Mark 1 - 3
John the Baptist Prepares the WayMark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
The Baptism of Jesus9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Jesus Begins His Ministry14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus Heals Many29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Jesus Heals a ParalyticMark 2:1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Jesus Calls Levi13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
A Question About Fasting18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins — and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
A Man with a Withered HandMark 3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
A Great Crowd Follows Jesus7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
The Twelve Apostles13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed ( ordained, elected ) twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
( ordained, election, predestination, adoption ... see ) Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. ESV
20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
What I'm Reading
By George Robinson 3/01/2014
Persecution. Jesus said that His followers should expect it (John 15:20; 2 Tim. 3:12) and that those who experience it are blessed (Matt. 5:10–12). In our First World society, persecution may mean mocking, slander, or alienation from friends and family. However, the church extends far beyond our circles to include dozens of countries around the world. In much of the Majority World, Christians are experiencing persecution in the form of harassment, beatings, and even martyrdom.
The Risk of Belief
Over the past fifteen years, my work has been primarily focused on evangelism, disciple-making, and church planting in places where those activities are either strongly discouraged or even outlawed. Specifically, I have worked alongside national believers in South and Southeast Asia reaching out with the gospel to Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh people groups. Many of my national partners were raised in those religions, but came to repentance and faith in Christ through the bold spread of the gospel.
These are not just my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are yours as well. And most, if not all, daily risk paying for their faith dearly, not only with social repercussions, but some with physical abuse, imprisonment, or even death.
In one South Asian country where I have worked, there was a mass shooting at a Christian school, multiple church bombings, and countless stories of brothers and sisters who have been threatened and abused because of their faith in Jesus. I served alongside a dear friend and encouraged him in his work, only to see him forced out of the country by those who felt threatened by his gospel ministry. In another country I worked alongside a brother who was tied up, beaten and left for dead — by his own family members — because of his decision to leave Islam and follow Jesus. Last year, as I led a small group of students and a few national friends in sharing the gospel, we were met by threats of arrest and assault by a radical Hindu group that had tracked our location via hacking a social media website.
The difference between me and my national brothers and sisters is that I can get on a plane and fly back to the United States, where, at least for now, the likelihood of persecution is very limited. Our suffering brothers and sisters around the world have an even greater hope than an American passport — they have been promised the very presence of Jesus in the midst of their suffering (2 Cor. 4:9).
The Call for Christians
Today, an estimated two hundred million Christians worldwide face harsh persecution each year in dozens of countries on nearly every continent. Bill Bright once said that more Christians have suffered persecution and martyrdom since the beginning of the twentieth century than in all of the rest of church history to that point.
What should our response be? Always, our response should be informed prayer; and whenever possible, we should promote and participate in gospel-centered action.
It is impossible to pray for situations about which we are unaware. The gospel is offensive to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18); therefore, one of the primary motives behind persecution is to eliminate the voice of a person who is heralding the gospel or to discourage the spread of the gospel. This means that thousands of persecution stories go untold because voices are hushed by the roar of oppression.
There are several organizations that exist to give a global voice to those who are enduring persecution (see www.persecution.org and www.persecution.com). Those resources intend to mobilize both informed prayer and gospel-centered action. There are also several books that tell the stories of persecuted Christ followers, both in church history (Foxe's Book of Martyrs) and in modern times (The Privilege of Persecution: (And Other Things the Global Church Knows That We Don`t) by Carl Moeller and David Hegg; The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken). I recommend that you become familiar with these and other gospel-centered resources so that your prayers for the persecuted can be specific and substantive.
The Scriptures beckon all Christians not only to pray informed prayers for the persecuted but also to engage in gospel-centered action on behalf of the persecuted. This action begins with standing alongside the persecuted so as to encourage them. The author of Hebrews was writing to a group of Christians who had grown weary and discouraged by the opposition they were facing. He reminded them of a time when they had personally been persecuted or had, even at great cost, stood with others who were enduring persecution (10:32–39). Their key to enduring earthly persecution was none other than the hope of the gospel and the return of King Jesus to establish His kingdom. Then in Hebrews 11, the writer unfolds a long list of those whose faith in God led to relative peace and sometimes prosperity followed by references to many who, with faith in the same God, endured harsh persecution and martyrdom. Standing with the persecuted may in fact be costly like it was for the audience of the letter to the Hebrews. But for those who have experienced the wonderful rescue of Christ, there will be no limit to our own gospel-motivated sacrificial service of others. You and I have need of endurance — and we can both encourage it and grow in it through informed prayers and gospel-centered action for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
Mark, The Gospel Writer
By Lawrence O. Richards 1991
Many believe this Gospel was written to appeal to the Roman mind, shaped to emphasize Christ’s strenuous life and manly characteristics. Mark’s vigorous but blunt Greek reflects the language of the common man, and his practice of transliterating Latin words in Greek, and using Latin constructions or expressions, supports the notion that he directed his writing to the Roman elements in the population of the first-century empire.
Yet most believe that Mark was not himself an eyewitness of most of the scenes he describes. Rather early tradition tells us that Mark is the “interpreter” of Peter, whose accounts are actually summaries of Peter’s preaching about Jesus. A report by the church historian Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (3.39.15) quotes a lost document written by Papias (about A.D. 140), who in turn cites the Apostle John as authority for the following information about this Gospel. “Mark, who became Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately, though not in order, all that he remembers of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had neither heard the Lord nor been one of His followers, but afterwards, as I said, he had followed Peter, who used to compose his discourses with a view to the needs of his hearers, but not as though he were drawing up a connected account of the Lord’s sayings. So Mark made no mistake thus recording some things just as he remembered them. For he was careful of this one thing, to omit none of the things he had heard [from Peter] and to make no untrue statements therein.”
Like the other Gospels, Mark thus organizes his material not by strict historical sequence, but by the logic of the image he wishes to communicate about Jesus. Drawing on the stories he heard over and over again as Peter preached about his Lord, Mark provides us with a special vision of Jesus. He reminds us over and over again that “gentle Jesus” was no weakling, but a man of courage, commitment, and complete, active dedication to carrying out His mission here on Earth.
Mark is a fascinating character in his own right. We know that Peter stayed in Mark’s mother’s house in Jerusalem after he was released from prison (Acts 12:12).
Acts 12:12 (NASB95) And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. Later the youthful Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:5).
Acts 12:25 (NASB95) And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.
Acts 13:5 (NASB95) When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.
Paul was disgusted when Mark abandoned the team at Pamphylia (v. 13).
Acts 13:13 (NASB95) Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
When Barnabas wanted to give Mark another chance, he and Paul quarreled so bitterly the two friends went their separate ways. Paul enlisted Silas as his partner for the next mission, and Barnabas took Mark and set out on a missionary journey of his own (Acts 15:36–41).
Acts 15:36–41 (NASB95) 36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also.
38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.
40 But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.
41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
It turned out that Barnabas was right to give young Mark a second chance. Mark developed into an effective missionary and later became a valued companion of the Apostle Paul himself (Col. 4:10; Phil. 24; 2 Tim. 4:11).
Colossians 4:10 (NASB95) Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);
Philippians 4 (NASB95) 1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;
16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.
18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.
22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
2 Timothy 4:11 (NASB95) Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
And Peter speaks of Mark as a dearly loved son (1 Peter 5:13).
1 Peter 5:13 (NASB95) She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.
Glorifying God in the Routines
By Gloria Furman 3/01/2014
Kiss, hug, monkey blanket, book, pray. That’s the summation of my preschool-age son’s bedtime routine. His simple bedtime routine must mean the world to him because if I miss a beat or shake up the order, he lets me know that the universe is falling apart. If you want accountability for keeping a disciplined routine, just let preschoolers know of your intentions, and they will tirelessly remind you to stay the course.
Order and predictability go a long way to reassure young children that their world is stable. Routines work the same way in reassuring us big kids, too. Consider how disconcerting your morning would be if the coffeemaker suddenly sputtered sparks onto the countertop and broke.
When Life Seems Boring
Although we can all appreciate the stability that routines bring (Thank you, God, for causing the sun to rise this morning), a life of “all things ordinary” may sound, well … boring. We live in the mundane, and life-altering, dramatic moments are, by definition, extraordinary. Whatever your “normal” is, I think we can all agree that that’s where we live. Even so, we long for significant work, unique callings, and uncommon opportunities.
It’s tempting to view everyday life as a monotonous cycle of making your bed only to lie in it again. Our perspective on the everyday business of our lives is important because when we forget about God’s activity in the world, we become functionally hopeless. What’s the point of anything if “all is vanity”? Often our view of the ordinary is ruled by the “have-to’s”: I have to take out the trash; I have to go to work; I have to change another diaper; and so on. We hear Paul’s instruction of “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31) and we wonder how that squares with the “have-to’s” of our everyday lives. Grace sheds light on our mundane. Grace can transform the “have-to’s” into “get-to’s” as we live for His glory.
Here are just three of the ways the grace of God governs the areas of our lives that seem ordinary and unimportant:
1. We get to live outside of the garden. Live. We get to live. Let your heart soar with thankfulness as you consider that God continues to give us life even though we have all sinned against His holiness. Let your mind be blown by the reality that Jesus is currently, intentionally holding our very lives together by the word of His power. The gracious gift of life in spite of our sin is overwhelming. Surely this mercy is cause for unceasing praise to our Creator. Job teaches us that whatever condition our lives are in, God is to be praised. As recipients of such astonishing grace, far be it from us to lament that life is boring. Instead, let us spill over with praise to the Author of Life with our every breath.
2. We get to live forever in Christ. Each of us is just a breath away from meeting the Lord face-to-face. Because of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, we will behold our God and live, and we will live forever in His presence where there is fullness of joy. In the meantime, we are comforted by the indwelling Holy Spirit and we can have fellowship with God even now. God uses ordinary means to conform us to the image of His beloved Son. This is just one way the gospel of grace gives new meaning to the seemingly unimportant routines.
3. We get to participate in God’s cosmic plan. The penal substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, His resurrection from the dead, and His subsequent exaltation above every name change how we view our ordinary lives because, indeed, they change everything. In order to experience joy in the work that God has for us, we must seek to understand the mystery of God’s will that He purposes “to unite all things in [Christ]” (Eph. 1:9– 10). While we’re tempted to fret over arranging our schedules perfectly, Jesus is infallibly putting the cosmos back in order. This big-picture theology of God’s cosmic plan sees through the morning commute and the dishes piled up in the sink to scan the horizon of the new heavens and the new earth. What remarkable grace we’ve been given to participate in God’s plan to reconcile all things to Himself (1 Cor. 15:27–28).
Stamp Eternity on Our Eyeballs
An eternal perspective is something you carry around in your heart. With the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which God has called you. Look through this lens of eternity when you’re tempted to walk by sight. Watch how the grace of God transforms the way you see another business trip, another potty training accident, another afternoon in gridlock traffic, another meeting, another bill, or another load of laundry. Enduring joy can be had in the ordinary stuff of life today because everything you’ve been given was ordained by Jesus, exists for Jesus, and will testify forever in eternity as a tribute to His glorious grace.
Gloria Furman Books:
- Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God
- Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms
- Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything
- Word-Filled Women's Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church (The Gospel Coalition)
- The Pastor's Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love
- Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home
- Missional Motherhood - Bible Study Book: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God
By John Walvoord (1990)
The Millennial Reign Of Christ | Views of the Millennium
A major division in the theology of the church has been concerning the question whether there will be a thousand-year reign of Christ after His second coming. Both the postmillennial and the amillennial views hold that the fulfillment of the millennium is achieved before His second coming, with amillenarians more or less explaining away any literal fulfillment. Accordingly, this chapter should be carefully studied to see what its contribution is and whether it teaches a kingdom on earth of which Christ will be King of kings and Lord of lords following His second coming. It will be seen that the events of Revelation 19:11–20:15 are chronologically presented with the events logically following the second coming as effect follows cause. There is no suggestion in the text of any interruption of the natural consequences of the second coming. For a discussion of the millennial kingdom, see the author’s The Millennial Kingdom: A Basic Text in Premillennial Theology.
Revelation 20 along with Revelation 19 form two of the most important chapters in the Scripture on prophecy of future events. Revelation 20, in particular, deals with the question as to whether there is a millennium on earth after the second coming of Christ.
There are a bewildering number of diverse interpretations. Among those who are premillennial who view the kingdom as following the second coming of Christ, there are three schools of thought: those who follow a historical fulfillment of the book of Revelation, believing that some events of Revelation 6–18 are being fulfilled now. They hold that the second advent and the kingdom that follows are literal, but that much of the preliminary material, Revelation 6–18, has in some sense been fulfilled.
In the twentieth century another form of premillennialism arose that emphasized the soteriological character of it, and this point of view attempts to find some ground of common faith with the postmillennial and amillennial viewpoints. This form of premillennialism tends to downplay the role of Israel and the political character of the millennial kingdom.
The majority view among premillenarians, however, is that the kingdom following the second coming of Christ is a fulfillment of God’s theocratic program, and in keeping with the promise given to David that his kingdom and throne would continue forever over Israel. Those who interpret the prophecies literally view Christ as reigning supremely over the entire world as a political leader, beginning with the second coming. This viewpoint is often called the dispensational point of view, but a preferable designation would be that they hold to a literal kingdom on earth. That such a kingdom is soteriological is also evident, and that it has spiritual qualities also is self-evident, but this view takes into consideration the fact that Christ fulfills in a literal way what was prophesied in the Scripture concerning the kingdom on earth.
