Luke 23 - 24
Jesus Before PilateLuke 23:1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
Jesus Before Herod6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
The Crucifixion26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The Death of Jesus44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, darkness. Not an eclipse, because Passover occurs at the time of the full moon. This was a supernatural darkness. Reformation Study Bible (2016) NKJV 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
Jesus Is Buried50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
The ResurrectionLuke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Here’s a summary of the events of the resurrection, assembled from all four evangelists’ accounts: Finding the stone rolled away, the women entered the tomb, but found it empty (Luke 24:3). While they were still in the tomb, the angels suddenly appeared (Luke 24:4; Mark 16:5). The angel who spoke reminded them of Jesus’ promises (Luke 24:6–8), then sent them to find Peter and the disciples to report that Jesus was risen (Matt. 28:7–8; Mark 16:7–8). The women did as they were told (Luke 24:9–11). The disciples were skeptical at first (Luke 24:11), but ran to where the tomb was, John arriving first (John 20:4), but Peter actually entering the tomb first (John 20:6). They saw the linen wrappings intact but empty, proof that Jesus was risen (Luke 24:12; John 20:6–8). They left immediately (Luke 24:12; John 20:10). Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb, and was standing outside weeping when Christ suddenly appeared to her (John 20:11–18). That was his first appearance (Mark 16:9). Sometime soon after that, he met the other women on the road and appeared to them as well (Matt. 28:9–10). Later that day he appeared to two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–32), and to Peter (Luke 24:34). ESV MacArthur Study Bible
On the Road to Emmaus13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
One would dearly love to have been present at this exposition of ‘Christ in all the Scriptures’. For the actual number of his recognizable quotations from the Old Testament, in relation to the cross and resurrection, is not large. He predicted the falling away of the apostles by quoting from Zechariah that when the shepherd was struck the sheep would be scattered. (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27) He concluded his Parable of the Tenants with a telling reference to the stone which, though rejected by the builders, subsequently became the building’s capstone or cornerstone. (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10–11; Luke 20:17. cf. Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7.) And while hanging on the cross, three of his so-called ‘seven words’ were direct quotations from Scripture: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ being Psalm 22:1, ‘I thirst’ coming from Psalm 69:21, and ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ from Psalm 31:5. These three psalms all describe the deep anguish of an innocent victim, who is suffering both physically and mentally at the hands of his enemies, but who at the same time maintains his trust in his God. Although of course they were written to express the distress of the psalmist himself, yet Jesus had evidently come to see himself and his own sufferings as their ultimate fulfilment.The Cross of Christ
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The Ascension50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
What I'm Reading
Martin Luther's Gift To Pastors
By Obbie Todd 11/1/2017
At the conclusion of Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom , church historian Carl Trueman recollects being interviewed for his first tenured appointment at a university. He was asked by one of the interviewers, “If you were trapped on a desert island, who would you want with you – Luther or Calvin?” Trueman chose Luther. And later that day he was hired.
According to Trueman, “I have rarely if ever used any of Luther’s commentaries or lectures in order to help clarify an exegetical point. Frankly, he lacks the precision and the sensitivity to the biblical text that one finds in Calvin. So why is it that, despite many attempts over the years to move on from studying Luther, I find myself drawn back again and again?” (28) If one were forced to supply only one answer, it would be found in Luther’s astonishing combination of genius and humanity. Unlike Calvin, who rarely spoke about himself, Luther was an open book. He spoke of flatulence. Of constipation. Of his wrestling with God. Of his marriage to Katharina von Bora. Luther wasn’t simply a theologian. He was a sinner simul iustus et peccator. This also gave Luther remarkable skill as a pastor.
As pastor and theologian, Luther understood the everyday sinner and the desperate need for assurance. Plagued by the Anfechtungen of God’s judgment, Luther knew where to flee and where to point other sinners for rest: the cross. In fact, in Luther’s distinction between theology of the cross and theology of glory, he left perhaps his best gift to pastors:
- That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened. [Rom. 1:20]
- He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
- A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.
Fear and Trembling
By Liam Walsh 1/2/2017
This is an updated version of my last post, Beholding the Glory of the Gospel. Essentially this is a step by step guide for what to do when reading your Bible. I have updated this post to better reflect what most helps me get into the presence of God and to experience him. This is something to go through once you have your Bible in front of you and have a Bible reading plan to start. If you’re more of a neat-nic like me, you might find this helpful (if not, you may just be overwhelmed). I find that if I don’t have a plan for how to read, I simply read my Bible and just go on my way without it having any affect on me.
This plan is something I’ve gathered together from a few different sources over a few years. It really helps my Bible reading affect my soul, and work change in me, rather than just being something I glance over. Before starting you may want to grab a coffee, get out a journal, maybe light a candle, or turn on some quiet music that helps you get into God’s presence. To go through everything here will probably take a few sittings, so some people may find it better to pick and choose some things that are most helpful for them. My hope is that this will help you to more deeply enjoy, know, and be swallowed up in the glorious majesty of Jesus our king!
2 Cor 2:16
Click here to go to source
Does Christian Hypocrisy Undermine the Reasonability of the Faith?
By Sean McDowell 10/31/2017
Christian hypocrisy has done massive damage to the Christian faith. According to author and social critic Os Guinness, the challenge of hypocrisy is second only to the problem of suffering and evil, and is one of the main reasons people duck the challenge of the gospel.
Hypocrisy is such a massive challenge, says Guinness, because Christians are called to be God’s witnesses to the world (Isa. 43:10; John 3:28): “In other words, before we are asked to preach, proclaim or try to persuade people of the claims of Jesus and his Father, we are asked simply to be witnesses for him—to provide an honest and factual account of what we have seen and heard objectively, and what we ourselves have experienced (‘Once I was blind, but now I can see’)—and to live lives that support what we say.
(Is 43:10) 10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. ESV
(Jn 3:28) 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. ESV
It is tempting for Christians to respond by pointing out the hypocrisy in other people and worldviews. For instance, the voices of tolerance and inclusiveness are often remarkably intolerant and non-inclusive of people with traditional values. Such hypocrisy should be rightly pointed out. But this doesn’t get Christians off the hook. After all, James said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Christians are called to a higher standard. Whether we like it or not, people will judge the truthfulness of Christianity by the lives of its adherents.
As with the charge that the church has caused injustice in the world, Christians should first look inside and see if there is any merit to this claim. Have we been hypocritical in any way? Have our lives betrayed our principles? Have we contributed to this narrative? Rather than blame others, we need to take an honest look inside, identify our own hypocrisy, repent of it, and then admit our shortcomings.
As for the claim itself, it is an example of a “genetic fallacy,” which is a claim that is dismissed because of some perceived fault in its origin (its genesis). Guinness explains,
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, a part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.Books By Sean McDowellSean McDowell Books:
Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists
A New Kind of Apologist: *Adopting Fresh Strategies *Addressing the Latest Issues *Engaging the Culture
The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage (Thoughtful Response)
ETHIX: Being Bold in a Whatever World
More Than a Carpenter
Self-Esteem Won’t Save You
By John Piper 11/1/2017
I’m not on a mission to help you feel good about yourselves. I am on a mission to help you feel so good about the greatness of God that you forget about yourselves and live a life of love, making others glad in God. I’m going to say that again because in our twenty-first-century mold and time on the back end of the crest of the wave of self-esteem, it needs to still be said.
I am not here to make you feel good about yourself. That’s a low salvation. That’s a low-level, American gospel message. I am here to make you so happy in God — to help you feel so good about the glory, majesty, beauty, justice, love, truth, and power of God — so that in all that, you forget about yourself.
Some of you have heard me say, “Nobody goes to the Grand Canyon to increase his self-esteem.” Because on the edge of the Grand Canyon, as you feel your soul being drawn out into this vast opening, that’s not what happens. What happens is wonder and awe, which is what you were made for. Heaven will not be a hall of mirrors in which you like what you see. In fact, I just have this suspicion there won’t be any mirrors in heaven because anything good and beautiful about you will be radiated back to you from the other people that you’re loving so much it just bounces back to you. But mainly it’s going to be about Jesus everywhere satisfying your soul.
So, thoughts about you in this world cause us so much grief. We think that the solution is “If I could just feel better about me — better about the way I look, better about my height, my weight, my complexion, my hair, my mathematical ability — if I could just feel better about me, I’d be healed.”
You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t be healed. You’d have low-level, low-grade, non-satisfying measures of contentment. You were made to see God, love God, delight in God, and be stunned by God.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
6 Marks of a Faithful Ministry
By Tim Challies 11/1/2016
God is good to give us pastors. The very fact that God calls certain men to “care for the church of God” (Acts 20:28) proves that the church is in need of care. God gives us pastors because we need pastoring. But what is this ministry? How does a pastor minister to his people in a way that expresses due care and concern for them? Last week I spent some time studying Paul’s charge to the elders/pastors in Ephesus (see Acts 20) and saw him lay out a series of marks of a faithful ministry.
