over cruelty, and their sufferings will be held in everlasting remembrance.
Thus were Christ's people betrayed every way, and their lives bought and sold. For, in the said parliament, the king made this most blasphemous and cruel act, to be a law forever: that whatsoever they were that should read the Scriptures in the mother-tongue (which was then called "Wickliffe's learning"), they should forfeit land, cattle, body, life, and goods, from their heirs for ever, and so be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the crown, and most arrant traitors to the land.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Continual Burnt Offering (2 Timothy 2:24)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
November 182 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. ESV
Christ was the perfect Servant who came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him. He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. There is a new glory shed on the servant’s path since He has trodden it before us. Those who now would follow Him as ministers of the Word are called to lowliness and patient grace. Self-assertiveness, emulation of others, striving for recognition by men rather than seeking the honor that comes from God only, are utterly foreign to the spirit of true service. Christ’s representatives are to manifest the meekness and gentleness that were seen in all their perfection in Him whom they own as their Master in Heaven.
When I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee;
I shall not regret one thing that I gave,
Money or time, one sinner to save.
I shall not mind that the way has been rough,
That Thy blest feet led the way for me is enough.
When I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER
[prefixed to the second edition, published at strasburg in 1539.]
In the First Edition of this work, having no expectation of the success which God has, in his goodness, been pleased to give it, I had, for the greater part, performed my office perfunctorily, as is usual in trivial undertakings. But when I perceived that almost all the godly had received it with a favour which I had never dared to wish, far less to hope for, being sincerely conscious that I had received much more than I deserved, I thought I should be very ungrateful if I did not endeavour, at least according to my humble ability, to respond to the great kindness which had been expressed towards me, and which spontaneously urged me to diligence. I therefore ask no other favour from the studious for my new work than that which they have already bestowed upon me beyond my merits. I feel so much obliged, that I shall be satisfied if I am thought not to have made a bad return for the gratitude I owe. This return I would have made much earlier, had not the Lord, for almost two whole years, exercised me in an extraordinary manner. But it is soon enough if well enough. I shall think it has appeared in good season when I perceive that it produces some fruit to the Church of God. I may add, that my object in this work was to prepare and train students of theology for the study of the Sacred Volume, so that they might both have an easy introduction to it, and be able to proceed in it, with unfaltering step, seeing I have endeavoured to give such a summary of religion in all its parts, and have digested it into such an order as may make it not difficult for any one, who is rightly acquainted with it, to ascertain both what he ought principally to look for in Scripture, and also to what head he ought to refer whatever is contained in it. Having thus, as it were, paved the way, I shall not feel it necessary, in any Commentaries on Scripture which I may afterwards publish, to enter into long discussions of doctrines or dilate on common places, and will, therefore, always compress them. In this way the pious reader will be saved much trouble and weariness, provided he comes furnished with a knowledge of the present work as an essential prerequisite. As my Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans will give a specimen of this plan, I would much rather let it speak for itself than declare it in words. Farewell, dear reader, and if you derive any fruit from my labours, give me the benefit of your prayers to the Lord.
Strasbourg, 1st August 1539.
SUBJECT OF THE PRESENT WORK.
[prefixed to the french edition, published at geneva in 1545.]
In order that my Readers may be the better able to profit by the present work, I am desirous briefly to point out the advantage which they may derive from it. For by so doing I will show them the end at which they ought to aim, and to which they ought to give their attention in reading it.
Although the Holy Scriptures contain a perfect doctrine, to which nothing can be added--our Lord having been pleased therein to unfold the infinite treasures of his wisdom--still every person, not intimately acquainted with them, stands in need of some guidance and direction, as to what he ought to look for in them, that he may not wander up and down, but pursue a certain path, and so attain the end to which the Holy Spirit invites him.
Hence it is the duty of those who have received from God more light than others to assist the simple in this matter, and, as it were, lend them their hand to guide and assist them in finding the sum of what God has been pleased to teach us in his word. Now, this cannot be better done in writing than by treating in succession of the principal matters which are comprised in Christian philosophy. For he who understands these will be prepared to make more progress in the school of God in one day than any other person in three months, inasmuch as he, in a great measure, knows to what he should refer each sentence, and has a rule by which to test whatever is presented to him.
Seeing, then, how necessary it was in this manner to aid those who desire to be instructed in the doctrine of salvation, I have endeavoured, according to the ability which God has given me, to employ myself in so doing, and with this view have composed the present book. And first I wrote it in Latin, that it might be serviceable to all studious persons, of what nation soever they might be; afterwards, desiring to communicate any fruit which might be in it to my French countrymen, I translated it into our own tongue. I dare not bear too strong a testimony in its favour, and declare how profitable the reading of it will be, lest I should seem to prize my own work too highly. However I may promise this much, that it will be a kind of key opening up to all the children of God a right and ready access to the understanding of the sacred volume. Wherefore, should our Lord give me henceforth means and opportunity of composing some Commentaries, I will use the greatest possible brevity, as there will be no occasion to make long digressions, seeing that I have in a manner deduced at length all the articles which pertain to Christianity.
And since we are bound to acknowledge that all truth and sound doctrine proceed from God, I will venture boldly to declare what I think of this work, acknowledging it to be God's work rather than mine. To him, indeed, the praise due to it must be ascribed. My opinion of the work then is this: I exhort all, who reverence the word of the Lord, to read it, and diligently imprint it on their memory, if they would, in the first place, have a summary of Christian doctrine, and, in the second place, an introduction to the profitable reading both of the Old and New Testament. When they shall have done so, they will know by experience that I have not wished to impose upon them with words. Should any one be unable to comprehend all that is contained in it, he must not, however, give it up in despair; but continue always to read on, hoping that one passage will give him a more familiar exposition of another. Above all things, I would recommend that recourse be had to Scripture in considering the proofs which I adduce from it.
EPISTLE TO THE READER.
[prefixed to the last edition, revised by the author.]
In the first edition of this work, having not the least expectation of the success which God, in his boundless goodness, has been pleased to give it, I had, for the greater part, performed my task in a perfunctory manner (as is usual in trivial undertakings); but when I understood that it had been received, by almost all the pious with a favour which I had never dared to ask, far less to hope for, the more I was sincerely conscious that the reception was beyond my deserts, the greater I thought my ingratitude would be, if, to the very kind wishes which had been expressed towards me, and which seemed of their own accord to invite me to diligence, I did not endeavour to respond, at least according to my humble ability. This I attempted not only in the Second Edition, but in every subsequent one the work has received some improvement. But though I do not regret the labour previously expended, I never felt satisfied until the work was arranged in the order in which it now appears. Now I trust it will approve itself to the Judgment of all my readers. As a clear proof of the diligence with which I have laboured to perform this service to the Church of God, I may be permitted to mention, that last winter, when I thought I was dying of quartan ague, the more the disorder increased, the less I spared myself, in order that I might leave this book behind me, and thus make some return to the pious for their kind urgency. I could have wished to give it sooner, but it is soon enough if good enough. I shall think it has appeared in good time when I see it more productive of benefit than formerly to the Church of God. This is my only wish.
