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10/18/2023     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Mark 8 - 9

Mark 8

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Mark 8:1     In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The Pharisees Demand a Sign

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”      ‘Plainly’ or quite openly as the NRSV says it translates parrēsia, meaning ‘with freedom of speech’ or ‘openly’. There was to be no secret about this. The fact of his Messiahship had been secret, because its character had been misunderstood. The popular Messianic expectation was of a revolutionary political leader. John tells us that at the peak of Jesus’ Galilean popularity, after feeding the five thousand, the crowds had ‘intended to come and make him king by force’ (John 6:15). Now that the apostles had clearly recognized and confessed his identity, however, he could explain the nature of his Messiahship and do so openly. Peter rebuked him, horrified by the fate he had predicted for himself. But Jesus rebuked Peter in strong language. The same apostle who in confessing Jesus’ divine Messiahship had received a revelation from the Father (Matt. 16:17) had been deceived by the devil to deny the necessity of the cross. ‘Out of my sight, Satan!’ Jesus said, with a vehemence which must have astonished his hearers. ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’  The Cross of Christ

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 9

Mark 9:1     And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

The Transfiguration

2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 11 And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

Who Is the Greatest?

33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Anyone Not Against Us Is for Us

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

Temptations to Sin

42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

By John Walvoord (1990)

The New Jerusalem

     Revelation 21:9–27. Having surveyed the general character of the new earth and the New Jerusalem, John was then introduced to the Holy City, Jerusalem, mentioned in verse  2. Scholars who otherwise agree on interpretation of prophecy have raised the question as to whether this section, beginning in verse  9, is a recapitulation, taking them back to the millennial kingdom, or whether it is in chronological order here and a description of the new heaven and new earth and New Jerusalem as that which will follow the millennium.

     Though worthy scholars can be named on both sides of this argument, in view of the fact that all has been chronological from chapter  19:11 up to this point, it would seem most logical for the narration to continue chronologically, having introduced the New Jerusalem now to describe it in detail. Having introduced the subject in  21:2–8, which most expositors recognize as the eternal state, it would follow that verse  9 is also referring to the eternal state and not a millennial situation. As the details of the city unfold, it is clear that it is not a millennial situation, for there is no room for such a large city as the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, to be placed on the Holy Land during the millennial kingdom. Scriptures instead describe the city in the millennium in entirely different terms ( Ezek. 40–48 ).

     The revelation that is given in these closing verses of the book of  Revelation provides a vista for comprehending the beauty of the eternal situation in which Christians will find themselves when they are in the New Jerusalem and in the new earth.

     One of the problems of interpretation is the question of how far nonliteral interpretation should figure in understanding this passage. As a general rule, the basis for interpretation is best understood as providing a literal view of what is revealed, but that the contents of what is seen may have spiritual meaning beyond the physical.

     John wrote,  “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” Rev. 21:9–10 ). The problem mentioned in verse  2 of how a city could also be a bride carries over to this description. Actually, the bride of Christ is composed of people, those who have accepted Christ in the present age and who form the church, the body of Christ. In showing John the Holy City, there is a relationship to the bride in that the beauty of the Holy City is similar to the beauty of the bride. Obviously, a literal meaning cannot be that it is both a city and a bride, and so one must complement the other.

     John in his statement went on,  “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (v.  11 ). Beginning with this verse, a number of precious jewels are mentioned as being characteristic of the New Jerusalem. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to ascertain exactly which jewel is in mind.

     The city as a whole is like a precious jewel,  “like a jasper, clear as crystal” (v.  11 ), according to John. In our present earth the jasper stone is not clear but opaque, indicating that while the jewel looks like a jasper, it actually could be some other jewel. The description that follows pictures Jerusalem as a gigantic jewel piece aglow with the glory of God and a beautiful setting for God’s grace to be made evident in the lives of those who have trusted Him.

     John described the city.  “It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west” (vv.  12–13 ). The city as described by John is a very impressive one even by present standards. Though some have said that the city is not a literal city and merely symbolizes the church, the body of Christ, it seems best to consider it a literal city that, nevertheless, in its elements represents the church in some of its qualities. The wall of the city is described as great and high, which illustrates the fact that not everyone is qualified to enter into the blessings of the city. The number  12 is very prominent in the description of the city as seen in the  12 gates, the  12 angels, the  12 tribes of Israel (v.  12 ), the  12 foundations, the  12 apostles (v.  14 ), the  12 pearls (v.  21 ), and the  12 kinds of fruit ( 22:2 ). The city is also said to be 12,000 stadia in length and the wall to be 144 cubits in width, 144 being 12 times 12. The fact that the 12 gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel ( 21:12 ) makes clear that Israel will be part of the populace of this city.

     In  Ezekiel 48:31–34 the twelve gates of the millennial temple are mentioned: Reuben, Judah, and Levi, going west to east on the north side; going north to south on the east side, Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan; on the west side, moving from north to south, Naphtali, Asher, and Gad; and on the south side, proceeding from east to west, Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun. Nothing is said in Revelation 21 about the names of the twelve tribes on the particular gates. It may or may not be true that the same order is followed here as in the millennial temple.

     John, in his description of the city, continued, “There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:13–14). Though the names of the twelve apostles were not given, it is clear that just as the names of Israel on the gates of the city prove that Israel is in the New Jerusalem, so the names of the apostles on the twelve foundations prove that the church will be in the New Jerusale. In fact, as all the facts are put together, the New Jerusalem will be the home of all the saints of all ages and the holy angels as well as God Himself.

     The immensity of this city is brought out by John’s statement of the angel measuring the city, “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” He measured its wall, and it was 144 cubits thick (or high) by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. The city, therefore, is a large city, larger than any city known today, and especially unusual in that it is as high as it is long. The 12,000 stadia translated into modern terms amount to about 1,400 miles. The city as such would be far too large to place on the millennial earth, but on the new earth there will be plenty of room.

     In this city, as brought out, both Jew and Gentile will be inhabiting the city along with the saints of all other ages. Significant is the fact, however, that a Jew is not automatically recognized as belonging to the church and the church is not automatically related to Israel. The distinctions between the racial Jew and the church composed of both Jews and Gentiles is maintained in this revelation.

     In Hebrews 12:22–24 the inhabitants of the city are itemized. “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” In the New Jerusalem will be both angels and the church and all others who could be called righteous regardless of their dispensational background. Also in the city will be God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

     John described in detail the beautiful stones relating to the wall, “The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst” (Rev. 21:18–20).

     These stones, having varied colors and glowing with the glory of God, presented an amazingly beautiful spectacle for John as he gazed on the city. The jasper stone, mentioned first, is apparently like our present jasper stone but clear as crystal. Built on the jasper stone, which is the bottom layer of the foundation, was a brilliant sapphire in appearance like a diamond in color. The third foundation of chalcedony was an agate stone from Chalcedon, modern Turkey, and it is believed to have been sky blue with stripes of other colors. The fourth foundation, the emerald, introduces the familiar bright green color. The sardonyx is a red and white stone. The sixth foundation, carne-lian, also identified as Sardius stone, was a stone usually found in a honey color. It is used with jasper in Revelation 4:3, describing the glory of God on the throne.

     The seventh foundation is chrysolite, which is thought to have been a gold color, and possibly different from the modern chrysolite stone, which is a pale green. The eighth foundation, the beryl, is a deep sea green. The ninth foundation, the topaz, is yellow green, and transparent. The tenth foundation, chrysoprase, introduces another green color. The eleventh foundation, jacinth, is violet in color. The twelfth foundation, the amethyst, is commonly a purple.

     In seeing these many colors with the brilliant light of the glory of God in the New Jerusalem, John saw a scene of indescribable beauty worthy of the God who had created it. If Christians can be thrilled by the use of colors and the creations of men, how much greater will be the New Jerusalem, which comes from the creative hand of God.

     John also referred to the twelve gates, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl” (21:21). Obviously these transcend any pearl such as we know in this life and are large stones, but beautiful like a pearl. The streets to the city are declared to be of pure gold like transparent glass (v. 21). It is possible that all the materials of this city are translucent, and the glory of God will go through them and light up the city in a blaze of color.

     John next itemized things he did not see. “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (v. 22). There apparently will be no sun or moon needed to bring light to the earth because the glory of God will light the New Jerusalem (v. 23). There will be no night either because the glory of God will illuminate the city continuously (v. 25). John stated, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (v. 24).

     The nations, referring to the Gentiles, will bring their glory and honor into the city to the glory of God (v. 26). Anything that is impure, however, or is shameful or deceitful is shut out of the city and not permitted to inhabit it, as John stated it, “but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (v. 27) will be allowed in the city. Though the description of John is graphic and presents a beautiful display of the glory of God, it is obvious that the real city believers will see in the eternal state will far exceed the possibility of describing it in words.


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

The Bible and Evolution

By Charles C. Ryrie     1967

Some Alternatives

     In the attempt to reconcile the teachings of evolution with those of the Bible, four alternatives have been suggested to ease the tension and resolve the difficulties that exist between them.

     First, there are those who accept the apparent contradictions between evolution and the Bible as real and attempt to believe both viewpoints. Although this would seem to be a logical impossibility, it is essentially the position of theistic evolution which holds that God created all things through the processes of evolution. Actually, this viewpoint is not acceptable either to the Bible-believing Christian or to the evolutionist. The Bible states clearly that man was created out of the dust of the ground ( Gen 2:7 ). This could not refer to or include a former animal ancestry, since it is to dust that man returns—and this is not a return to an animal state ( Gen 3:19 ). Furthermore, the first man of the Bible was made in the image of God and thus bears no resemblance to evolution’s first men.

     Evolutionists, too, are dissatisfied with the idea of theistic evolution, since to admit supernaturalism at any point is to counter directly their theory. Charles Darwin, himself, wrote: “I would give absolutely nothing for the theory of natural selection if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.” More recently, Julian Huxley affirms that supernaturalism “runs counter to the whole of our scientific knowledge … To postulate a divine interference with these exchanges of matter and energy at a particular moment in the earth’s history is both unnecessary and illogical.”

     Second, there is a very popular solution today which accepts evolution but allegorizes the Bible. This approach seemingly allows one to accept the conclusions of evolution and still retain the “thrust” of the Bible. The allegorizing always involves the first eleven chapters of  Genesis, but soon it also includes other parts of the Bible, especially the miraculous. The general ideas of  Genesis 1–11 are accepted but the factual details are rejected. Admittedly, there are many Bible “scholars” who follow this line of thinking; notwithstanding, it is unacceptable for several important reasons.

     First, it is purely subjective. Who is to decide what portions are not to be understood plainly and thus to be allegorized? Why stop with  Genesis 1–11?

     Second, it is dishonoring to God. If evolution is true, then the “allegory” which God allegedly gave in those early chapters of  Genesis is an entirely inaccurate one, and one can only conclude that in giving it God was either untrue or unintelligent.

     Third, this concept is in direct conflict with the teaching of many other parts of the Bible. Aspects of creation are mentioned in  Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 11:9; 15:22, 45; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13–14; and  Jude 14. Allegorizing  Genesis will of necessity affect the interpretation of these other passages.

     Fourth, it discredits the authority of Jesus Christ, for he accepted the account of the creation of Adam and Eve ( Matt 19:4; Mark 10:6 ) and the historicity of the Flood ( Matt 24:38; Luke 17:27 ). If His words cannot be trusted in these particulars, how can anyone be sure they can be trusted in other matters?

     A third basic alternative is to accept evolution and reject the Bible. Many actually do this, though few are willing to state it quite so blatantly.

     A fourth possibility is to accept the Bible fully and plainly with the necessary consequence of rejecting evolution. This alternative would involve accepting the detailed facts of  Genesis and it would require discovering basic fallacies in the tenets of evolution in order to have an intelligent basis for rejecting them.

Some Data from Evolution

     The word evolution means change, development, movement, or process. It has a completely legitimate use, as in the sentence, “There has been considerable evolution in the field of communications.” But when used in connection, with the theory of evolution, the word means more than development. It also includes the idea of origin by natural processes, both the origin of the first living substance and the origin of new species. That there has been development in many areas of creation no one denies, but that this development has also included the production of new species of more complex and intricate form from less complicated substances is open to serious question. Ordinary development should not be confused with the origin of species.

     Mutations and natural selection. This is the basic and most important proof that evolutionists advance for their theory. Mutations are sudden variations which cause the offspring to differ from their parents in well-marked characteristics. Natural selection causes the survival of these new forms and accounts for general biological improvement. Concerning this process Huxley writes that “not only is it an effective agency of evolution, but it is the only effective agency of evolution.” William S. Beek (Harvard Medical School) stated: “Random mutation produces the variations that Darwin was talking about and mutation is, as far as we know, the only source of genetic variability and hence of evolution.” So basic is this proof that one may safely conclude that if it can be questioned evolution itself can be.

     There are some important questions that must be asked about the proof from natural selection and mutations.