The amillennial interpretation, which is probably the majority view of the church today, tends to minimize the promise of a kingdom on earth. Amillenarians are not all agreed as to how to arrive at this conclusion. Their viewpoint is called amillennial because their view is nonmillennial, that is, there will be no literal kingdom on earth with Christ reigning on the throne. The amillenarians vary a great deal as to how they arrive at this conclusion.
Some feel, like Augustine, that the entire present age is the millennial kingdom and that God is reigning in the hearts of men who put their trust in Him. This, of course, does not provide any literal fulfillment of the millennial kingdom.
Some hold that the millennial kingdom is being fulfilled in heaven through Christ’s spiritual reign over the earth. Often they do not consider the period a literal thousand years, and they minimize the literal meaning of the prophecies relating to it.
Some amillenarians now hold that the millennium will be fulfilled in the new heaven and new earth in eternity. Therefore, it does not need to be fulfilled now. The problem with all of these points of view, characteristic of amillennialism and postmil-lennialism, is that they do not provide an intelligent explanation of many passages in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that teach a literal kingdom. This is true also of Revelation 20.
The Binding of Satan
Revelation 20:1–3. John recorded what he saw concerning the binding of Satan: “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time” (vv. 1–3 ). John saw an angel who had the key to the Abyss, the natural home of Satan and the fallen angels. As he watched, he saw the dragon, or Satan, bound with a great chain, thrown into the Abyss, and the opening was sealed and locked with the statement that it would not be opened until one thousand years later. While he could see that Satan was being bound and cast into the Abyss with the obvious point being that Satan would be unable to be active any longer, in addition to what he saw, he heard the interpretation that this binding of Satan would last one thousand years and the purpose was to prevent Satan from deceiving the nations.
Inasmuch as the revelation of the duration is a matter of direct divine revelation that John has told, the one thousand years must also be taken as a literal figure because it was revealed by God as the duration of this event. If God were in any way to try to describe the literal binding of Satan and his being inactive to one thousand years, He could not have done it in any more graphic or clear way than He has done in these three verses.
The events of verses 1–3 are clearly chronological in order and in total support of the premillennial interpretation. The passage makes clear that Satan is not simply restricted, as some would teach, but he is totally inactive in the millennium. By contrast, the New Testament teaches that Satan is still very much alive and well in the present age. In Acts 5:3 Ananias was declared to be filled with Satan and motivated by him in lying about his sale of property. In 2 Corinthians 4:3–4 the statement is made that Satan is very active in blinding the eyes of those who hear the gospel so that they will not see it and understand it. In 11:14 Satan was declared to be an angel of light, appearing in religious guise, deceiving the church through false teaching. According to Ephesians 2:2, the unsaved are working in the power of Satan. In 1 Thessalonians 2:18 Satan was revealed to have hindered Paul in his desire to come to the Thessalonians. In 2 Timothy 2:26 unsaved people were declared to be taken captive and can only be saved by the grace of God. The most decisive text is in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
These passages teach dramatically that Satan is not bound in the present age, and though he is somewhat restricted by God, as in the case of Job, Christians can depend on God’s protecting power. Satan is, nevertheless, very active in the world and a leader in all its rebellion against God. The one thousand years will follow the second coming.
The Resurrection of the Tribulation Saints
Revelation 20:4–6. With Satan out of the way, the revelation now turns to what God will do for the saints in this period. John wrote, “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (v. 4 ).
Those who had refused to worship the beast had been executed, and a great host of martyrs went to heaven during the time of the great tribulation. This had happened in the three and a half years preceding the second coming. They are described as “a great multitude” ( 7:9 ). Here they are resurrected and honored because they had not received the mark of the beast, and the purpose of the resurrection is that they would reign with Christ one thousand years. This is a very clear support for a millennial kingdom following the second coming of Christ. The chronology is quite evident.
These martyred dead were killed in the period just before the second coming. Now Christ causes the saints who had been martyred in the tribulation, which was only a short period before the second coming, to be resurrected in order to reign with Christ for one thousand years. There is no way to avoid the implication that the millennium is subsequent to the second coming of Christ in this passage as it is subsequent to the death and resurrection of the martyrs. As such, the premillennial view is supported.
The attempts to avoid premillennialism have required extreme methods of explaining away this passage. Some amillenarians interpret the resurrection of the martyred dead as their new birth. This, of course, would be entirely out of sequence because they were born again in the great tribulation and they were martyred in that situation. Now they are resurrected, and it could not refer to them as being born again on this occasion.
Scriptures go on to further describe their situation, “(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended). This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” ( 20:5–6 ). This resurrection is “first” in the sense of being first or before the resurrection of the wicked. Obviously, Christ was the first to be raised if the resurrections of Scripture are numbered.
Revelation 20:7–15. The lot of those who are resurrected from the dead is declared to be a blessed event for them, and it promises that they will not be subject to the second death, referring to the judgment of the great white throne in verses 11–15. Furthermore, they are declared to be “priests of God and of Christ” (v. 6 ). This, apparently, refers to the fact that they will have a special significance as martyrs and will have a special role in the millennial kingdom.
The interpretation of this passage of Revelation illustrates an important point. While prophecy is sometimes presented in symbolic form that has to be interpreted, when the symbolic act is interpreted, one is not free to spiritualize the interpretation. In verses 1–6, while it is presented as a vision that needs interpretation, the interpretation, when given, speaks of the solid fact that Satan needs to be bound for one thousand years and that the tribulation saints will be resurrected to reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom. There is no ground for spiritualization of these statements, and that is why many conclude that the premillennial explanation of the second coming of Christ as preceding the millennium is justifiably supported by Scripture.
The question has been raised concerning those who are seated on the throne to judge (v. 4 ). Many Scriptures contribute to the fact that saints will share in the reign of Christ. Jesus told His disciples, “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” ( Luke 22:29–30 ).
Obviously, those who reign with Christ will not have equal status but will be subject to Christ and be acting on His behalf. The millennial kingdom as such, however, is not discussed, except that it is clear that it will begin with the second coming of Christ and will end with judgment on the world and a creation of a new heaven and new earth.
The Reformation Isn’t Over
By Gregg R. Allison
On this eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, diverse voices sound out in response to the question, “Is the Reformation over?” For example, Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston University and an apologist for Roman Catholicism, maintains, “What happened in our day that never happened before was that both sides [Protestants and Catholics] listened with new openness and passion and honesty, and the result was a miracle: the central issue of the Reformation, which was the single most serious schism in Christian history, was resolved to the satisfaction of both sides without compromise.”
To what resolution does Kreeft refer? The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by the World Lutheran Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999. The Joint Declaration weds together statements about justification on which Catholics and Protestants agree, other statements that represent the unique Roman Catholic understanding of justification, and still other statements that represent the unique Lutheran understanding of the doctrine.
Accordingly, the Joint Declaration claims that the two traditions have found vast agreement on this doctrine. Given that justification was the material principle (the core doctrinal content) of Protestantism and a key reason for the division between Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church, the Joint Declaration, according to Kreeft, is “the greatest ecumenical achievement in the five hundred years since the Reformation” and signals that “the single greatest obstacle to reunion … has essentially been overcome.”3 In reality, the Protestants who have signed the Joint Declaration represent more liberal churches and denominations, who appear to be far more committed to ecumenism than to the theology of the Reformers.
This voice affirming the end of the Reformation contrasts with other voices denying it is finished. For example, Chris Castaldo and I, in our co-authored book, The Unfinished Reformation,4 applaud the many steps taken by Protestants and Catholics to better understand one another. We no longer kill one another over points of doctrinal disagreement, for example. Furthermore, we rejoice over our commonalities, doctrines such as the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Catholics and Protestants protest against the culture of death whose shadow falls steadily over the United States, and together we champion religious freedom and other human rights.
At the same time, we do not believe the Reformation is over – not at all. “We say this because of the many basic doctrinal differences that still exist between the Catholic and Protestant traditions. These include views on Scripture and Tradition, justification, the nature and role of the church/Church, the sacraments, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Mary and the saints, merits, indulgences, and purgatory.”
He is the secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society and currently serves as the book review editor for theological, historical, and philosophical studies, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Allison is a pastor of Sojourn Community Church, where he serves on the Leadership Council.
Gregg R. Allison Books:
- 1 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology
- 2 Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: A Companion to Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology[ HISTORICAL THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE: A COMPANION TO WAYNE GRUDEM'S SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY ] by Allison, Gregg R. (Author) Apr-12-11[ Hardcover ]
- 3 Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
- 4 Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church
- 5 The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms
- 6 The Kingdom of God
- 7 Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology: Essays in Honor of John S. Feinberg
- 8 Theology in Community (6 Book Series)
- 9 Did the Reformers Misread Paul?: A Historical-Theological Critique of the New Perspective (Studies in Christian History and Thought)
- 10 Getting Deep: Understand What You Believe about God and Why (Truthquest)
Speed with God
By Sinclair Ferguson 1/1/2009
When Sereno E. Dwight included the seventy resolutions in his biography of his great-grandfather Jonathan Edwards, he added the arresting comment: “These were all written before he was twenty years of age.”
Doubtless the resolutions display the marks of relative youth — references to God are frequent, while references to Christ and to grace are noticeably infrequent. Edwards’ sense of the need for radical consecration was then greater than his ability to show how such devotion would need to be resourced in Christ over the long haul. While this is not wholly lacking, there is no doubt that introspection dominates over divine provision. That notwithstanding, the “Resolutions” provide a very powerful illustration of an often-repeated divine pattern: those the Lord means to use significantly he often deals with profoundly in early years.
Edwards stood in a great puritan tradition of resolution-forming and covenant-making. Both are lost spiritual arts, substituted at best by life-plans that tend to focus on the externals. Edwards, by contrast, was deeply concerned with the internals. He early grasped the value of a deliberate binding of the conscience to a life of holiness and of expressing such commitment in a concrete, objective, and also very specific way. Thus for him, the practice of keeping a journal (in which half of his resolutions are found) was not merely an exercise in narcissism but a careful guarding of the heart against sin. In addition, Edwards was conscious from his teenage years that dealing with indwelling sin (“mortifying” it in the older terminology) meant a commitment to deal generally with all sin, and also repenting of — and mortifying — “particular sins, particularly” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 15.5; Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5, 8–10. Indeed, these words of Paul form the unwritten backdrop to a number of the resolutions).
What can we learn for Christian living today from the resolutions themselves? Here are only three of many outstanding lessons:
Life is for the glory of God. Resolution 4 epitomizes this: “Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.”
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
By Jonathan Edwards 8/17/1723
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
Overall Life Mission
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
50.Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51.Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 2, and July 13.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5, 1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 3, 1723.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
The Lord’s Day
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
Vivification of Righteousness
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.
43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.
44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12-13, 1723.
Mortification of Sin and Self Examination
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23 and August 10, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Communion with God
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26 and Aug. 10, 1723.Aug. 17, 1723
Jonathan Edwards was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and theologian.Jonathan Edwards Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 113Who Is like the LORD Our God?
113 Praise the LORD.
113:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Chapter 4 | Papal PersecutionsThus far our history of persecution has been confined principally to the pagan world. We come now to a period when persecution, under the guise of Christianity, committed more enormities than ever disgraced the annals of paganism. Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the Gospel, the papal Church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the Church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the "dark ages." The kings of the earth, gave their power to the "Beast," and submitted to be trodden on by the miserable vermin that often filled the papal chair, as in the case of Henry, emperor of Germany. The storm of papal persecution first burst upon the Waldenses in France.
Persecution of the Waldenses in FrancePopery having brought various innovations into the Church, and overspread the Christian world with darkness and superstition, some few, who plainly perceived the pernicious tendency of such errors, determined to show the light of the Gospel in its real purity, and to disperse those clouds which artful priests had raised about it, in order to blind the people, and obscure its real brightness.
The principal among these was Berengarius, who, about the year 1000, boldly preached Gospel truths, according to their primitive purity. Many, from conviction, assented to his doctrine, and were, on that account, called Berengarians. To Berengarius succeeded Peer Bruis, who preached at Toulouse, under the protection of an earl, named Hildephonsus; and the whole tenets of the reformers, with the reasons of their separation from the Church of Rome, were published in a book written by Bruis, under the title of "Antichrist."
By the year of Christ 1140, the number of the reformed was very great, and the probability of its increasing alarmed the pope, who wrote to several princes to banish them from their dominions, and employed many learned men to write against their doctrines.
In A.D. 1147, because of Henry of Toulouse, deemed their most eminent preacher, they were called Henericians; and as they would not admit of any proofs relative to religion, but what could be deduced from the Scriptures themselves, the popish party gave them the name of apostolics. At length, Peter Waldo, or Valdo, a native of Lyons, eminent for his piety and learning, became a strenuous opposer of popery; and from him the reformed, at that time, received the appellation of Waldenses or Waldoys.
Pope Alexander III being informed by the bishop of Lyons of these transactions, excommunicated Waldo and his adherents, and commanded the bishop to exterminate them, if possible, from the face of the earth; hence began the papal persecutions against the Waldenses.
The proceedings of Waldo and the reformed, occasioned the first rise of the inquisitors; for Pope Innocent III authorized certain monks as inquisitors, to inquire for, and deliver over, the reformed to the secular power. The process was short, as an accusation was deemed adequate to guilt, and a candid trial was never granted to the accused.