And truly it would fare ill with me if, not contented with the approbation of God alone, I were unable to despise the foolish and perverse censures of ignorant as well as the malicious and unjust censures of ungodly men. For although, by the blessing of God, my most ardent desire has been to advance his kingdoms and promote the public good,--although I feel perfectly conscious, and take God and his angels to witness, that ever since I began to discharge the office of teacher in the Church, my only object has been to do good to the Church, by maintaining the pure doctrine of godliness, yet I believe there never was a man more assailed, stung, and torn by calumny [as well by the declared enemies of the truth of God, as by many worthless persons who have crept into his Church--as well by monks who have brought forth their frocks from their cloisters to spread infection wherever they come, as by other miscreants not better than they  ]. After this letter to the reader was in the press, I had undoubted information that, at Augsburg, where the Imperial Diet was held, a rumour of my defection to the papacy was circulated, and entertained in the courts of the princes more readily than might have been expected.  This, forsooth, is the return made me by those who certainly are not unaware of numerous proofs of my constancy--proofs which, while they rebut the foul charge, ought to have defended me against it, with all humane and impartial judges. But the devil, with all his crew, is mistaken if he imagines that, by assailing me with vile falsehoods, he can either cool my zeal, or diminish my exertions. I trust that God, in his infinite goodness, will enable me to persevere with unruffled patience in the course of his holy vocation. Of this I give the pious reader a new proof in the present edition.
I may further observe, that my object in this work has been, so to prepare and train candidates for the sacred office, for the study of the sacred volume, that they may both have an easy introduction to it, and be able to prosecute it with unfaltering step; for, if I mistake not, I have given a summary of religion in all its parts, and digested it in an order which will make it easy for any one, who rightly comprehends it, to ascertain both what he ought chiefly to look for in Scripture, and also to what head he ought to refer whatever is contained in it. Having thus, as it were, paved the way, as it will be unnecessary, in any Commentaries on Scripture which I may afterwards publish, to enter into long discussions of doctrinal points, and enlarge on commonplaces, I will compress them into narrow compass. In this way much trouble and fatigue will be spared to the pious reader, provided he comes prepared with a knowledge of the present work as an indispensable prerequisite. The system here followed being set forth as in a mirror in all my Commentaries, I think it better to let it speak for itself than to give any verbal explanation of it.
Farewell, kind reader: if you derive any benefit from my labours, aid me with your prayers to our heavenly Father.
Geneva, 1st August 1559.
The zeal of those whose cause I undertook, Has swelled a short defence into a book.
"I profess to be one of those who, by profiting, write, and by writing profit."--Augustine, Epist. 7.
 The passage in brackets occurs only in the French original. The words are as follows: "Tant des ennemis manifestes de la vérité de Dieu, que de beaucoup de canailles qui se sont fourrez en son Eglise: tant des Moines qui ont apporté leurs frocs hors de leurs cloistres pour infecter le lieu o? ils venoyent, que d'autres vilains qui ne valent pas mieux qu'eux."
 The words in the French are, "Avec trop grande facilité; ce qui monstroit que beaucoup de mechans hypocrites, faisans profession de l'Evangile, eussent bien voulu qu'ainsi fust." With too great facility; showing that many wicked hypocrites, making profession of the gospel, would have been very glad it had been so.
METHOD AND ARRANGEMENT, OR SUBJECT OF THE WHOLE WORK.
[From an epitome of the institutions, by gaspar olevian.]
The subject handled by the author of these Christian Institutes is twofold: the former, the knowledge of God, which leads to a blessed immortality; and the latter (which is subordinate to the former), the knowledge of ourselves. With this view the author simply adopts the arrangement of the Apostles' Creed, as that with which all Christians are most familiar. For as the Creed consists of four parts, the first relating to God the Father, the second to the Son, the third to the Holy Spirit, and the fourth to the Church, so the author, in fulfilment of his task, divides his Institutes into four parts, corresponding to those of the Creed. Each of these parts it will now be proper to explain separately.
I. The first article of the Apostles' Creed is concerning God the Father, the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, as implied in his omnipotence. Accordingly, the First Book of the Institutes treats of the knowledge of God, considered as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the world, and of every thing contained in it. It shows both wherein the true knowledge of the Creator consists, and what the end of this knowledge is, chap. 1 and 2; that it is not learned at school, but that every one is self-taught it from the womb, chap. 3. Such, however, is man's depravity, that he stifles and corrupts this knowledge, partly by ignorance, partly by wicked design; and hence does not by means of it either glorify God as he ought, or attain to happiness, chap. 4. This inward knowledge is aided from without, namely by the creatures in which, as in a mirror, the perfections of God may be contemplated. But man does not properly avail himself of this assistance, and hence to those to whom God is pleased to make himself more intimately known for salvation, he communicates his written word. This leads to a consideration of the Holy Scriptures, in which God has revealed that not the Father only, but along with the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, is that Creator of heaven and earth, whom, in consequence of our innate depravity we were unable, either from innate natural knowledge, or the beautiful mirror of the world, to know so as to glorify. Here the author treats of the manifestation of God in Scripture; and in connection with it, of the one divine essence in three persons. But, lest man should lay the blame of his voluntary blindness on God, the author shows in what state man was created at first, introducing dissertations on the image of God, free will, and original righteousness. The subject of Creation being thus disposed of, the preservation and government of the world is considered in the three last chapters, which contain a very full discussion of the doctrine of Divine Providence.
II. As man, by sinning, forfeited the privileges conferred on him at his creation, recourse must be had to Christ. Accordingly, the next article in the Creed is, And in Jesus Christ his only Son, &c. In like manner, the Second Book of the Institutes treats of the knowledge of God considered as a Redeemer in Christ, And showing man his falls conducts him to Christ the Mediator. Here the subject of original sin is considered, and it is shown that man has no means within himself, by which he can escape from guilt, and the impending curse: that, on the contrary, until he is reconciled and renewed, every thing that proceeds from him is of the nature of sin. This subject is considered as far as the 6th chapter. Man being thus utterly undone in himself, and incapable of working out his own cure by thinking a good thought, or doing what is acceptable to God, must seek redemption without himself--viz. in Christ. The end for which the Law was given, was not to secure worshipers for itself, but to conduct them unto Christ. This leads to an exposition of the Moral Law. Christ was known to the Jews under the Law as the author of salvation, but is more fully revealed under the Gospel in which he was manifested to the world. Hence arises the doctrine concerning the similarity and difference of the two Testaments, the Old and the New, the Law and the Gospel. These topics occupy as far as the 12th chapter. It is next shown that, in order to secure a complete salvation, it was necessary that the eternal Son of God should become man, and assume a true human nature. It is also shown in what way these two natures constitute one person. In order to purchase a full salvation by his own merits, and effectually apply it, Christ was appointed to the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. The mode in which Christ performs these offices is considered, and also whether in point of fact he did accomplish the work of redemption. Here an exposition is given of the articles relating to Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. In conclusion, it is proved that Christ is rightly and properly said to have merited divine grace and salvation for us.
III. So long as Christ is separated from us we have no benefit from him. We must be ingrafted in him like branches in the vine. Hence the Creed, after treating of Christ, proceeds in its third article, I believe in the Holy Spirit,--the Holy Spirit being the bond of union between us and Christ. In like manner, the Third Book of the Institutes treats of the Holy Spirit which unites us to Christ, and, in connection with it, of faith, by which we embrace Christ with a double benefit--viz. that of gratuitous righteousness which he imputes to us, and regeneration, which he begins in us by giving us repentance. In order to show the worthlessness of a faith which is not accompanied with a desire of repentance, the author, before proceeding to a full discussion of justification, treats at length from chapter 3-10 of repentance, and the constant study of it--repentance, which Christ, when apprehended by faith, begets in us by his Spirit. Chapter 11 treats of the primary and peculiar benefit of Christ when united to us by the Holy Spirit--viz. justification. This subject is continued to the 20th chapter, which treats of prayer, the hand, as it were, to receive the blessings which faith knows to be treasured up for it with God, according to the word of promise. But, as the Holy Spirit, who creates and preserves our faith, does not unite all men to Christ, who is the sole author of salvation, chapter 21 treats of the eternal election of God, to which it is owing that we, in whom he foresaw no good which he had not previously bestowed, are given to Christ, and united to him by the effectual calling of the Gospel. This subject is continued to the 25th chapter, which treats of complete regeneration and felicity, namely, the final resurrection to which we must raise our eyes, seeing that, in regard to fruition, the happiness of the godly is only begun in this world.