     First, does not the fact that this proof is based on a circular argument weaken it considerably? Notice Huxley’s admission: “On the basis of our present knowledge, natural selection is bound to produce genetic adaptations: and genetic adaptations are thus presumptive evidence for the efficacy of natural selection.” In other words, natural selection produces mutations, and mutations guarantee natural selection, but neither can be proved by itself.

     Second, are not mutations harmful? Theodosius Dobzhansky, an authority in the field of genetics, admits that “most mutants which arise in any organism are more or less disadvantageous to their possessors. The classical mutants obtained in Drosophilia usually show deterioration, breakdown, and disappearance of some organs.” He also acknowledges that “the deleterious character of most mutations seems to be a very serious difficulty.” Since beneficial mutations are not able to be observed, scientists can only speculate or hope that somewhere and somehow during the supposed long process of man’s evolution the necessary beneficial mutations did occur. Given enough time, they say, anything could have happened, including helpful mutations. Whether this is so or not we shall test later.

     Third, where do new genes come from? Mutations are alternate forms of existing conditions, but new forms have to be produced if evolution is to occur. Protozoa, for instance, do not have teeth. Where, then, did the genes come from which produced our teeth if we evolved from protozoa? Does the evolutionist have an answer to this basic problem? Hear Laurence H. Snyder, a famous geneticist: “As to the origin of genes, we know very little, although it is tempting to speculate.” H. Graham Cannon of Manchester University states: “A fact that has been obvious for many years is that Mendelian mutations deal only with changes in existing characters, never with the appearance of a new functioning character … No experiment has produced progeny that show entirely new functioning organs. And yet it is the appearance of new characters in organisms which marks the boundaries of the major steps in the evolutionary scales.”

     Fourth, does natural selection really guarantee improvement? Of course, it must do so; otherwise, if a substrain survived, it would soon die out and there could be no evolution at all. J. B. S. Haldane answers: “In fact, natural selection with evolutionary consequences has only been observed where men have created drastically new conditions which impose a heavy selection pressure.” Natural selection is hardly proved when it can only be demonstrated under imposed conditions.

     Fifth, if neither beneficial mutations, the production of new genes nor natural selection have ever been observed, then does not this basic evidence for evolution rest on faith rather than observed fact?

     It should be noted that not all scientists, even if they are evolutionists, accept the argument from mutations and natural selection as being conclusive. Ernest A. Hooton, Harvard’s famed anthropologist, said: “Now I am afraid that many anthropologists (including myself) have sinned against genetic science and are leaning upon a broken reed when we depend upon mutations.”

     Fossils. The question of fossil men (rather than fossil animals) is of far greater significance to the Bible believer, since it is the allegation of evolution that man is very old and that he evolved from prior brute forms. In contrast, the Biblical account of creation insists that Adam and Eve were the first human beings, that they were sinless, that they subsequently sinned, and that the resultant effect on the entire race has been one of degeneration. According to the Biblical account, Adam and Eve could not have been the climax of some evolutionary process which included various kinds of subhuman ancestors. Incidentally, the theistic evolutionist is on the horns of a dilemma with regard to the creation of Adam and Eve. Even if he succeeds in injecting evolution into the Biblical record of the creation of Adam, it is impossible to do so with Eve; and if God created Eve as the Bible declares as a direct act of creation, why not allow Him to have done the same with Adam?

     Again some serious questions must be asked with regard to the fossil evidence.

     First, does the fact that the fossil argument is a circular one weaken its force considerably? The Encyclopaedia Britannica admits: “It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains buried in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the remains that they contain.” This is more than a philosophic point, for the actual pragmatic approach the geology is to date the strata by the fossils found in them and to date the fossils by the strata in which they are found. This procedure can scarcely assure precise results.

     Second, are other methods of dating really as reliable as they are purported to be? Concerning the radiometric and fluorine methods of dating: “It must be stressed that the above method and also the fluorine method, mentioned below, do not afford any absolute dating for fossils.” Of the uranium-lead methods another scientist writes: “Geologists have been somewhat disappointed in the uranium-lead methods because of the many instances where the results are contradictory, inconsistent, or unreasonable.” Carbon 14, which the average layman thinks can measure accurately for any length of time, begins to have an important margin of error after 20,000 years. Futhermore, recently at Westinghouse laboratories the rate of decomposition was artificially altered three per cent.

     Third, why has the fossil evidence produced no intermediate forms? It would seem reasonable to expect that somewhere among the fossils that have been found there would have been discovered at least one transitional form. Instead, the earliest fossils of each group exhibit all the features that distinguish the group to which they belong. The importance of this matter of evolution has been stated clearly by Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark (Oxford University): “That evolution actually did occur can only be scientifically established by the discovery of the fossilized remains of representative samples of those intermediate types which have been postulated on the basis of the indirect evidence.” On the clarity of this indirect evidence, Alfred S. Romer of Harvard University has written: “ ‘Links’ are missing just where we most fervently desire them and it is all too probable that many ‘links’ will continue to be missing.”

     Fourth, does not the evidence from fossil men seem a bit scanty for the conclusions that are drawn? Perhaps the most notorious of all fossil men is Pithecanthropus erectus, found in Java in 1891–92. It consisted of a part of a skullcap, a fragment of a left thighbone and three molar teeth. These fragments were found within a range of fifty feet and over a year’s time. Concerning this particular find the Britannica concludes: “Additional evidence must be presented before a reliable hypothesis can be constructed.” The Neanderthal race is also considered to be essentially human (though probably degenerate). At any rate, these remains do not prove any evolutionary sequence in the development of man. “Neanderthal remains provide a substantial reminder that there is not an inexorable sequence in skeletal development leading continuously from primitive to modern.” A medical doctor told me once that Neanderthal men could easily have been ordinary men who had been afflicted with rickets.

     Fossil men do not provide evidence of transitional forms leading to Homo sapiens. Indeed, today all fossil men are being classified by most into the single genus—Homo.

     The necessity of faith. Scorn and ridicule is often heaped on the Christian for having faith, and the image is projected that this is opposed to true science. Seldom is creationism presented as a plausible explanation; rather it is protrayed as an emotional, unscientific, blind faith. Occasionally, one finds scientists who state the matter fairly. For example, Harry J. Fuller and Oswald Tippo of the University of Illinois write in their text: “Some people assume, entirely as a matter of faith, a Divine Creation of living substance. The only alternative seems to be the assumption that at some time in the dim past, the chance association of the requisite chemicals in the presence of favorable temperature, moisture, etc., produced living protoplasm … Actually, biologists are still as far away as they ever were in their attempts to explain how the first protoplasm originated. The evidence of those who would explain life’s origin on the basis of the accidental combination of suitable chemical elements is no more tangible than that of those people who place their faith in Divine Creation as the explanation of the development of life. Obviously, the latter have as much justification for their belief as do the former.” In other words, the evolutionist does not know how life originated so that whatever he accepts about the subject he does on the basis of faith.

     Faith is also required to accept other parts of the theory of evolution. Concerning one explanation as to the origin of the Dawn horse, George Gaylord Simpson says: “In the nature of things this hypothesis cannot be ruled out categorically and some respectable scientists support it. Nevertheless it is so improbable as to be unacceptable unless we can find no hypothesis more likely to explain the facts.” Huxley recognizes that the odds against producing a horse by chance are tremendous, and yet he concludes, strictly by faith: “No one would bet on anything so improbable happening; and yet it has happened. It has happened, thanks to the workings of natural selection and the properties of living substance which makes natural selection inevitable.” Concerning the development of the vertebrates from the invertebrates, the famous Hooton declares in a most unscientific manner: “All this is complicated, obscure, and dubious. Anyway there evolved from the invertebrates a tribe of animals which, by hook or by crook, acquired backbones.”

     Of course, there is nothing wrong about having faith. The important question is, however, In what is the faith placed? Statements like these from evolutionists do not display an intelligent content to their faith.

     Other data. Other alleged evidences for evolution are often cited more frequently in the popular presentations of evolution rather than in technical journals and textbooks. They are: (1) embryonic recapitulation (the human embryo passes through the various stages of evolution in the womb), (2) serological tests (blood precipitates show the relationship of species), and (3) inheritability of acquired characteristics.

     Concerning the first, C. H. Waddington (University of Edinburgh) says: “The type of analogical thinking which leads to theories that development is based on the recapitulation of ancestral stages or the like no longer seems at all convincing or even very interesting to biologists.”

     The result of the blood tests, conducted by George Nuttal of Cambridge in 1904, are so inconclusive that they may be regarded as proving nothing. Indeed, they proved that hyenas are more closely related to cats than cats are to themselves, and pigs are closer to cats than dogs are.

     Generally speaking, the inheritability of acquired characteristics, known as Lamarckism, though accepted by Darwin and used by him whenever natural selection failed him, is not considered a good explanation for evolution by most biologists. It appears in popular presentations of evolution such as those one sees with regularity in The Reader’s Digest, but it has against it the obvious difficulty of suggesting a conceivable means by which, for instance, a man’s biceps can become so developed as to modify the genes of the body and transmit the larger muscle to his children.

     The necessity of time. When evolutionists are faced with these basic lacks in the evidence for their theory, they retreat into the explanation that all of this happened over long periods of time, and although we cannot observe these transmutations today, anything could have happened given enough time. Huxley, for instance, explains: “All living things are equally old—they can all trace their ancestry back some two thousand million years. With that length of time available, little adjustments can easily be made to add up to miraculous adaptations; and the slight shifts of gene frequency between one generation and the next can be multiplied to produce radical improvements and totally new kinds of creatures.”23 The average person will readily accept a statement like this because he suspects that two billion years is a long enough period of time to cover anything happening by chance.

     This idea is one that can be put to the test mathematically. Could natural processes, operating according to the laws of chance (and without supernaturalism there is no other alternative), be expected to produce that which evolution requires in two or more billion years? Bolton Davidheiser, whose doctorate in biology is from Johns Hopkins, has worked out a most damaging analogy in regard to this matter of chance operating over long periods of time which shows clearly the incredibility of the evolutionist’s claims.24 He bases it on the well-known statement commonly attributed to Thomas Huxley to the effect that if a million monkeys were permitted to strike the keys of a million typewriters for a million years, they might by chance make a copy of a Shakespearian play. He then sets up the experiment with certain controls in order to be able to treat the facts mathematically. For example, the monkeys are given typewriters with only capital letters, seven punctuation marks and a spacing key. They type twenty-four hours a day and the speed of twelve and a half keys per second. Instead of a Shakespearian play, the experiment requires them to type only the first verse of Genesis (in English!). How long would it be expected to take the monkeys to do this according to the laws of chance operating within these few controls? Dr. Davidheiser answers as follows:

     “The length of time it would take is indeed quite beyond our comprehension, but an illustration may help. Think of a large mountain, wearing away an amount equivalent to the finest grain of sand (about.0025 inch in diameter). At this rate of erosion the mountain would disappear very slowly, but when completely gone the monkeys would still be just warming up.

“Think of a rock not the size of a mountain but a rock larger than the whole earth, larger than the whole solar system. Try to think of a rock so large that if the earth were at its center its surface would touch the nearest star. This star is so far away that light coming from it takes more than four years to get here, travelling 186,000 miles every second. If a bird came once every thousand years and removed an amount equivalent to the smallest grain of sand, more than four hundred such rocks would be worn away before our champion super simians would be expected to type Genesis 1:1. If single spaced on one side of a page, the paper used in this typing would make a mass so large that something moving at the speed of light would take as long to penetrate it as all the time the geology books allow since the fossil record began.

     “Of course this is quite fantastic, but it is evident that a million monkeys would never type a Shakespearian play in a million years. Similarly we believe the idea that lifeless matter could evolve by chance into the life we know on earth in a billion years or in a couple of billion years is also fantastic.”

     In summary it seems clear that evolution lacks the mutations, new genes, kind of selection, fossilized transitional forms, and time required to support its theory.

Data from the Bible

     While it is not the purpose of this discussion to investigate all the possibilites in the interpretation of the creation account in  Genesis, it is germane to point out some of its salient features.

     The God of creation. At least seventeen times in the first chapter of  Genesis God is mentioned as creator. Although it should be obvious, it is still necessary to point out that this is not some impersonal force, but the same God whom the writer of this portion knew. In other words, the creator is said to be Moses’ God, whom Moses already knew as a personal, living, miracle-working God. Even if one holds to the documentary hypothesis, the God of this section must be understood as the same God who was known to the supposed writer or editor of these chapters, and this too excludes the idea of His being an impersonal something. Moses would have had no trouble believing in special creation, knowing from experience what he did about God.

     The process of creation. It is popular today to say that the important truth in  Genesis is Who created, not how He created. But even a cursory look at the section will reveal quickly how glib such a statement is. God “created,” “made,” “said,” “called,” “set,” “formed,” “caused,” “took,” “planted,” and “blessed.” His creative activity is described by these verbs. Furthermore, the section gives the order of creation “day” by “day.” Too, it records God’s work of creation from start ( 1:1 ) to finish ( 2:1 ). In other words, the  Genesis account tells us the how, the order, and the completeness of the process of creation.