The pope, finding that these cruel means had not the intended effect, sent several learned monks to preach among the Waldenses, and to endeavor to argue them out of their opinions. Among these monks was one Dominic, who appeared extremely zealous in the cause of popery. This Dominic instituted an order, which, from him, was called the order of Dominican friars; and the members of this order have ever since been the principal inquisitors in the various inquisitions in the world. The power of the inquisitors was unlimited; they proceeded against whom they pleased, without any consideration of age, sex, or rank. Let the accusers be ever so infamous, the accusation was deemed valid; and even anonymous informations, sent by letter, were thought sufficient evidence. To be rich was a crime equal to heresy; therefore many who had money were accused of heresy, or of being favorers of heretics, that they might be obliged to pay for their opinions. The dearest friends or nearest kindred could not, without danger, serve any one who was imprisoned on account of religion. To convey to those who were confined, a little straw, or give them a cup of water, was called favoring of the heretics, and they were prosecuted accordingly. No lawyer dared to plead for his own brother, and their malice even extended beyond the grave; hence the bones of many were dug up and burnt, as examples to the living. If a man on his deathbed was accused of being a follower of Waldo, his estates were confiscated, and the heir to them defrauded of his inheritance; and some were sent to the Holy Land, while the Dominicans took possession of their houses and properties, and, when the owners returned, would often pretend not to know them. These persecutions were continued for several centuries under different popes and other great dignitaries of the Catholic Church.
Persecutions of the AlbigensesThe Albigenses were a people of the reformed religion, who inhabited the country of Albi. They were condemned on the score of religion in the Council of Lateran, by order of Pope Alexander III. Nevertheless, they increased so prodigiously, that many cities were inhabited by persons only of their persuasion, and several eminent noblemen embraced their doctrines. Among the latter were Raymond, earl of Toulouse, Raymond, earl of Foix, the earl of Beziers, etc.
A friar, named Peter, having been murdered in the dominions of the earl of Toulouse, the pope made the murder a pretense to persecute that nobleman and his subjects. To effect this, he sent persons throughout all Europe, in order to raise forces to act coercively against the Albigenses, and promised paradise to all that would come to this war, which he termed a Holy War, and bear arms for forty days. The same indulgences were likewise held out to all who entered themselves for the purpose as to such as engaged in crusades to the Holy Land. The brave earl defended Toulouse and other places with the most heroic bravery and various success against the pope's legates and Simon, earl of Montfort, a bigoted Catholic nobleman. Unable to subdue the earl of Toulouse openly, the king of France, and the queen mother, and three archbishops raised another formidable army, and had the art to persuade the earl of Toulouse to come to a conference, when he was treacherously seized upon, made a prisoner, forced to appear barefooted and bareheaded before his enemies, and compelled to subscribe an abject recantation. This was followed by a severe persecution against the Albigenses; and express orders that the laity should not be permitted to read the sacred Scriptures. In the year 1620 also, the persecution against the Albigenses was very severe. In 1648 a heavy persecution raged throughout Lithuania and Poland. The cruelty of the Cossacks was so excessive that the Tartars themselves were ashamed of their barbarities. Among others who suffered was the Rev. Adrian Chalinski, who was roasted alive by a slow fire, and whose sufferings and mode of death may depict the horrors which the professors of Christianity have endured from the enemies of the Redeemer.
The reformation of papistical error very early was projected in France; for in the third century a learned man, named Almericus, and six of his disciples, were ordered to be burnt at Paris for asserting that God was no otherwise present in the sacramental bread than in any other bread; that it was idolatry to build altars or shrines to saints and that it was ridiculous to offer incense to them.
The martyrdom of Almericus and his pupils did not, however, prevent many from acknowledging the justness of his notions, and seeing the purity of the reformed religion, so that the faith of Christ continually increased, and in time not only spread itself over many parts of France, but diffused the light of the Gospel over various other countries.
In the year 1524, at a town in France, called Melden, one John Clark set up a bill on the church door, wherein he called the pope Antichrist. For this offence he was repeatedly whipped, and then branded on the forehead. Going afterward to Mentz, in Lorraine, he demolished some images, for which he had his right hand and nose cut off, and his arms and breast torn with pincers. He sustained these cruelties with amazing fortitude, and was even sufficiently cool to sing the One hundredth and fifteenth Psalm, which expressly forbids idolatry; after which he was thrown into the fire, and burnt to ashes.
Many persons of the reformed persuasion were, about this time, beaten, racked, scourged, and burnt to death, in several parts of France, but more particularly at Paris, Malda, and Limosin.
A native of Malda was burnt by a slow fire, for saying that Mass was a plain denial of the death and passion of Christ. At Limosin, John de Cadurco, a clergyman of the reformed religion, was apprehended and ordered to be burnt.
Francis Bribard, secretary to cardinal de Pellay, for speaking in favor of the reformed, had his tongue cut out, and was then burnt, A.D. 1545. James Cobard, a schoolmaster in the city of St. Michael, was burnt, A.D. 1545, for saying 'That Mass was useless and absurd'; and about the same time, fourteen men were burnt at Malda, their wives being compelled to stand by and behold the execution.
A.D. 1546, Peter Chapot brought a number of Bibles in the French tongue to France, and publicly sold them there; for which he was brought to trial, sentenced, and executed a few days afterward. Soon after, a cripple of Meaux, a schoolmaster of Fera, named Stephen Poliot, and a man named John English, were burnt for the faith.
Monsieur Blondel, a rich jeweler, was, in A.D. 1548, apprehended at Lyons, and sent to Paris; there he was burnt for the faith by order of the court, A.D. 1549. Herbert, a youth of nineteen years of age, was committed to the flames at Dijon; as was also Florent Venote in the same year.
In the year 1554, two men of the reformed religion, with the son and daughter of one of them, were apprehended and committed to the castle of Niverne. On examination, they confessed their faith, and were ordered to execution; being smeared with grease, brimstone, and gunpowder, they cried, "Salt on, salt on this sinful and rotten flesh." Their tongues were then cut out, and they were afterward committed to the flames, which soon consumed them, by means of the combustible matter with which they were besmeared.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Continual Burnt Offering (Galatians 3:13)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
October 15Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. ESV
To redeem is to buy back. Because of his sins the Jew was sold under the curse of the law. The same applies in principle to Gentiles, who now have the knowledge of the law. But Christ died not only to free believing Jews from the curse, but that the blessing of Abraham, justification by faith, might come to the Gentiles also. All who believe are delivered from the law’s condemnation, Christ having taken our place in judgment and borne what our sins deserved in His own body on the tree. He became a curse for us. He was made sin for us. In the fullest possible sense He answered for us before God. Now we go free.
He bore on the tree
The sentence for me,
And now both the Surety
And sinner are free;
And this I shall find,
For such is His mind,
He’ll not be in glory
And leave me behind.
The Inspired Order of the Bible
By Dr. Judd W. Patton, Professor of Economics Bellevue University - 2004
The Bible contains 66 books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. While there is no doubt or question that the Bible is complete, the entire Word of God, nevertheless there is a question about the actual number of books and their arrangement or order.
Would God design His Word with the mark of man on it? That is, man was created on the sixth day of creation week. Six is the mark of man. This theomatic design is seen throughout the Bible. Six and especially sixty-six, which amplifies the element of man, seems, therefore, an unlikely number of books for God to include in His Word.
Sixty-six books, however, is just a hint of a possible problem. The evidence from the Bible itself is that there are in fact forty-nine books of the Bible arranged in seven divisions. No scripture is lost, or added, by counting them as God does, so don’t get shook up!
The most dramatic concern is that many of the books of the Bible have been “scrambled,” so to speak, from the order or arrangement as originally canonized and seen in the earliest manuscripts.
These truths may seem shocking, but they are easily proven. God has, for His own purposes and reasons, permitted this re-arrangement to occur. Nevertheless, the historical evidence and most importantly, the internal evidence of the Bible itself, irrefutably demonstrate the actual number of Bible books and the God-ordained order or sequence of those forty-nine books.
Again, to state our conclusion up front, there are forty-nine books in seven divisions in a God-inspired order. God has put each book in a special position. He did not flip a coin, for example, to decide which book was to be the final one in the Old Testament or which book was to be the first in the New Testament! God could not have designed His Word in a haphazard manner!
That is because God is not the author of confusion ( 1 Corinthians 14:33 ). The traditional arrangement of the books of the Bible, when contrasted to the Inspired Order, as the author likes to phrase it, will be seen as just that – confusing. The Bible is indeed fitly joined together, God-breathed and ordered.
Throughout this paper the author will refer to the contemporary arrangement of the Bible that all of us are familiar with as the Traditional Order and the original God-ordained order as the Inspired Order.
This paper seeks to demonstrate and prove this Inspired Order by letting the Bible itself speak about its own order and principles for arrangement. When the correct book order is restored, we’ll discover a marvelous and eye-opening series of insights and a series of connected subjects and organizational logic from Genesis to Revelation. All of the teachings in the Bible become clearer and plainer.
The Influence of Jerome
The man most responsible for what became our traditional Bible of sixty-six books was the Catholic theologian, Jerome. His Latin Vulgate translation, written between A.D. 382 and 405, with his “new” arrangement of the books for both the Old and New Testaments, became the standard for Protestant scholars and translators. Of a truth once a tradition becomes established, it is difficult to change. Yet Jerome knew better. He had a rationale, a wrong rationale, for making these changes! Regardless, the Tradition lives on today.
In A.D. 391 Jerome said the following, “As, then, there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew … so we reckon twenty-two books, by which, as by the alphabet of the doctrine of God, a righteous man is instructed…” 1 Yes, Jerome understood that the Hebrew Old Testament contained 22 books coinciding with the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, not 39. And to this day the Jewish translations contain 22 Old Testament books. The books and arrangement or order of the books has never been lost. Even Josephus, in Book 1, Section 8 of his famous work, Antiquities of the Jews, recognized “only 22 books.”
Concerning the New Testament, E.W. Bullinger in his By E. W. Bullinger The Companion Bible: King James Version (Black Bonded Leather) (Black Bonded Leather) [Bonded Leather] made this bold statement: “Our English Bibles follow the order as given in the Latin Vulgate. This order, therefore, depends on the arbitrary judgment of one man, Jerome. All theories based on this order rest on human authority, and are thus without any true foundation.” 2 Dr. Bullinger has hit the nail on the head!
The scholar, now deceased, who has done the most research, in the author’s assessment, on the issue of Bible book order, is Earnest Martin. His 1994 book entitled, Restoring the Original Bible, is the most systemic, documented, referenced and scholarly work on the Inspired Order of the Bible. It’s available for $24 from his Web site: http://www.askelm.com.
Now, while Jerome is the primary figure responsible for the Traditional arrangement of the books of the Bible, there is more to the historical story. Earnest Martin details other “players” besides Jerome. Briefly, sometime in the second or third centuries A.D., the The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English version of the Bible, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, was put into book form by Egyptian Christians, replacing the twenty-two separate and independent scrolls of the Hebrew Bible. Simultaneously they abandoned the Hebrew order of the books or scrolls as maintained at the Temple, and rearranged the books into a more subject-oriented or topical arrangement. 3 When I think of Egyptian Christians I think of Alexandria and then of course of the Coptic Christians.
That is, they grouped the historical books together ( Genesis through Esther ). Then the poetic books were placed together ( Job, Psalms and Proverbs ) followed by the poetic works of Solomon ( Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon ). Finally, the prophetic books were grouped together ( Isaiah through Malachi ).
Check it out in your own Bibles. Perhaps some Bible students were unaware of this organizational three-part rationale for this Traditional Bible book order - historical, poetic and prophetic?
Jerome was well aware of both the Hebrew Bible order and the relatively new Septuagint book order in his day. 4 He had a choice to make. What should he do for his own translation? Well, he decided to use the Septuagint order in his Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. The rest is history, as the saying goes!
The point is that while Judaism did not lose the original Bible arrangement of twenty-two books, Christianity did, primarily through the influence of the Catholic theologian Jerome. Again, the Protestant translators, with few exceptions, relied on the Latin Vulgate version of Jerome in their translations and thereby the Protestant world lost the original book order.
Christ’s Comment on the Hebrew Scriptures
The whole issue about the arrangement of Bible books in the Old Testament is easily resolved. Did Christ reveal His inspired order? Indeed He did!
Turn to Luke 24:44-45. “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the scriptures.”
Christ identified the three great divisions of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures in this New Testament passage. The Divisions consist of the Law (also called the Torah or Pentateuch), the Prophets, and the Writings. The latter section begins with the book of Psalms and has also been identified in Judaism as the Hagiographa, meaning inspired writings. It became known as the Royal Division since it was written by kings, under the inspiration of God, of course, for priestly rulers and leadership instruction.
The Law, Prophets and the Writings
Romans 3:2 states that, “Unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God.” Yes, they were God’s instruments in preserving the Old Testament scriptures, and what they have preserved are twenty-two books, from the twenty-two original scrolls. Let’s review these books.
The First Division is the Law consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. As an interesting side-note, the original Hebrew titles of these books were taken from the first verse of each book. Thus the real God-inspired book titles are: “In the Beginning,” “These are the Names,” “The Lord Called,” “In the Wilderness,” and “These are the Words.” 5
Read these book titles as a sentence. Interesting, isn’t it? The titles give a good sense of the content and God’s purpose for the Torah. The Traditional titles, by contrast, that we have become accustomed to are the Greek titles originating from the Septuagint version, translated into Latin and English thereafter.