IV. Since the Holy Spirit does not ingraft all men into Christ, or endue them with faith, and those whom he does so endue he does not ordinarily endue without means, but uses for that purpose the preaching of the Gospel and the dispensation of the Sacraments, together with the administration of all kinds of discipline, the Creed contains the following article, I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, namely, that Church which, when lying in eternal death, the Father, by gratuitous election, freely reconciled to himself in Christ, and endued with the Holy Spirit, that, being ingrafted into Christ, it might have communion with him as its proper head; whence flow perpetual remission of sins, and full restoration to eternal life. Accordingly the Church is treated of in the first fourteen chapters of the Fourth Book, which thereafter treats of the means which the Holy Spirit employs in calling us effectually from spiritual death, and preserving the Church, in other words, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These means are, as it were, the royal sceptre of Christ, by which, through the efficacy of his Spirit, he commences his spiritual reign in the Church, advances it from day to day, and after this life, without the use of means, finally perfects it. This subject is continued to the 20th chapter.
And because civil governments are, in this life, the hospitable entertainers (hospitia) of the Church (though civil government is distinct from the spiritual kingdom of Christ), the author shows how great blessings they are, blessings which the Church is bound gratefully to acknowledge, until we are called away from this tabernacle to the heavenly inheritance, where God will be all in all.
Such is the arrangement of the Institutes which may be thus summed up: Man being at first created upright, but afterwards being not partially but totally ruined, finds his entire salvation out of himself in Christ, to whom being united by the Holy Spirit freely given without any foresight of future works, he thereby obtains a double blessing--viz. full imputation of righteousness, which goes along with us even to the grave, and the commencement of sanctification, which daily advances till at length it is perfected in the day of regeneration or resurrection of the body, and this, in order that the great mercy of God may be celebrated in the heavenly mansions, throughout eternity.
GENERAL INDEX OF CHAPTERS.
OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE CREATOR.
1. Connection between the Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of Ourselves. Nature of the connection.
2. What it is to Know God. Tendency of this Knowledge.
3. The Human Mind naturally imbued with the Knowledge of God.
4. This Knowledge stifled or corrupted, ignorantly or maliciously.
5. The Knowledge of God displayed in the fabric and constant Government of the Universe.
6. The need of Scripture as a Guide and Teacher in coming to God as a Creator.
7. The Testimony of the Spirit necessary to give full authority to Scripture. The impiety of pretending that the Credibility of Scripture depends on the Judgment of the Church.
8. The Credibility of Scripture sufficiently proved, in so far as Natural Reason admits.
9. All the principles of piety subverted by fanatics who substitute revelations for Scripture.
10. In Scripture, the true God opposed, exclusively, to all the gods of the Heathen.
11. Impiety of attributing a visible form to God. The setting up of Idols a revolt against the True God.
12. God distinguished from Idols, that He may be the exclusive object of Worship.
13. The Unity of the Divine Essence in Three Persons taught in Scripture, from the foundation of the World.
14. In the Creation of the World, and all things in it, the True God distinguished by certain marks from fictitious gods.
15. State in which man was created. The Faculties of the Soul--The Image of God--Free Will--Original Righteousness.
16. The World, created by God, still cherished and protected by Him. Each and all of its parts governed by His Providence.
17. Use to be made of this Doctrine.
18. The instrumentality of the wicked employed by God, while He continues free from every taint.
OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE REDEEMER, IN CHRIST, AS FIRST MANIFESTED TO THE FATHERS UNDER THE LAW, AND THEREAFTER TO US UNDER THE GOSPEL
1. Through the Fall and revolt of Adam the whole Human race made accursed and degenerate. Of Original Sin.
2. Man now deprived of Freedom of Will, and miserably enslaved.
3. Every thing proceeding from the corrupt Nature of Man damnable.
4. How God works in the hearts of men.
5. The Arguments usually alleged in support of Free Will refuted.
6. Redemption for lost man to be sought in Christ.
7. The Law given, not to retain a people for itself, but to keep alive the Hope of Salvation in Christ until his Advent.
8. Exposition of the Moral Law.
9. Christ, though known to the Jews under the Law, yet only manifested under the Gospel.
10. The resemblance between the Old Testament and the New.
11. The difference between the two Testaments.
12. Christ, to perform the Office of Mediator, behoved to become man.
13. Christ clothed with the true substance of Human Nature.
14. How two natures constitute the Person of the Mediator.
15. Three things chiefly to be regarded in Christ--viz. his Offices of Prophet, King, and Priest.
16. How Christ performed the Office of Redeemer in procuring our salvation. The Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ.
17. Christ rightly and properly said to have merited Grace and Salvation for us.
THE MODE OF OBTAINING THE GRACE OF CHRIST.
THE BENEFITS IT CONFERS, AND THE EFFECTS RESULTING FROM IT.
1. The Benefits of Christ made available to us by the Secret Operation of the Spirit.
2. Of Faith. The Definition of it. Its peculiar properties.
3. Regeneration by Faith. Of Repentance.
4. Penitence, as explained in the sophistical jargon of the Schoolmen, widely different from the purity required by the Gospel. Of Confession and Satisfactions.
5. Of the modes of Supplementing Satisfactions--viz. Indulgences and Purgatory.
6. The Life of a Christian Man. Scriptural Arguments exhorting to it.
7. A Summary of the Christian Life. Of Self-Denial.
8. Of Bearing the Cross--one branch of Self-Denial.
9. Of Meditating on the Future Life.
10. How to use the Present Life, and the comforts of it.
11. Of Justification by Faith. Both the name and the reality defined.
12. Necessity of contemplating the Judgment-seat of God, in order to be seriously convinced of the Doctrine of Gratuitous Justification.
13. Two things to be observed in Gratuitous Justification.
14. The beginning of Justification. In what sense progressive.
15. The boasted merit of Works subversive both of the Glory of God, in bestowing Righteousness, and of the certainty of Salvation.
16. Refutation of the Calumnies by which it is attempted to throw odium on this doctrine.
17. The Promises of the Law and the Gospel reconciled.
18. The Righteousness of Works improperly inferred from Rewards.
19. Of Christian Liberty.
20. Of Prayer--a perpetual exercise of Faith. The daily benefits derived from it.
21. Of the Eternal Election, by which God has predestinated some to Salvation and others to Destruction.
22. This Doctrine confirmed by Proofs from Scripture.
23. Refutation of the Calumnies by which this Doctrine is always unjustly assailed.
24. Election confirmed by the Calling of God. The Reprobate bring upon themselves the righteous destruction to which they are doomed.
25. Of the Last Resurrection.
OF THE EXTERNAL MEANS OR HELPS BY WHICH GOD ALLURES US INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST, AND KEEPS US IN IT.
1. Of the True Church. Duty of cultivating Unity with her, as the mother of all the godly.
2. Comparison between the False Church and the True.
3. Of the Teachers and Ministers of the Church. Their Election and Office.
4. Of the State of the Primitive Church, and the Mode of Government in use before the Papacy.
5. The Ancient Form of Government utterly corrupted by the tyranny of the Papacy.
6. Of the Primacy of the Romish See.
7. Of the Beginning and Rise of the Romish Papacy, till it attained a height by which the Liberty of the Church was destroyed, and all true Rule overthrown.