     The time of creation. There are certain relevant facts in relation to this question of the time of creation. First, Ussher’s (1581–1656) scheme of dating is obviously not a part of the inspired text of Scripture.

     Second, the demarcation of time sequences in terms of “days” does not begin until  1:3. This means that verses  1 and  2 may cover an indeterminably long period of time. Whether one considers verse  1 the account of an original creation, or a topic sentence for the chapter or whatever, does not affect this point. It seems, too, that the translation of the first verb in verse  2 does not materially affect the point either. If one translates it became and understands some sort of catastrophe between verses  1 and  2, there is obviously an undetermined length of time in the two verses. If one translates the verb was, this would simply be stating a condition of the earth at that time whether a changed condition from verse  1 or not, and this would still include a long period of time within both verses. Either of these interpretations may or may not be connected with the casting out of Satan from heaven.

     Third, seven days are marked off in the account, all of them by a number, and all but the seventh by the additional phrase, “evening and morning.” However long one considers these days to be, it is important to notice that man was created on the sixth day and is therefore of recent origin in comparison to the other aspects of creation, including the animals.

     Fourth, the results of the flood and their effect on the world as we see it today must be a part of anyone’s total picture of creation.

     Fifth, an act of creation would most likely include the appearance of age in the object created. Diamonds made in the laboratory appear to be as old as diamonds found in the earth, but in reality they are of recent origin. The wine that Christ created at Cana ( John 2 ) looked as if it had gone through the long process involved in making wine, when in reality it was only minutes old when it began to be used. The account of the creation of Adam and Eve indicates mature people who only appeared to have passed through the normal time-consuming processes of growth. How much of this God did in other areas of His creation we do not know, but that He did it in several instances is clear.

     These are some of the most relevant facts revealed in the Bible concerning creation. Since the truthfulness of the account is attested to in other parts of the Bible and by Christ Himself, since the Bible itself has been shown to be true in other areas (particularly in the matter of fulfilled prophecy), and since the data of the theory of evolution is built on circular arguments, is full of gaps, and requires something in the nature of blind faith to believe, the choice of what to accept about creation really should not be too difficult to make.

Dallas Theological Seminary. (1966; 2002). Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 123 (123:24–31). Dallas Theological Seminary.

Charles C. Ryrie Books

Praying for Pastors’ Kids

By Barnabas Piper 8/01/2015

     Why exactly is it that pastors’ kids (PKs) need prayer? What makes them so special? Actually, nothing. They are just like all their peers — the same weaknesses, the same proclivity to sin, and made in the image of God, too. All in all, PKs are a pretty normal bunch.

     And there you have it, the reason they need prayer: they’re normal. Yet when you put normal people in uniquely challenging circumstances, things get difficult, and growing up in a family wherein the father’s vocation is full-time ministry is definitely uniquely difficult.

     A pastor’s family often functions as the “first family” of the church, setting the bar in all things spiritual and moral. They are the exemplars of ministry and life. They’re always being observed, and with that comes expectations. The church expects certain behaviors and personas from their leaders’ families.

     So you can see why it is that a pastor’s kid could use some extra prayer. Growing up is a challenge all by itself — learning, growing, hormones, identity crises, unrequited love, sports heartbreak, relational drama, school, spiritual life, siblings, parents, and more. Now imagine doing all that while a church watches, expecting you to be a good little Christian. Where can a PK hide? Where can she hide her mistakes and her insecurities? More deeply, where can she connect with Jesus deeply and genuinely, not as just another expectation?

     Most people in the church love the pastor’s family. They have no intention of adding to the pressure or pain of PKs, so what can they do to ease the burden? More than anything, the church can pray.

     That They Would Know Jesus

     One of the most significant challenges PKs face is a true connection with Jesus Christ.  All the knowledge and trivia and Bible memory doesn’t equal a saving relationship with Christ.  On the contrary, sometimes knowing all that good stuff actually tricks PKs into thinking they have one. So many PKs know of Jesus, but all the morality, expectations, and knowledge blind them to His heart-transforming reality. Only a miracle of the Holy Spirit revealing Jesus to someone can truly save. Pray this miracle, that Jesus would be visible through all the stuff that happens in His name.

     That They Would Find Their Identity in Jesus

     When people grow up under significant expectations, it is natural to gauge themselves by those expectations. Am I what I am supposed to be? Am I pleasing the right people? PKs see themselves as what others want them to be instead of what God made them to be. For PKs, those standards often look very “Christiany,” very moral, very “churchy.” Christian kids know they are not to measure themselves by “worldly” standards but rather by biblical ones, and these churchy standards sure look biblical. But something is amiss. Meeting churchy standards still feels empty.

     Why? Because it is the wrong place to find one’s identity. A follower of Christ is a new creation in Jesus. With that comes freedom to live a life made full by honoring Jesus instead of a life made harried by meeting expectations.

     That They Would Love Their Family

     Pressure crushes things, and a cracking family is one of the devil’s favorite ways to undermine a pastor’s ministry. It’s an exploitable weakness and a nerve to be jabbed. When a PK crumbles under the pressure of ministry, she often blames her parents. (Sometimes they even deserve it for heaping that pressure on.) More subtly, the practice of being “just so” for the church can carry over into the home and stilt relationships. Instead of honesty, transparency, trust, and love, there is a void between family members.

     That They Would Love the Church

     PKs see more of the ugly in a church than anyone but the staff does. They see how ministry can pull apart their families. All the expectations can frustrate and embitter them. That’s why some PKs rebel and abandon church altogether. On the other hand, PKs get to see the best parts of the church too — deep friendships, changed lives, needs meet, souls transformed. Pray that the good would outweigh the bad, that they would recognize that there is bad everywhere humans gather, and that the church provides hope and richness like nowhere else.

     For Grace

     People who grow up in church hear all about grace but often know very little of it. It is God’s grace that reveals Jesus and connects a PK to Him. It’s grace that overcomes and redeems the failures of family and church. It is God’s grace flowing through the church to the PK and through the PK to the church that enables the relationship to flourish. Grace is the thread that ties each of these needs together and the means by which God can grant them. Pray for the miraculous grace that covers a multitude of sins, restores the fallen and the bruised, and ties God’s people together.

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     Barnabas Piper is brand manager for Ministry Grid, a speaker, and son of Dr. John Piper. He is author of The Pastor’s Kid and Help My Unbelief.

That Others May Live

By Kevin Struyk 8/01/2015

     One of the most elite special operations forces in the United States Air Force is the pararescuemen, often referred to as PJs. These men are responsible for going into hostile territory anywhere in the world and rescuing wounded soldiers at a moment’s notice. Their motto is, “That others may live.” This motto is part of a creed that all pararescuemen recite and live by, a reminder of their duty, privilege, and responsibility to save lives even at the expense of their own comfort and safety.

     I believe the motto of the PJs provides a helpful illustration for the Christian. First and foremost, both understand their calling or mission as seeking to save those who are perishing. This directive comes from the top. Jesus Himself understood and followed His predetermined role in redeeming a people out of the world. The pactum salutis (covenant of redemption) was an agreement among the members of the Godhead made in eternity past, wherein they agreed that the heavenly Father would send Jesus on a mission to save His people.

     In order for Jesus to save His people, He had to enter enemy territory. In doing so, He took the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men (Phil.2:6–7). Both earthly and spiritual powers targeted Him from the moment He was born (Matt. 2:13, 4:3). Despite the opposition, Jesus never failed in accomplishing His objective. As the second person of the Trinity, both fully God and fully man, Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, was obedient where Adam failed (Matt. 4:3–4; Heb. 4:15). In our place, Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan and perfectly fulfilled and kept the law and commandments of God so that His sacrificial death as the spotless Lamb of God would truly atone for the sins of His people (John 1:29).

     Sin is a lethal force. The Bible says man in his natural state is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Apart from the mercy and grace of God, a man left in his natural sinful state will never know abundant life now or eternal life to come. But God is rich in mercy and demonstrated His amazing love by sending Jesus to rescue the helpless and heal the sick. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

     Those whom God calls and loves with an everlasting love will be rescued from eternal death and condemnation through faith in Jesus Christ. Such faith is possible only when a new heart is given to a dead man. This new heart is a result of the regenerating work of God’s Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26; John 3). It’s the Spirit who leads people to repent of their sins and it’s God who justifies, or declares righteous, all who believe and call upon the name of Jesus (Rom 5:1; 10:13). A Christian is thus a new creation who has been freed from the guilt and power of sin to worship, serve, and love God and neighbor.

     A true disciple of Jesus will, by God’s grace and because of his new nature, imitate Jesus by loving the helpless, the wounded, and the lost. Our love will demonstrate itself through word-and-deed ministry—proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipling His people both to know and live in the light of God’s Word. Our deeds will show our willingness to leave behind earthly comforts, material goods, safety, even our very lives in order to save a soul from hell.

     It has been said that the pastor’s life is a throwaway life, in that it is to be given over, body and soul, to the service of God. And in one sense, that’s the case for all true disciples of Jesus. Our lives, our energies, our resources, our time, our gifts ought to be used up or spent with the aim of fulfilling the Great Commission. Thus, when we breathe our last breath, I believe Jesus will welcome His children and individually say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).

     We live in an increasingly hostile environment toward biblical Christianity where it may be tempting to retreat, circle the wagons, put up walls, and avoid the battle to win souls for Christ. Yet, we need to remember what Jesus prays in John 17, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (v. 18).

     Take heart, Christian. We are sent into enemy territory by the One who has all power and authority. He will not let your foot slip. The victory is certain, Satan’s demise is sure, and Jesus is on His throne. We have been entrusted with the gospel; let us therefore faithfully proclaim it—so that others may live.

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     Rev. Kevin Struyk is an associate pastor at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fla.

A Kingdom of Priests

By Kelly Kapic 8/01/2015

     In February, a terrible beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Christians took place. They were executed because they were identified as “the people of the cross.” We are reminded of the possibility of martyrdom and the reality that this side of glory we are “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11). Consequently, Christians often find themselves in a most difficult position. We are called to love our neighbors— even our neighbors who might better be described as our enemies (Matt. 5:43–45). And we are not to return evil for evil (Rom. 12:17; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9). While most believers do not face the imminent threat of death, testifying to Christ is often far from easy. How, then, are we to live faithfully amid challenging circumstances and among difficult people?

     As sons and daughters of the One who is both the eternal King and High Priest, we have assurance that we will never be forgotten or abandoned. We do not need to be absorbed with self-preservation or self-promotion; we are free to live lives shaped by mercy and love for others. To appreciate this vision, we must understand that we are chosen as a people to be a blessing, and we carry out that work in a priestly manner.

     Chosen to Be a Blessing

     Peter gives his readers some powerful encouragement: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Peter here draws from a long and cherished tradition that is woven throughout the Old Testament.

     When God called Abraham, He made it clear that from this man a great nation would arise. What is striking about the idea of election in this context is that the goal was gracious inclusion rather than hard-hearted exclusion. God chose Abraham and his offspring to serve as His representatives in the world. In this way, they functioned like a city on a hill, where others would be drawn to the light of the creator Lord. God’s people are never to forget that they are blessed in order to be a blessing (Gen. 12:1–2). That is at the heart of the biblical movement of election. But Peter reminds us that election and priesthood are meant to go together.

     Faithful Priests

     Peter appears to draw from Exodus 19:6, where we read of the promise that “you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Israel had specific people set apart to be ordained priests, but the promise was that all of God’s people would serve in some priestly ways.

     As Peter draws on the great Old Testament promises to God’s people, he makes it clear that all who now have faith in Christ are part of this “chosen race” that is “a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” We are the true heirs of Abraham. Barriers between Jew and Gentile are meant to be demolished. What unites this people is not their ethnicity or culture, but their worship of Jesus. Even amid their serious diversity they become one in Christ. As those who are connected to the Great High Priest, His people now carry out His work of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18–19). All believers carry out two vital ministries as part of the royal priesthood.

     First, in our priestly role, all Christians are to live sacrificially for others. We are people of the cross. Jesus laid down His life for sinners in desperate need of grace and love. As imitators of the crucified Lord, we now offer ourselves to Christ through sacrificial acts of love done in behalf of our neighbors, even the neighbors who consider us their enemies. We can be truly “honorable” through our works of grace and mercy, hoping that these very people may one day “glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). We do not make atonement for others, but through our lives, we point them to the Lamb of God who alone can bring reconciliation between a holy God and sinful humanity (v. 21).

     Second, we are faithful in our priestly role as we offer intercession on behalf of others. Paul makes a similar point when he urges Timothy to offer “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” for ” all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:1–2a). Part of living as the chosen people and a holy nation is that we are set apart to be instruments of God’s grace and reconciliation in this world. And this begins with prayers. We pray not just for those we love, nor even just for God’s people, but for the world, including dangerous emperors (1 Peter 2:16–17). How do we love our neighbor? We intercede for them, asking for the light of God’s mercy to overcome the looming darkness. Jesus did this even as He hung on the cross (Luke 23:34). You and I cannot change or save our neighbor, but the triune God can.