The pastor’s ministry is a humble ministry. Paul reminded these church leaders, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility…” Paul could humbly say he had served them with humility. He had always desired their good and God’s glory rather than his good and his own glory. He had served them as a slave under the rule of God, faithfully carrying out his ministry. He was an example of selflessness, of esteeming others higher than himself. The pastor is to serve humbly, to serve just like Jesus served. An arrogant ministry is the most destructive kind of ministry.
The pastor’s ministry is a bold ministry. Paul was humble, and his humility allowed him to be bold. “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable.” Paul didn’t just whisper or suggest what was true. He declared it. He declared anything and everything that would be beneficial to his congregation. He held back nothing that would be good for the state of their souls. A few verses later he says “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” This church got all of it. They got the whole Bible, not just the parts that are easy or the parts that play nice with the surrounding culture. His confidence was in God, so he boldly declared the whole counsel of God. Pastors aren’t called to be popular, but to be heralds of the truth.
The pastor’s ministry is a teaching ministry. Paul reminds this church that he was “teaching you in public and from house to house.” There were both public and private dimensions to his ministry. There was a preaching component to it as well as a teaching or counseling component. He would preach before the entire congregation and he would meet with an individual or a small group. The pastor is first and foremost a minister of the Word of God and he is called to take the Word to the people by preaching it or by teaching it. Wherever they are is exactly where he will bring the Word.
The pastor’s ministry is a wide ministry. The pastor’s ministry goes out to all kinds of people and does not deliberately exclude any group. Paul reminds the church that he testified to both Jews and Greeks. He preached to anyone and everyone who would listen. He even actively sought out different kinds of people. Whoever was in his neighborhood would hear his gospel. He knew that the gospel is good news for everyone and he wanted everyone to worship together in one church, as one body. The news was too good to hold back from anyone.
I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.
Tim Challies is founding blogger of Challies.com and a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @Challies. He began his web site in 2002 and has been writing there daily since 2003. It is his place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things he discovers in his online travels.
Tim Challies Books | Go to Books Page
A Christian Strategy
By Adrian Vermeule 11/2017
The problem is the relentless aggression of liberalism, driven by an internal mechanism that causes ever more radical demands for political conformism, particularly targeting the Church. The solution is an equally radical form of strategic flexibility on the part of the Church, which must stand detached from all subsidiary political commitments, willing to enter into flexible alliances of convenience with any of the parties, institutions, and groups that jostle under the canopy of the liberal imperium.
Late-stage liberalism, which calls itself “progressive,” embodies a distinctive secularized soteriology and eschatology. Progressive liberalism has its own cruel sacraments—especially the shaming and, where possible, legal punishment of the intolerant or illiberal—and its own liturgy, the Festival of Reason, the ever-repeated overcoming of the darkness of reaction. Because the celebration of the festival essentially requires, as part of its liturgical script, a reactionary enemy to be overcome, liberalism ceaselessly and restlessly searches out new villains to play their assigned part. Thus the boundaries of progressive demands for conformity are structurally unstable, fluid, and ever shifting, not merely contingently so—there can be no lasting peace. Yesterday the frontier was divorce, contraception, and abortion; then it became same-sex marriage; today it is transgenderism; tomorrow it may be polygamy, consensual adult incest, or who knows what. The uncertainty is itself the point. From the liberal standpoint, the essential thing is that the new issue provokes opposition from the forces of reaction, who may then be conquered in a public and dramatic fashion by the political mobilization of liberal forces.
There are two ways of understanding this dynamic. One is that in the long run, liberalism undermines itself by transforming tolerance into increasingly radical intolerance of the “intolerant”—meaning those who hold illiberal views. On this view, militant progressivism is distinct from liberalism, indeed a betrayal of it. Such an account would make liberalism analogous to Marx’s claim about capitalism: Liberalism is inherently unstable and is structurally disposed to generate the very forces that destroy it.
A different view, and my own, is that liberal intolerance represents not the self-undermining of liberalism, but a fulfillment of its essential nature. When a chrysalis shelters an insect that later bursts forth from it and leaves it shattered, the chrysalis has in fact fulfilled its true and predetermined end. Liberalism of the purportedly tolerant sort is to militant progressivism as the chrysalis is to the hideous insect.
The Church’s role as liberalism’s principal target and antagonist is also structurally embedded. At the level of revolutionary politics, the Church and clergy were central targets for the rage of the philosophes and the violence of the mob. At the level of theory, Maurice Cowling showed that Mill’s putatively rational and tolerant liberalism was born out of a patricidal hatred of Christianity, and a desire that the wheel of history should turn once more, and then stop—with the Church replaced by a progressive “clerisy,” enforcing liberal commitments through state education. Both politically and theoretically, hostility to the Church was encoded within liberalism from its birth.
Apologetics: Is Inerrancy A Modern Invention?
By Timothy Paul Jones 8/29/2016
“Inerrancy” is the belief that the Bible never errs. It’s another way of saying that the Old and New Testaments—as they were originally written—declare what is true and describe accurately what happened in the past. To say the Bible is inerrant is to say that the Scriptures do not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.
Some scholars have argued, however, that the notion of an inerrant Bible is a modern invention and that ancient Christians didn’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture at all.
So what did Christians in the first few centuries of the church’s story believe about the Bible?
It is true that the earliest Christians didn’t use the word “inerrancy.” And yet, from the earliest stages of Christian history, it’s also true that faithful church leaders treated the Old and New Testaments as God’s inerrant revelation of himself.
The Concept of Inerrancy in the Writings of the Earliest Christians | Take a look at these selections from the writings of church leaders in the first few centuries of Christian history:
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 119119 YODH
119:73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!
Fox's Book Of Martyrs
By John Foxe 1563
Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth CenturyGiovanni Pelanchion, for refusing to turn papist, was tied by one leg to the tail of a mule, and dragged through the streets of Lucerne, amidst the acclamations of an inhuman mob, who kept stoning him, and crying out, "He is possessed with the devil, so that, neither stoning, nor dragging him through the streets, will kill him, for the devil keeps him alive." They then took him to the river side, chopped off his head, and left that and his body unburied, upon the bank of the stream.
Magdalen, the daughter of Peter Fontaine, a beautiful child of ten years of age, was ravished and murdered by the soldiers. Another girl of about the same age, they roasted alive at Villa Nova; and a poor woman, hearing that the soldiers were coming toward her house, snatched up the cradle in which her infant son was asleep, and fled toward the woods. The soldiers, however, saw and pursued her; when she lightened herself by putting down the cradle and child, which the soldiers no sooner came to, than they murdered the infant, and continuing the pursuit, found the mother in a cave, where they first ravished, and then cut her to pieces.
Jacob Michelino, chief elder of the church of Bobbio, and several other Protestants, were hung up by means of hooks fixed in their bellies, and left to expire in the most excruciating tortures.
Giovanni Rostagnal, a venerable Protestant, upwards of fourscore years of age, had his nose and ears cut off, and slices cut from the fleshy parts of his body, until he bled to death.
Seven persons, viz. Daniel Seleagio and his wife, Giovanni Durant, Lodwich Durant, Bartholomew Durant, Daniel Revel, and Paul Reynaud, had their mouths stuffed with gunpowder, which being set fire to, their heads were blown to pieces.
Jacob Birone, a schoolmaster of Rorata, for refusing to change his religion, was stripped quite naked; and after having been very indecently exposed, had the nails of his toes and fingers torn off with red-hot pincers, and holes bored through his hands with the point of a dagger. He then had a cord tied round his middle, and was led through the streets with a soldier on each side of him. At every turning the soldier on his right hand side cut a gash in his flesh, and the soldier on his left hand side struck him with a bludgeon, both saying, at the same instant, "Will you go to Mass? will you go to Mass?" He still replied in the negative to these interrogatories, and being at length taken to the bridge, they cut off his head on the balustrades, and threw both that and his body into the river.
Paul Garnier, a very pious Protestant, had his eyes put out, was then flayed alive, and being divided into four parts, his quarters were placed on four of the principal houses of Lucerne. He bore all his sufferings with the most exemplary patience, praised God as long as he could speak, and plainly evinced, what confidence and resignation a good conscience can inspire.
Daniel Cardon, of Rocappiata, being apprehended by some soldiers, they cut his head off, and having fried his brains, ate them. Two poor old blind women, of St. Giovanni, were burnt alive; and a widow of La Torre, with her daughter, were driven into the river, and there stoned to death.
Paul Giles, on attempting to run away from some soldiers, was shot in the neck: they then slit his nose, sliced his chin, stabbed him, and gave his carcass to the dogs.
Some of the Irish troops having taken eleven men of Garcigliana prisoners, they made a furnace red hot, and forced them to push each other in until they came to the last man, whom they pushed in themselves.