8. Of the Power of the Church in Articles of Faith. The unbridled license of the Papal Church in destroying Purity of Doctrine.
9. Of Councils and their Authority.
10. Of the Power of making Laws. The cruelty of the Pope and his adherents, in this respect, in tyrannically oppressing and destroying Souls.
11. Of the Jurisdiction of the Church and the Abuses of it, as exemplified in the Papacy.
12. Of the Discipline of the Church, and its principal use in Censures and Excommunication.
13. Of Vows. The miserable entanglements caused by Vowing rashly.
14. Of the Sacraments.
15. Of Baptism.
16. Paedobaptism. Its accordance with the Institution of Christ, and the nature of the sign.
17. Of the Lord's Supper, and the benefits conferred by it.
18. Of the Popish Mass. How it not only profanes, but annihilates the Lord's Supper.
19. Of the Five Sacraments, falsely so called. Their spuriousness proved, and their true character explained.
20. Of Civil Government.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Confessions of a secret sinner (2)
11/18/2017 Bob Gass
‘You can’t whitewash your sins and get by.’
(Pr 28:13) 13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. ESV
Julie Ann Barnhill continues: ‘The “father of lies” (John 8:44 NIV 2011 Edition) wants us to believe there are things we’ve done that can make God’s love for us end. And on occasion I’ve swallowed three of his favourite lies. Lie number one: You’re the only person who ever did that. Few things can send me down the road of condemnation and guilt like anger issues… While outwardly I came across as “together”, I knew the verbal and physical boundaries I crossed behind closed doors. I confessed to friends, hoping to hear I wasn’t alone. But there was dead silence, and the enemy whispered, “I told you nobody else had done those things. You’re beyond help.” I believed this until God drew me back to Bible truths I learned and believed since childhood. a) If I confess my wrongs, He’ll forgive me time after time. b) If I allow Him, He’ll change my thought patterns and strengthen me to do what’s right. c) And even if I fail, Jesus remains faithful; it’s impossible for Him not to… Three years later… before a packed audience, I told hundreds of mothers where I’d been, and assured them they weren’t the only ones who’d said, done, and thought whatever they were currently beating themselves up about. Women lined up to speak to me. Some stood quietly with their heads bowed. Others fought to maintain their composure as the enemy’s lies were exposed and defeated… I never grow tired of hearing another [person] say, “Thanks for being honest!” The Lord has shown me I’m not the only one who’s done the things I’ve done.’ Now that’s real freedom!
1 Pet 2
by Bill Federer
Jesse James was killed, telephone lines connected New York and Chicago and international time zones were set. This all occurred during the term of President Chester Arthur, who died this day, November 18, 1886. The son of a Baptist minister from Ireland, Arthur became an abolitionist lawyer, defending the rights of Blacks, and served as Inspector General during the Civil War. When James Garfield was assassinated, President Arthur wrote: “The deep grief which fills all hearts should manifest itself with one accord toward the Throne of Infinite Grace… We should bow before the Almighty and seek from Him… consolation in our affliction.”American Minute
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
If you meant in your last letter that we can scrap the whole idea of petitionary prayer-prayer which, as you put it, calls upon God to "engineer" particular events in the objective world-and confine ourselves to acts of penitence and adoration, I disagree with you. It may be true that Christianity would be, intellectually, a far easier religion if it told us to do this. And I can understand the people who think it would also be a more high-minded religion. But remember the psalm: "Lord, I am not high minded." Or better still, remember the New Testament. The most unblushingly petitionary prayers are there recommended to us both by precept and example. Our Lord in Gethsemane made a petitionary prayer (and did not get what He asked for).
You'll remind me that He asked with a reservation "nevertheless, not my will but thine." This makes an enormous difference. But the difference which it precisely does not make is that of removing the prayer's petitionary character. When poor Bill, on a famous occasion, asked us to advance him £100, he said, "If you are sure you can spare it," and "I shall quite understand if you'd rather not." This made his request very different from the nagging or even threatening request which a different sort of man might have made. But it was still a request.
The servant is not greater, and must not be more high minded, than the master. Whatever the theoretical difficulties are, we must continue to make requests of God. And on this point we can get no help from those who keep on reminding us that this is the lowest and least essential kind of prayer. They may be right; but so what? Diamonds are more precious than cairngorms, but the cairngorms still exist and must be taken into account like anything else.
But don't let us be too easily brow-beaten. Some of the popular objections to petitionary prayer, if they are valid against it, are equally valid against other things which we all do whether we are Christians or not, and have done ever since the world began, and shall certainly continue to do. I don’t think the burden of answering these rests especially on us.
There is, for example, the Determinism which, whether under that name or another, seems to be implicit in a scientific view of the world. Determinism does not deny the existence of human behavior. It rejects as an illusion our spontaneous conviction that our behavior has its ultimate origin in ourselves. What I call "my act" is the conduit pipe through which the torrent of the universal process passes, and was bound to pass, at a particular time and place. The distinction between what we call the "voluntary" and the "involuntary" movements of our own bodies is not obliterated, but turns out (on this view) to be not exactly the sort of difference we supposed. What I call the "involuntary" movements necessarily-and, if we know enough, predictably-result from mechanical causes outside my body or from pathological or organic processes within it. The "voluntary" ones result from conscious psychological factors which themselves result from unconscious psychological factors dependent on my economic situation, my infantile and prenatal experience, my heredity . . . and so on back to the beginnings of organic life and beyond. I am a conductor, not a source. I never make an original contribution to the world-process. I move with that process not even as a floating log moves with the river but as a particular pint of the water itself moves.
But even those who believe this will, like anyone else, ask you to hand them the salt. Every form of behavior, including speech, can go on just the same, and will. If a strict determinist believed in God (and I think he might) petitionary prayer would be no more irrational in him than in anyone else.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The essence of any religion lies solely in the answer to the question: why do I exist, and what is my relationship to the infinite universe that surrounds me?
.. It is impossible for there to be a person with no religion (i.e. without any kind of relationship to the world) as it is for there to be a person without a heart. He may not know that he has a religion, just as a person may not know that he has a heart, but it is no more possible for a person to exist without a religion than without a heart.
--- Leo Tolstoy
What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
--- Abraham H. Maslow
Don't hate, it's too big a burden to bear.
--- Martin Luther King, Sr.
Jesus was called to throw himself on the wheel of world history, so that, even though it crushed him, it might start to turn in the opposite direction.
--- Albert Schweitzer
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
but he who hides his eyes will get curses in plenty.
28 When the wicked rise up, people hide;
but when they perish, the righteous flourish.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Winning into freedom
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. --- John 8:36.
If there is any remnant of individual conceit left, it always says—‘I can’t.’ Personality never says—‘I can’t,’ but simply absorbs and absorbs. Personality always wants more and more. It is the way we are built. We are designed with a great capacity for God; and sin and our individuality are the things that keep us from getting at God. God delivers us from sin: we have to deliver ourselves from individuality, i.e., to present our natural life to God and sacrifice it until it is transformed into a spiritual life by obedience.
God does not pay any attention to our natural individuality in the development of our spiritual life. His order runs right across the natural life, and we have to see that we aid and abet God, not stand against Him and say—‘I can’t do that.’ God will not discipline us, we must discipline ourselves. God will not bring every thought and imagination into captivity; we have to do it. Do not say—‘O Lord, I suffer from wandering thoughts.’ Don’t suffer from wandering thoughts. Stop listening to the tyranny of your individuality, and get emancipated out into personality.