     Jesus is the perfect Mediator who makes intercession on our behalf, offering Himself as the perfect and final sacrifice so that we might enjoy peace with God. We who have received mercy (1 Peter 2:10) are now His chosen vessels to be instruments of His grace and love to the world. This is what it means to live as part of the royal priesthood.

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     Per Amazon | Kelly M. Kapic is professor of theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where he has taught since 2001. Kelly and his wife Tabitha have two children, Jonathan and Margot.

     Kapic earned a Ph.D. in systematic and historical theology at King's College, University of London (United Kingdom), an M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and a BA in philosophy and history from Wheaton College.

     In addition to his books, Kapic has also published articles in various journals, such as the International Journal of Systematic Theology, Conversations in Religion and Theology, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Quarterly and Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. Two samples of Kapic's work in contemporary theology are: "The Son's Assumption of a Human Nature: A Call for Clarity," IJST and "Trajectories of a Trinitarian Eschatology," in Trinitarian Soundings in Systematic Theology, edited by Paul Louis Metzger, cm. New York: T and T Clark International, 2005. He serves on the Board of Editorial Consultants for the Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, as well as a contributing editor for Cultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture.

Study Bibles in the Church

By Victor Cruz 9/01/2015

     When I was young in the Christian faith, I was asked to teach a Bible study every Saturday night for my church’s youth group. I felt honored, but at the same time I was terrified since I had never actually completed reading the entire Bible and did not have a clear idea about what to teach from Scripture. My first impulse was to find different topics that I thought were important to Christians, so I started looking for passages in the Bible that would teach about love, justice, forgiveness, salvation, and so on. It was a lot of work, until a friend told me about the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible and how it could help me to find every verse from every place in the Bible that addressed a particular topic. I was amazed and, for a long time, that was my “little secret.” That was my first experience with a study Bible, and to this very day, I see how the time I spent going through that Bible helped me to memorize Scripture and to have a general understanding of different topics in the Bible.

     During my years in seminary, I got to know other study Bibles that became wonderful tools for my theological understanding of different Christian traditions. The MacArthur Study Bible: Revised and Updated Edition offered me a defined, comprehensive, and consistent position on different theological topics, especially because it represents the work and thought of Dr. John MacArthur. The Reformation Study Bible gave me easy access to a variety of Reformed scholars who share a common ground theologically. This Bible became a great resource for me to discover new authors who have since greatly influenced my theological convictions. As a pastor, I think that a good study Bible can encourage people in our congregations to discover new authors and ideas that can help them to have a deeper understanding of the gospel and its implications. A study Bible can also be the first step toward cherishing sound theology.

     As a pastor and church planter, I recommend that new believers take a look at different study Bibles and other tools that are available, especially those that can be found on the Internet, such as Bible Gateway and Bible Hub. These two resources make it very exciting to study Scripture as they include studies of the Hebrew and Greek, along with maps, history charts, and many different commentaries that provide a world of scholarly information about the Bible and its interpretation. The problem for me in a Spanish-speaking country is that most of these study Bibles and other resources are available only in English, and that makes it hard for a lot of people in my congregation to take advantage of these resources.

     In recent years, my interest in study Bibles has grown, so it always surprises me when I hear some people in the church boasting about how they “don’t read any commentaries or books about the Bible” and how they “just want to know the Scripture.” This may seem pious to some people, but I think these affirmations show that there is a lack of instruction in the church that prevents people from valuing the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we find expressed in the work of godly men who have taken the time to seriously study God’s Word. I believe that it is arrogant to reject the use of commentaries and Bibles with notes, as if our own first impression of a text could be just as good as careful study using reference tools.

     Finally, I have found that study Bibles are also a great tool to encourage people in our congregations to renew their interest in reading the Bible. In the new church we recently started, we have implemented a Bible-reading program using Bible Gateway. This program provides different options that can help us read the Bible in new ways. You can read the Bible combining the Old and New Testaments (each day includes a passage from both the Old Testament and New Testament), chronologically (reading the Bible in the order in which its stories and events occurred), historically (reading the books of the Bible in their historical order according to the estimated date of their writing), and many more options. Some people in our church who had never previously completed reading the entire Bible have now read it three times in a three-year period. As a pastor, I believe that study Bibles can be the first step toward a renewed faith in the church.

     One of the great lessons of the Reformation is that serious study of the Bible is essential for Christian growth. Martin Luther, for example, spent years studying and teaching through books of the Bible. In many ways, his lectures on Psalms, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews provided the basis for the Reformation. His theological convictions were the result of careful and diligent biblical exposition.

     Study Bibles can provide a first glance at the expository study of the biblical text. Then, by God’s grace and by the work of the Holy Spirit—as with Luther—people will find Jesus as a result of studying the Bible. This is what a pastor dreams of and works for—to see our congregations filled with the knowledge of the love of Christ.

Click here to go to source

     Dr. Victor Cruz is church-planting pastor of Redeemer Church (El Redentor Ciudad de México) in Mexico City.

When I Don’t Feel Forgiven

By Ian Hamilton 9/01/2015

     The Christian life is a constant battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. If these forces had their way, it would destroy every single one of God’s blood-bought and dearly loved children. But our Lord Jesus assures us that not one of those for whom He shed His precious blood will be lost. Nothing and no one can snatch a Christian, even the weakest Christian, from the strong hands of our omnipotent heavenly Father (John 10:29–30). But this glorious truth does not mean that our Christian lives cannot be disturbed, even deeply disturbed by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

     One of the most disturbing experiences a believer can face is losing the felt sense of God’s forgiveness. This desolating experience has touched the lives of many Christians throughout the ages. It can happen “all of a sudden.” In Ephesians 6:16, Paul writes about “the flaming darts of the evil one”—sudden, perhaps unexpected assaults on our standing in Christ. Or it may be that the loss of the felt sense of God’s forgiveness happens slowly over a period of time as we experience sore, unexpected providences.

     Whether suddenly or slowly, this is an agonizing experience for any Christian to go through. What are believers to do when they do not feel forgiven?

     Root out Sin

     First, we must ask ourselves if we are harboring sin in our hearts. Sin natively dulls our hearts and minds to God’s grace in His Son. There may be a good and godly reason why we do not feel our Father’s forgiving love. It may be that our ever-gracious God is removing the sense of our Christ-won comforts from us in order to awaken us to the sin we are refusing to put to death in our members (Rom. 8:13). The words of Psalm 139:23–24 should never be far from our thoughts: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

     Remember the War

     Second, we must remind ourselves that we are engaged in a relentless warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The devil will use every strategy he can devise to rob us of our gospel comforts, turn us in upon ourselves, and so overwhelm us with our circumstances that God seems far off or even heartlessly unconcerned about our sad spiritual state (read Pss. 42–43). The Word of God never hides from us the potential costliness of faithful discipleship. In Isaiah 50, God’s prophet addresses the Messiah’s servants who “walk in darkness and have no light” (v.10). It is hard to imagine what it must be like to be a true believer and yet be so overwhelmed with “darkness” that not even a pinprick of light penetrates the gloom. This, of course, was the experience of the prototypical man of faith, our Savior Jesus Christ. All the lights went out in His life not because He was a disobedient Son but because He was a perfectly obedient Son. The Lord never promises that the life of faith will be a life of unbroken, unsullied communion with Him. The godly life is a natively embattled life, albeit an embattled life punctuated with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

     Recall Our Standing

     Third, we must recall that our standing in Christ does not rest in anything in us (our feelings) or done by us (our works), but on the finished work of our Savior on the cross and His continuing work at God’s right hand as our Great High Priest. The Christian’s whole comfort lies outside of herself. Perhaps this has nowhere been more memorably expressed than in the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism:

     Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

     A. That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

     God’s truth and the grace of Christ are not qualified, far less nullified, by our feelings. However we might feel, however desperately wretched we might be, if we have believed in God’s Son and are resting the whole weight of who we are on Him alone, we are the most blessed and privileged of beings in the cosmos, whether we feel it to be so or not. We are loved in Christ with an everlasting love (Rom. 8:37–39). So, “Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isa. 50:10).

Click here to go to source

     Dr. Ian Hamilton is senior minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church in England and a trustee with the Banner of Truth Trust. He is author of The Faith-Shaped Life and the Ligonier teaching series Calvinism and the Christian Life.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 115

To Your Name Give Glory

9 O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.

12 The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both the small and the great.

14 May the LORD give you increase,
you and your children!
15 May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the LORD,
nor do any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!

ESV Study Bible

Chapter 4 | Papal Persecutions

     From the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, to the French Revolution, in 1789

     The persecutions occasioned by the revocation of the edict of Nantes took place under Louis XIV. This edict was made by Henry the Great of France in 1598, and secured to the Protestants an equal right in every respect, whether civil or religious, with the other subjects of the realm. All those privileges Louis the XIV confirmed to the Protestants by another statute, called the edict of Nismes, and kept them inviolably to the end of his reign.

     On the accession of Louis XIV the kingdom was almost ruined by civil wars.

     At this critical juncture, the Protestants, heedless of our Lord's admonition, "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword," took such an active part in favor of the king, that he was constrained to acknowledge himself indebted to their arms for his establishment on the throne. Instead of cherishing and rewarding that party who had fought for him, he reasoned that the same power which had protected could overturn him, and, listening to the popish machinations, he began to issue out proscriptions and restrictions, indicative of his final determination. Rochelle was presently fettered with an incredible number of denunciations. Montauban and Millau were sacked by soldiers. Popish commissioners were appointed to preside over the affairs of the Protestants, and there was no appeal from their ordinance, except to the king's council. This struck at the root of their civil and religious exercises, and prevented them, being Protestants, from suing a Catholic in any court of law. This was followed by another injunction, to make an inquiry in all parishes into whatever the Protestants had said or done for twenty years past. This filled the prisons with innocent victims, and condemned others to the galleys or banishment.

     Protestants were expelled from all offices, trades, privileges, and employs; thereby depriving them of the means of getting their bread: and they proceeded to such excess in this brutality, that they would not suffer even the midwives to officiate, but compelled their women to submit themselves in that crisis of nature to their enemies, the brutal Catholics. Their children were taken from them to be educated by the Catholics, and at seven years of age, made to embrace popery. The reformed were prohibited from relieving their own sick or poor, from all private worship, and divine service was to be performed in the presence of a popish priest. To prevent the unfortunate victims from leaving the kingdom, all the passages on the frontiers were strictly guarded; yet, by the good hand of God, about 150,000 escaped their vigilance, and emigrated to different countries to relate the dismal narrative.

     All that has been related hitherto were only infringements on their established charter, the edict of Nantes. At length the diabolical revocation of that edict passed on the eighteenth of October, 1685, and was registered the twenty-second, contrary to all form of law. Instantly the dragoons were quartered upon the Protestants throughout the realm, and filled all France with the like news, that the king would no longer suffer any Huguenots in his kingdom, and therefore they must resolve to change their religion. Hereupon the intendants in every parish (which were popish governors and spies set over the Protestants) assembled the reformed inhabitants, and told them they must, without delay, turn Catholics, either freely or by force. The Protestants replied, that they 'were ready to sacrifice their lives and estates to the king, but their consciences being God's they could not so dispose of them.'

     Instantly the troops seized the gates and avenues of the cities, and placing guards in all the passages, entered with sword in hand, crying, "Die, or be Catholics!" In short, they practiced every wickedness and horror they could devise to force them to change their religion.

     They hanged both men and women by their hair or their feet, and smoked them with hay until they were nearly dead; and if they still refused to sign a recantation, they hung them up again and repeated their barbarities, until, wearied out with torments without death, they forced many to yield to them.

     Others, they plucked off all the hair of their heads and beards with pincers. Others they threw on great fires, and pulled them out again, repeating it until they extorted a promise to recant.

     Some they stripped naked, and after offering them the most infamous insults, they stuck them with pins from head to foot, and lanced them with penknives; and sometimes with red-hot pincers they dragged them by the nose until they promised to turn. Sometimes they tied fathers and husbands, while they ravished their wives and daughters before their eyes. Multitudes they imprisoned in the most noisome dungeons, where they practised all sorts of torments in secret. Their wives and children they shut up in monasteries.

     Such as endeavored to escape by flight were pursued in the woods, and hunted in the fields, and shot at like wild beasts; nor did any condition or quality screen them from the ferocity of these infernal dragoons: even the members of parliament and military officers, though on actual service, were ordered to quit their posts, and repair directly to their houses to suffer the like storm. Such as complained to the king were sent to the Bastile, where they drank the same cup. The bishops and the intendants marched at the head of the dragoons, with a troop of missionaries, monks, and other ecclesiastics to animate the soldiers to an execution so agreeable to their Holy Church, and so glorious to their demon god and their tyrant king.