Michael Gonet, a man of ninety, was burnt to death; Baptista Oudri, another old man, was stabbed; and Bartholomew Frasche had holes made in his heels, through which ropes were put; then he was dragged by them to the jail, where his wounds mortified and killed him.
Magdalene de la Piere being pursued by some of the soldiers, and taken, was thrown down a precipice, and dashed to pieces. Margaret Revella, and Mary Pravillerin, two very old women, were burnt alive; and Michael Bellino, with Ann Bochardno, were beheaded.
The son and the daughter of a counsellor of Giovanni were rolled down a steep hill together, and suffered to perish in a deep pit at the bottom. A tradesman's family, viz.: himself, his wife, and an infant in her arms, were cast from a rock, and dashed to pieces; and Joseph Chairet and Paul Carniero were flayed alive.
Cypriania Bustia, being asked if he would renounce his religion and turn Roman Catholic, replied, "I would rather renounce life, or turn dog"; to which a priest answered, "For that expression you shall both renounce life, and be given to the dogs." They, accordingly, dragged him to prison, where he continued a considerable time without food, until he was famished; after which they threw his corpse into the street before the prison, and it was devoured by dogs in the most shocking manner.
Margaret Saretta was stoned to death, and then thrown into the river; Antonio Bartina had his head cleft asunder; and Joseph Pont was cut through the middle of his body.
Daniel Maria, and his whole family, being ill of a fever, several papist ruffians broke into his house, telling him they were practical physicians, and would give them all present ease, which they did by knocking the whole family on the head.
Three infant children of a Protestant, named Peter Fine, were covered with snow, and stifled; an elderly widow, named Judith, was beheaded, and a beautiful young woman was stripped naked, and had a stake driven through her body, of which she expired.
Lucy, the wife of Peter Besson, a woman far gone in her pregnancy, who lived in one of the villages of the Piedmontese valleys, determined, if possible, to escape from such dreadful scenes as everywhere surrounded her: she, accordingly took two young children, one in each hand, and set off towards the Alps. But on the third day of the journey she was taken in labor among the mountains, and delivered of an infant, who perished through the extreme inclemency of the weather, as did the two other children; for all three were found dead by her, and herself just expiring, by the person to whom she related the above particulars.
Francis Gros, the son of a clergyman, had his flesh slowly cut from his body into small pieces, and put into a dish before him; two of his children were minced before his sight; and his wife was fastened to a post, that she might behold all these cruelties practiced on her husband and offspring. The tormentors at length being tired of exercising their cruelties, cut off the heads of both husband and wife, and then gave the flesh of the whole family to the dogs.
The sieur Thomas Margher fled to a cave, when the soldiers shut up the mouth, and he perished with famine. Judith Revelin, and seven children, were barbarously murdered in their beds; and a widow of near fourscore years of age, was hewn to pieces by soldiers.
Jacob Roseno was ordered to pray to the saints, which he absolutely refused to do: some of the soldiers beat him violently with bludgeons to make him comply, but he still refusing, several of them fired at him, and lodged a great many balls in his body. As he was almost expiring, they cried to him, "Will you call upon the saints? Will you pray to the saints?" To which he answered "No! No! No!" when one of the soldiers, with a broadsword, clove his head asunder, and put an end to his sufferings in this world; for which undoubtedly, he is gloriously rewarded in the next.
A soldier, attempting to ravish a young woman, named Susanna Gacquin, she made a stout resistance, and in the struggle pushed him over a precipice, when he was dashed to pieces by the fall. His comrades, instead of admiring the virtue of the young woman, and applauding her for so nobly defending her chastity, fell upon her with their swords, and cut her to pieces.
Giovanni Pulhus, a poor peasant of La Torre, being apprehended as a Protestant by the soldiers, was ordered, by the marquis of Pianesta, to be executed in a place near the convent. When he came to the gallows, several monks attended, and did all they could to persuade him to renounce his religion. But he told them he never would embrace idolatry, and that he was happy at being thought worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. They then put him in mind of what his wife and children, who depended upon his labor, would suffer after his decease; to which he replied, "I would have my wife and children, as well as myself, to consider their souls more than their bodies, and the next world before this; and with respect to the distress I may leave them in, God is merciful, and will provide for them while they are worthy of his protection." Finding the inflexibility of this poor man, the monks cried, "Turn him off! turn him off!" which the executioner did almost immediately, and the body being afterward cut down, was flung into the river.
Paul Clement, an elder of the church of Rossana, being apprehended by the monks of a neighboring monastery, was carried to the market place of that town, where some Protestants had just been executed by the soldiers. He was shown the dead bodies, in order that the sight might intimidate him. On beholding the shocking subjects, he said, calmly, "You may kill the body, but you cannot prejudice the soul of a true believer; but with respect to the dreadful spectacles which you have here shown me, you may rest assured, that God's vengeance will overtake the murderers of those poor people, and punish them for the innocent blood they have spilt." The monks were so exasperated at this reply that they ordered him to be hanged directly; and while he was hanging, the soldiers amused themselves in standing at a distance, and shooting at the body as at a mark.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Continual Burnt Offering (Colossians 3:9)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
November 3Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. ESV
God is called the “God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16). The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). Christ said, “I am…the truth” (John 14:6). No one can have fellowship with the holy trinity who does not walk in the truth (2 John 4; 3 John 4). God desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6). Falsehood of every kind is hateful to Him. There is nothing that so manifests the alienation of the natural man from God as his tendency to falsehood. Of the wicked we are told that they go astray from their very birth speaking lies (Psalm 58:3). Satan himself is the father of lies (John 8:44). It is he who injects the venom of untruthfulness into the heart of man (Acts 5:3). Only by the new birth can this lying spirit be overcome. It is as the regenerated man yields himself to God as one alive from the dead that he learns to delight in the truth objectively revealed, and to walk in the truth subjectively.
Isaiah 65:16 so that he who blesses himself in the land
shall bless himself by the God of truth,
and he who takes an oath in the land
shall swear by the God of truth;
because the former troubles are forgotten
and are hidden from my eyes.
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
2 John 4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Psalm 51:6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? ESV
O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee;
From sin be daily freed.
In Thy bright beams which on me fall,
Fade every evil thought;
That I am nothing, Thou art all,
I would be daily taught.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Be a Shamgar (2)
(Nov 3) Bob Gass
‘In the days of Shamgar.’
(Jdg 5:6) 6 “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. ESV
When Shamgar picked up his ox-goad and slew six hundred Philistines, he made a decision that if he was going to go down, he was going to go down fighting (see Judges 3:31). And that’s the key to deliverance, whether it’s from the Philistines, or pride, or prejudice, or pornography, or any other stubborn problem in your life. You’ve got to go on the offensive. There comes a point when you say, ‘Enough is enough.’ You know you cannot continue down the path you are on because it’s a dead end relationally, physically, or spiritually. It may not kill you, but it will eat you alive. You know you cannot keep doing what you’ve always done. Not if you want to get into shape, or get out of debt. Not if you want to recapture the romance, or reach the goal. Not if you want to leave a legacy worth living up to. And the good news is this: you are only one decision away from a totally different life. But you’ve got to grab your ox-goad and go for it. Cut up that credit card. Apply for the graduate programme. Take the mission trip. Set up the counselling appointment. William A. Lawrence wrote, ‘On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to wait, and waiting – died!’ Stop being a procrastinator. Stop being a perfectionist. Spiritual growth is about progress, not perfection. When it comes to going after your goals, your greatest adversary is inertia. We have a tendency to keep doing what we’ve always done, hoping that somehow things will change. They won’t, so be a Shamgar and take action!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
On November 3, 1924, in a Radio Address to the nation from the White House, President Calvin Coolidge stated: “I urge all the voters of our country, without reference to party, that they assemble tomorrow at their respective voting places in the exercise of the high office of American citizenship, that they approach the ballot box in the spirit that they would approach a sacrament.” President Coolidge continued: “Make [your] choice of public officers solely in the light of [your] conscience. When an election is so held… it sustains the belief that the voice of the people is the voice of God.”American Minute
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
I don't doubt, then, that Rose Macaulay's method was the right one for her. It wouldn't be for me, any more than for you.
All the same, I am not quite such a purist in this matter as I used to be. For many years after my conversion I never used any ready-made forms except the Lord's Prayer. In fact I tried to pray without words at all-not to verbalize the mental acts. Even in praying for others I believe I tended to avoid their names and substituted mental images of them. I still think the prayer without words is the best-if one can really achieve it. But I now see that in trying to make it my daily bread I was counting on a greater mental and spiritual strength than I really have. To pray successfully without words one needs to be "at the top of one's form." Otherwise the mental acts become merely imaginative or emotional acts-and a fabricated emotion is a miserable affair. When the golden moments come, when God enables one really to pray without words, who but a fool would reject the gift? But He does not give it-anyway not to me-day in, day out. My mistake was what Pascal, if I remember rightly, calls "Error of Stoicism": thinking we can do always what we can do sometimes.