“If the Son shall make you free, …” Do not substitute ‘Saviour’ for ‘Son.’ The Saviour set us free from sin; this is the freedom of being set free by the Son. It is what Paul means in Gal. 2:20 —“I have been crucified with Christ,” his natural individuality has been broken and his personality united with his Lord, not merged but united; “ye shall be free indeed,” free in essence, free from the inside. We will insist on energy, instead of being energized into identification with Jesus.
My Utmost for His Highest
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The White Tiger
It was beautiful as God
must be beautiful; glacial
eyes that had looked on
violence and come to terms
with it; a body too huge
and majestic for the cage in which
it had been put; up
and down in the shadow
of its own bulk it went,
lifting, as it turned,
the crumpled flower of its face
to look into my own
face without seeing me. It
was the colour of the moonlight
on snow and as quiet
as moonlight, but breathing
as you can imagine that
God breathes within the confines
of our definition of him, agonizing
over immensities that will not return.
"Before the executions commenced, the messenger in white linen was instructed to go through the city and place a mark on the forehead of those who “grieve and lament” over the detestable things done in the temple (v. 4).
The “mark” was therefore to distinguish the righteous from the guilty. There was special significance to the “mark” used for the purpose.
The word “mark” is the Hebrew word taw, which is the name of the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It may have been understood as an abbreviation for tām, “blameless.” In the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. the taw of Paleo-Hebrew script was written like an X or sloped cross. Its use here was to identify the righteous and exempt them from judgment. The “man” in white linen was to place the taw on the forehead of every righteous person. The significance of this sign to Christian interpreters obviously goes beyond what Ezekiel understood. As H. L. Ellison observed, the prophets often spoke more than they understood. God’s judgment always was tempered with mercy. The “man” in white linen marked those who were grieved over the sins of Judah. These were spared and became a small remnant of hope for future restoration. They were spared by receiving the sign of the cross (X), as would be those sealed for deliverance in Rev 7:3–4 and 14:1.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The two perfections of man find expression in the different theological beliefs of the Torah. In chapter twenty-eight, Maimonides distinguishes between those theological concepts which have a direct bearing upon the political and economic needs of man, and those which reflect man’s disinterested love of God:
In some cases a “commandment” communicates a correct belief, which is the one and only thing aimed at—as, for instance, the belief in the unity and eternity of the Deity and in His not being a body. In other cases the belief is necessary for the abolition of reciprocal wrongdoing or for the acquisition of a noble moral quality—as, for instance, the belief that He, may He be exalted, has a violent anger against those who do injustice, according to what is said: “And My anger shall blaze forth and I will put you to the sword, and so on,” and as the belief that He, may He be exalted, responds instantaneously to the prayer of someone wronged or deceived: “Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will pay heed, for I am compassionate.
Those beliefs which are central to man’s disinterested love of God do not touch upon the idea of God’s responsiveness to man. An individual who has transcended the problems of physical survival will primarily be interested in—and inspired by—beliefs which point to the independent reality and perfection of God. Under conditions of suffering, most men long to know that they are not alone: “Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will pay heed, for I am compassionate.” The functions of different descriptions of God can be grasped if one recognizes how they organize and guide the individual in his relationship with God. One’s emphasis upon and understanding of political and philosophical beliefs will depend on one’s level of worship.
The reader of the Guide who has followed Maimonides through his legal works perceives in the two perfections of man and in the different descriptions of God an indication of the tradition’s awareness of different levels of worship. He knows that the tradition wants to raise man from an anthropocentric to a theocentric concept of religious life. Chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight establish the logic of stages of worship within Jewish tradition. Given this perspective, the reader, in chapter twenty-nine, is shown how the Bible itself, through its struggle against idolatry, reflects this logic.
Chapter twenty-nine of the Guide introduces the reader to an understanding of the idolatrous beliefs which influenced Jews of the biblical period. The reader must not think that the prevalent belief in monotheism reflects what always was the case. He must not believe that idolatry disappeared because of the necessary progress, in history, from superstition to rationality. Idolatry was overcome as a result of the efforts of the two great fighters against idol worship: Abraham and Moses. Regarding Abraham’s influence on history, Maimonides writes:
And in point of fact his activity has resulted, as we see today, in the consensus of the greater part of the population of the earth in glorifying him and considering themselves as blessed through his memory, so that even those who do not belong to his progeny pretend to descend from him.
During the period of the Bible the struggle against idolatry was the predominant concern. Before the community could be exposed to the deeper aspirations of Judaism—love and fear of God—it was necessary to divert it from the powerful attraction of Sabean idolatry:
Consequently all the “commandments” that are concerned with the prohibition against “idolatry” and everything that is connected with it or leads toward it or may be ascribed to it, are of manifest utility, for all of them are meant to bring about the deliverance from these unhealthy opinions that turn one’s attention away from all that is useful with regard to the two perfections toward the crazy notions in which our fathers and forefathers were brought up: “Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Naḥor; and they served other gods.”
The purpose of chapter twenty-nine is to emphasize the centrality of the struggle against idolatry and to explain that the rejection of idolatry is a cardinal principle of the tradition:
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
When he opened his eyes he could see nothing.
--- Acts 9:8.
Our text, as it seems to me, applies to many of those messages with which the world is ringing. The Afterglow of God: Sunday Evenings in a Glasgow Pulpit There are faiths and philosophies that vanish when you see. When the sun is shining on you and the world is beautiful, you go, for instance, to hear a certain preacher. You have never been plunged into the depths yet and have never felt your utter need of Christ. And the man is artistic or he is intellectual or he has the fire and passion of the orator, and you feel as if you would never want another message. If the sun were always shining, it may be that such a message would be sufficient. But this is a strange, grim world with lightning flashes and storms that cry havoc and waves that cruelly beat. And when these days come, and you feel your need of Christ and of an arm to lean on and a hand to save you, no charm of speech—no intellect or artistry—can reach and grip and satisfy the soul. You want a power to hold you out of hell. You want a love that goes to the limit. You want a heart on which to lean securely though the whole universe should fall in ruin. And whenever through trial and suffering and sorrow your eyes have been opened to see that, then in the fine, artistic preaching you see nothing. Nothing to pluck you from the miry clay. Nothing commensurate with sin and hell. Nothing that can be heard across the battle, like the voice of the trumpet summoning to victory. That is why the old and chastened saints who have suffered and struggled, battled, conquered, and fallen feel sometimes that there is not a word for them in preaching that may be exquisite as music.
In the case of Paul and in the case of many people since Paul, this is what happens when through the Holy Spirit our eyes are opened to see that we are sinners. There was a Pharisee once who came up to the temple, and he thanked God he was not as others. He fasted and was an exemplary person; he was proud of all he was and all he did. In that same temple was a publican whose eyes had been opened by the grace of God, and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. Nothing of all his fasting and his tithing, nothing of all he had ever striven to do. His best was sinful. His life had been a failure. “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” When you see nothing, you see Christ. When you see that your best is rags, you see his riches. When you see at last that you have nothing to plead, you are ready for all the gladness of his grace.
--- George H. Morrison
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
The Lord Will Provide
Hudson Taylor established his China Inland Mission in 1865 on the premise that it would never solicit funds but simply trust God to supply its needs. While this policy may not be appropriate for every ministry, it provided Taylor with thousands of examples of God’s faithfulness, like this one described in a letter on November 18, 1857:
Many seem to think I am very poor. This is true enough in one sense, but I thank God it is “as poor, yet making many rich.” My God shall supply all my needs; to him be the glory. I would not, if I could, be otherwise than I am—entirely dependent myself upon the Lord, and used as a channel of help to others.