     In forming the edict to repeal the edict of Nantes, the council were divided; some would have all the ministers detained and forced into popery as well as the laity; others were for banishing them, because their presence would strengthen the Protestants in perseverance: and if they were forced to turn, they would ever be secret and powerful enemies in the bosom of the Church, by their great knowledge and experience in controversial matters. This reason prevailing, they were sentenced to banishment, and only fifteen days allowed them to depart the kingdom.

     On the same day that the edict for revoking the Protestants' charter was published, they demolished their churches and banished their ministers, whom they allowed but twenty-four hours to leave Paris. The papists would not suffer them to dispose of their effects, and threw every obstacle in their way to delay their escape until the limited time was expired which subjected them to condemnation for life to the galleys. The guards were doubled at the seaports, and the prisons were filled with the victims, who endured torments and wants at which human nature must shudder.

     The sufferings of the ministers and others, who were sent to the galleys, seemed to exceed all. Chained to the oar, they were exposed to the open air night and day, at all seasons, and in all weathers; and when through weakness of body they fainted under the oar, instead of a cordial to revive them, or viands to refresh them, they received only the lashes of a scourge, or the blows of a cane or rope's end. For the want of sufficient clothing and necessary cleanliness, they were most grievously tormented with vermin, and cruelly pinched with the cold, which removed by night the executioners who beat and tormented them by day. Instead of a bed, they were allowed sick or well, only a hard board, eighteen inches broad, to sleep on, without any covering but their wretched apparel; which was a shirt of the coarsest canvas, a little jerkin of red serge, slit on each side up to the armholes, with open sleeves that reached not to the elbow; and once in three years they had a coarse frock, and a little cap to cover their heads, which were always kept close shaved as a mark of their infamy. The allowance of provision was as narrow as the sentiments of those who condemned them to such miseries, and their treatment when sick is too shocking to relate; doomed to die upon the boards of a dark hold, covered with vermin, and without the least convenience for the calls of nature. Nor was it among the least of the horrors they endured, that, as ministers of Christ, and honest men, they were chained side by side to felons and the most execrable villains, whose blasphemous tongues were never idle. If they refused to hear Mass, they were sentenced to the bastinado, of which dreadful punishment the following is a description.

     Preparatory to it, the chains are taken off, and the victims delivered into the hands of the Turks that preside at the oars, who strip them quite naked, and stretching them upon a great gun, they are held so that they cannot stir; during which there reigns an awful silence throughout the galley. The Turk who is appointed the executioner, and who thinks the sacrifice acceptable to his prophet Mahomet, most cruelly beats the wretched victim with a rough cudgel, or knotty rope's end, until the skin is flayed off his bones, and he is near the point of expiring; then they apply a most tormenting mixture of vinegar and salt, and consign him to that most intolerable hospital where thousands under their cruelties have expired.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Continual Burnt Offering (Galatians 6:7-8)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

October 18
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.    ESV

     They who in their youth sow wild oats will have a terrible crop to reap in older days (Proverbs 22:8). No wonder the world has so many disillusioned and disappointed old men and aged women. They frittered away the golden hours of youth in careless living and selfish indulgence, and as a result their wrecked constitutions, and in some cases impaired minds, make their later years most distressing and unhappy. It is quite otherwise with men and women who, in the days of their youth, lived in an orderly manner walking before God in self-control, refusing to become the slaves of sensuality. For them gray hair is indeed a crown of glory, because they are found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31). Someone has well said, “The Devil has no happy old men.” But how different it is with those who have known and loved the Lord through the long years! When they reach the eventide of life, theirs is a peace and a serenity which is found only in the service of God. Of them it can be said, “At eventide it shall be light.”

Proverbs 22:8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of his fury will fail.

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.

Sowing the seed of a ling’ring pain,
Sowing the seed of a maddened brain,
Sowing the seed of a tarnished name,
Sowing the seed of eternal shame,
Oh, what shall the harvest be?

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

  • Master’s Table Mark 7:24-30
  • Speak? Mark 7:31-37
  • Mark 8:1-10

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     If it’s God’s will - you can have it
     (Oct 18)    Bob Gass

     ‘If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.’

(1 Jn 5:14) 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. ESV

     The story is told of three men marooned on a desert island with little hope of being rescued. One day they were walking around the island when one of them picked up an old, tarnished lamp. When he rubbed it, a genie appeared and offered to grant each man one wish. The first man said, ‘I wish I was back in my office in Boston.’ Puff! He was there. The second said, ‘I wish I was home with my family in London.’ Puff! He was there. The third man looked around and said, ‘It’s so lonely here, I wish my friends were back with me.’ The problem with wishing is that genies and magic lamps don’t exist. But God does! And since He is in control of your life and He’s more powerful than any genie, when your wishes become prayers that line up with His will, they can become a reality. ‘Does the Bible teach that?’ you ask. Yes; it says: ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God…if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him’ (1 Jn 5:14). But even when your wish is in line with God’s will, you need one more thing - faith. Faith does two things: a) It opens your eyes to see that God’s promises are for you personally. b) It acts like a magnet, drawing the fulfilment of His promise into your life. So, what are you wishing for? If it’s God’s will - you can have it.

Jer 30-31
2 Tim 1

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow was born this day, October 18, 1595. He was an English agent for the Plymouth Colony and served as their Governor three separate terms, successfully making friendship with Indian chief, Massasoit. He later returned to England and served Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War. In writing of the Pilgrims’ experiences, Edward Winslow recounted: “Drought and the like… moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer.”

American Minute
The Soul of Prayer
     by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)

     The concentration, moreover, should correspond to the positivity of the Gospel and the Bible. Prayer should rise more out of God’s Word and concern for His kingdom than even out of our personal needs, trials, or desires. That is implied in prayer in Christ’s name or for Christ’s sake, prayer from His place in the midst of the Kingdom. Our Prayer-book, the Bible, does not prescribe prayer, but it does more—it inspires it. And prayer in Christ’s name is prayer inspired by His first interest—the Gospel. Do not use Christ simply to countersign your egoist petition by a closing formula, but to create, inspire, and glorify it. Prayer in Christ’s name is prayer for Christ’s object—for His Kingdom, and His promise of the Holy Ghost.

     It we really pray for that and yet do not feel we receive it, probably enough we have it; and we are looking for some special form of it not ours, or not ours yet. We may be mistaking the fruits of the Spirit for His presence. Fruits come late. They are different from signs. Buds are signs, and so are other things hard to see. It is the Spirit that keeps us praying for the Spirit, as it is grace that keeps us in grace. Remember the patience of the missionaries who waited in the Spirit fifteen years for their first convert. If God gave His Son unasked, how much more will He give His Holy Spirit to them that ask it! But let us not prescribe the form in which He comes.

     The true close of prayer is when the utterance expires in its own spiritual fullness. That is the true Amen. Such times there are. We feel we are at last laid open to God. We feel as though we “did see heaven opened, and the holy angels, and the great God Himself.” The prayer ends itself; we do not end it. It mounts to its heaven and renders its spirit up to God, saying, “It is finished.” It has its perfect consummation and bliss, its spiritually natural close and fruitation, whether it has answer or not.

     Tomorrow begins CHAPTER VII, The Insistency of Prayer.

--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).

The Soul of Prayer
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

True love of God is evident
in those whose only pleasure
is derived from drawing near to Him.
--- John Crowder

Life without commitment is not worth living.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel

I am connected to the three generations that have gone before me, but I live my life in this world for the three generations who will come after me.
--- Dr. Richard Leo Twiss

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     4. Now it is true that on this day the Jews were so weary, and under such consternation, that they refrained from any attacks. But on the next day they gathered their whole force together, and ran upon those that guarded the outward court of the temple very boldly, through the east gate, and this about the second hour of the day. These guards received that their attack with great bravery, and by covering themselves with their shields before, as if it were with a wall, they drew their squadron close together; yet was it evident that they could not abide there very long, but would be overborne by the multitude of those that sallied out upon them, and by the heat of their passion. However, Caesar seeing, from the tower of Antonia, that this squadron was likely to give way, he sent some chosen horsemen to support them. Hereupon the Jews found themselves not able to sustain their onset, and upon the slaughter of those in the forefront, many of the rest were put to flight. But as the Romans were going off, the Jews turned upon them, and fought them; and as those Romans came back upon them, they retreated again, until about the fifth hour of the day they were overborne, and shut themselves up in the inner [court of the] temple.

     5. So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the Morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon; although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them; for upon Titus's retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded the holy house fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning the inner [court of the] temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered any thing to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.

     6. And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire, as he was resting himself in his tent after the last battle; whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire. But they did not hear what he said, though he spake so loud, having their ears already dimmed by a greater noise another way; nor did they attend to the signal he made with his hand neither, as still some of them were distracted with fighting, and others with passion. But as for the legions that came running thither, neither any persuasions nor any threatenings could restrain their violence, but each one's own passion was his commander at this time; and as they were crowding into the temple together, many of them were trampled on by one another, while a great number fell among the ruins of the cloisters, which were still hot and smoking, and were destroyed in the same miserable way with those whom they had conquered; and when they were come near the holy house, they made as if they did not so much as hear Caesar's orders to the contrary; but they encouraged those that were before them to set it on fire. As for the seditious, they were in too great distress already to afford their assistance [towards quenching the fire]; they were every where slain, and every where beaten; and as for a great part of the people, they were weak and without arms, and had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another, as at the steps 16 going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood, whither also the dead bodies that were slain above [on the altar] fell down.

     7. And now, since Caesar was no way able to restrain the enthusiastic fury of the soldiers, and the fire proceeded on more and more, he went into the holy place of the temple, with his commanders, and saw it, with what was in it, which he found to be far superior to what the relations of foreigners contained, and not inferior to what we ourselves boasted of and believed about it. But as the flame had not as yet reached to its inward parts, but was still consuming the rooms that were about the holy house, and Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet be saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire, and gave order to Liberalius the centurion, and one of those spearmen that were about him, to beat the soldiers that were refractory with their staves, and to restrain them; yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also. Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on, as having this opinion, that all the places within were full of money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold. And besides, one of those that went into the place prevented Caesar, when he ran so hastily out to restrain the soldiers, and threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate, in the dark; whereby the flame burst out from within the holy house itself immediately, when the commanders retired, and Caesar with them, and when nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it. And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar's approbation.

     8. Now although any one would justly lament the destruction of such a work as this was, since it was the most admirable of all the works that we have seen or heard of, both for its curious structure and its magnitude, and also for the vast wealth bestowed upon it, as well as for the glorious reputation it had for its holiness; yet might such a one comfort himself with this thought, that it was fate that decreed it so to be, which is inevitable, both as to living creatures, and as to works and places also. However, one cannot but wonder at the accuracy of this period thereto relating; for the same month and day were now observed, as I said before, wherein the holy house was burnt formerly by the Babylonians. Now the number of years that passed from its first foundation, which was laid by king Solomon, till this its destruction, which happened in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, are collected to be one thousand one hundred and thirty, besides seven months and fifteen days; and from the second building of it, which was done by Haggai, in the second year of Cyrus the king, till its destruction under Vespasian, there were six hundred and thirty-nine years and forty-five days.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
Proverbs 27:8
     by D.H. Stern

8     Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The key to the missionary devotion

     For His name’s sake they went forth. --- 3 John 7.

     Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. “Lovest thou Me?” “Feed My sheep”—identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people. 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 gives the character of this love, it is the love of God expressing itself. The test of my love for Jesus is the practical one, all the rest is sentimental jargon.

     Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of Redemption wrought in me by the Holy Ghost Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart, and that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet. I remain loyal to His name although every commonsense fact gives the lie to Him, and declares that He has no more power than a Morning mist.

     The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself, not being detached from things externally. Our Lord was amazingly in and out among ordinary things; His detachment was on the inside towards God. External detachment is often an indication of a secret vital attachment to the things we keep away from externally. The loyalty of a missionary is to keep his soul concentratedly open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women Our Lord sends out on His enterprises are the ordinary human stuff, plus dominating devotion to Himself wrought by the Holy Ghost.

My Utmost for His Highest
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas


I engage with philosophy
  in the Morning, with the garden
  in the afternoon. Evenings I
  fish or coming home empty-handed
  put on the music of
  Cesar Franck. It is enough,
  this. I would be the mirror
  of a mirror, effortlessly repeating
  my reflections. But there is that
  one who will not leave me
  alone, writing to me
  of her fear; and the news from the city
  is not good. I am at the switchboard
  of the exchanges of the people
  of all time, receiving their messages
  whether I will or no. Do you
  love me? the voices cry.
  And there is no answer; there are
  only the treaties and take-overs,
  and the vision of clasped
  hands over the unquiet blood.