And this, you see, makes the choice between ready-made prayers and one's own words rather less important for me than -it apparently is for you. For me words are in any case secondary. They are only an anchor. Or, shall I say, they are the movements of a conductor's baton: not the music. They serve to canalize the worship or penitence or petition which might without them-such are our minds-spread into wide and shallow puddles. It does not matter very much who first put them together. If they are our own words they will soon, by unavoidable repetition, harden into a formula. If they are someone else's, we shall continually pour into them our own meaning.
At present-for one's practice changes and, I think, ought to change-I find it best to make "my own words" the staple but introduce a modicum of the ready-made.
Writing to you, I need not stress the importance of the home-made staple. As Solomon said at the dedication of the temple, each man who prays knows "the plague of his own heart." Also, the comforts of his own heart. No other creature is identical with me; no other situation identical with mine. Indeed, I myself and my situation are in continual change. A ready-made form can’t serve for my intercourse with God any more than it could serve for my intercourse with you.
This is obvious. Perhaps I shan't find it so easy to persuade you that the ready-made modicum has also its use: for me, I mean-I’m not suggesting rules for anyone else in the whole world.
Thanks to Meir Yona
Concerning The Calamity That Befell Antiochus, King Of Commagene. As Also Concerning The Alans And What Great Mischiefs They Did To The Medes And Armenians.
1. And now, in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian, it came to pass that Antiochus, the king of Commagene, with all his family, fell into very great calamities. The occasion was this: Cesennius Petus, who was president of Syria at this time, whether it were done out of regard to truth, or whether out of hatred to Antiochus, [for which was the real motive was never thoroughly discovered,] sent an epistle to Caesar, and therein told him that Antiochus, with his son Epiphanes, had resolved to rebel against the Romans, and had made a league with the king of Parthia to that purpose; that it was therefore fit to prevent them, lest they prevent us, and begin such a war as may cause a general disturbance in the Roman empire. Now Caesar was disposed to take some care about the matter, since this discovery was made; for the neighborhood of the kingdoms made this affair worthy of greater regard; for Samoseta, the capital of Commagene, lies upon Euphrates, and upon any such design could afford an easy passage over it to the Parthians, and could also afford them a secure reception. Petus was accordingly believed, and had authority given him of doing what he should think proper in the case; so he set about it without delay, and fell upon Commagene before Antiochus and his people had the least expectation of his coming: he had with him the tenth legion, as also some cohorts and troops of horsemen. These kings also came to his assistance: Aristobulus, king of the country called Chalcidene, and Sohemus, who was called king of Emesa. Nor was there any opposition made to his forces when they entered the kingdom; for no one of that country would so much as lift up his hand against them. When Antiochus heard this unexpected news, he could not think in the least of making war with the Romans, but determined to leave his whole kingdom in the state wherein it now was, and to retire privately, with his wife and children, as thinking thereby to demonstrate himself to the Romans to be innocent as to the accusation laid against him. So he went away from that city as far as a hundred and twenty furlongs, into a plain, and there pitched his tents.
2. Petus then sent some of his men to seize upon Samosate, and by their means took possession of that city, while he went himself to attack Antiochus with the rest of his army. However, the king was not prevailed upon by the distress he was in to do any thing in the way of war against the Romans, but bemoaned his own hard fate, and endured with patience what he was not able to prevent. But his sons, who were young, and unexperienced in war, but of strong bodies, were not easily induced to bear this calamity without fighting. Epiphanes, therefore, and Callinicus, betook themselves to military force; and as the battle was a sore one, and lasted all the day long, they showed their own valor in a remarkable manner, and nothing but the approach of night put a period thereto, and that without any diminution of their forces; yet would not Antiochus, upon this conclusion of the fight, continue there by any means, but took his wife and his daughters, and fled away with them to Cilicia, and by so doing quite discouraged the minds of his own soldiers. Accordingly, they revolted, and went over to the Romans, out of the despair they were in of his keeping the kingdom; and his case was looked upon by all as quite desperate. It was therefore necessary that Epiphanes and his soldiers should get clear of their enemies before they became entirely destitute of any confederates; nor were there any more than ten horsemen with him, who passed with him over Euphrates, whence they went undisturbed to Vologeses, the king of Parthia, where they were not disregarded as fugitives, but had the same respect paid them as if they had retained their ancient prosperity. 3. Now when Antiochus was come to Tarsus in Cilicia, Petus ordered a centurion to go to him, and send him in bonds to Rome. However, Vespasian could not endure to have a king brought to him in that manner, but thought it fit rather to have a regard to the ancient friendship that had been between them, than to preserve an inexorable anger upon pretense of this war. Accordingly, he gave orders that they should take off his bonds, while he was still upon the road, and that he should not come to Rome, but should now go and live at Lacedemon; he also gave him large revenues, that he might not only live in plenty, but like a king also. When Epiphanes, who before was in great fear for his father, was informed of this, their minds were freed from that great and almost incurable concern they had been under. He also hoped that Caesar would be reconciled to them, upon the intercession of Vologeses; for although he lived in plenty, he knew not how to bear living out of the Roman empire. So Caesar gave him leave, after an obliging manner, and he came to Rome; and as his father came quickly to him from Lacedemon, he had all sorts of respect paid him there, and there he remained.
4. Now there was a nation of the Alans, which we have formerly mentioned some where as being Scythians and inhabiting at the lake Meotis. This nation about this time laid a design of falling upon Media, and the parts beyond it, in order to plunder them; with which intention they treated with the king of Hyrcania; for he was master of that passage which king Alexander [the Great] shut up with iron gates. This king gave them leave to come through them; so they came in great multitudes, and fell upon the Medes unexpectedly, and plundered their country, which they found full of people, and replenished with abundance of cattle, while nobody durst make any resistance against them; for Paeorus, the king of the country, had fled away for fear into places where they could not easily come at him, and had yielded up every thing he had to them, and had only saved his wife and his concubines from them, and that with difficulty also, after they had been made captives, by giving them a hundred talents for their ransom. These Alans therefore plundered the country without opposition, and with great ease, and proceeded as far as Armenia, laying all waste before them. Now Tiridates was king of that country, who met them, and fought them, but had like to have been taken alive in the battle; for a certain man threw a net over him from a great distance, and had soon drawn him to him, unless he had immediately cut the cord with his sword, and ran away, and prevented it. So the Alans, being still more provoked by this sight, laid waste the country, and drove a great multitude of the men, and a great quantity of the other prey they had gotten out of both kingdoms, along with them, and then retreated back to their own country.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
As we become purer channels for God's light,
we develop an appetite for the sweetness
that is possible in this world.
A miracle worker is not geared toward fighting the world
but toward creating the world that could be.
--- Marianne Williamson | Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens
There are people in the world so hungry,
that God cannot appear to them
except in the form of bread.
--- Mohandas Gandhi
Happy were it, if puzzled and perplexed Christians would turn their eyes from the defects that are in their obedience, to the fullness and completeness of Christ’s obedience; and see themselves complete in him.
--- John Flavel
Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.
--- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a sunhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the son shines on it.
--- C.S. Lewis
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
but those who keep Torah fight them.
5 Evil people don’t understand justice,
but those who seek ADONAI understand everything.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
A bond-slave of Jesus
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. --- Gal. 2:20.
These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me to the point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot put me through it. It means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God, and the emancipation of my personality into oneness with Himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus. There is no possibility of dispute when once I am there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ—“For my sake.” It is that which makes the iron saint.
Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is—Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable—“I have been crucified with Christ.”
The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I do not begin to be a saint.
One student a year who hears God’s call would be sufficient for God to have called this College into existence. This College as an organization is not worth anything, it is not academic; it is for nothing else but for God to help Himself to lives. Is he going to help Himself to us, or are we taken up with our conception of what we are going to be?
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
They spoke to him in Hebrew and he understood
them; in Latin and Italian and
he understood them. Speech palled
on them and they turned to the silence
of their equations. But God listened to them
as to a spider spinning its web
from its entrails, the mind swinging
to and fro over an abysm
of blankness. They are speaking to me still,
he decided, in the geometry
I delight in, in the figures
that beget more figures. I will answer
them as of old with the infinity
I feed on. If there were words once
they could not understand, I will show,
them now space that is bounded
but without end, time that is where
they were or will be; the eternity
that is here for me and for them
there; the truth that with much labour
is born with them and is to be
sloughed off like some afterbirth of the spirit.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
The Mutakallimun disregarded the important distinction between arguments from authority and from reason. The Mutakallimun claimed to have demonstrated the existence of God yet the premises upon which they based their demonstrations were, at best, only probable. They spoke as if they were offering demonstrative proof, but actually they were appealing from authority.