The Second Division of the Old Testament is the Prophets. It consists of only six books, though there may seem to be many more than that! The first book is Joshua - Judges. It is counted as two separate books by Traditional reckoning but only as one in the Hebrew Inspired Order. The second book consists of 1&2 Samuel -1&2 Kings. It is one book or scroll known historically as the Book of Kingdoms. Together these two books are known as the Former Prophets because they are the upfront or first books in the Division.
The next three books, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, are called the Major Prophets because they are larger in size or contain more pages than the books of the Minor Prophets, not because of importance. Lastly, the Minor Prophets are one book in Hebrew but consist of twelve prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Together, and in that historical, chronological order, they contain roughly the same number of pages as any one of the Major Prophets.
It’s also important to distinguish the Latter Prophets, which refer to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the twelve books of the Minor Prophets, from the Former Prophets, Joshua-Judges and the Book of Kingdoms.
Finally, the Third Division, according to Christ as recorded in Luke 24:44 and in Hebrew tradition, is the Psalms, the first book of the division and undoubtedly the reason Christ used it rather than the “Writings” appellation. All books within this division were composed by kings and leaders like David, Solomon, Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra and Hezekiah and written for kings and priestly rulers. Again, these books contains leadership principles.
The Hagiographa consists, then, of eleven books in three sub-categories. These categories include three Poetic or Wisdom books ( Psalms, Proverbs and Job ); five Festival Books also called the Megillot ( Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther ); and three Restoration Books ( Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and 1&2 Chronicles ).
Count them, please! There are a total of eleven books in the Writings Division with Ezra-Nehemiah counted as one book and 1&2 Chronicles counted as one book.
The five Megillot (meaning scroll) books, as they were called in Hebrew, were designated by Ezra to be read on specific Festival or commemorative days. That is, the Song of Solomon was to be read on the Passover. Ruth was to be read on the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Lamentations was to be read on the tenth day of the month Ab (in August) commemorating the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. Ecclesiastes was to be read on the Feast of Tabernacles, and Esther was to be read on the Feast of Purim. 6 Understanding Ezra’s directive adds context for the meaning of these annual Festivals or Feast days (see Leviticus 23 ), these commemorative days (Temple destruction and Purim), and for the books themselves!
There is also a distinct feminine aspect of note to the Megillot books that is significant and readily apparent 7. The Song of Solomon is about a woman who wishes to court King Solomon or be courted by him. Ruth is the grandmother of King David and the events surrounding her experience relate to the meaning of the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Lamentations is written in a style of a mother weeping for her children who have been destroyed. Ecclesiastes deals with wisdom and understanding which are feminine attributes, and Esther is about Queen Esther and her role in saving her nation of Judah from destruction.
All of the Holy Day and feminine aspects to these five books are lost when the books are scattered and dispersed in our Traditional arrangement of the Old Testament. If God indeed placed these five Megillot books together and inspired Ezra to have them read on specific Festival occasions, which the author is convinced He did, then clearly knowledge and insights are lost by dispersing them throughout the Old Testament.
Let’s notice some of the similarities and differences between the Traditional 39 books and the Inspired Order of 22 books. First, the similarities: the Law is the same in both orders – Genesis through Deuteronomy, or perhaps more correctly stated as, In the Beginning through These Are the Words. Joshua-Judges is the same in both orders positioned after Deuteronomy, though split into two books by the Traditional Order. Likewise, each book within the Minor Prophets are in the same order from Hosea to Malachi, but they are positioned or pulled as a group to the end of the Old Testament and counted as eleven separate books instead of reckoned as one book in the Inspired Order.
Beyond those similarities, Jerome’s Septuagint - inspired order really scatters the remainder of the books. The Restoration books are pulled forward and split up with 1 and 2 Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah positioned after 2 Kings, while Daniel is positioned just before the Minor Prophets. The Megillot books are widely dispersed, with Ruth and Esther placed in the Traditional Historical division, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon are grouped together after Proverbs in the Traditional Poetic division while Lamentations, authored by Jeremiah, is placed within the Major Prophets after the book of Jeremiah. Finally, the Inspired Order poetic books are rearranged so that Job precedes Psalms and Proverbs.
Such are some of the differences caused by replacing the Law, Prophets and Psalms divisions in the original Inspired Order of the Bible with three new groupings of the Traditional order: Historical, Poetic and Prophetic books.
With these changes came a loss of spiritual understanding. That’s our point! Asking why Malachi, for example, is the last book of the Bible is a nonsense question. Obtaining an answer is really nonsense! Failure to grasp the Festival nature of the five Megillot books, for example, really limits and hides knowledge contained within these books. These examples just indicate the “tip of the iceberg” of the loss of meaning and confusion caused by the Septuagint-inspired order adopted by Jerome. Stayed tuned!
Fitly Joined Together: Insights Derived from the Inspired Order
Let’s notice two examples. First, the Inspired Order is Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. It is not Job, Psalms, and Proverbs! Proverbs concludes with Chapter 31 about the virtuous woman. Then Job begins with righteous, upright Job ( Job 1:1 ). What a perfect and logical lead into the book of Job and the theme of becoming righteous before God. This fit is lost in the Traditional Order.
What is the last book of the Old Testament? It’s Chronicles, not Malachi. The book of Chronicles focuses on the lives and reigns of the righteous line of King David, that is, the Kings of Judah: David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Yet it ends without getting to the King of kings, the King of the Jews, the only truly righteous King, Jesus Christ.
That is where Matthew picks up the incomplete Davidic line by detailing the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David. In Matthew 2:2 he identifies Christ as “King of the Jews.” What a beautiful fit! It doesn’t exist with Malachi as the last book of the Old Testament.
Also, notice how 2 Chronicles 36:23, the last verse of the Old Testament, correlates with and is the perfect lead into New Testament theology. That is, Cyrus, a type of Christ, was given all power ( Matthew 28:18 ) and was commanded to build a house or spiritual temple. That is precisely what Christ is now doing, building the New Testament Church and Temple of God. Is there any question that Chronicles is the last book of the Old Testament?
New Testament Order
There is very little argument about the order of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. To quote Dr. Bullinger once again, “Our English Bibles follow the order as given in the Latin Vulgate. All theories based on this order rest on human authority.” That’s right, on the authority of Jerome!
Scholars generally recognize four Divisions in the New Testament, though some suggest five sections by letting Acts stand alone as a separate division. The four Divisions are: The Gospels and Acts, the General Epistles, the Pauline Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Please notice these Divisions in Table 2 at the end of this paper.
There are just two basic questions to answer about the New Testament order. Do the General Epistles come before or after Paul’s epistles? And secondly, where does the book of Hebrews fit, as the tenth book within Paul’s Epistles, or as the final book, i.e., the fourteenth? The answers are not difficult to obtain.
In virtually all the early manuscripts the General Epistles precede the Pauline letters or books. The General epistles consist of seven books: James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. And the fourteen books of Paul include Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Here is what Jerome did for his Latin Vulgate version. It is so easy to understand his reasoning.
He left Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts in place, along with Revelation as the last book of the Bible. He simply “pulled,” as a group, the seven General Epistles down below Paul’s letters. And then he “pulled” Hebrews down to be the final or 14th book of Paul’s letters. His rationale was simply to enhance or give preeminence to Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles and to diminish or reduce the Jewish apostles and simultaneously downgrade Jerusalem relative to Rome. 8 After all, Jerome was an early Roman Catholic.
It’s just that simple!
Notice the conclusion of Biblical scholar Dr. Scrivener who analyzed over 4,000 New Testament manuscripts: “Whether copies contain the whole or a part of the sacred volume, the general order of the books is the following: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Pauline Epistles, Apocalypse.” 9 Catholic, of course, refers to general or universal books, not the Catholic Church. These General Letters were not written to specific congregations but were written by the “Jewish” apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude. Jude was a half brother of Jesus.
Quick summary: There are twenty-seven books of the New Testament and twenty-two Old Testament books. Do the math. The Bible contains a grand total of forty-nine books. Forty-nine is seven times seven, reflecting completeness. Moreover, there are a total of seven Divisions within the Bible: The Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels and Acts, General Epistles, Pauline Epistles, and Revelation. That seems reasonable and complete too, with seven, the Biblical number of completeness as God finished His work on the seventh day of creation, the Sabbath ( Genesis 2:1-3 ).
Logic of the New Testament Order
There is an obvious logic to the New Testament Inspired Order that is easy to spot, especially by any teacher. It is organized in a systematic manner from basic or elementary subjects and doctrines to the “weightier matters” and deeper understanding of Christian doctrine. As the apostle Paul might put it, “From the milk of the Word to the meat of the Word.” This progressive doctrinal approach would not be true in the Traditional order. Quite the contrary as will be seen.
Using an education analogy, 10 the Gospels and Acts can be likened to elementary school. These five books reveal fundamental Christian Principles as well as the life and works of Christ. Matthew emphasizes Christ as King while Mark’s theme is Christ as servant. Luke emphasizes Christ as Man while John’s theme is Christ as God.
The General Epistles represent or can be likened to the high school level. The General Epistles deal with faith ( James ), hope ( 1 &2 Peter ) and love ( John ). James teaches how to live as a Christian, and Jude concludes the General Epistles by admonishing Christians to contend for the faith once delivered.
Paul’s Epistles, from Romans through Hebrews, can be likened to college level work. Here we see the ABC’s and XYZ’s of Christian doctrine in detail and depth. Romans focuses on the basic doctrines of repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment. Hebrews however is for mature Christians going on to perfection by building on the foundational principles covered in the immediately preceding epistles. Lastly, Paul’s pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, a clear sub-group of Paul’s letters, can be likened to Master’s level studies in leadership instruction for Christians.
Finally, the Book of Revelation has to be at the Ph.D. level of education with all its symbolism and prophetic utterances. Moreover, it brings the Bible to a conclusion with end time events, the return of Christ and the New Jerusalem.
By contrast in the Traditional order, Paul’s Epistles are positioned before the General Epistles. Notice, though, in 2 Peter 3:16, Peter tells us that Paul’s epistles contain subject matter that is “hard to understand.” Thus the “hard matters” are positioned before the more basic exposition of love, faith and hope. No teacher would approach any subject or discipline in this manner!
Principle: “To the Jew First”
There is a second reason why the General Epistles must be positioned before Paul’s epistles. In Romans 1:16, Paul states that the gospel of Christ is, “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Likewise, in Acts 13:46 we see Paul and Barnabas telling the Jews that, “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing you put it from you…we turn to the Gentiles.”
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles ( Romans 11:13 ), but he always went to the Jews first whenever he taught ( Acts 11:19; 13:14; 14:1; 17:1,10; 18:4; 19:8; 28:17 ). 11 Even Christ Himself sent His twelve disciples (apostles) to the Jews first. In Matthew 10:5-6 Christ commanded the twelve, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles…but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Surely God had and has an order or priority in preaching the gospel, just has he had in designing His Word. He is consistent. Thus one would expect the precept “To the Jew first” to be seen in the Inspired Order of the books of the Bible as well. And that is exactly what we discover!
That is, the General Epistles were authored by James, Peter, John and Jude who were commissioned to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the Jewish people, as Galatians 2:9 shows. Therefore, the epistles of these Jewish apostles must precede Paul’s epistles, the apostle to the Gentiles.
Notice the contrast of the Inspired Order verses the Traditional order.
The very first verse of the book of James validates the principle of going to the Jews first: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, greeting.” But Paul’s greeting in Romans, his first book begins with, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…to all that be in Rome” ( Romans 1:1,6 ). To place Paul’s epistles prior to the General Epistles is to clearly contradict the Biblical principle of “To the Jew first.” The Traditional Order of the Bible by Jerome therefore follows the unbiblical proposition “To the Gentles or Romans first.”
Principle: Eldership and Rank
There is yet another reason that the Bible demands that the General Epistles come before Paul’s Epistles. It is the principle of eldership and rank. 12 In Galatians 2:9 we find that James, Peter and John were the pillar apostles. Yet in 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul identifies himself as “the least of the apostles” because he persecuted the Church of God. It would be a contradiction to place the works of “the least apostle” before the works of “pillar apostles.” Eldership and rank demand otherwise. God, nevertheless, honored Paul by using him to author the most books in the New Testament, fourteen.
Conclusion: Paul’s Epistles must follow the General Epistles based on Biblical evidence and precept, let alone the historical evidence. The principles of: (1) eldership and rank, (2) to the Jew first, and (3) “milk to meat” progressive doctrinal teaching are sufficient to establish this truth.
Book of Hebrews
Another truth that is readily established is that the book of Hebrews should not be positioned as the last book of the Paul’s epistles, and thus the book that precedes the General Epistles. Why?
The historical record, Dr. Bullinger informs us, is that, “In the best and oldest Codices, Hebrews follows 2 Thessalonians instead of Philemon. ” 13 Again, the Bible itself removes any doubt.
The first seven books of Paul expound the ABC’s and XYZ’s of Christian theology, Romans through Colossians. These letters were written to six specific churches with the Corinthians receiving two letters. The seventh church letter, the eighth and ninth of Paul’s fourteen, is Thessalonians, which also gets two letters apiece. It is interesting that the letters of the seventh church area address end-time events ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 ).
Bible students know that Christ will return at the seventh trumpet. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” ( Revelation 11:15 ). After Christ returns to the earth, He reigns forever, but He reigns for a thousand years before the second resurrection ( Revelation 20:5 ).
Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews the millennium is addressed. Paul speaks of “the world to come” in Hebrews 2:5, the millennial rest in Chapter 4, the New Covenant in Chapter 8, and in Hebrews 11:16 the City of God, the New Jerusalem.
The millennium, of course, follows the end-times or latter days and the return of Christ. Likewise, the Feast of Tabernacles (picturing the 1000 year reign of Christ) follows the Feast of Trumpets as seen in Leviticus 23.
Let’s connect the dots. 1 and 2 Thessalonians, covering the doctrine of the end-times and the second coming of Christ, must logically precede the book dealing with the millennium - Hebrews! Hebrews, therefore, follows 2 Thessalonians without a doubt.
Jerome should not have let his prejudice for Rome and Gentiles over Jews prevail in his Latin Vulgate translation by pulling Hebrews to the end of Paul’s books.
Once this order is recognized, another small but significant insight emerges. Paul introduces Timothy in the last few verses of Hebrews. “Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints.”
The first letter to Timothy is the book that follows Hebrews in the Inspired Order. Thus Paul introduces the young minister Timothy at the end of Hebrews and even leads into the book’s purpose of ministerial leadership principles and proper rulership. This fit does not occur when Hebrews is shifted to the end of Paul’s books, i.e., after Philemon.
One final point, the last four books of Paul’s epistles, known as the pastoral epistles, are: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. They obviously go together as books providing ministerial instruction. These four books of the Bible provide information on church government, encouragement to maintain pure doctrine, and principles to be effective leaders in the congregations of God. They are fitly joined together in purpose. By contrast the book of Hebrews is doctrinal in nature, not pastoral. Here is another proof that it does not belong as the last book of the Pauline epistles, as the Traditional Order maintains.
There is indeed an Inspired Order of the books of the Bible. Historical and Biblical evidence reveals that there are forty-nine books divided into seven divisions. These divisions are the Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels and Acts, General Epistles, Paul’s Epistles and Revelation.
The Traditional order of sixty-six books owes its origin to the ideas and prejudices of Jerome contained in his Latin Vulgate translation. Jerome’s arrangement of the books of the Bible, as shown in this paper, are contrary to the historical record and Biblical precepts that God gives us in His Word.
Earnest Martin had it right: “All the teachings in the Bible become clearer and plainer when the Biblical books are placed back in their correct order. It is truly amazing what the books of the Bible have to tell us when we read the Holy Scriptures in the context that was first intended by God and those who officially canonized the Bible.” 14
It’s time to recognize this truth and reject a tradition of man. Any publishers who want to break with an erroneous tradition and publish the Bible in the God-ordained Inspired Order?
1 Earnest Martin, Restoring the Original Bible (Ann Arbor, Michigan: ASK Publications, 1994), p. 20.
2 E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1974), p. 139 (Appendix).
3 Martin, Restoring the Original Bible, pp. 17-18.
4 For additional proof and quotes from numerous Bible scholars, see Chapter 1 of Martin’s book.
5 The Introductory remarks of the New King James Bible also point out this relatively unknown fact about the Hebrew titles of the books of the Torah (Law).
6 Martin, Restoring the Original Bible, pp. 477-478.
7 Ibid., pp. 130-131.
8 Ibid., pp. 9-10.
9 Ibid., p.8.
10 I owe this analogy to Earnest Martin.
11 Martin, Restoring the Original Order, pp. 346-347.
12 Ibid., pp. 348-350.
13 Bullinger, The Companion Bible, p. 139 (Appendix).
14 Martin, Restoring the Original Bible, p.6.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Put on your new clothes
(Oct 15) Bob Gass
‘Put on the new self.’
(Eph 4:24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ESV
When you entertain wrong thoughts in the privacy of your mind, you may be tempted to excuse yourself by saying, ‘What harm will it do?’ More harm than you know! You become what you dwell on. The Bible says, ‘Put off your old self…put on the new self’ (vv. 22, 24 NIV 2011 Edition). You may not want to admit you’re still wearing some of those ‘old’ clothes (attitudes, pastimes, and practices), but the truth is you can’t put on your new ones until you take off the old ones. Furthermore, you can’t hang your old clothes in the wardrobe for a rainy day, or leave them on the floor to be tripped over. You’ve got to get rid of them. ‘Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…put on the new self, created to be like God…Put off falsehood and speak truthfully…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (vv. 22-32 NIV 2011 Edition). The word for you today is: it’s time to take off your old clothes and put on your new ones.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
In an era when liberal federal judges have taken license to strike down properly passed laws, its interesting to look at the views of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, who wrote on this day, October 15, 1788: “As the courts are generally the last in making the decision, it results to them, by refusing or not refusing to execute a law, to stamp it with its final character. This makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was never intended, and can never be proper.” Also on this day, October 15, 1991, despite a vicious attack by liberals, Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a Justice on the Supreme Court by the U.S. Senate vote of 52-48.American Minute
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
The Soul of Prayer
But, after all, our doom is our blessing. Our Judge is on our side. For if humiliation be wrung from us, still more is faith, hope, and prayer. Everything that rebukes our self-satisfaction does still more to draw out our faith. When we are too tired or doubtful to ask we can praise and adore. When we are weary of confessing our sin we can forget ourselves in a godly sort and confess our Saviour. We can say the creed when we cannot raise the song. He also hath given us the reconciliation. The more judgment we see in the holy cross the more we see it is judgment unto salvation. The more we are humbled the more we “roll our souls upon Christ.” And we recover our self-possession only by giving our soul again and again to Christ to keep. We win a confidence in self-despair. Prayer is given us as wings wherewith to mount, but also to shield our face when they have carried us before the great white throne. It is in prayer that the holiness comes home as love, and the love is established as holiness. At every step our thought is transformed to prayer, and our prayer opens new ranges of thought. His great revelation is His holiness, always outgoing in atoning love. The Christian revelation is not “God is love” so much as “love is God.” That is, it is not God’s love, but the infinite power of God’s love, its finality, omnipotence, and absoluteness. It is not passionate and helpless love, but it has power to subdue everything that rises against it. And that is the holiness of love—the eternal thing in it. We receive the last reconciliation. Then the very wrath of God becomes a glory. The red in the sky is the new dawn. Our self-accusation becomes a new mode of praise. Our loaded hearts spring light again. Our heavy conscience turns to grave moral power. A new love is born for our kind. A new and tender patience steals upon us. We see new ways of helping, serving, and saving. We issue into a new world. We are one with the Christ not only on His cross, but in His resurrection. Think of the resurrection power and calm, of that solemn final peace, that infinite satisfaction in the eternal thing eternally achieved, which filled His soul when He had emerged from death, when man’s worst had been done, and God’s best had been won, for ever and for all. We have our times of entrance into that Christ. As we were one with Him in the likeness of His death, so we are in the likeness of His resurrection. And the same Eternal Spirit which puts the preacher’s soul much upon the cross also raises it continually from the dead. We overcome our mistakes, negligences, sins; nay, we rise above the sin of the whole world, which will not let our souls be as good as they are. We overcome the world, and take courage, and are of new cheer. We are in the Spirit. And then we can preach, pray, teach, heal. And even the unclean lips then put a new thrill into our sympathy and a new tremor into our praise.
If it be not so, how shall our dangerous work not demoralize us, and we perish from our too much contact with holy things.
The minister’s holiest prayer is hardly lawful to utter. Few of his public would comprehend it. Some would dismiss it with their most opprobrious word. They would call it theological. When he calls to God in his incomprehensible extremity they would translate it into an appeal to Elijah (Matt. xxvii. 47). For to them theology is largely mythology.
We are called at the present day to a reconstruction of the old theology, a restatement of the old Gospel. We have to reappropriate and remint the truth of our experienced Christianity. But what a hardship it is that this call should search us at a time when the experimental power of our Christianity has abated, and the evangelical experience is so low and so confused as it often is! It must be the minister’s work to recover and deepen this experience for the churches, in the interest of faith, and of the truth in which faith renders account of itself. Theological inadequacy, and especially antagonism to theology, means at root religious defect. For the reformation of belief we must have a restoration of faith. And a chief engine for such recovery of faith is for us what it was for Luther and his like—prayer. And it is not mindless prayer, but that prayer which is the wrestling of the conscience and not merely the cry of the heart, the prayer for reconciliation and redemption and not merely for guidance and comfort, the prayer of faith and not merely of love.
I saw in a friend’s house a photograph from (I think) Durer—just two tense hands, palms together, and lifted in prayer. It was most eloquent, most subduing. I wish I could stamp the picture on the page here and fit it to Milton’s line:
The great two-handed engine at our door.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Any fool can count the seeds in an apple.
Only God can count all the apples in one seed.
--- Robert H. Schuller
Self-respect is the fruit of discipline,
the sense of dignity grows
with the ability to say no to oneself.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel
I have friends who wear Star Wars costumes and act like the characters all day. I may not be that deep into it, but there's something great about loving what you love and not caring if it's unpopular.
--- Kristen Bell
The spiritual virtue of a sacrament is like light; although it passes among the impure, it is not polluted.
--- Saint Augustine
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
8. Now after one day had been interposed since the Romans ascended the breach, many of the seditious were so pressed by the famine, upon the present failure of their ravages, that they got together, and made an attack on those Roman guards that were upon the Mount of Olives, and this about the eleventh hour of the day, as supposing, first, that they would not expect such an onset, and, in the next place, that they were then taking care of their bodies, and that therefore they should easily beat them. But the Romans were apprized of their coming to attack them beforehand, and, running together from the neighboring camps on the sudden, prevented them from getting over their fortification, or forcing the wall that was built about them. Upon this came on a sharp fight, and here many great actions were performed on both sides; while the Romans showed both their courage and their skill in war, as did the Jews come on them with immoderate violence and intolerable passion. The one part were urged on by shame, and the other by necessity; for it seemed a very shameful thing to the Romans to let the Jews go, now they were taken in a kind of net; while the Jews had but one hope of saving themselves, and that was in case they could by violence break through the Roman wall; and one whose name was Pedanius, belonging to a party of horsemen, when the Jews were already beaten and forced down into the valley together, spurred his horse on their flank with great vehemence, and caught up a certain young man belonging to the enemy by his ankle, as he was running away; the man was, however, of a robust body, and in his armor; so low did Pedanius bend himself downward from his horse, even as he was galloping away, and so great was the strength of his right hand, and of the rest of his body, as also such skill had he in horsemanship. So this man seized upon that his prey, as upon a precious treasure, and carried him as his captive to Caesar; whereupon Titus admired the man that had seized the other for his great strength, and ordered the man that was caught to be punished [with death] for his attempt against the Roman wall, but betook himself to the siege of the temple, and to pressing on the raising of the banks.
9. In the mean time, the Jews were so distressed by the fights they had been in, as the war advanced higher and higher, and creeping up to the holy house itself, that they, as it were, cut off those limbs of their body which were infected, in order to prevent the distemper's spreading further; for they set the north-west cloister, which was joined to the tower of Antonia, on fire, and after that brake off about twenty cubits of that cloister, and thereby made a beginning in burning the sanctuary; two days after which, or on the twenty-fourth day of the forenamed month, [Panemus or Tamuz,] the Romans set fire to the cloister that joined to the other, when the fire went fifteen cubits farther. The Jews, in like manner, cut off its roof; nor did they entirely leave off what they were about till the tower of Antonia was parted from the temple, even when it was in their power to have stopped the fire; nay, they lay still while the temple was first set on fire, and deemed this spreading of the fire to be for their own advantage. However, the armies were still fighting one against another about the temple, and the war was managed by continual sallies of particular parties against one another.
10. Now there was at this time a man among the Jews, low of stature he was, and of a despicable appearance; of no character either as to his family, or in other respects: his name was Jonathan. He went out at the high priest John's monument, and uttered many other insolent things to the Romans, and challenged the best of them all to a single combat. But many of those that stood there in the army huffed him, and many of them [as they might well be] were afraid of him. Some of them also reasoned thus, and that justly enough: that it was not fit to fight with a man that desired to die, because those that utterly despaired of deliverance had, besides other passions, a violence in attacking men that could not be opposed, and had no regard to God himself; and that to hazard oneself with a person, whom, if you overcome, you do no great matter, and by whom it is hazardous that you may be taken prisoner, would be an instance, not of manly courage, but of unmanly rashness. So there being nobody that came out to accept the man's challenge, and the Jew cutting them with a great number of reproaches, as cowards, [for he was a very haughty man in himself, and a great despiser of the Romans,] one whose name was Pudens, of the body of horsemen, out of his abomination of the other's words, and of his impudence withal, and perhaps out of an inconsiderate arrogance, on account of the other's lowness of stature, ran out to him, and was too hard for him in other respects, but was betrayed by his ill fortune; for he fell down, and as he was down, Jonathan came running to him, and cut his throat, and then, standing upon his dead body, he brandished his sword, bloody as it was, and shook his shield with his left hand, and made many acclamations to the Roman army, and exulted over the dead man, and jested upon the Romans; till at length one Priscus, a centurion, shot a dart at him as he was leaping and playing the fool with himself, and thereby pierced him through; upon which a shout was set up both by the Jews and the Romans, though on different accounts. So Jonathan grew giddy by the pain of his wounds, and fell down upon the body of his adversary, as a plain instance how suddenly vengeance may come upon men that have success in war, without any just deserving the same.
by D.H. Stern
than hidden love.
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
The key to the missionary message
And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. --- 1 John 2:2.