On Saturday we supplied, as usual, breakfast to the destitute poor, who came to the number of 70. Sometimes they do not reach 40, at other times exceeding 80. They come to us every day, Lord’s Day excepted, for then we cannot manage to attend to them and get through all our other duties, too. Well, on that Saturday Morning we paid all expenses, and provided ourselves for the morrow, after which we had not a single dollar left between us. How the Lord was going to provide for Monday we knew not; but over our mantelpiece hung two scrolls in the Chinese character—Ebenezer, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us”; and Jehovah-Jireh, “The Lord will provide”—and he kept us from doubting for a moment. That very day the mail came in, a week sooner than was expected, and Mr. Jones received $214. We thanked God and took courage. On Monday the poor had their breakfast as usual, for we had not told them not to come, being assured that it was the Lord’s work, and that the Lord would provide. We could not help our eyes filling with tears of gratitude when we saw not only our own needs supplied, but the widow and the orphan, the blind and the lame, the friendless and the destitute, together provided for by the bounty of him who feeds the ravens.
Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these. But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.
--- Matthew 6:31-33.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - November 18
“A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” --- Song of Solomon 4:12.
In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a believer, we have very plainly the idea of secrecy. It is a spring shut up: just as there were springs in the East, over which an edifice was built, so that none could reach them save those who knew the secret entrance; so is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace: there is a mysterious life within which no human skill can touch. It is a secret which no other man knoweth; nay, which the very man who is the possessor of it cannot tell to his neighbour. The text includes not only secrecy, but separation. It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink, it is one kept and preserved from all others; it is a fountain bearing a particular mark—a king’s royal seal, so that all can perceive that it is not a common fountain, but a fountain owned by a proprietor, and placed specially by itself alone. So is it with the spiritual life. The chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are separated by the possession of a life which others have not; and it is impossible for them to feel at home with the world, or to delight in its pleasures. There is also the idea of sacredness. The spring shut up is preserved for the use of some special person: and such is the Christian’s heart. It is a spring kept for Jesus. Every Christian should feel that he has God’s seal upon him—and he should be able to say with Paul, “From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Another idea is prominent—it is that of security. Oh! how sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for he who gave it pledged his life for its preservation. And who “is he that shall harm you,” when God is your protector?
Evening - November 18
“Thou art from everlasting.” --- Psalm 93:2.
Christ is EVERLASTING. Of him we may sing with David, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Jesus always was. The Babe born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made. The title by which Christ revealed himself to John in Patmos was, “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” If he were not God from everlasting, we could not so devoutly love him; we could not feel that he had any share in the eternal love which is the fountain of all covenant blessings; but since he was from all eternity with the Father, we trace the stream of divine love to himself equally with his Father and the blessed Spirit. As our Lord always was, so also he is for evermore. Jesus is not dead; “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Resort to him in all your times of need, for he is waiting to bless you still. Moreover, Jesus our Lord ever shall be. If God should spare your life to fulfil your full day of threescore years and ten, you will find that his cleansing fountain is still opened, and his precious blood has not lost its power; you shall find that the Priest who filled the healing fount with his own blood, lives to purge you from all iniquity. When only your last battle remains to be fought, you shall find that the hand of your conquering Captain has not grown feeble—the living Saviour shall cheer the dying saint. When you enter heaven you shall find him there bearing the dew of his youth; and through eternity the Lord Jesus shall still remain the perennial spring of joy, and life, and glory to his people. Living waters may you draw from this sacred well! Jesus always was, he always is, he always shall be. He is eternal in all his attributes, in all his offices, in all his might, and willingness to bless, comfort, guard, and crown his chosen people.
Morning and Evening
WE PLOW THE FIELDS, AND SCATTER
Matthias Claudius, 1740–1815
Translated by Jane M. Campbell, 1817–1878
Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. (Acts 14:17)
The Scriptures have many important lessons to teach us about harvests. One of these lessons is that there is always a waiting time between the planting of the seed and the gathering of the fruit or grain. This is true in spiritual matters as well. God often has to give us a waiting period for the full bloom of the Spirit’s fruit to be produced in our lives. The lesson of patience must be learned when sharing God’s love with others.
We can also learn from the harvest that a planted seed must first die before it can spring forth in new life. The way to personal spiritual fruitfulness is first death to self-centeredness (Matthew 10:30). Another truth is that a bountiful harvest is directly proportionate to the amount of sowing that has been done. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). And finally, harvesting is a cooperative affair. We may spread the seeds of the Gospel and cultivate and water the spiritual soil in an individual’s life, but ultimately it is God who gives the harvest (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9).
“We Plow the Fields, and Scatter” first appeared in Germany in 1782 and was known as “The Peasants’ Song.” It was part of a dramatic sketch portraying a harvest festival in a farm home in northern Germany. It first appeared in England in 1861.
We plow the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand; He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain, the breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good, the seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food; no gifts have we to offer, for all Thy love imparts, but that which Thou desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.
Chorus: All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above; then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all His love.
For Today: Genesis 1:11–18; 2:4, 5; Psalm 57:9–11; Isaiah 55:10, 11; Hebrews 11:3; James 1:17
“But that which Thou desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.” Is there a spiritual harvest in my life? Am I contributing to a harvest time in the lives of others? Reflect on this musical truth as you go ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
2. The objects are good in themselves, but the ill use of them is from man’s corruption. Bathsheba was, by God’s providence,
presented to David’s sight, but it was David’s disposition moved him to so evil an act; what if God knew that he would use that object
ill? yet he knew he had given him a power to refrain from any ill use of it; the objects are innocent, but our corruption poisons them.
The same object hath been used by one to holy purposes and holy improvements, that hath been used by another to sinful ends; when
a charitable object is presented to a good man, and a cruel man, one relieves him, the other reviles him; the object was rather an
occasion to draw out the charity of one, as well as the other; but the refusing to reach out a helping hand, was not from the person in
calamity, but the disposition of the refuser to whom he was presented; it is not from the nature of the object that men do good or evil,
but from the disposition of the person; what is good in itself, is made bad by our corruption. As the same meat which nourishes and
strengthens a sound constitution, cherisheth the disease of another that eats at the same table, not from any unwholesome quality in
the food, but the vicious quality of the humors lodging in the stomach, which turn the diet into fuel for themselves, which in its own
nature was apt to engender a wholesome juice. Some are perfected by the same things whereby others are ruined. Riches are used by
some, not only for their own, but the advantage of others in the world; by others only for themselves, and scarcely so much as their
necessities require. Is this the fault of the wealth, or the dispositions of the persons, who are covetous instead of being generous? It is a
calumny, therefore, upon God to charge him with the sin of man upon this account. The rain that drops from the clouds upon the
plants is sweet in itself, but when it moistens the root of any venomous plant, it is turned into the juice of the plant, and becomes
venomous with it. The miracles that our Saviour wrought, were applauded by some, and envied by the Pharisees; the sin arose not
from the nature of the miracles, but the malice of their spirits. The miracles were fitter in their own nature to have induced them to an
adoration of our Saviour, than to excite so vile a passion against one that had so many marks from heaven to dignify him, and
proclaim him worthy of their respect. The person of Christ was an object proposed to the Jews; some worship him, others condemn
and crucify him, and according to their several vices and base ends they use this object.