The consequences of using the mask of demonstrative reason to cover claims from authority can be disastrous. When one believes that his truth is self-evident, or that the impossibility of the contrary is demonstrated, and when no such demonstration exists, the reactions of those who disagree with him are interpreted as obstinacy or personal rebukes. In such situations, Maimonides recognizes that man would resort to violence to discourage the doubt caused by a faulty demonstration:
… we would claim that we have a demonstration of the creation of the world in time and we would use the sword to prove it so that we should claim to know God by means of a demonstration.
Violence would be justified by the necessity to change the stubborn will of one who refuses to accept that which is believed to be self-evident and demonstratively certain. Where reason is faulty and is not recognized as such, power will be used to compensate for the failures. Political leaders will respond with an unlimited abuse of power if they do not recognize the logical basis for their claims. Arguments from authority—which appear in the guise of demonstrative reason—are strong obstacles to the development of a world view which attempts to develop individual spiritual excellence—based upon reason—within a traditional religious society. It is against this background that one should understand Maimonides’ meticulous concern for explaining the epistemological grounds of his statements.
Maimonides’ approach to beliefs and halakhic behavior opens the way for the integration of philosophy and Torah. The person whose spiritual life is nurtured by reason can fully embrace the spiritual life of his community. His intellect is never compromised when he acts within the framework of Torah. Had the Jewish tradition demanded the acceptance of beliefs which reason establishes as false, such a person would be compelled to suppress his intellect, or to reject his tradition, or to accept tradition for political expediency. Maimonides’ epistemology eliminates the need to choose one of these options. The individual who has found his way to God by reason can accept communal forms of spirituality, i.e., Halakhah, as a whole man; he need not sever his political and social life from his individual aspirations. He knows that Judaism never allows authority to overstep the limits of its legitimate competence and to invade domains where reason is master.
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
--- 1 Corinthians 2:8
[What was] the role of the people, the decent, foolish, likable, thoughtless people? The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life It was they who did it, for they could have stopped it. When Pilate left it to them, no doubt he was quite certain he had found the way to free Christ. For he must have known of the enthusiasm for him in the streets. There could be no doubt about the popular verdict. And he was plainly disconcerted when there came that long shout for Barabbas and not a single voice for Christ.
It was only a little gathering, of course. But where were the others, those on whom Pilate had relied? They must have heard of Christ’s arrest and trial, yet they who could have saved him were not there. There were the usual excuses. After all, it was no affair of theirs. They were busy sight-seeing, for it was not often they were up in the capital. They had friends to look up, and these had detained them. Or they were worshiping in the temple. Or they felt there was no need for them to hurry to the court. Christ could not be in any pressing danger. He would be all right. The others would be there to shout for him. There was no lack of voices yesterday. They need not bother running through the heat. And so, because everyone felt there was no need to be there, Christ died—a perfectly unnecessary death, if only even a few had done their part.
Let us remember that. For isn’t it just this way that things the world cries for get delayed and frustrated? It isn’t through ill-will nor through hostility but because people can’t be bothered voting or are made to feel that they make no difference that changes are not made. Yet we can all do something that would help. Not much perhaps, yet yours and yours and yours and mine, added together, would be quite enough. And it is because these littles we could offer are lacking that nothing happens, and the shame goes on. We are not hostile, we are not indifferent, we are not against it. But we are not there. And so again Christ dies.
So true it is that we, too, you and I, have crucified the Lord of glory and subjected him to public disgrace. It was not something gross, unthinkable, obscene, that brought Christ to his cross, but little decent sins of ordinary decent people, such as we sin every day. Look at your hands, and make sure you do not have Christ’s blood on them even now!
--- Arthur John Gossip
Bobby Wild Goose
Robert Raikes was born in 1735 in Gloucester, England, where his father published the Gloucester Journal. When the elder Raikes died in 1757, Robert, 22, inherited the newspaper, and immediately used it to crusade for moral reform. English prisons, for example, were inhumane places of misery where prisoners, crowded into tiny compartments with no ventilation or sanitary facilities, died of “gaol fever.” Raikes visited them, raised money for them, and taught them to read. His penetrating newspaper columns repeatedly called attention to their plight.
One Saturday afternoon in 1780, Robert discovered another cause to champion. He entered a slummy suburb of Gloucester to interview a prospective gardener. Swarms of children surrounded him, and Raikes recoiled in horror at their fighting, profanity, stench, gambling, and filth. He returned home shaken and almost immediately conceived a plan for Sunday schools. Such schools had already been tried, but without widespread backing. Raikes hired four Christian women to open schools on Sunday. Why Sunday? Children worked in the factories the other six days of the week, but on Sunday they ran wild.
The portly Raikes, primly dressed and carrying an elegant snuffbox and tasseled cane, ambled through the ghettoes day after day recruiting pupils. The children began calling him “Bobby Wild Goose.” But in his Sunday schools, they were taught to read, then they learned the Bible, the Catechism, and other subjects.
Three years later, after the schools were clearly working, Raikes used his newspaper to promote them. On November 3, 1783 the Gloucester Journal published an article on the success of Sunday schools. To Raikes’s surprise, London papers picked up the story and inquiries poured in from across England. The movement spread rapidly. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The form of Sunday school changed, yet millions of all ages find their way each week to Sunday school to learn of Christ.
Some people brought their children to Jesus, so that he could place his hands on them and pray for them. His disciples told the people to stop bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.”
--- Matthew 19:13,14.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - November 3
“Behold, he prayeth.” --- Acts 9:11.
Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul began to pray the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by God and treasured in the lachrymatory of heaven. “Thou puttest my tears into thy bottle,” implies that they are caught as they flow. The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty eye; but “prayer is the falling of a tear.” Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah’s court, and are numbered with “the sublimest strains that reach the majesty on high.” Think not that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded. Jacob’s ladder is lofty, but our prayers shall lean upon the Angel of the covenant and so climb its starry rounds. Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it. “He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” True, he regards not high looks and lofty words; he cares not for the pomp and pageantry of kings; he listens not to the swell of martial music; he regards not the triumph and pride of man; but wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or a lip quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the heart of Jehovah is open; he marks it down in the registry of his memory; he puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of his book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up therefrom.
“Faith asks no signal from the skies,
To show that prayers accepted rise,
Our Priest is in his holy place,
And answers from the throne of grace.”
Evening - November 3
"Their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.” --- 2 Chronicles 30:27.
Prayer is the never-failing resort of the Christian in any case, in every plight. When you cannot use your sword you may take to the weapon of all-prayer. Your powder may be damp, your bow-string may be relaxed, but the weapon of all-prayer need never be out of order. Leviathan laughs at the javelin, but he trembles at prayer. Sword and spear need furbishing, but prayer never rusts, and when we think it most blunt it cuts the best. Prayer is an open door which none can shut. Devils may surround you on all sides, but the way upward is always open, and as long as that road is unobstructed, you will not fall into the enemy’s hand. We can never be taken by blockade, escalade, mine, or storm, so long as heavenly succours can come down to us by Jacob’s ladder to relieve us in the time of our necessities. Prayer is never out of season: in summer and in winter its merchandise is precious. Prayer gains audience with heaven in the dead of night, in the midst of business, in the heat of noonday, in the shades of Evening. In every condition, whether of poverty, or sickness, or obscurity, or slander, or doubt, your covenant God will welcome your prayer and answer it from his holy place. Nor is prayer ever futile. True prayer is evermore true power. You may not always get what you ask, but you shall always have your real wants supplied. When God does not answer his children according to the letter, he does so according to the spirit. If thou askest for coarse meal, wilt thou be angered because he gives thee the finest flour? If thou seekest bodily health, shouldst thou complain if instead thereof he makes thy sickness turn to the healing of spiritual maladies? Is it not better to have the cross sanctified than removed? This Evening, my soul, forget not to offer thy petition and request, for the Lord is ready to grant thee thy desires.
THE GOD OF ABRAHAM PRAISE
Thomas Olivers, 1725–1799
Based on the revised Yigdal of Daniel ben Judah, 14th century
You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him! (Psalm 22:23)
The story of God’s dealing with Israel is an incredible one: the sovereign God preserving and directing throughout history the affairs of His chosen people. Beginning with Abraham, “the father of many nations,” the Jewish people have been persecuted frequently, yet never destroyed. From the Jews we have received the Ten Commandments and eventually our Messiah-Redeemer. “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
Thomas Olivers, author of “The God of Abraham Praise,” was one of John Wesley’s 18th century evangelists. He traveled extensively throughout England and Ireland, fearlessly preaching the Gospel but often encountering violent opposition. Olivers states that he wrote this hymn after listening to the preaching of a Jewish rabbi at the Duke’s Place Synagogue, Oldgate, London. There he also heard Meyer Lyon (Leoni), a well-known Jewish cantor, sing the Doxology of Yigdal from the Hebrew liturgy. Composed around 1400, the Yigdal was based upon the 13 articles of Jewish faith. Olivers was so impressed by the service and especially the music that he began writing this text to fit the meter of the tune he had heard. The name of the melody used, “Leoni,” was in honor of Cantor Meyer Lyon.