The key to the missionary message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus. Take any phase of Christ’s work—the healing phase, the saving and sanctifying phase; there is nothing limitless about those. “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”—that is limitless. The missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.
The key to the missionary message is the remissionary aspect of Christ’s life, not His kindness and His goodness, and His revealing of the Fatherhood of God; the great limitless significance is that He is the propitiation for our sins. The missionary message is not patriotic, it is irrespective of nations and of individuals, it is for the whole world. When the Holy Ghost comes in He does not consider my predilections, He brings me into union with the Lord Jesus.
A missionary is one who is wedded to the charter of his Lord and Master; he has not to proclaim his own point of view, but to proclaim the Lamb of God. It is easier to belong to a coterie which tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, easier to become a devotee to Divine healing, or to a special type of sanctification, or to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Paul did not say—‘Woe is unto me, if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,’ but—“Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!” This is the Gospel—“The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
I served on a dozen committees;
talked hard, said little, shared the applause
at the end. Picking over
the remains later, we agreed power
was not ours, launched our invective
at others, the anonymous wielders
of such. Life became small, grey,
the smell of interiors. Occasions
on which a clean air entered our nostrils
off swept seas were instances
we sought to recapture. One particular
time after a harsh Morning
of rain, the clouds lifted, the wind
fell; there was a resurrection
of nature, and we there to emerge
with it into the anointed
air. I wanted to say to you: 'We
will remember this.' But tenses
were out of place on that green
island, ringed with the rain's
bow, that we had found and would spend
the rest of our lives looking for.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
A writer who felt the danger of exposing his philosophic interest to the community would have to be a masochist to make such a statement. Although Maimonides does not explicate the teachings of Ma’aseh Merkavah and Ma’aseh Bereshit in the Mishneh Torah as he does in the Guide, one must appreciate his frankness in these statements. Whereas the Orthodox Jew might tolerate various philosophical exegeses of the Bible, he would nonetheless rage against the suggestion that the elite of his tradition—his prophets and cherished sages—consummated their love of God in “non-Jewish domains” of knowledge. The Orthodox Jew would reject the notion that philosophy is of greater significance than the study of Halakhah.
h) The most powerful argument against the supposed split in Maimonides’ thinking can be derived from the way he treats the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs is perceived by the traditional Jew as a parable of the passionate love affair between God and Israel. To the devout Jew, the Song of Songs is what intimate letters are to the passionate lover. In the Mishneh Torah Maimonides interprets the parable in terms of the love gained from the knowledge of God through nature.
As was noted, the god who is revealed in nature cannot be limited to a specific relationship with Israel. Thus to interpret a book—traditionally believed to express the intimate love affair of God and Israel—as a book about the love inspired by God in all beings capable of intellection is to negate the unique status of Israel in this love-relationship. Similarly, this interpretation unequivocally destroys a spiritual way of life in which God is exclusively a lawgiver.
Man’s ultimate relationship to God cannot be the exclusive experience of any particular historical community. Physics and metaphysics are disciplines which are accessible to all rational men. Reason, the image of God in man, does not separate the Jew from the non-Jew. “Beloved is man who is created in the image of God” (Avot 3:14). By making the passion of the Song of Songs a function of these philosophic disciplines, Maimonides broke the exclusivity of the love-relationship of the Jew with God:
Not only the tribe of Levi, but every single individual from among the world’s inhabitants whose spirit moved him and whose intelligence gave him the understanding to withdraw from the world in order to stand before God—to serve and minister to Him, to know God—and he walked upright in the manner in which God made him, shaking from his neck the yoke of the manifold contrivances which men seek—behold! this person has been totally consecrated and God will be his portion and inheritance forever and ever. God will acquire for him sufficient goods in this world just as he did for the Priests and Levites. Behold, David, may he rest in peace, says: “O Lord, the portion of my inheritance and of my cup, You maintain my lot” (Ps. 16:5).
What the previous discussion shows is that Maimonides was not simply attempting to secure legitimacy for philosophy. Had this been his motive in the Mishneh Torah he would never have made explicit claims which would shock the most sensitive religious feelings of traditional talmudists. Maimonides could have then chosen the path of some of our contemporary Orthodox Jewish scientists who neatly separate the world of science from religion. No talmudist of that era would take issue with the view that Torah taught true science before Aristotle. After all in the Mishnah it is written: “Study it [Torah] again and again, for everything is contained in it” (T.B. Avot 5:22).
In fact, if protecting philosophers was Maimonides’ aim, he could have achieved this with an acceptable argument that the study of the sciences enhances man’s appreciation of the wonder and majesty of God. But this was not his purpose. He placed knowledge of pardes above knowledge of the law and made it a condition for joining the ranks of the sages and prophets. He deliberately restructured the private love story of God and Israel. Maimonides exposed his legal reader to an understanding of Halakhah which enabled the reader to recognize the importance of objective study of the sciences for his personal observance of the commandments. To claim, as Strauss does, that Torah has significance for Maimonides solely in terms of political categories, as an instrument of social order, is to miss the point of Maimonides’ constant stress upon the importance of Aggadah for Halakhah.
The difference between the approaches of Strauss and others who overlook Maimonides’ integrated methods and the course taken here will come into sharper focus when specific problems in the Guide are analyzed later. But there is yet another instance in the Mishneh Torah in which Maimonides offers a rationale for the existence of Torah as an integrated system of norms and philosophy. If Torah is not to be simply a redundant way of formulation of philosophy, one must understand why Halakhah is a vital component in integration. To do this, Maimonides’ presentation of the conditions which preceded the giving of the Torah must be examined. If pre-Mosaic man could have appropriated the philosophic way to love of God, what made it necessary to introduce a Torah into history?
Before enumerating the laws of idolatry in the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides begins with a prolegomenon dealing with the historical origins of idolatry. In this introduction, three stages of biblical history are discussed: a) the origins of paganism, b) the revolt of Abraham against his pagan society, and c) the election of Moses and the giving of the Torah.
Maimonides describes three stages in history which he believes led to the abandonment of belief in God. The process began from a mistake in the form of worship. At first men believed in one God who governed the world through intermediary forces. Given this cosmology, they reasoned that just as a king is honored when respect is shown to his ministers, so too would God be pleased if men paid homage to His ministers, the heavenly bodies. This mistaken form of worship of intermediaries grew out of an honest mistake which resulted from a cosmology that perceived God as affecting the world through His intermediaries.
Maimonides does not explain why this form of worship is mistaken. What Maimonides does is to show the reader how mistaken forms of worship are compatible with a true belief in God and, therefore, why the change from pure monotheism to the beginnings of paganism is not a radical one. This is characteristic of Maimonides’ theory of human development which is presented in his theory of history in the Guide.
The second stage in the process of abandonment begins when “prophets” claim that the authority of God legitimatizes a pagan form of worship:
In course of time, there arose among men false prophets who asserted that God had commanded and expressly told them: “Worship that particular star, or worship all the stars. Offer up such and such sacrifices. Pour out such and such libations. Erect a temple. Make a figure, to which all the people—the women, children, and the rest of the folk shall bow down.”
Mistaken forms of worship, which initially resulted from human thought, are now claimed to represent the will of God. It is interesting that wise men who appeal to reason do not succeed in making intermediary-worship practice universal. In the stage of wise men, there were no images to worship—only temples devoted to the worship of the stars. The false prophets, however, introduced figures and images, and succeeded in bringing about the popular forms of idol-worship.
The final stage emerges only after a long period, when the masses of people come to know only the images and the wise men know only the spheres. What begins as a mistaken way of honoring God concludes with the complete absence of God from the minds of men.
Maimonides does not claim that such a process is necessary and can be predicted by an analysis of some metaphysical or natural concept. The stages of this process of alienation are not links in a logical chain, but descriptions of a human process, one which results from a tendency in man to treat means as ends in themselves.
Maimonides also noticed this process of alienation in man’s economic behavior. In his introduction to The Commentary to the Mishnah, he marvels at the involvement of man in economic pursuits which appear to have no relationship to human needs. Although human survival may be the initial reason for an economic activity, the reason is often forgotten once such activities are in motion. Thus, spheres, stars, figurines, and images become exclusive objects of worship in much the same way that economic pursuits, which may have little connection with one’s survival, dominate one’s whole life.
One who understands the tendency toward alienation in human behavior will be able to appreciate why, as a means of honoring God, the worship of intermediaries must be rejected. It is quite understandable how Maimonides can claim the testimony of reason in rejecting the claims of false prophets who demand the worship of intermediaries:
And we should not worry about his claim to prophecy nor shall we ask from him a miracle. And even if he performed miracles the likes of which we have never even heard so as to verify his claim, behold this [person] is punished by strangulation and one should not pay heed to those miracles, for the reason for the existence of those miracles is what Scripture said, “For the Lord your God is testing you” … (Deut. 13:4). For the testimony of reason which denies his prophecy is stronger than the testimony of the eye which sees his miracles, for it has already been made clear to men of reason that it is not proper to honor nor to worship other than the One who caused all beings to exist and is unique in [His] ultimate perfection.
The testimony of reason can refer both to one’s ability to reject theological claims which contradict demonstrative truth, and to reasoned arguments which are grounded in examination of human behavior. This point is crucial in Maimonides’ presentation of Abraham:
The world moved on in this fashion, till that Pillar of the World, the Patriarch Abraham, was born. After he was weaned, while still an infant, his mind began to reflect. By day and by night he was thinking and wondering: “How is it possible that this [celestial] sphere should continuously be guiding the world and have no one to guide it and cause it to turn round; for it cannot be that it turns round of itself.” He had no teacher, no one to instruct him in aught. He was submerged, in Ur of the Chaldees, among silly idolaters. His father and mother and the entire population worshiped idols and he worshiped with them. But his mind was busily working and reflecting till he attained the way of truth, apprehended the correct line of thought and knew that there is One God, that He guides the celestial sphere and created everything, and that among all that exists, there is no god beside Him.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
--- Luke 1:46–47.
Mary sings. Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Women, Book 2 When God shows himself, what music will suffice for the grand psalm of adoring wonder? In the Incarnation, it is the divine person who is revealed, wrapped in a veil of our lesser clay. Worthy of peerless music is the fact that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). There is no longer a great gulf fixed between God and his people; the humanity of Christ has bridged it. We can no longer think that God sits on high, indifferent to our wants and woes, for God has come down to our humble state. No longer need we lament that we can never participate in the moral glory and purity of God. Let us dream no longer in somber sadness that we cannot draw near to God, so that he will really hear our prayers and pity our necessities, since Jesus has become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, born a babe as we are born, living as human as we must live, bearing the same infirmities and sorrows, and bowing his head to the same death. O can’t we come with confidence by this new and living way to the throne of the heavenly grace, when Jesus meets us as Immanuel—God with us?
The stress of the Virgin’s canticle is laid on God’s special grace to her. Those little words, the personal pronouns, tell us that it was truly a personal affair with her. My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. The Savior was, in a special sense, hers. You can never know the joy of Mary unless Christ becomes truly and really yours. But, oh! when he is yours, yours within, reigning in your heart, changing your nature, subduing your corruptions—yours within, an inexpressible and glorious joy—oh! then who can restrain your tongue?
The natural conception of the Savior’s holy body was not one-tenth so fitting a theme for congratulation as the spiritual conception of the holy Jesus within your heart when he will be in you the hope of glory. My dear friend, if Christ is yours, there is no song on earth too high, too holy for you to sing. No, there is no song that thrills from angelic lips, no note that thrills archangel’s tongue, in which you may not join. Even this day, the holiest, the happiest, the most glorious of words and thoughts and emotions belong to you. Use them! God help you to enjoy them. His be the praise while yours is the comfort evermore. Amen.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
God Looked Down …
Think of what you were when you were called,” said Paul. “Not many of you were wise … influential … of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things … ” --- 1 Co 1:26,27, NIV.
It had started on a bus in England. Gladys Aylward, a poorly educated 28-year-old parlormaid, was reading about China and the need for missionaries there; and from that moment, China became her life and passion. She applied to a missionary agency only to be turned down. Crushed with disappointment, she returned to her small servant’s room and turned her pocketbook upside down. Two pennies fell on top of her Bible. “O God,” she prayed, “here’s my Bible! Here’s my money! Here’s me!” Gladys began hoarding every cent to purchase passage to China. She knew she couldn’t afford to travel by ship, so she decided to go overland by train right across Europe and Asia, though it meant slicing through a dangerous war zone on the Manchurian border. On October 15, 1932 a little bewildered party gathered at London’s Liverpool Street Station to see Gladys Aylward off for China. The journey was hair-raising and nearly cost her life. But eventually Gladys reached China, showing up at the home of an older missionary who took her in—but didn’t quite know what to do with her.
And yet—to make a long story short—Gladys Aylward eventually became one of the most amazing single woman missionaries of modern history. Her missions career was so extraordinary that the world finally took notice. Her biography was made into a movie starring Ingrid Bergman. She dined with such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth and spoke in great churches. She even became a subject of the television program “This Is Your Life.”
But Gladys never grew accustomed to the limelight, for her heart was always in Asia. “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China,” she once said. “There was somebody else. … I don’t know who it was—God’s first choice. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down … and saw Gladys Aylward.”
My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame. --- 1 Corinthians 1:26,27.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 15
“But who may abide the day of his coming?” --- Malachi 3:2.
His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the “I am?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry! Though a lamb, he is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though he breaks not the bruised reed, yet will he break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of his foes shall bear up before the tempest of his wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of his indignation; but his beloved blood washed people look for his appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them he sits as a refiner even now, and when he has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this Morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of him sincere and without rebuke in the day of his appearing.