     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Before presenting his interpretation of olam ha-ba, Maimonides, in what appears as a digression, presents an extended simile of the methods which a teacher uses to motivate his student. However protracted, this simile helps illuminate what Maimonides believes to be a correct understanding of Jewish spirituality:

     Now, O reader, understand the following simile of mine and then you will make it your aim to grasp my meaning throughout. Figure to yourself a child young in years brought to a teacher to be instructed by him in the Torah. This is the greatest good he can derive in respect of his attainment of perfection. But the child, on account of the fewness of his years and the weakness of his intellect, does not grasp the measure of that benefit, or the extent to which it leads him toward the attainment of [spiritual] perfection. The teacher, who is nearer to such perfection than the pupil, must therefore necessarily stimulate him to learning by means of things in which he delights by reason of his youth. Thus he says to him, “Read, and I shall give you nuts or figs, or a bit of sugar.” The child yields to this. He learns diligently, not indeed for the sake of the knowledge itself, as he does not know the importance of it, but merely to obtain that particular dainty—the eating of that dainty being more relished by him than study, and regarded as an unquestionably greater boon. And consequently he considers learning as a labor and a weariness to which he gives himself up in order, by its means, to gain his desired object which consists of a nut or a piece of sugar.

     When he grows older and his intelligence strengthens, he thinks lightly of the trifle in which he formerly found joy and begins to desire something new. He longs for this newly chosen object[ive] of his, and his teacher now says to him, “Read, and I shall buy you pretty shoes or a coat of this kind!” Accordingly he again exerts himself to learn, not for the sake of the knowledge, but to acquire that coat; for the garment ranks higher in his estimation than the learning and constitutes the final aim of his studies. When, however, he reaches a higher stage of mental development, this prize also ranks little with him, and he sets his heart upon something of greater moment. So that when his teacher bids him “learn this section, or that chapter, and I shall give you a dinar or two,” he learns with zest in order to obtain that money which to him is of more value than the learning, seeing that it constitutes the final aim of his studies.

     When, further, he reaches the age of greater discretion, this prize also loses its worth for him. He recognizes its paltry nature and sets his heart upon something more desirable. His teacher then says to him, “Learn, in order that you may become a Rabbi, or a Judge; the people will honor you and rise before you; they will be obedient to your authority, and your name will be great, both in life and after death, as in the case of so-and-so.” The pupil throws himself into ardent study, striving all the time to reach this stage of eminence. His aim is that of obtaining the honor of men, their esteem and commendation. But all these methods are blameworthy.

     The obvious point, and one Maimonides appears to labor, is that people are generally motivated to study Torah by the expectations of extraneous benefits. Why pursue the point with so many examples of extraneous rewards? Why discuss the motivating power of nuts and figs, of pretty shoes, of money, honor, power? Maimonides’ elaborate discussion of different forms of gratification corresponding to different levels of appreciation stresses the persistent self-interested motivation of human behavior. What changes with time is not the quality of motivation, but only the different forms which self-interest takes. One does not easily overcome the egocentric responses of the child. If one can accept the necessity to appeal to extraneous rewards he will understand the importance that people ascribe to biblical and talmudic materialistic promises.

     Maimonides’ method of integrating appeals to self-interest and disinterested philosophic worship is to treat them as two stages in a continuum of human development. There are no indications in the Bible that the blessings and curses of the covenant are related to a specific stage of religious worship. (  Torah and dogma / A New Sensitivity in Judiasm and the Christian Message (A Reprint from the Harvard Theological Review 61, April 1968)  ) The Bible does not reveal the difference between the rather usual man whose psychological makeup requires motivational appeals to material self-interest and the more uncommon man who has another orientation to worship. Maimonides, however, turns to the talmudic tradition for an understanding of levels of worship.

     The talmudic tradition is highly sensitive to the necessity to transcend self-interest for service to God:

     The Sages warned us against this also, i.e., against a man making the attainment of some worldly object the end of his service to God, and his obedience to His precepts. And this is the meaning of the dictum of that distinguished and perfect man who understood the fundamental truth of things—Antigonus of Soko—“Be not like servants who minister to their master upon the condition of receiving a reward; but be like servants who minister to their master without the condition of receiving a reward.” They really meant to tell us by this that a man should believe in truth for truth’s sake. And this is the sense they wish to convey by their expression oved me-ahavah, “serving from motives of love,” and by their comment on the phrase “that delight in His commandments.” Rabbi Eliezer said “in His commandments,” and not “in the reward for performance of His commandments.” How strong a proof we have here of the truth of our argument, and how decisive! It is a clear confirmation of the text we have previously quoted. And we possess a stronger proof still in their remark in Sifre: “Per adventure thou mayest say, Verily I will learn the Torah in order that I may become rich or that I may be called Rabbi, or that I may receive a recompense in the future world. Therefore does Holy Writ say ‘to love the Lord thy God.’ Let everything that thou doest be done out of pure love for Him.”15

     Although the rabbis disparaged the motive of self-interest, they recognized how rare the individual is who appreciates norms because of their intrinsic worth:

     But our Sages knew how difficult a thing this was and that not everyone could act up to it. They knew that even the man who reached it would not at once accord with it and think it a true article of faith. For man only does those actions which will either bring him advantage or ward off loss. All other actions he holds vain and worthless. Accordingly, how could it be said to one who is learned in the Law—“Do these things, but do them not out of fear of God’s punishment, nor out of hope for His reward”? This would be exceedingly hard, because it is not everyone that comprehends truth, and becomes like Abraham our father.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
Take Heart
     October 18

     Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. --- Psalm 139:23–24.

     What is implied in the sincere petition contained in the text?  Charles G. Finney: Sermons From The Penny Pulpit

     First, it implies the realization of the omniscience of God. The psalmist was under a deep impression of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, that God understands our real hearts and is able to search us.

     Second, it implies a sense of the moral purity or holiness of God. Observe, he prays to be searched—that his whole being may be exposed—to see if there was any offense in him. It is plainly implied that he had such a sense of the purity of God as to be convinced that God is infinitely opposed to all iniquity.

     This petition implies a thorough wakefulness of mind to one’s moral or spiritual state. [The psalmist] is in an honest, searching state of mind—thoroughly in earnest to know all about himself; he is wide awake to his own spiritual condition and desires that all his errors may be rectified.

     It implies an intense anxiety to be perfect as God would have him to be—conformed to the holy will of God. Observe, he prays to be led in the way everlasting, which plainly implies that he was willing to be led to abandon all iniquity.

     Such a petition implies the assumption on the part of the petitioner that he or she needs to be deeply tried—penetrated with the light of truth to the deepest recesses of the soul. When we offer such a petition, we assume that there may be things about us that we have overlooked, and we ask for the scrutiny of God’s eye to search them out and to apply tests so that we may see them.

     Such a petition implies a willingness to be subjected to any process of searching that God may see to be needed. [The psalmist] does not point out any particular way in which he desires to be searched and tried, but he leaves that to the divine discretion—he only asks that it may be done. When we ask to be searched—without any real design to be searched—there is an inclination to dictate the way in which it will be done, but this is not an acceptable way of offering such a petition.

     An acceptable offering of such a petition implies of course that we are really willing to have it answered and will not resist any process through which God causes us to pass as the means by which it is answered.
--- Charles G. Finney

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   October 18
     Come Before Winter

     Scottish Presbyterians cast long shadows. Catherine Robertson grew up in Scotland where her father owned the largest cotton factory in the world. She was refined, wealthy, passionately Christian, and strongly Presbyterian. She married a preacher-professor, and the two began ministry in rural Ohio. They had seven children, and the last one—Clarence Edward Noble Macartney—became one of the greatest Presbyterian leaders of the twentieth century.

     Clarence excelled in both studies and debating, but he wrestled with doubt and suffered serious bouts of shyness. He enrolled in Princeton Seminary, and studied under Archibald Hodge and B. B. Warfield. During his long and distinguished career, Clarence pastored three churches in Pennsylvania. He averaged six hours a day in study and, as a pastime, wrote books and delivered lectures on the Civil War. He was a lifelong bachelor.

     In 1924 he was named Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. He was described as dignified, eloquent, Napoleon-like, aloof. He wrote 57 books and was a staunch conservative in a liberal time. To those who denied the authority of Scripture, he thundered, “A deleted Bible results in a diluted Gospel. Protestantism, as it loses faith in the Bible, is losing its religion.” We can decaffeinate coffee, he said, and de-nicotine tobacco, but we can’t de-Christianize Christianity.

     The pulpit was his throne, and he preached well-crafted sermons without notes. His best known message, repeated many times around the country, was an evangelistic sermon entitled “Come Before Winter,” taken from 2 Timothy 4:21 and first preached in Philadelphia October 18, 1915. It emphasized the need to receive Christ now, not later: The Holy Spirit, when he invites men to come to Christ, never says, “Tomorrow” but always “Today.” If you can find me one place in the Bible where the Holy Spirit says, “Believe in Christ tomorrow” or “Repent and be saved tomorrow” I will come out of the pulpit and stay out of it—for I would have no Gospel to preach.

     Make good use of God’s kindness to you. In the Scriptures God says, “When the time came, I listened to you, and when you needed help, I came to save you.” That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved.
--- 2 Corinthians 6:1b,2.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 18

     “Thy paths drop fatness.” --- Psalm 65:11.

     Many are “the paths of the Lord” which “drop fatness,” but an especial one is the path of prayer. No believer, who is much in the closet, will have need to cry, “My leanness, my leanness; woe unto me.” Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy- seat, and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Prevalence with God in wrestling prayer is sure to make the believer strong—if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone, and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus, your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint, but freely invited if you be a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees, for so Elijah drew the rain upon famished Israel’s fields.

     There is another especial path dropping with fatness to those who walk therein, it is the secret walk of communion. Oh! the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth hath no words which can set forth the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus’ bosom. Few Christians understand it, they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of Nebo: they live in the outer court, they enter not the holy place, they take not up the privilege of priesthood. At a distance they see the sacrifice, but they sit not down with the priest to eat thereof, and to enjoy the fat of the burnt offering. But, reader, sit thou ever under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of the branches thereof; let thy beloved be unto thee as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, and thou shalt be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. O Jesus, visit us with thy salvation!

          Evening - October 18

     “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” --- 1 Samuel 15:22.

     Saul had been commanded to slay utterly all the Amalekites and their cattle. Instead of doing so, he preserved the king, and suffered his people to take the best of the oxen and of the sheep. When called to account for this, he declared that he did it with a view of offering sacrifice to God; but Samuel met him at once with the assurance that sacrifices were no excuse for an act of direct rebellion. The sentence before us is worthy to be printed in letters of gold, and to be hung up before the eyes of the present idolatrous generation, who are very fond of the fineries of will-worship, but utterly neglect the laws of God. Be it ever in your remembrance, that to keep strictly in the path of your Saviour’s command is better than any outward form of religion; and to hearken to his precept with an attentive ear is better than to bring the fat of rams, or any other precious thing to lay upon his altar. If you are failing to keep the least of Christ’s commands to his disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout actions which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. “To obey,” even in the slightest and smallest thing, “is better than sacrifice,” however pompous. Talk not of Gregorian chants, sumptuous robes, incense, and banners; the first thing which God requires of his child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor, yet if you do not hearken to the Lord’s precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, come not thou into their secret.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     October 18


     Frances R. Havergal, 1836–1879

     … offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

     As Christians, we are to take our places in God’s army and not be ashamed to be counted as one of His. Believers are too often content to sit on the sidelines and merely observe the spectacle. The work of the Gospel, inviting individuals to be personally reconciled with God, is an urgent task, not a spectator sport. It demands our whole-hearted, zealous involvement.

     This militant hymn text by Frances Havergal was originally titled “Home Missions,” and was written in October, 1877. It was based on the Scripture setting in 1 Chronicles 12:1–18, where a very select group of soldiers was preparing to join King David in warfare against the enemy. The poem later appeared in Loyal Responses, published by the author in 1878. “Who Is on the Lord’s Side?” has been used for more than a century to challenge Christians to make a definite commitment to follow Christ in spiritual warfare.

     Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King? Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring? Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe? Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?

     Not for weight of glory, not for crown and palm, enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm; but for Love that claimeth lives for whom He died: He whom Jesus nameth must be on His side.

     Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem, but with Thine own life-blood, for Thy diadem. With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee. Thou has made us willing; Thou hast made us free.

     Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe, but the King’s own army none can overthrow. Round His standard ranging, vict’ry is secure, for His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.