Judas to content his covetousness, the Pharisees to glut their revenge, Pilate for his ambition, to preserve himself in his government, and avoid the articles the people might charge him with of countenancing an enemy to Caesar. God at that time put into their minds a rational and true proposition which they apply to ill purposes. Caiaphas said, that “it was expedient for one man to die for the people,” which “he spake not of himself” (John 11:50, 51). God put it into his mind; but he might have applied it better than he did, a nd considered, though the maxim was commendable, whether it might justly be applied to Christ, or whether there was such a necessity that he must die, or the nation be destroyed by the Romans. The maxim was sound. and holy, decreed by God; but what an ill use did the high-priest make of it to put Christ to death as a seditious person, to save the nation from the Roman fury!
3. Since the natural corruption of men will use such objects ill, may not God, without tainting himself, resent such objects to them in subserviency to his gracious decrees Whatsoever God should present to men in that state, they would make an ill use of; hath not God, then, the sovereign prerogative to present what he pleases, and suppress others? To offer that to them which may serve his holy purpose, and hide other things from them which are not so conducing to his gracious ends, which would be as much the occasions of exciting their sin, as the others which he doth bring forth to their view? The Jews, at the time of Christ, were of a turbulent and seditious humor; they expected a Messiah, a temporal king, and would readily have embraced any occasion to have been up in arms to have delivered themselves from the Roman yoke; to this purpose the people attempted once to make him king: and probably the expectation they had that he had such a design to head them, might be one reason of their “hosannas;” because without some such conceit it was not probable they should so soon change their note, and vote him to the cross in so short a time, after they had applauded him as if he had been upon a throne; but their being defeated of strong expectations, usually ended in a more ardent fury. This turbulent and seditious humor God directs in another channel, suppresseth all occurrences that might excite them to a rebellion against the Romans, which, if he had given way to, the crucifying Christ, which was God’s design to bring about at that time, had not probably been effected, and the salvation of mankind been hindered or stood at a stay for a time. God, therefore, orders such objects and occasions, that might direct this seditious humor to another channel, which would else have run out in other actions, which had not been conducing to the great design he had then in the world. Is it not the right of God, and without any blemish to his holiness , to use those corruptions which he finds sown in the nature of his creature by the hand of Satan, and to propose such objects as may excite the exercise of them for his own service? Sure God hath as much right to serve himself of the creature of his own framing, and what natures soever they are possessed with, and to present objects to that purpose, as a falconer hath to offer this or that bird to his hawk to exercise his courage, and excite his ravenousness, without being termed the author of that ravenousness in the creature. God planted not those corruptions in the Jews, but finds them in those persons over whom he hath an absolute sovereignty in the right of a Creator, and that of a Judge for their sins: and by the right of that sovereignty may offer such objects and occasions, which, though innocent in themselves, he knows they will make use of to ill purposes, but which by the same decree that he resolves to present such occasions to them, he also resolves to make use of them for his own glory. It is not conceivable by us what way that death of Christ, which was necessary for the satisfaction of Divine justice, could be brought about without ordering the evil of some men’s hearts by special occasions to effect his purpose; we cannot suppose that Christ can be guilty of any crime that deserved death by the Jewish law; had he been so a criminal, he could not have been a Redeemer: a perfect innocence was necessary to the design of his coming. Had God himself put him to that death, without. using instruments of wickedness in it, by some remarkable hand from heaven, the innocence of his nature had been forever eclipsed, and the voluntariness of his sacrifice had been obscured: the strangeness of such a judgment would have made his innocence incredible; he could not reasonably have been proposed as an object of faith. What, to believe in one that was struck dead by a hand from heaven? The propagation of the doctrine of redemption had wanted a foundation; and though God might have raised him again, the certainty of his death had been as questionable as his innocence in dying, had he not been raised. But God orders everything so as to answer his own most wise and holy ends, and maintain his truth, and the fulfilling the predictions of the minutest concerns about them, and all this by presenting occasions innocent in themselves, which the corruptions of the Jews took hold of, and whereby God, unknown to them, brought about his own decrees: and may not this be conceived without any taint upon God’s holiness? for when there are seeds of all sin in man’s nature, why may not God hinder the sprouting up of this or that kind of seed, and leave liberty to the growth of the other, and shut up other ways of sinning, and restrain men from them, and let them loose to that temptation which he intends to serve himself of, hiding from them those objects which were not so serviceable to his purpose, wherein they would have sinned, and offer others, which he knew their corruption would use ill, and were serviceable to his ends; since the depravation of their natures would necessarily hurry them to evil without restraining grace, as a scale will necessarily rise up when the weight in it, which kept it down, is taken away?
Prop. VII. The holiness of God is not blemished by withdrawing his grace from a sinful creature, whereby he falls into more sin. That God withdraws his grace from men, and gives them up sometimes to the fury of their lusts, is as clear in Scripture, as anything (Deut. 29:4): “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear,” &c. Judas was delivered to Satan after the sop, and put into his power, for despising former admonitions. He often leaves the reins to the devil, that he may use what efficacy he can in those that have offended the Majesty of God; he withholds further influences of grace, or withdraws what before he had granted them. Thus he withheld that grace from the sons of Eli, that might have made their father’s pious admonitions effectual to them (1 Sam. 2:25): “They hearkened not to the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.” He gave grace to Eli to reprove them , and withheld that grace from them, which might have enabled them against their natural corruption and obstinacy to receive that reproof. But the holiness of God is not blemished by this.
1. Because the act of God in this is only negative. Thus God is said to “harden” men: not by positive hardening, or working anything in the creature, but by not working, not softening, leaving a man to the hardness of his own heart, whereby it is unavoidable by the depravation of man’s nature, and the fury of his passions, but that he should be further hardened, and “increase unto more ungodliness,” as the expression is (2 Tim. 2:19). As a man is said to give another his life, when he doth not take it away when it lay at his mercy; so God is said to “harden” a man, when he doth not mollify him when it was in his power, and inwardly quicken him with that grace whereby he might infallibly avoid any further provoking of him. God is said to harden men when he removes not from them the incentives to sin, curbs not those principles which are ready to comply with those incentives, withdraws the common assistances of his grace, concurs not with counsels and admonitions to make them effectual; flasheth not in the convincing light which he darted upon them before. If hardness follows upon God’s withholding his softening grace, it is not by any positive act of God, but from the natural hardness of man. If you put fire near to wax or rosin, both will melt; but when that fire is removed, they return to their natural quality of hardness and brittleness; the positive act of the fire is to melt and soften, and the softness of the rosin is to be ascribed to that; but the hardness is from the rosin itself, wherein the fire hath no influence, but only a negative act by a removal of it: so, when God hardens a man, he only leaves him to that stony heart which he derived from Adam, and brought with him into the world. All men’s understandings being blinded, and their wills perverted in Adam, God’s withdrawing his grace is but a leaving them to their natural pravity, which is the cause of their further sinning, and not God’s removal of that special light he before afforded them, or restraint he held over them. As when God withdraws his preserving power from the creature, he is not the efficient, but deficient cause of the creature’s destruction; so, in this case, God only ceaseth to bind and darn up that sin which else would break out.