The God of Abraham is still our God today and is worthy of our praises to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—both now and through eternity.
The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above, ancient of everlasting days, and God of love. Jehovah, great I AM, by earth and heav’n confessed, I bow and bless the sacred Name forever blest.
The God of Abraham praise, at whose supreme command from earth I rise and seek the joys at His right hand. I all on earth forsake, its wisdom, fame and pow’r, and Him my only portion make, my shield and tow’r.
He by Himself hath sworn—I on His oath depend; I shall, on eagles’ wings upborne, to heav’n ascend. I shall behold His face, I shall His pow’r adore, and sing the wonders of His grace forevermore.
The whole triumphant host give thanks to God on high; “Hail, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!” they ever cry. Hail, Abraham’s God and mine! I join the heav’nly lays; all might and majesty are Thine and endless praise.
For Today: Exodus 3:14; 15:1–19; Lamentations 5:19; Hebrews 13:8
Ask God to give you opportunity to witness to a Jewish person and graciously tell him that Jesus Christ, his long-awaited Messiah, has come and desires to be his personal Redeemer-Lord. Praise the God of Abraham as you go ---
First, His power is evident in natural government.
1. In preservation. God is the great Father of the world, to nourish it as well as create it. Man and beast would perish if there were not herbs for their food; and herbs would wither and perish, if the earth were not watered with fruitful showers. This some of the heathens acknowledged, in their worshipping God under the image of an ox, a useful creature, by reason of its strength, to which we owe so much of our food in corn. Hence, God is styled the “Preserver of man and beast” (Psalm 36:6). Hence, the Jews called God, Place; because he is the subsistence of all things. By the same word whereby he gave being to things, he gives to them continuance and duration in being so much a term of time. As they were “created by his word,” they are supported by his word (Heb. 1:3). The same powerful fiat, “Let the earth bring forth grass” (Gen. 1:11), when the plants peeped upon man out of nothing, is expressed every spring, when they begin to lift up their heads from their naked roots and winter graves. The resurrection of light every morning, the reviving the pleasure of all things to the eye; the watering the valleys from the mountain Springs; the curbing the natural appetite of the waters from covering the earth; every draught that the beasts drink, every lodging the fowls have, every bit of food for the sustenance of man and beast, is ascribed to the “opening of his hand,” the diffusing of his power (Psalm 104:27), as much as the first creation of things, and endowing them with their particular nature: whence the plants, which are so serviceable, are called “the trees of the Lord” (ver. 16), of Jehovah, that hath only being and power in himself. The whole Psalm is but the description of his preserving, as the first of Genesis is of his creating power. It is by this power angels have so many thousand years remained in the power of understanding and willing. By this power things distant in their natures have been joined together; a spiritual soul and a dusty body knit in a marriage knot. By this power the heavenly bodies have for so many ages rolled in their spheres, and the tumultuous elements have persisted in their order: by this hath the matter of the world been to this day continued, and as capable of entertaining forms as it was at the first creation. What an amazing sight would it be to see a man hold a pillar of the Exchange upon one of his fingers? What is this to the power of God, “who holds the waters in the hollow of his hand, metes out the heaven with a span, and weighs the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance” (Isa. 40:12)? The preserving the earth from the violence of the sea is a plain instance of this power. How is that raging element kept pent within those lists where he first lodged it; continues its course in its channel without overflowing the earth, and dashing in pieces the lower part of the creation? The natural situation of the water is to be above the earth, because it is lighter; and to be immediately under the air, because it is heavier than that thinner element. Who restrains this natural quality of it, but that God that first formed it? The word of command at first, “Hitherto shalt thou go , and no further,” keeps those waters linked together in their den, that they may not ravage the earth, but be useful to the inhabitants of it. And when once it finds a gap to enter, what power of earth can hinder its passage? How fruitless sometimes is all the art of man to send it to its proper channel, when once it hath spread its mighty waves over some countries, and trampled part of the inhabited earth under its feet? It hath triumphed in its victory, and withstood all the power of man to conquer its force. It is only the power of God that doth bridle it from spreading itself over the whole earth. And that his power might be more manifest, he hath set but a weak and small bank against it. Though he hath bounded it in some places by mighty rocks, which lift up their heads above it, yet in most places by feeble sand. How often is it seen in every stormy motion, when the waves boil high and roll furiously, as if they would swallow up all the neighboring houses upon the shore; when they come to touch those sandy limits, they bow their heads, fall flat, and sink into the lap whence they were raised, and seem to foam with anger that they can march no further, but must split themselves at so weak an obstacle! Can the sand be thought to be the cause of this? The weakness of it gives no footing to such a thought. Who can apprehend, that an enraged army should retire upon the opposition of a straw in an infant’s hand? Is it the nature of the water? Its retirement is against the natural quality of it; pour but a little upon the ground, and you always see it spread itself. No cause can be rendered in nature; it is a standing monument of the power of God in the preservation of the world, and ought to be more taken notice of by us in this island, surrounded with it, than by some other countries in the world.
(1.) We find nothing hath power to preserve itself. Doth not every creature upon earth require the assistance of some other for its maintenance? “Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow up without water” (Job 8:11)? Can man or beast maintain itself without grain from the bowels of the earth? Would not every man tumble into the grave, without the aid of other creatures to nourish him? Whence do these creatures receive that virtue of supplying him nourishment, but from the sun and earth? and whence do they derive that virtue, but from the Creator of all things? And should he but slack his hand, how soon would they and all their qualities perish, and the links of the world fall in pieces, and dash one another into their first chaos and confusion! All creatures indeed have an appetite to preserve themselves; they have some knowledge of the outward means for their preservation; so have irrational animals a natural instinct, as well as men have some skill to avoid things that are hurtful, and apply things that are helpful. But what thing in the world can preserve itself by an inward influx into its own being? All things want such a power without God’s fiat, “Let it be so:” nothing but is destitute of such a power for its own preservation, as much as it is of a power for its own creation. Were there any true power for such a work, what need of so many external helps from things of an inferior nature to that which is preserved by them? No created thing hath a power to preserve any decayed being. Who can lay claim to such a virtue, as to recall a withering flower to its former beauty, to raise the head of a drooping plant, or put life into a gasping worm when it is expiring; or put impaired vitals into their former posture? Not a man upon earth, nor an angel in heaven, can pretend to such a virtue; they may be spectators, but not assisters, and are, in this case, physicians of no value.
(2.) It is, therefore, the same Power preserves things which at first created them. The creature doth as much depend upon God, in the first instant of its being, for its preservation, as it did, when it was nothing, for its production and creation into being: as the continuance of a thought of our mind depends upon the power of our mind, as well as the first framing of that thought. There is a little difference between creating and preserving power, as there is between the power of mine eye to begin an act of vision and continue that act of vision, as to cast my eye upon an object and continue it upon that object: as the first act is caused by the eye, so the duration of the act is preserved by the eye; shut the eye, and the act of vision perishes; divert the eye from that object, and that act of vision is exchanged for another. And, therefore, the preservation of things is commonly called a continual creation: and certainly it is no less, if we understand it of a preservation by an inward influence into the being of things. It is one and the same action invariably continued, and obtaining its force every moment; the same action whereby he created them of nothing, and which every moment hath a virtue to produce a thing out of nothing, if it were not yet extant in the world: it remains the same without any diminution throughout the whole time wherein anything doth remain in the world. For all things would return to nothing, if God did not keep them up in the elevation and state to which he at first raised them by his creative power (Acts 17:28): “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” By him, or by the same Power whence we derived our being, are our lives maintained: as it was his Almighty Power whereby we were, after we had been nothing, so it is the same power whereby we now are, after he hath made us something. Certainly all things have no less a dependence on God than light upon the sun, which vanisheth and hides its head upon the withdrawing of the sun. And should God suspend that powerful Word, whereby he erected the frame of the world, it would sink down to what it was, before he commanded it to stand up. There needs no new act of power to reduce things to nothing, but the cessation of that Omnipotent influx. When the appointed time set them for their being comes to a period, they faint and bend down their heads to their dissolution; they return to their elements, and perish (Psalm 104:29): “Thou hidest thy face, and they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” That which was nothing cannot remain on this side nothing, but by the same Power that first called it out of nothing. As when God withdrew his concurring power from the fire, its quality ceased to act upon the three children: so if he withdraws his sustaining power from the creature, its nature will cease to be.