1.     Refrain: By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
2.     By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine,
3.     By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
4.     Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,

     For Today: Joshua 24:15; 1 Chronicles 12:1–l8; Mark 8:24–38; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Timothy 6:12

     Determine to do or say something to a non-Christian that publicly identifies you as a follower/soldier of Christ. Carry this musical truth as a help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock

     IV, The fourth thing is, wherein the wisdom of God appears. It appears, 1st, In creation. 2dly, In government. 3dly, In redemption. First, In creation. As in a musical instrument there is first the skill of the workman in the frame, then the skill of the musician in stringing it proper for such musical notes as he will express upon it, and after that the tempering of the strings, by various stops, to a delightful harmony, so is the wisdom of God seen in framing the world, then in tuning it, and afterwards in the motion of the several creatures. The fabric of the world is called the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:21): “After that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God;” i. e., by the creation the world knew not God. The framing cause is there put for the effect and the work framed; because the Divine wisdom stepped forth in the creatures, to a public appearance, as if it had presented itself in a visible shape to man, giving instructions in and by the creatures, to know and adore him. What we translate (Gen. 1:1) “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” the Targum expresseth, “In wisdom God created the heaven and the earth.” Both bear a stamp of this perfection on them; and when the apostle tells the Romans (Rom. 1:20) “The invisible things of God were clearly understood by the things that are made,” the word he uses is ποιήμασι not ἒργοις; this signifies a work of labor, but ποίημα a work of skill, or a poem. The whole creation is a poem, every species a stanza, and every individual creature a verse in it. The creation presents us with a prospect of the wisdom of God, as a poem doth the reader with the wit and fancy of the composer: “By wisdom he created the earth” (Prov. 3:19), “and stretched out the heavens by discretion” (Jer. 10:12). There is not anything so mean, so small, but glitters with a beam of Divine skill; and the consideration of them would justly make every man subscribe to that of the psalmist, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all” (Psalm 104:24). All, the least as well as the greatest, and the meanest as well as the noblest; even those creatures which seem ugly and deformed to us, as toads, &c., because they fall short of those perfections which are the dowry of other animals: in these there is a footstep of Divine wisdom, since they were not produced by him at random, but determined to some particular end, and designed to some usefulness, as parts of the world in their several natures and stations. God could never have had a satisfaction in the review of his works, and pronounced them good or comely, as he did (Gen. 1:31), had they not been agreeable to that eternal original copy in his own mind. It is said he was refreshed, viz. with that review (Exod. 31:17), which could not have been, if his piercing eye had found any defect in any thing which had sprung out of his hand, or an unsuitableness to that end for which he created them. He seems to do as a man that hath made a curious and polite work, with exact care to peer about every part and line, if he could perceive any imperfection in it, to rectify the mistake: but no defect was found by the infinitely wise God upon this second examination. This wisdom of the creation appears,

     1. In the variety. 2. In the beauty. 3. The fitness of every creature for its use. 4. The subordination of one creature to another, and the joint concurrence of all to one common end.

     1. In the variety (Psalm 104:24): “O Lord, how manifold are thy works!” How great a variety is there of animals and plants, with a great variety of forms, shapes, figurations, colors, various smells, virtues, and qualities! and this rarity is produced from one and the same matter, as beasts and plants from the earth (Gen. 1:11, 24): “Let the earth bring forth living creatures; and the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed after his kind:” such diversity of fowl and fish from the water (Gen. 1:20): “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly;” such a beautiful and active variety from so dull a matter as the earth; so solid a variety from so fluid a matter as the water; so noble a piece as the body of man, with such variety of members fit to entertain a more-excellent soul as a guest, from so mean a matter as the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). This extraction of such variety of forms out of one single and dull matter, is the chemistry of Divine wisdom. It is a greater skill to frame noble bodies of vile matter, as varieties of precious vessels of clay and earth, than of a nobler matter, as gold and silver. Again, all those varieties propagate their kind in every particular and quality of their nature, and uniformly bring forth exact copies according to the first pattern God made of the kind (Gen. 1:11, 12, 24). Consider, also, how the same piece of ground is garnished with plants and flowers of several virtues, fruits, colors, scents, without our being able to perceive any variety in the earth that breeds them, and not so great a difference in the roots that bear them. Add to this the diversities of birds of different colors, shapes, notes, consisting of various parts, wings like oars, to cut the air, and tails as the rudder of a ship, to guide their motion. How various, also, are the endowments of the creatures! some have vegetation, and the power of growth; others have the addition of sense, and others the excellency of reason; something wherein all agree, and something wherein all differ; variety in unity, and unity in variety: the wisdom of the workman had not been so conspicuous had there been only one degree of goodness: the greatest skill is seen in the greatest variety. The comeliness of the body is visible in the variety of members, and their usefulness to one another. What an inform thing had man been had he been all ear, or all eye! If God had made all the stars to be suns, it would have been a demonstration of his power, but, perhaps, less of his wisdom: no creatures, with the natures they now have, could have continued in being under so much heat: there was no less wisdom went to the frame of the least, than to the greatest creature. It speaks more art in a limner to paint a landscape exactly, than to draw the sun, though the sun be a more glorious body. might instance also, in the different characters and features imprinted upon the countenances of men and women, the differences of voices and statures, whereby they are distinguished from one another: these are the foundations of order and of human society, and administration of justice. What confusion would have been, if a grown-up son could not be known from his father, the magistrate from the subject, the creditor from the debtor, the innocent from the criminal! The laws God hath given to mankind could not have been put in execution: this variety speaks the wisdom of God.

     2. The wisdom of the creation ap ears in the beauty, and order, and situation of the several creatures (Eccles. 3:11): “He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” As their being was a fruit of Divine power, so their order is a fruit of Divine wisdom. All creatures are as members in the great body of the world, proportioned to one another, and contributing to the beauty of the whole; so that if the particular forms of everything, the union of all for the composition of the world, and the laws which are established in the order of nature for its conservation, be considered, it would ravish us with an admiration of God.

     All the creatures are so many pictures or statues, exactly framed by line (Psalm 19:4): “Their line is gone through all the earth;” their “line,” a measuring line, or a carpenter’s rule, whereby he proportions several pieces to be exactly linked and coupled together. “Their line,” that is, their harmonious proportion, and the instruction from it, is gone forth through all the earth. Upon the account of this harmony, some of the ancient heathens framed the images of their gods with musical instruments in their hands, signifying that God wrought all things in a due proportion. The heavens speak this wisdom in their order. The revolutions of the sun and moon determine the seasons of the year, and make day and night in orderly succession. The stars beautify the heavens, and influence the earth, and keep their courses (Judges 5:20). They keep their stations without interfering with one another; and though they have rolled about for so many ages, they observe their distinct laws, and in the variety of their motions have not disturbed one another’s functions. The sun is set as the heart in the midst of this great body, to afford warmth to all: and had it been set lower, it had long since turned the earth into flame and ashes: had it been placed higher, the earth would have wanted the nourishment and refreshment necessary for it. Too much nearness had ruined the earth by parching heat, and too great a distance had destroyed the earth by starving it with cold. The sun hath also its appointed motion; had it been fixed without motion, half of the earth had been unprofitable; there had been a perpetual darkness in a moiety of it; nothing had been produced for nourishment, and so it had been rendered uninhabitable: but now, by its motion, it visits all the climates of the world, runs its circuit, so that “nothing is hid from the heat thereof” (Psalm 19:6). It imparts its virtue to every corner of the world in its daily and yearly visits. Had it been fixed, the fruits of the earth under it had been parched and destroyed before their maturity; but all those inconveniences are provided against by the perpetual motion of the sun. This motion is orderly; it makes its daily course from east to west, its yearly motion from north to south: it goes to the north, till it comes to the point God hath set it, and then turns back to the south, and gains some point every day: it never riseth nor sets in the same place one day, where it did the day before. The world is never without its light; some see it rising the same moment we see it setting. The earth also speaks the Divine wisdom; it is the pavement of the world, as the heaven is the ceiling of fretwork. It is placed lowermost, as being the heaviest body, and fit to receive the weightiest matter, and provided as an habitation proper for those creatures which derive the matter of their bodies from it, and partake of its earthly nature; and garnished with other creatures for the profit or pleasure of man. The sea also speaks the same Divine wisdom. “He strengthened the fountains of the deep, and gave the sea a decree that it should not pass his command” (Prov. 8:28, 29). He hath given it certain bounds that it should not overflow the earth (Job 28:11). It contains itself in the situation wherein God hath placed it, and doth not transgress its bounds. What if some part of a country, a little spot, hath been overflowed by it, and groaned under its waves? yet for the main, it retains the same channels wherein it was at first lodged. All creatures are clothed with an outward beauty, and endowed with an inward harmony; there is an agreement in all parts of this great body; every one is beautiful and orderly; but the beauty of the world results from all of them disposed and linked together.

     3. This wisdom is seen in the fitness of everything for its end, and the usefulness of it. Divine wisdom is more illustrious in the fitness and usefulness of this great variety, than in the composure of their distinct parts: as the artificer’s skill is more eminent in fitting the wheels, and setting them in order for their due motion, than in the external fabric of the materials which compose the clock. After the most diligent inspection, there can be found nothing in the creation unprofitable; nothing but is capable of some service, either for the support of our bodies, recreation of our senses, or moral instruction of our minds: not the least creature but is formed, and shaped, and furnished with members and parts, in a due proportion for its end and service in the world; nothing is superfluous, nothing defective. The earth is fitted in its parts; the valleys are appointed for granaries, the mountains to shadow them from the scorching heat of the sun; the rivers, like veins, carry refreshment to every member of this body; plants and trees thrive on the face of the earth, and metals are engendered in the bowels of it, for materials for building, and other uses for the service of man. “There he causes the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man, that he may bring forth food out of the earth” (Psalm 114:14). The sea is fitted for use; it is a fish pond for the nourishment of man; a boundary for the dividing of lands and several dominions: it joins together nations far distant: a great vessel for commerce (Psalm 114:26), “there go the ships.” It affords vapors to the clouds, wherewith to water the earth, which the sun draws up, separating the finer from the salter parts, that the earth may be fruitful without being burdened with barrenness by the salt. The sea hath also its salt, its ebbs, and floods; the one as brine, the other as motion, to preserve it from putrefaction, that it may not be contagious to the rest of the world. Showers are appointed to refresh the bodies of living creatures, to open the womb of the earth, and “water the ground to make it fruitful” Psalm 104:3. The clouds, therefore, are called the chariots of God; he rides in them in the manifestation of his goodness and wisdom. Winds are fitted to purify the air, to preserve it from putrefaction, to carry the clouds to several parts, to refresh the parched earth, and assist her fruits: and also to serve for the commerce of one nation with another by navigation. God, in his wisdom and goodness, “walks upon the wings of the wind” (Psalm 104:3). Rivers are appointed to hathe the ground, and render it fresh and lively; they fortify cities, are the limits of countries, serve for commerce; they are the watering-pots of the earth, and the vessels for drink for the living creatures that dwell upon the earth. God cut those channels for the wild asses, the beasts of the desert, which are his creatures as well as the rest (Psalm 104:10, 12, 13). Trees are appointed for the habitations of birds, shadows for the earth, nourishment for the creatures, materials for building, and fuel for the relief of man against cold. The seasons of the year have their use; the winter makes the juice retire into the earth, fortifies plants, and fixes their roots: it moistens the earth that was dried before by the heat of summer. and cleanseth and prepares it for a new fruitfulness. The spring calls out the sap in new leaves and fruit. The summer consumes the superfluous moisture, and produceth nourishment for the inhabtants of the world. The day and night have also their usefulness: the day gives life to labor, and is a guide to motion and action (Psalm 104:24), “The sun ariseth, man goeth forth to his labor until the evening.” It warms the air, and quickens nature; without day the world would be a chaos, an unseen beauty. The night indeed casts a veil upon the bravery of the earth, but it draws the curtains from that of heaven; though it darkens below, it makes us see the beauty of the world above, and discovers to us a glorious part of the creation of God, the tapestry of heaven, and the motions of the stars, hid from us by the eminent light of the day. It procures a truce from labor, and refresheth the bodies of creatures, by recruiting the spirits which are scattered by watching. It prevents the ruin of life, by a reparation of what was wasted in the day. It takes from us the sight of flowers and plants, but it washeth their face with dews for a new appearance next morning. The length of the day and night is not without a mark of wisdom; were they of a greater length, as the length of a week or month, the one would too much dry, and the other too much moisten; and for want of action, the members would be stupified. The perpetual succession of day and night is an evidence of the Divine wisdom in tempering the travel and rest of crea. tures. Hence, the psalmist tells us (Psalm 84:16, 17), “The day is thine, and the night is thine; thou hast prepared the light of the sun, and made summer and winter;” i. e. they are of God’s framing, not without a wise counsel and end. Hence, let us ascend to the bodies of living creatures, and we shall find every member fitted for use. What a curiosity is there in every member! Every one fitted to a particular use in their situation, form, temper, and mutual agreement for the good of the whole: the eye to direct; the ear to receive directions from others; the hands to act; the feet to move. Every creature hath members fitted for that element wherein it resides; and in the body, some parts are appointed to change the food into blood, others to refine it, and others to distribute and convey it to several parts for the maintenance of the whole: the heart to mint vital spirits for preserving life, and the brain to coin animal spirits for life and motion; the lungs to serve for the cooling the heart, which else would be parched as the ground in summer. The motion of the members of the body by one act of the will, and also without the will by a natural instinct, is an admirable evidence of Divine skill in the structure of the body; so that well might the psalmist cry out (Psalm 139:14), “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” But how much more of this Divine perfection is seen in the soul! A nature, furnished with a faculty of understanding to judge of things, to gather in things that are distant, and to reason and draw conclusions from one thing to another, with a memory to treasure up things that are past, with a will to apply itself so readily to what the mind judges fit and comely, and fly so speedily from what it judges ill and hurtful. The whole world is a stage; every creature in it hath a part to act, and a nature suited to that part and end it is designed for; and all concur in a joint language to publish the glory of Divine wisdom; they have a voice to proclaim the “glory of God” (Psalm 19:1, 3). And it is not the least part of God’s skill, in framing the creatures so, that upon man’s obedience, they are the channels of his goodness; and upon man’s disobedience, they can, in their natures, be the ministers of his justice for the punishing of offending creatures.