2. The whole positive cause of his hardness is from man’s corruption. God infuseth not any sin into his creatures, but forbears to infuse his grace, and restrain their lusts, which, upon the removal of his grace, work impetuously: God only gives them up to that which he knows will work strongly in their hearts. And, therefore, the apostle wipes off from God any positive act in that uncleanness the heathens were given up to (Rom. 1:24, “Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts.” And, ver. 26, God gave them up to “vile affections;” but they were their own affections, none of God’s inspiring,) by adding, “through the lusts of their own hearts.” God’s giving them up was the logical cause, or a cause by way of argument; their own lusts were the true and natural cause; their own they were, before they were given up to them, and belonging to none, as the author, but themselves, after they were given up to them. The lust in the heart, and the temptation without, easily close and mix interests with one another: as the fire in a coal pit will with the fuel, if the streams derived into it for the quenching it be dammed up: the natural passions will run to a temptation, as the waters of a river tumble towards the sea. When a man that haul bridled in a high-mettled horse from running out, gives him the reins; or a huntsman takes off the string that held the dog, and lets him run after the hare,—are they the immediate cause of the motion of the one, or the other?—no, but the mettle and strength of the horse, and the natural inclination of the hound, both which are left to their own motions to pursue their own natural instincts. Man doth as naturally tend to sin as a stone to the centre, or as a weighty thing inclines to a motion to the earth it is from the propension of man’s nature that he “drinks up iniquity like water:” and God doth no more when he leaves a man to sin, by taking away the hedge which stopped him, but leave him to his natural inclination. As a man that breaks up a dam he hath placed, leaves the stream to run in their natural channel; or one that takes away a prop from a stone to let it fall, leaves it only to that nature which inclines it to a descent; both have their motion from their own nature, and man is sin from his own corruption. The withdrawing the sunbeams is not the cause of darkness, but the shadiness of the earth; nor is the departure of the sun the cause of winter, but the coldness of the air and earth, which was tempered and beaten back into the bowels of the earth by the vigor of the sun, upon whose departure they return to their natural state: the sun only leaves the earth and air as it found them at the beginning of the spring or the beginning of the day. If God do not give a man grace to melt him, yet he cannot be said to communicate to him that nature which hardens him, which man hath from himself. As God was not the cause of the first sin of Adam, which was the root of all other, so he is not the cause of the following sins, which, as branches, spring from that root; man’s free-will was the cause of the first sin, and the corruption of his nature by it the cause of all succeeding sins. God doth not immediately harden any man, but doth propose those things, from whence the natural vice of man takes an occasion to strengthen and nourish itself. Hence, God is said to “harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Exod. 7:13), by concurring with the magicians in turning their rods into serpents, which stiffened his heart against Moses, conceiving him by reason of that, to have no more power than other men, and was an occasion of his father hardening: and Pharaoh is said to “harden himself” (Exod. 8:32); that is, in regard of his own natural passion.
3. God is holy and righteous, because he doth not withdraw from man, till man deserts him. To say, that God withdrew that grace from Adam, which he had afforded him in creation, or anything that was due to him, till he had abused the gifts of God, and turned them to an end contrary to that of creation, would be a reflection upon the Divine holiness. God was first deserted by man before man was deserted by God; and man doth first contemn and abuse the common grace of God, and those relics of natural light, that “enlighten every man that comes into the world” (John 1:9); before God leaves him to the hurry of his own passions. Ephraim was first joined to idols, before God pronounced the fatal sentence, “Let him alone” (Hos. 4:17): and the heathens first changed the glory of the incorruptible God, before God withdrew his common grace from the corrupted creature (Rom. 1:23, 24); and they first “served the creature more than the Creator,” before the Creator gave them up to the slavish chains of their vile affections (ver. 25, 26). Israel first cast off God before God cast off them; but then “he gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts, and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:11, 12). Since sin entered into the world by the fall of Adam, and the blood of all his posterity was tainted, man cannot do anything that is formally good; not for want of faculties, but for the want of a righteous habit in those faculties, especially in the will; yet God discovers himself to man in the works of his hands; he hath left in him footsteps of natural reason; he doth attend him with common motions of his Spirit; corrects him for his faults with gentle chastisements. He is near unto all in some kind of instructions: he puts many times providential bars in their way of sinning; but when they will rush into it as the horse into the battle, when they will rebel against the light, God doth often leave them to their own course, sentence him that is “filthy to be filthy still” (Rev. 22:11), which is a righteous act of God, as he is rector and governor of the world. Man’s not receiving, or not improving what God gives, is the cause of God’s not giving further, or taking away his own, which before he had bestowed; this is so far from being repugnant to the holiness and righteousness of God, that it is rather a commendable act of his holiness and righteousness, as the rector of the world, not to let those gifts continue in the hand of a man who abuses them contrary to his glory. Who will blame a father, that, after all the good counsels he hath given to his son to reclaim him, all the corrections he hath inflicted on him for his irregular practice, leaves him to his own courses, and withdraws those assistances which he scoffed at, and turned the deaf ear unto? Or, who will blame the physician for deserting the patient, who rejects his counsel, will not fbllow his prescriptions, but dasheth his physic against the wall? No man will blame him, no man will say that he is the cause of the patient’s death, but the true cause is the fury of the distemper, and the obstinacy of the diseased person, to which the physician left him. And who can justly blame God in this case, who yet never denied supplies of grace to any that sincerely sought it at his hands; and what man is there that lies under a hardness, but first was guilty of very provoking sins? What unholiness is it to deprive men of those assistances, because of their sin, and afterwards to direct those counsels and practices of theirs, which he hath justly given them up unto, to serve the ends of his own glory in his own methods?
4. Which will appear further by considering, that God is not obliged to continue his grace to them. It was at his liberty whether he could give any renewing grace to Adam after his fall, or to any of his posterity: he was at his own liberty to withhold it or communicate it: but, if he were under any obligation then, surely he must be under less now, since the multiplication of sin by his creatures: but, if the obligation were none just after the fall, there is no pretence now to fasten any such obligation on God. That God had no obligation at first, hath been spoken to before; he is less obliged to continue his grace after a repeated refusal, and a peremptory abuse, than he was bound to proffer it after the first apostasy. God cannot be charged with unholiness in withdrawing his grace after we have received it, unless we can make it appear that his grace was a thing due to us, as we are his creatures, and as he is governor of the world. What prince looks upon himself as obliged to reside in any particular place of his kingdom? But suppose he be bound to inhabit in one particular city, yet after the city rebels against him, is he bound to continue his court there, spend his revenue among rebels, endanger his own honor and security, enlarge their charter, or maintain their ancient privileges? Is it not most just and righteous for him to withdraw himself, and leave them to their own tumultuousness and sedition, whereby they should eat the fruit of their own doings? If there be an obligation on God as a governor, it would rather lie on the side of justice to leave man to the power of the devil whom he courted, and the prevalency of those lusts he hath so often caressed; and wrap up in a cloud all his common illuminations, and leave him destitute of all common workings of his Spirit.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
Synopsis | We cover the end of Paul’s first missionary journey. It wasn‘t an easy one as he and Barnabas were met with extreme reactions. On the one hand, some gave them praise and exultation they neither wanted, nor sought. On the other end of the spectrum, they faced fierce opposition and even stoning. In all of this, the gospel was taught faithfully and brought about much fruit.
m1-512 | 07-28-2010
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Synopsis | Acts 15 describes the dissension that arose as the Judaizers tried to saddle the new Gentile believers with Jewish traditions. What role did the law still play in this new faith? We spend some time studying Joseph, a wonderful Old Testament picture of Jesus, and the many ways he seemed like an unlikely deliverer. Our Savior, in like manner, did not seem to be what the Jews were expecting in their Messiah, but the work of the salvation was fully accomplished in Him.
A Powerful Picture
s1-497 | 08-01-2010
Only audio available | click here
Synopsis | We are all flawed individuals. The Lord, however, is full of grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We should forgive others because of how much God has forgiven us.
Scratch N' Dent
s1-498 | 08-08-2010
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Synopsis | We take a longer look at the dispute that arose in Acts 15, and the defense presented by the apostles. The crux of the matter was the burden of law and tradition that the Jewish believers wanted to impose on the new Gentile believers. The church comes to a decision that brings joy and encouragement, which is what always results when believers extend grace to one another.
m1-513 | 08-11-2010
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