2. It appears in propagation. That powerful word (Gen. 1:22, 23), “Increase and multiply,” pronounced at the first creation, hath spread itself over every part of the world; every animal in the world, in the formation of every one of them. From two of a kind, how great a number of individuals and single creatures have been multiplied, to cover the face of the earth in their continued successions! What a world of plants spring up from the womb of a dry earth, moistened by the influence of a cloud, and hatched by the beams of the sun! How admirable an instance of his propagating power is it, that from a little seed a massy root should strike into the bowels of the earth, a tall body and thick branches, with leaves and flowers of various colors, should break through the surface of the earth, and mount up towards heaven, when in the seed you neither smell the scent, nor see any firmness of a tree, nor behold any of those colors which you view in the flowers that the ears produce! A power not to be imitated by any creature. How astonishing is it, that a small seed, whereof many will not amount to the weight of a grain, should spread itself into leaves, bark, fruit of a vast weight, and multiply itself into millions of seeds! What power is that, that from one man and woman hath multiplied families, and from families, stocked the world with people! Consider the living creatures, as formed in the womb of their several kinds; every one is a wonder of power. The Psalmist instanceth in the forming and propagation of man (Psalm 139:14): “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works” The forming of the parts distinctly in the womb, the bringing forth into the world every particular member, is a roll of wonders, of power. That so fine a structure as the body of man should be polished in “the lower parts of the earth,” as he calls the womb (ver. 15), in so short a time, with members of a various form and usefulness, each laboring in their several functions! Can any man give an exact account of the manner “how the bones do grow in the womb” (Eccles. 11:5)? It is unknown to the father, and no less hid from the mother, and the wisest men cannot search out the depth of it. It is one of the secret works of an Omnipotent Power, secret in the manner, though open in the effect. So that we must ascribe it to God, as Job doth, “Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about” (Job 10:8). Thy hands which formed heaven, have formed every part, every member, and wrought me like a mighty workman. The heavens arc said to be the “work of God’s hands,” and man is here said to be no less. The forming and propagation of man from that earthy matter , is no less a wonder of power than the structure of the world from a rude and indisposed matter. A heathen philosopher descants elegantly upon it: “Dost thou understand (my son) the forming of man in the womb; who erected that noble, fabric who carved the eyes, the crystal windows of light, and the conductors of the body; who bored the nostrils and ears, those loopholes of scents and sounds; who stretched out and knit the sinews and ligaments for the fastening of every member; who cast the hollow veins, the channels of blood; set and strengthened the bones, the pillars and rafters of the body; who digged the pores, the sinks to expel the filth; who made the heart, the repository of the soul, and formed the lungs like a pipe? What mother, what father, wrought these things? No, none but the Almighty God, who made all things according to his pleasure; it is H e who propagates this noble piece from a pile of dust. Who is born by his own advice; who gives stature, features, sense, wit, strength, speech, but God?” It is no less a wonder , that a little infant can live so long in a dark sink, in the midst of filth, without breathing; and the eduction of it out of the womb is no less a wonder than the forming, increase, nourishment of it in that cell. A wonder, that the life of the infant is not the death of the mother, or the life of the mother the death of the infant. This little creature when it springs up from such small beginnings by the power of God, grows up to be one of the lords of the world, to have a dominion over the creatures, and propagates its kind in the same manner: all this is unaccountable without having recourse to the power of God in the government of the creatures. And to add to this wonder, consider also what multitudes of formations and births there are at one time all over the world, in every of which the finger of God is at work; and it will speak an unwearied power. It is admirable in one man, more in a town of men, still more in a greater and larger kingdom, a vaster world; there is a birth for every hour in this city, were but 168 born in a week, though the weekly bills mention more: what is this city to three kingdoms? what three kingdoms to a populous world? Eleven thousand and eighty will make one for every minute in the week; what is this to the weekly propagation in all the nations of the universe, besides the generation of all the living creatures in that space, which are the works of God’s fingers as well as man? What will be the result of this, but the notion of an unconceivable, unwearied Almightiness, always active, always operating?
3. It appears in the motions of all creatures. “All things live and move in him” (Acts 17:28); by the same power that creatures have their beings, they have their motions: they have not only a being by his powerful command, but they have their minutely motion by his powerful concurrence. Nothing can act without the almighty influx of God, no more than it can exist without the creative word of God. It is true indeed, the ordering of all motions to his holy ends, is an act of wisdom; but the motion itself, whereby those ends are attained, is a work of his power.
(1). God, as the first cause, hath an influence into the motions of all second causes. As all the wheels in a clock are moved in their different motions by the force and strength of the principal and primary wheel; if there be any defect in that, or if that stand still, all the rest languish and stand idle the same moment. All creatures are his instruments, his engines, and have no spirit, but what he gives, and what he assists. Whatsoever nature works, God works in nature; nature is the instrument, God is the supporter, director, mover of nature; that which the prophet saith in another case, may be the language of universal nature: “Lord, thou hast wrought all our work in us” (Isa. 26:12.) They are works subjectively, efficiently, as second causes; Gods works originally, concurrently. The sun moved not in the valley of Ajalon for the space of many hours, in the time of Joshua (Josh. 10:13); nor did the fire exercise its consuming quality upon the three children, in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Dan. 3:25): he withdrew not his supporting power from their being, for then they had vanished, but his influencing power from their qualities, whereby their motion ceased, till he returned his influential concurrence to them; which evidenceth, that without a perpetual derivation of Divine power, the sun could not run one stride or inch of its race, nor the fire devour one grain of light chaff, or an inch of straw. Nothing without his sustaining power can continue in being; nothing without his co-working power can exercise one mite of those qualities it is possessed of. All creatures are wound up by him, and his hand is constantly upon them, to keep them in perpetual motion.
(2). Consider the variety of motions in a single creature. How many motions are there in the vital parts of a man, or in any other animal, which a man knows not, and is unable to number! The renewed motion of the lungs, the systoles and diastoles of the heart; the contractions and dilations of the heart, whereby it spouts out and takes in blood; the power of concoction in the stomach;; the motion of the blood in the veins, &c., all which were not only settled by the powerful hand of God, but are upheld by the same, preserved and influenced in every distinct motion by that power that stamped them with that nature. To every one of those there is not only the sustaining power of God holding up their natures, but the motive power of God concurring to every motion; for if we move in him as well as we live in him, then every particle of our motion is exercised by his concurring power, as well as every moment of our life supported by his preserving power. What an infinite variety of motions is there in the whole world in universal nature, to all which God concurs, all which he conducts, even the motions of the meanest as well as the greatest creatures, which demonstrate the indefatigable power of the governor! It is an Infinite Power which doth act in so many varieties, whereby the souls forms every thought, the tongue speaks every word, the body exerts every action. What an Infinite Power is that which presides over the birth of all things, concurs with the motion of the sap in the tree, rivers on the earth, clouds in the air, every drop of rain, fleece of snow, crack of thunder! Not the least motion in the world, but is under an actual influence of this Almighty Mover. And lest any should scruple the concurrence of God to so many varieties of the creature’s motion, as a thing utterly inconceivable, let them consider the sun, a natural image and shadow of the perfections of God; doth not the power of that finite creature extend itself to various objects at the same moment of time? How many insects doth it animate, as flies, &c., at the same moment throughout the world! How many several plants doth it erect at its appearance in the spring, whose roots lay mourning in the earth all the foregoing winter! What multitudes of spires of grass, and nobler flowers , doth it midwife in the same hour! It warms the air, melts the blood, cherishes living creatures of various kinds, in distinct places, without tiring: and shall the God of this sun be less than his creature?
(3.) And since I speak of the sun, consider the power of God in the motion of it. The vastness of the sun is computed to be, at the least, 166 times bigger than the earth, and its distance from the earth, some tell us, to be about 4,000,000 of miles; whence it follows, that it is whirled about the world with that swiftness, that in the space of an hour it runs 1,000,000 of miles, which is as much as if it should move round about the surface of the earth fifty times in one hour; which vastness exceeds the swiftness of a bullet shot out of a cannon, which is computed to fly not above three miles in a minute: so that the sun runs further in one hour’s space, than a bullet can in 5,000, if it were kept in motion; so that if it were near the earth, the swiftness of its motion would shatter the whole frame of the world, and dash it in pieces; so that the Psalmist may well say, “It runs a race like a strong man” (Psalm 19:5). What an incomprehensible Power is that which hath communicated such a strength and swiftness to the sun, and doth daily influence its motion; especially since after all those years of its motion, wherein one would think it should have spent itself, we behold it every day as vigorous as Adam did in Paradise, without limping, without shattering itself, or losing any thing of its natural sphits in its unwearied motion. How great must that power be, which hath kept this great body so entire, and thus swiftly moves it every day! Is it not now an argument of omnipotency, to keep all the strings of nature in tune; to wind them up to a due pitch for the harmony he intended by them; to keep things that are contrary from that confusion they would naturally fall into; to prevent those jarrings which would naturally result from their various and snarling qualities; to preserve every being in its true nature; to propagate every kind of creature; order all the operations, even the meanest of them, when there are such innumerable varieties? But let us consider, that this power or preserving things in their station and motion, and the renewing of them, is more stupendous than that which we commonly call miraculous. We call those miracles, which are wrought out of the track of nature, and contrary to the usual stream and current of it; which men wonder at, because they seldom see them, and hear of them as things rarely brought forth in the world; when the truth is, there is more of power expressed in the ordinary station and motion of natural causes than in those extraordinary exertings of power. Is not more power signalized in that whirling motion of the sun every hour for so many ages, than in the suspending of its motion one day, as it was in the days of Joshua? That fire should continually ravage and consume, and greedily swallow up every thing that is offered to it, seems to be the effect of as admirable a power, as the stopping of its appetite a few moments, as in the case of the three children. Is not the rising of some small seeds from the ground, with a multiplication of their numerous posterity, an effect of as great a power, as our Saviour’s feeding many thousands with a few loaves, by a secret augmentation of them? Is not the chemical producing so pleasant and delicious a fruit as the grape, from a dry earth, insipid rain, and a sour vine, as admirable a token of Divine power, as our Saviour’s turning water into wine? Is not the cure of diseases by the application of a simple inconsiderable weed, or a slight infusion, as wonderful in itself, as the cure of it by a powerful weed? What if it be naturally designed to heal; what is that nature, who gave that nature, who maintains that nature, who conducts it, co-operates with it? Doth it work of itself, and by its own strength? why not then equally in all, in one as well as another? Miracles, indeed, affect more, because they testify the immediate operation of God, without the concurrence of second causes; not that there is more of the power of God shining in them than in the other.