Evening - October 15
“But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck.” --- Exodus 34:20.
Every firstborn creature must be the Lord’s, but since the ass was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The ass is his due, but he will not accept it; he will not abate the claim, but yet he cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained but redemption—the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die. My soul, here is a lesson for thee. That unclean animal is thyself; thou art justly the property of the Lord who made thee and preserves thee, but thou art so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept thee; and it has come to this, the Lamb of God must stand in thy stead, or thou must die eternally. Let all the world know of thy gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for thee, and so redeemed thee from the fatal curse of the law. Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite which should die, the ass or the lamb? Would not the good man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the ass is spared. My soul, admire the boundless love of God to thee and others of the human race. Worms are bought with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom had been mine had not plenteous redemption been found! The breaking of the neck of the ass was but a momentary penalty, but who shall measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.
STAND UP FOR JESUS
George Duffield, 1818–1888
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10)
A great city-wide revival swept across Philadelphia in 1858. It was called “the work of God in Philadelphia.” Of the participating ministers none was more powerful that the 29-year-old Episcopalian, Dudley Tyng, who was known as a bold and uncompromising preacher.
In addition to pastoring his own church, Dudley Tyng began holding noonday services at the downtown YMCA. Great crowds came to hear this dynamic young preacher. On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, over 5,000 men gathered for a noon mass meeting to hear Tyng preach from the text “Ye that are men, go and serve the Lord” (Exodus 10:11). Over 1,000 of these men committed their lives to Christ. At one point, the young preacher exclaimed:
I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather that this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.
The very next week, while visiting in the country and watching the operation of a corn threshing machine in a barn, young Tyng accidentally caught his loose sleeve between the cogs; the arm was lacerated severely with the main artery severed and the median nerve injured. As a result of shock and a great loss of blood, the Rev. Dudley Tyng died.
On his death bed when asked by a group of sorrowing friends and ministers for a final statement, he feebly whispered, “Let us all stand up for Jesus.”
The next Sunday, Tyng’s close friend and fellow worker, the Rev. George Duffield, pastor of the Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, preached his Morning sermon as a tribute to his departed friend. He closed his sermon by reading a poem that he had just finished writing, inspired, as he told his people, by the dying words of his esteemed friend.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus; ye soldiers of the cross; lift high His royal banner—it must not suffer loss. From vict’ry unto vict’ry His army shall He lead, ’till ev’ry foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus; the trumpet call obey; forth to the mighty conflict in this His glorious day. Ye that are men now serve Him against unnumbered foes; let courage rise with danger and strength to strength oppose.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus; the strife will not be long; this day the noise of battle—the next, the victor’s song. To Him that overcometh a crown of life shall be; He with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.
For Today: 2 Corinthians 1:20–22; Ephesians 6:10–18; James 1:12
Determine to live boldly and unashamedly for God in the strength and wisdom that He will provide. Sing as you go ---
Discourse IX - On The Wisdom Of God
Rom. 16:27. — To God only wise be glory, through Jesus Christ, for ever. Amen.
This chapter being the last of this Epistle, is chiefly made up of charitable and friendly salutations and commendations of particular persons, according to the earliness and strength of their several graces, and their labor of love for the interest of God and his people. In verse 17, he warns them not to be drawn aside from the gospel doctrine, which had been taught them, by the plausible pretences and insinuations which the corrupters of the doctrine and rule of Christ never want from the suggestions of their carnal wisdom. The brats of soul-destroying errors may walk about the world in a garb and disguise of good words and fair speeches, as it is in the 18th. verse; by “good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” And for their encouragement to a constancy in the gospel doctrine, he assures them, that all those that would dispossess them of truth, to possess them with vanity, are but Satan’s instruments, and will fall under the same captivity and yoke with their principal (ver. 18); “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Whence, observe,
1. All corrupters of divine truth, and troublers of the church’s peace, are no better than devils. Our Saviour thought the name, Satan, a title merited by Peter, when he breathed out an advice, as an axe at the root of the gospel, the death of Christ, the foundation of all gospel truth; and the apostle concludes them under the same character, which hinder the superstructure, and would mix their chaff with his wheat (Matt. 16:23), “Get thee behind me, Satan.” It is not, Get thee behind me, Simon, or, Get thee behind me, Peter; but “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence to me.” Thou dost oppose thyself to the wisdom, and grace, and authority of God, to the redemption of man, and to the good of the world. As the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth, so is Satan the spirit of falsehood as the Holy Ghost inspires believers with truth, so doth the devil corrupt unbelievers with error. Let us cleave to the truth of the gospel, that we may not be counted by God as part of the corporation of fallen angels, and not be barely reckoned as enemies of God, but in league with the greatest enemy to his glory in the world.
2. The Reconciler of the world will be the Subduer of Satan. The God of peace sent the Prince of peace to be the restorer of his rights, and the hammer to beat in pieces the usurper of them. As a God of truth, he will make good his promise; as a God of peace, he will perfect the design his wisdom hath laid, and begun to act. In the subduing Satan, he will be the conqueror of his instruments: he saith not, God shall bruise your troublers and heretics, but Satan: the fall of a general proves the rout of the army. Since God, as a God of peace, hath delivered his own, he will perfect the victory, and make them cease from bruising the heel of his spiritual seed.
3. Divine evangelical truth shall be victorious. No weapon formed against it shall prosper: the head of the wicked shall fall as low as the feet of the godly. The devil never yet blustered in the world, but he met at last with a disappointment: his fall hath been like lightning, sudden, certain, vanishing.
4. Faith must look back as far as the foundation promise. “The God of peace shall bruise,” &c. The apostle seems to allude to the first promise (Gen. 2:15), —a promise that hath vigor to nourish the church in all ages of the world: it is the standing cordial; out of the womb of this promise all the rest have taken their birth. The promises of the Old Testament were designed for those under the New, and the full performance of them is to be expected, and will be enjoyed by them. It is a mighty strengthening to faith, to trace the footsteps of God’s truth and wisdom, from the threatening against the serpent in Eden, to the bruise he received in Calvary, and the triumph over him upon Mount Olivet.
5. We are to confide in the promise of God, but leave the season of its accomplishment to his wisdom. He will “bruise Satan under your feet,” therefore do not doubt it; and shortly, therefore, wait for it. Shortly it will be done, that is, quickly, when you think it may be a great way off; or shortly, that is, seasonably, when Satan’s rage is hottest. God is the best judge of the seasons of distributing his own mercies, and darting out his own glory: it is enough to encourage our waiting, that it will be, and that it will be shortly; but we must not measure God’s shortly by our minutes.
The apostle after this, concludes with a comfortable prayer, that since they were liable to many temptations to turn their backs apon the doctrine which they had learned; yet he desires God, who had brought them to the knowledge of his truth, would confirm them in the belief of it, since it was the gospel of Christ, his dear Son, and a mystery he bad been chary of and kept in his own cabinet, and now brought forth to the world in pursuance of the ancient prophesies, and now had published to all nations for that end that it might be obeyed; and concludes with a doxology, a voice of praise, to Him, who was only wise to effect his own purposes (ver. 25, 26, 27), “Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” This doxology is interlaced with many comforts for the Romans. He explains the causes of this glory to God, power, and wisdom; power to establish the Romans in grace, which includes his will. This he proves from a divine testimony, viz., the gospel; the gospel committed to him, and preached by him, which he commends, by calling it the preaching of Christ; and describes it, for the instruction and comfort of the church from the adjuncts, the obscurity of it under the Old Testament, and the clearness of it under the New. It was hid from the former ages, and kept in silence; not simply and absolutely, but comparatively and in part; because in the Old Testament, the doctrine of salvation by Christ was confined to the limits of Judea, preached only to the inhabitants of that country: to them he gave “his statutes and his judgments, and dealt not so magnificently with any nation” (Psalm 147:19, 20); but now he causes it to spring with greater majesty out of those narrow bounds, and spread its wings about the world. This manifestation of the gospel he declares, 1. from the subject, All nations. 2. From the principal efficient cause of it, The commandment and order of God. 3. The instrumental cause, The prophetic Scriptures. 4. From the end of it, The obedience of faith.
Observ. 1. The glorious attributes of God bear a comfortable respect to believers. Power and wisdom are here mentioned as two props of their faith; his power here includes his goodness. Power to help, without will to assist, is a dry chip. The apostle mentions not God’s power simply and absolutely considered, for that of itself is no more comfort to men, then it is to devils; but, as considered in the gospel covenant, his power, as well as his other perfections, are ingredients in that cordial of God’s being our God. We should never think of the excellencies of the Divine nature, without considering the duties they demand, and gathering the honey they present.
Observ. 2. The stability of a gracious soul depends upon the wisdom as well as the power of God. It would be a disrepute to the Almightiness of God if that should be totally vanquished which was introduced by his mighty arm, and rooted in the soul by an irresistible grace. It would speak a want of strength to maintain it, or a change of resolution, and so would be no honor to the wisdom of his first design. It is no part of the wisdom of an artificer, to let a work wherein he determined to shew the greatness of his skill, be dashed in pieces, when he hath power to preserve it. God designed every gracious soul for a piece of his workmanship (Eph. 2:10). What, to have the skill of his grace defeated? If any soul which he hath graciously conquered should be wrested from him, what could be thought but that his power is enfeebled? If deserted by him, what could be imagined, but that he repented of his labor, and altered his counsel, as if rashly undertaken? These Romans were rugged pieces, and lay in a filthy quarry, when God came first to smooth them; for so the apostle represents them with the rest of the heathen (Rom. 1:19); and would he throw them away, or leave them to the power of his enemy, after all his pains he had taken with them to fit them for his building? Did he not foresee the designs of Satan against them, what stratagems he would use to defeat his purposes and strip him of the honor of his work; and would God so gratify his enemy, and disgrace his own wisdom? The deserting of what hath been acted is a real repentance, and argues an imprudence in the first resolve and attempt. The gospel is called the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10); the fruit of it, in the heart of any person, which is a main design of it, hath a title to the same character; and shall this grace, which is the product of this gospel, and therefore the birth of manifold wisdom, be suppressed? It is at God’s hand we must seek our fixedness and establishment, and act faith upon these two attributes of God. Power is no ground to expect stability, without wisdom interesting the agent in it, and finding out and applying the means for it. Wisdom is naked without power to act, and power is useless without wisdom to direct. They are these two excellencies of the Deity the apostle here pitches the hope and faith of the converted Romans upon for their stability.
Observ. 3. Perseverance of believers in grace is a gospel doctrine. “According to my gospel,” my gospel ministerially, according to that gospel doctrine I have taught you in this epistle (for, as the prophets were comments upon the law, so are the epistles upon the gospel), this very doctrine he had discoursed of (Rom. 8:38, 39), where he tells them, that neither death nor life, the terrors of a cruel death, or the allurements of an honorable and pleasant life, nor principalities and powers, with all their subtelty and strength, nor the things we have before us, nor the promises of a future felicity, by either angels in heaven or devils in hell, not the highest angel, nor things we have before us, nor the promises of a future felicity, by either angels in heaven or devils in hell, not the highest angel, nor the deepest devil, is able to separate us, us Romans, “from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” So that, according to my gospel, may be according to that declaration of the gospel, which I have made in this epistle, which doth not only promise the first creating grace, but the perfecting and crowning grace; for not only the being of grace, but the health, liveness, and perpetuity of grace is the fruit of the new covenant (Jer.32:40.)
Observ. 4. That the gospel is the sole means of a Christian’s establishment; “According to my gospel,” that is, by my gospel. The gospel is the instrumental cause of our spiritual life; it is the cause also of the continuance of it; it is the seed whereby we were born, and the milk whereby we are nourished (1 Pet. 1:23); it is the “power of God to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2), and therefore to all the degrees of it (John 17:17); “Sanctify them by tby truth,” or through thy truth; by or through his truth he sanctifies us, and by the same truth he establisheth us. The first sanctification, and the progress of it, the first lineaments, and the last colors, are wrought by the gospel. The gospel, therefore, ought to be known, studied, and considered by us. It is the charter of our inheritance, and the security for our standing. The law acquaints us with our duty, but contributes nothing to our strength and settlement.
Observ. 5. The gospel is nothing else but the revelation of Christ (ver. 25); “According to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ;” the discovery of the mystery of redemption and salvation in and by him. It is genitivus objecti, that preaching wherein Christ is declared and set out, with the benefits accruing by him. This is the privilege, the wisdom of God reserved for the latter times, which the Old Testament church had only under a veil.
Observ. 6. It is a part of the excellency of the gospel that it had the Son of God for its publisher: “The preaching of Jesus Christ.” It was first preached to Adam, in Paradise, by God; and afterwards published by Christ in person, to the inhabitants of Judea. It was not the invention of man, but copied from the bosom of the Father by him that lay in his bosom. The gospel we have, is the same which our Saviour himself preached when he was in the world: he preached it not to the Romans, but the same gospel he preached is transmitted to the Romans. It, therefore, commands our respect; whoever slights it, it is as much as if he slighted Jesus Christ himself, were he in person to sound it from his own lips. The validity of a proclamation is derived from the authority of the prince that dictates it and orders it; yet the greater the person that publisheth it, the more dishonor is cast upon the authority of the prince that enjoins it, if it be contemned. The everlasting God ordained it, and the eternal Son published it.
Observ. 7. The gospel was of an eternal resolution, though of a temporary revelation (ver. 25); “According to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” It is an everlasting gospel; it was a promise “before the world began” (Titus 1:2.) It was not a new invention, but only kept secret among the arcana, in the breast of the Almighty. It was hidden from angels, for the depths of it are not yet fully made known to them; their desire to look into it, speaks yet a deficiency in their knowledge of it (1 Peter 1:12.) It was published in paradise, but in such words as Adam did not fully understand: it was both discovered and clouded in the smoke of sacrifices: it was wrapped up in a veil under the law, but not opened till the death of the Redeemer: it was then plainly said to the cities of Judah, “Behold! your God comes!” The whole transaction of it between the Father and the Son, which is the spirit of the gospel, was from eternity; the creation of the world was in order to the manifestation of it. Let us not, then, regard the gospel as a novelty; the consideration of it, as one of God’s cabinet rarities, should enhance our estimation of it. No traditions of men, no inventions of vain wits, that pretend to be wiser than God, should have the same credit with that which bears date from eternity.
Observ. 8. That divine truth is mysterious; “According to the revelation of the mystery, Christ manifested in the flesh.” The whole scheme of godliness is a mystery. No man or angel could imagine how two natures so distant as the Divine and human should be united; how the same person should be criminal and righteous; how a just God should have a satisfaction, and sinful man a justification; how the sin should be punished, and the sinner saved. None could imagine such a way of justification as the apostle in this epistle declares: it was a mystery when hid under the shadows of the law, and a mystery to the prophets when it sounded from their mouths; they searched it, without being able to comprehend it (1 Peter 1:10, 11.) If it be a mystery, it is humbly to be submitted to: mysteries surmount human reason. The study of the gospel must not be with a yawning and careless frame. Trades, you call mysteries, are not learned sleeping and nodding: diligence is required; we must be disciples at God’s feet. As it had God for the author, so we must have God for the teacher of it; the contrivance was his, and the illumination of our minds must be from him. As God only manifested the gospel, so he can only open our eyes to see the mysteries of Christ in it. In verse 26 we may observe,
1. The Scriptures of the Old Testament verify the substance of the New, and the New doth evidence the authority of the Old, by the Scriptures of the prophets made known. The Old Testament credits the New, and the New illustrates the Old. The New Testament is a comment upon the prophetic part of the Old. The Old shews the promises and predictions of God, and the New shews the performance. What was foretold in the Old, is fulfilled in the New; the predictions are cleared by the events. The predictions of the Old are divine, because they are above the reason of man to foreknow; none but an infinite knowledge could foretel them, because none but an infinite wisdom could order all things for the accomplishment of them. The Christian religion hath, then, the surest foundation, since the Scriptures of the prophets, wherein it is foretold, are of undoubted antiquity, and owned by the Jews and many heathens, which are and were the great enemies of Christ. The Old Testament is therefore to be read for the strengthening of our faith. Our blessed Saviour himself draws the streams of his doctrine from the Old Testament: he clears up the promise of eternal life, and the doctrine of the resurrection, from the words of the covenant, “I am the God of Abraham,” &c. (Matt. 22:32.) And our apostle clears up the doctrine of justification by faith from God’s covenant with Abraham (Rom. 4.) It must be read, and it must be read as it is writ: it was writ to a gospel end, it must be studied with a gospel spirit. The Old Testament was writ to give credit to the New, when it should be manifested in the world. It must be read by us to give strength to our faith, and establish us in the doctrine of Christianity. How many view it as a bare story, an almanack out of date, and regard it as a dry bone, without sucking from it the evangelical marrow! Christ is, in Genesis, Abraham’s seed; in David’s Psalms and the prophets, the Messiah and Redeemer of the world.
2. Observe, The antiquity of the gospel is made manifest by the Scriptures of the prophets. It was of as ancient a date as any prophecy: the first prophecy was nothing else but a gospel charter; it was not made at the incarnation of Christ, but made manifest. It then rose up to its meridian lustre, and sprung out of the clouds, wherewith it was before obscured. The gospel was preached to the ancients by the prophets, as well as to the Gentiles by the apostles (Heb. 4:2); “Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them.” To them first, to us after; to them indeed more cloudy, to us more clear; but they as well as we, were evangelized, as the word signifies. The covenant of grace was the same in the writings of the prophets, and the declarations of the evangelists and apostles. Though by our Saviour’s incarnation, the gospel light was clearer, and, by his ascension, the effusions of the Spirit fuller and stronger; yet the believers under the Old Testament, saw Christ in the swaddling bands of legal ceremonies, and the lattice of prophetical writings; they could not else offer one sacrifice, or read one prophecy with a faith of the right stamp. Abraham’s justifying faith had Christ for its object, though it was not so explicit as ours, because the manifestation was not so clear as ours.
3. All truth is to be drawn from Scripture. The apostle refers them here to the gospel and the prophets: the Scripture is the source of divine knowledge; not the traditions of men, nor reason separate from Scripture. Whosoever brings another doctrine, coins another Christ; nothing is to be added to what is written, nothing detracted from it. He doth not send us for truth, to the puddles of human inventions, to the enthusiasms of our brain; not to the See of Rome, no, nor to the instructions of angels; but the writings of the prophets, as they clear up the declarations of the apostles. The church of Rome is not made here the standard of truth: but the Scriptures of the prophets are to be the touch-stone to the Romans, for the trial of the truth of the gospel.
4. How great is the goodness of God! The borders of grace are enlarged to the Gentiles, and not hid under the skirts of the Jews. He that was so long the God of the Jews, is now also manifest to be the God of the Gentiles: the gospel is now made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God. Not only in a way of common providence, but special grace; in calling them to the knowledge of himself, and a justification of them by faith, he hath brought strangers to him, to the adoption of children, and lodged them under the wings of the covenant, that were before alienated from him through the universal corruption of nature. Now he hath manifested himself a God of truth, mindful of his promise in blessing all nations in the seed of Abraham. The fury of devils, and the violence of men could not hinder the propagation of the gospel: its light hath been dispersed as far as that of the sun; and that grace that founded in the Gentile’s ears, hath bent many of their hearts to the obedience of it.
5. Observe that libertinism and licentiousness find no encouragement in the gospel. It was made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. The goodness of God is published, that our enmity to him may be parted with. Christ’s righteousness is not offered to us to be put on, that we may roll more warmly in our lusts. The doctrine of grace commands us to give up ourselves to Christ, to be accepted through him, and to be ruled by him. Obedience is due to God, as a sovereign lord in his law; and it is due out of gratitude, as he is a God of grace in the gospel. The discovery of a further perfection in God weakens not the right of another, nor the obligation of the duty the former attribute claims at our hands. The gospel frees us from the curse, but not from the duty and service: “We are delivered from the hands of our enemies, that we might serve God in holiness and righteousness” (Luke 1:74.) “This is the will of God” in the gospel, “even our sanctification.” When a prince strikes off a malefactor’s chains, though he deliver him from the punishment of his crime, he frees him not from the duty of a subject: his pardon adds a greater obligation than his protection did before, while he was loyal. Christ’s righteousness gives us a title to heaven; but there must be a holiness to give us a fitness for heaven.
6. Observe, that evangelical obedience, or the obedience of Faith, is only acceptable to God. Obedience of faith; genitivus speciei, noting the kind of obedience God requires; an obedience springing from faith, animated and influenced by faith. Not obedience of faith, as though faith were the rule, and the law were abrogated; but to the law as a rule, and from faith as a principle. There is no true obedience before faith (Heb. 11:6.) “Without faith it is impossible to please God;” and therefore without faith impossible to obey him. A good work cannot proceed from a defiled mind and conscience; and without faith every man’s mind is darkened, and his conscience polluted (Tit. 1:15.) Faith is the band of union to Christ, and obedience is the fruit of union; we cannot bring forth fruit without being branches (John 15:4, 5), and we cannot be branches without believing. Legitimate fruit follows upon marriage to Christ, not before it (Rom. 7:4.) “That you should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that you should bring forth fruit unto God.” All fruit before marriage is bastard; and bastards were excluded from the sanctuary. Our persons must be first accepted in Christ, before our services can be acceptable; those works are not acceptable where the person is not pardoned, Good works flow from a pure heart; but the heart cannot be pure before faith. All the good works reckoned up in the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews were from this spring; those heroes first believed and then obeyed. By faith Abel was righteous before God, without it his sacrifice had been no better than Cain’s: by faith Enoch pleased God, and had a divine testimony to his obedience before his translation; by faith Abraham offered up Isaac, without which he had been no better than a murderer. All obedience hath its root in faith, and is not done in our own strength, but in the strength and virtue of another, of Christ, whom God hath set forth as our head and root.
7. Observe, faith and obedience are distinct, though inseparable “The obedience of faith.” Faith, indeed, is obedience to a gospel command, which enjoins us to believe; but it is not all our obedience. Justification and sanctification are distinct acts of God; justification respects the person, sanctification the nature; justification is first in order of nature, and sanctification follows: they are distinct, but inseparable; every justified person hath a sanctified nature, and every sanctified nature supposeth a justified person. So faith and obedience are distinct: faith as the principle, obedience as the product; faith as the cause, obedience as the effect; the cause and the effect are not the same. By faith we own Christ as our Lord. by obedience we regulate ourselves according to his command.
The acceptance of the relation to him as a subject, precedes the performance of our duty: by faith we receive his law, and by obedience we fulfil it. Faith makes us God’s children (Gal. 3:26). Obedience manifests us to be Christ’s disciples (John 15:8). Faith is the touchstone of obedience; the touchstone, and that which is tried by it, are not the same. But though they are distinct, yet they are inseparable. Faith and obedience are joined together; obedience follows faith at the heels. Faith purifies the heart, and a pure heart cannot be without pure actions. Faith unites us to Christ, whereby we partake of his life; and a living branch cannot be without fruit in its season, and “much fruit” (John 15:5), and that naturally from a “newness of spirit” (Rom. 7:9); not constrained by the rigors of the law, but drawn forth from a sweetness of love; for faith works by love. The love of God is the strong motive, and love to God is the quickening principle; as there can be no obedience without faith, so no faith without obedience. After all this, the apostle ends with the celebration of the wisdom of God; “To God only wise, be glory, through Jesus Christ forever.” The rich discovery of the gospel cannot be thought of, by a gracious soul, without a return of praise to God, and admiration of his singular wisdom.
Wise God. His power before, and his wisdom here, are mentioned in conjunction (in which his goodness is included, as interested in his establishing power) as the ground of all the glory and praise God hath from his creatures.
Only wise. As Christ saith (Matt. 19:17), “None is good, but God;” so the apostle saith, None wise, but God. As all creatures are unclean in regard of his purity, so they are all fools in regard of his wisdom; yea, the glorious angels themselves (Job 4:18). Wisdom is the royalty of God; the proper dialect of all his ways and works. No creature can lay claim to it; he is so wise, that he is wisdom itself. Be glory, through Jesus Christ. As God is only known in and by Christ, so he must be only worshipped and celebrated in and through Christ. In him we must pray to him, and in him we must praise him. As all mercies flow from God through Christ to us, so all our duties are to be presented to God through Christ. In the Greek, verbatim, it runs thus: “To the alone wise God, through Jesus Christ, to him be glory forever.” But we must not understand it, as if God were wise by Jesus Christ, but that thanks is to be given to God through Christ; because in and by Christ God hath revealed his wisdom to the world. The Greek hath a repetition of the article ῷ, and expressed in the translation, “To him be glory.” Beza expungeth this article, but without reason, for ῷ is as much as ἀιῷ, “to him;” and joining this, “the only wise God” with ver. 25, “to him that is of power to establish you;” reading it thus, “To him that is of power to establish you, the only wise God,” leaving the rest in a parenthesis, it runs smoothly, “to him be glory, through Jesus Christ,” And Crellius, the Socinian, observes, that this article ῷ, which some leave out, might be industriously inserted by the apostle, to shew that the glory we ascribe to God is also given to Christ. We may observe, that neither in this place, nor any where in Scripture, is the Virgin Mary, or any of the saints, associated with God or Christ in the glory ascribed to them.
In the words there is, 1. An appropriation of wisdom to God, and a remotion of it from all creatures; “only wise God.” 2. A glorifying him for it. The point I shall insist upon is, That wisdom is a transcendant excellency of the Divine nature. We have before spoken of the knowledge of God, and the infiniteness of it; the next attribute is the wisdom of God. Most confound the knowledge and wisdom of God together; but there is a manifest distinction between them in our conception. I shall handle it thus: I. Shew what wisdom is. Then lay down, II. Some propositions about the wisdom of God. And shew, III. That God is wise, and only wise. IV. Wherein his wisdom appears. V. The Use.
The Existence and Attributes of God
The Restored Deserter 1
The Herald of the New King
Significance of Jesus' Baptism
Jesus' Strategy for Effective Ministry
Jesus Trades Places with a Leper
Jesus’ Authority to Forgive Sin
The Scandal of Grace
The Matchless Distinctiveness
of the Gospel
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath 1
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath 2
Mark’s Sweeping Summary of Jesus
Twelve Ordinary Men
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?
John MacArthur | Grace to you
Jon Courson (1990)
The Key To Keeping Focused
March 25, 1990
Dare To Do...Able To Do
April 8, 1990
April 11, 1990
April 18, 1990
April 25, 1990
Jon Courson | Jon Courson
Jon Courson (2010)
Brett Meador | Athey Creek