Secondly, This power is evident in moral government.
1. In the restraint of the malicious nature of the devil. Since Satan hath the power of an angel, and the malice of a devil, what safety would there be for our persons from destruction, what security for our goods from rifling, by this invisible, potent, and envious spirit, if his power were not restrained, and his malice curbed, by One more mighty than himself? How much doth he envy God the glory of his creation; and man, the use and benefit of it! How desirous would he be, in regard of his passion, how able in regard of his strength and subtlety, to overthrow or infect all worship, but what was directed to himself; to manage all things according to his lusts, turn all things topsy-turvy, plague the world, burn cities, houses, plunder us of the supports of nature, waste kingdoms, &c.; if he were not held in a chain, as a ravenous lion, or a furious wild horse, by the Creator and Governor of the world! What remedy could be used by man against the activity of this unseen and swift spirit? The world could not subsist under his malice; he would practise the same things upon all as he did upon Job, when he had got leave from his Governor; turn the swords of men into one another’s bowels; send fire from heaven upon the fruits of the earth and the cattle intended for the use of man; raise winds, to shake and tear our houses upon our heads; daub our bodies with scalbs and boils, and let all the humors in our blood loose upon us. He that envied Adam a paradise, doth envy us the pleasure of enjoying its out-works. If we were not destroyed by him, we should live in a continued vexation by spectrums and apparitions, affrighting sounds and noise, as some think the Egyptians did in that three days’ darkness: he would be alway winnowing us, as he desired to winnow Peter (Luke 22:31). But God over-masters his strength, that he cannot move a hair’s breadth beyond his tedder; not only is he unable to touch an upright Job, but to lay his fingers upon one of the unbelieving Gadarenes forbidden and filthy swine without special license (Matt. 8:31). When he is cast out of one place, he walks “through dry places seeking rest” (Luke 11:24), new objects for his malicious designs,— but finding none, till God lets loose the reins upon him for a new employment. Though Satan’s power be great, yet God suffers him not to tempt as much as his diabolical appetite would, but as much as Divine wisdom thinks fit; and the Divine power tempers the other’s active malice, and gives the creature victory, where the enemy intended spoil and captivity. How much stronger is God, than all the legions of hell; as he that holds a “strong man” (Luke 11:22) from effecting his purpose, testifies more ability than his adversary! How doth he lock him up for a “thousand years” (Rev. 20:3) in a pound, which he cannot leap over! and this restraint is wrought partly by blinding the devil in his designs, partly by denying him concourse to his motion; as he hindered the active quality of the fire upon the three children, by withdrawing his power, which was necessary to the motion of it; and his power is as necessary for the motion of the devil, as for that of any other creature: sometimes he makes him to confess him against his own interest, as Apollo’s oracle confessed. And though when the devil was cast out of the possessed person, he publicly owned Christ to be the “Holy one of God” (Mark 1:24), to render him suspected by the people of having commerce with the unclean spirits; yet this he could not do without the leave and permission of God, that the power of Christ, in stopping his mouth and imposing silence upon him, might be evidence; and that it reaches to the gates of hell, as well as to the quieting of winds and waves. This is a part of the strength, as well as the wisdom of God, that “the deceived and the deceiver are his” (Job 12:16): wisdom to defeat, and power to overrule his most malicious designs, to his own glory.
2. In the restraint of the natural corruption of men. Since the impetus of original corruption runs in the blood, conveyed down from Adam to the veins of all his posterity, and universally diffused in all mankind; what wreck and havoc would it make in the world, if it were not suppressed by this Divine power which presides over the hearts of men! Man is so wretched by nature, that nothing but what is vile and pernicious can drop from him. Man “drinks iniquity like water,” being, by nature, “abominable and filthy” (Job 15:16). He greedily swallows all matter for iniquity, everything suitable to the mire and poison in his nature, and would sprout it out with all fierceness and insolence. God himself gives us the description of man’s nature (Gen. 6:5), that he hath not one good imagination at any time; and the apostle from the Psalmist dilates and comments upon it (Rom. 3:10 “There is none righteous; no, not one; their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood,” &c. This corruption is equal in all, natural in all; it is not more poisonous or more fierce in one man, than in another. The root of all men is the same; all the branches therefore do equally possess the villanous nature of the root. No child of Adam can, by natural descent, be better than Adam, or have less of baseness, and vileness, and venom, than Adam. How fruitful would this loathsome lake be in all kind of streams! What unbridled licentiousness and headstrong fury would triumph in the world, if the power of God did not interpose itself to lock down the floodgates of it! What rooting up of human society would there be! how would the world be drenched in blood, the number of malefactors be greater than that of apprehenders and punishers! How would the prints of natural laws be rased out of the heart, if God should leave human nature to itself! Who can read the first chapter of Romans, verses (24 to 29), without acknowledging this truth? where there is a catalogue of those villanies which followed upon God’s pulling up the sluices, and letting the malignity of their inward corruption have its natural course! If God did not hold back the fury of man, his garden would be overrun, his vine rooted up; the inclinations of men would hurry them to the worst of wickedness. How great is that Power that curbs, bridles, or changes as many headstrong horses at once, and every minute, as there are sons of Adam upon the earth? The “floods lift up their waves; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” (Psalm 93:3, 4); that doth hush and pen in the turbulent passions of men.
3. In the ordering and framing the hearts of men to his own ends. That must be an Omnipotent hand that grasps and contains the hearts of all men; the heart of the meanest person, as well as of the most towering angel, and turns them as he pleases, and makes them sometime ignorantly, sometime knowingly, concur to the accomplishment of his own purposes! When the hearts of men are so numerous, their thoughts so various and different from one another, yet he hath a key to those millions of hearts, and with infinite power, guided by as infinite wisdom, he draws them into what channels he pleases, for the gaining his own ends. Though the Jews had imbrued their hands in the blood of our Saviour, and their rage was yet recking-hot against his followers, God bridled their fury in the church’s infancy, till it had got some strength, and cast a terror upon them by the wonders wrought by the apostles (Acts 2:43): “And fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Was there not the same reason in the nature of the works our Saviour wrought, to point them to the finger of God, and calm their rage?
Yet did not the power of God work upon their passions in those miracles, nor stop the impetuousness of the corruption resident in their hearts. Yet now those who had the boldness to attack the Son of God and nail him to the cross, are frighted at the appearance of twelve unarmed apostles; as the sea seems to be afraid when it approacheth the bounds of the feeble sand. How did God bend the hearts of the Egyptians to the Israelites, and turn them to that point, as to lend their most costly vessels, their precious jewels, and rich garments, to supply those whom they had just before tyranically loaded with their chains (Exod. 3:21, 22)! When a great part of an army came upon Jehoshaphat, to dispatch him into another world, how doth God, in a trice, touch their hearts, and move them, by a secret instinct, at once to depart from him (1 Chron. 18:31)! as if you should see a numerous sight of birds in a moment turn wing another way, by a sudden and joint consent. When he gave Saul a kingdom, he gave him a spirit fit for government, “and gave him another heart” (1 Sam. 10:9); and brought the people to submit to his yoke, who, a little before, wandered about the land upon no nobler employment than the seeking of asses. It is no small remark of the power of God, to make a number of strong and discontented persons, and desirous enough of liberty, to bend their necks under the yoke of government, and submit to the authority of one, and that of their own nature, often weaker and unwiser than the most of them, and many times an oppressor and invader of their rights. Upon this account David calls God “his fortress, tower, shield” (Psalm 144:2); all terms of strength in subduing the people under him. It is the mighty hand of God that links princes and people together in the bands of government. The same hand that assuageth the waves of the sea, suppresseth the tumults of the people.
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