     4. This wisdom is apparent in the linking of all these useful parts together, so that one is subordinate to the other for a common end. All parts are exactly suited to one another, and every part to the whole, though they are of different natures, as lines distant in themselves, yet they meet in one common centre, the good and the preservation of the universe; they are all jointed together, as the word translated framed (Heb. 11:2) signifies; knit by fit hands and ligaments to contribute mutual beauty, strength, and assistance to one another; like so many links of a chain coupled together, that though there be a distance in place, there is a unity in regard of connection and end, there is a consent in the whole (Hos. 2:21, 22). “The heavens hear the earth; and the earth hears the corn, and the wine, and the oil.” The heavens communicate their qualities to the earth, and the earth conveys them to the fruits she bears. The air distributes light, wind and rain to the earth; the earth and the sea render to the air exhalations and vapors, and altogether charitably give to the plants and animals that which is necessary for their nourishment and refreshment.

     The influences of the heavens animate the earth; and the earth affords matter, in part, for the influences it receives from the regions above. Living creatures are maintained by nourishment; nourishment is conveyed to them by the fruits of the earth; the fruits of the earth are produced by means of rain and heat; matter for rain and dew is raised by the heat of the sun; and the sun by its motion distributes heat and quickening virtue to all parts of the earth. So colors are made for the pleasure of the eye, sounds for the delight of the ear; light is formed, whereby the eye may see the one, and air to convey the species of colors to the eye, and sound to the ear; all things are like the wheels of a watch compacted: and though many of the creatures be endowed with contrary qualities, yet they are joined in a marriage-knot for the public security, and subserviency to the preservation and order of the universe; as the variety of strings upon an instrument, sending forth various and distinct sounds, are tempered together, for the framing excellent and delightful airs. In this universal conspiring of the creatures together to one end, is the wisdom of the Creator apparent; in tuning so many contraries as the elements are, and preserving them in their order, which if once broken, the whole frame of nature would crack, and fall in pieces; all are so interwoven and inlaid together, by the Divine workmanship, as to make up one entire beauty in the whole fabric: as every part in the body of man hath a distinct comeliness, yet there is besides, the beauty of the whole, that results from the union of divers parts exactly fashioned to one another, and linked together.

     By the way, Use. How much may we see of the perfection of God in everything that presents itself to our eyes! And how should we be convinced of our unworthy neglect of ascending to him with reverend and admiring thoughts, upon the prospect of the creatures! What dull scholars are we, when every creature is our teacher, every part of the creature a lively instruction! Those things that we tread under our feet, if used by us according to the full design of their creation, would afford rich matter, not only for our heads, but our hearts. As grace doth not destroy nature, but elevate it, so neither should the fresher and fuller discoveries of Divine wisdom in redemption deface all our thoughts of his wisdom in creation. Though the greater light of the sun obscures the lesser sparkling of the stars, yet it gives way in the night to the discovery of them, that God may seen, known, and considered, in all his works of wonder, and miracles of nature. No part of Scripture is more spiritual than the Psalms; none filled with clearer discoveries of Christ in the Old Testament; yet how often do the penmen consider the creation of God, and find their meditations on him to be sweet, as considered in his works (Psalm 104:34)! “My meditation of him shall be sweet.” When? why, after a short history of the goodness and wisdom of God in the frame of the world, and the species of the creatures.

     Secondly. The wisdom of God appears in his government of his creatures. The regular motion of the creatures speaks for this perfection, as well as the exact composition of them. If the exquisiteness of the frame conducts us to the skill of the Contriver, the exactness of their order, according to his will and law, speaks no less the wisdom of the Governor. It cannot be thought that a rash and irrational power presides over a world so well disposed: the disposition of things hath no less characters of skill, than the creation of them. No man can hear an excellent lesson upon a lute, but must presently reflect upon the art of the person that touches it. The prudence of man appears in wrapping up the concerns of a kingdom m his mind, for the well-ordering of it; and shall not the wisdom of God shine forth, as he is the director of the world? I shall omit his government of inanimiate creatures, and confine the discourse to his government of man, as rational, as sinful, as restored.

     1st. In his government of man as a rational creature.

     1. In the law he gives to man. Wisdom framed it, though will enacted it. The will of God is the rule of righteousness to us, but the wisdom of God is the foundation of that rule of righteousness which he prescribes us. The composure of a musician is the rule of singing to his scholars; yet the consent and harmony in that composure derives not itself from his will, but from his understanding; he would not be a musician if his composures were contrary to the rules of true harmony: so the laws of men are composed by wisdom, though they are enforced by will and authority. The moral law, which was the law of nature, the law imprinted upon Adam, is so framed as to secure the rights of God as supreme, and the rights of men in their distinctions of superiority and equality: it is therefore called “holy and good” (Rom. 7:12); holy, as it prescribes our duty to God in his worship; good, as it regulates the offices of human life, and reserves the common interest of mankind.

     (1.) It is suite to the nature of man. As God hath given a law of nature, a fixed order to inanimate creatures, so he hath given a law of reason to rational creatures: other creatures are not capable of a law differencing good and evil, because they are destitute of faculties and capacities to make distinction between them. It had not been agreeable to the wisdom of God to propose any moral law to them, who had neither understanding to discern, nor will to choose. It is therefore to be observed, that whilst Christ exhorted others to the embracing his doctrine, yet he exhorted not little children, though he took them in his arms, because, though they had faculties, yet they were not come to such a maturity as to be capable of a rational instruction. But there was a necessity for some command for the government of man; since God had made him a rational creature, it was not agreeable to his wisdom to govern him as a brute, but as a rational creature, capable of knowing his precepts, and voluntarily walking in them; and without a law, he had not been capable of any exercise of his reason in services respecting God. He therefore gives him a law, with a covenant annexed to it, whereby man is obliged to obedience, and secured of a reward. This was enforced with severe penalties, death, with all the horrors attending it, to deter him from transgression (Gen. 2:17); wherein is implied a promise of continuance of life, and all its felicities, to allure him to a mindfulness of his obligation. So perfect a hedge did Divine wisdom set about him, to keep him within the bounds of that obedience, which was both his debt and security, that wheresoever he looked, he saw either something to invite him, or something to drive him to the payment of his duty, and perseverance in it. Thus the law was exactly framed to the nature of man; man had twisted in him a desire of happiness; the promise was suited to cherish this natural desire. He had also the passion of fear; the proper object of this was any thing destructive to his being, nature, and felicity; this the threatening met with. In the whole it was accommodated to man as rational; precepts to the law in his mind, promises to the natural appetite, threatemngs to the most prevailing affection, and to the implanted desires of preserving both his being and happiness in that being. These were rational motives, fitted to the nature of Adam, which was above the life God had given plants, and the sense he had given animals. The command given man in innocence was suited to his strength and power. God gave him not any command but what he had ability to observe: and since we want not power to forbear an apple in our corrupted and impotent state, he wanted not strength in his state of integrity. The wisdom of God commanded nothing but what was very easy to be observed by him, and inferior to his natural ability. It had been both unjust and unwise to have commanded him to fly up to the sun, when he had not wings; or stop the course of the sea, when he had not strength.

     (2.) It is suited to the happiness and benefit of man. God’s laws are not an act of mere authority respecting his own glory, but of wisdom and goodness respecting man’s benefit. They are perfective of man’s nature, conferring a wisdom upon him, “rejoicing his heart, enlightening his eyes” (Psalm 19:7, 8), affording him both a knowledge of God and of himself. To be without a law, is for men to be as beasts, without justice and without religion: other things are for the good of the body, but the laws of God for the good of the soul; the more perfect the law, the greater the benefit. The laws given to the Jews were the honor and excellency of that nation (Deut. 1:8); “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous?” They were made statesmen in the judicial law, ecclesiastics in the ceremonial, honest men in the second table, and divine in the first. All his laws are suited to the true satisfaction of man, and the good of human society. Had God framed a law only for one nation, there would have been the characters of a particular wisdom; but now an universal wisdom appears, in accommodating his law, not only to this or that particular society or corporation of men, but to the benefit of all mankind, in the variety of climates and countries wherein they live; everything that is disturbing to human society is provided against; nothing is enjoined but what is sweet, rational, and useful: it orders us not to attempt anything against the life of our neighbor, the honor of his bed, propriety in his goods, and the clearness of his reputation; and, if well observed, would alter the face of the world, and make it look with another hue. The world would be altered from a brutish to a human world; it would change lions and wolves, men of lionlike and wolfish disposition, into reason and sweetness. And because the whole law is summed up in love, it obligeth us to endeavor the preservation of one another’s beings, the favoring of one another’s interests, and increasing the goods, as much as justice will permit, and keeping up one another’s credits, because love, which is the soul of the law, is not shown by a cessation from action, but signifies an ardor, upon all occasions, in doing good. I say, were this law well observed, the w orld would be another thing than it is: it would become a religious fraternity; the voice of enmity, and the noise of groans and cursings, would not be heard in our streets; peace would be in all borders; plenty of charity in the midst of cities and countries; joy and singing would sound in all habitations. Man’s advantage was designed in God’s laws, and doth naturally result from the observance of them. God so ordered them, by his wisdom, that the obedience of man should draw forth his goodness, and prevent those smarting judgments which were necessary to reduce the creature to order that would not voluntarily continue in the order God had appointed. The laws of men are often unjust, oppressive, cruel, sometimes against the law of nature; but an universal wisdom and righteousness glitters in the Divine law; there is nothing in it but is worthy of God, and useful for the creature; so that we may well say, with Job, “Who teaches like God?” (Job 36:22) or as some render it, “Who is a lawgiver like God?” Who can say to him, Thou hast wrought iniquity or folly among men? His precepts were framed for the preservation of man in that rectitude wherein he was created, in that likeness to God wherein he was first made, that there might be a correspondence between the integrity of the creature and the goodness of his Creator, by the obedience of man; that man might exercise his faculties in operation worthy of him, and beneficial to the world.

     (3.) The wisdom of God is seen in suiting his laws to the consciences as well as the interests of all mankind (Rom. 2:14); “The Gentiles do, by nature, the things contained in the law;” so great an affinity there is between the wise law and the reason of man. There is a natural beauty emerging from them, and darting upon the reasons and consciences of men, which dictates to them that this law is worthy to be observed in itself. The two main principles of the law, the love and worship of God, and doing as we would be done by, have an indelible impression in the consciences of all men in regard of the principle, though they are not suitably expressed in the practice. Where there no law outwardly ublished, yet every man’s conscience would dictate to him that God. Was to be acknowledged, worshipped, loved, as naturally as his reason would acquaint him that there was such a being as God. This suitableness of them to the consciences of men is manifest, in that the laws of the best governed nations among the heathen have bad an agreement with them. Nothing can be more exactly composed, according to the rules of right and exact reason, than this; no man but approves of something in it, yea, of the whole, when he exerciseth that dim reason which he hath. Suppose any man, not an absolute atheist, he cannot but acknowledge the reasonableness of worshipping God. Grant him to be a spirit, and it will presently appear absurd to represent him by any corporeal image, and derogate from his excelleency by so mean a resemblance; with the same easiness he will grant a reverence due to the name of God; that we must not serve our turn of him, by calling him to witness to a lie in a solemn oath; that as worship is due to him, so is some stated time a circumstance necessary to the performance of that worship. And as to the second table, will any man, in his right reason, quarrel with that command that engageth his inferiors to honor him, that secures his being from a violent murder, and his goods from unjust rapine? and though, by the fury of his lusts, he break the laws of wedlock himself, yet he cannot but approve of that law, as it prohibits every man from doing him the like injury and disgrace. The suitableness of the law to the consciences of men is further evidenced by those furious reflections, and strong alarms of conscience, upon a transgression of it, and that in all parts of the world, more or less, in all men; so exactly hath Divine wisdom fitted the law to the reason and consciences of men, as one tally to another: indeed, without such an agreement, no man’s conscience could have any ground for a hue and cry; nor need any man be startled with the records of it. This manifests the wisdom of God in framing his laws so that the reasons and consciences of all men do, one time or other, subscribe to it. What governor in the world is able to make any law distinct from this revealed by God, that shall reach all places, all persons, all hearts? We may add to this the extent of his commands, in ordering goodness at the root, not only in action, but affection; not only in the motion of the members, but the disposition of the soul; which suiting a law to the inward frame of man, is quite out of the compass of the wisdom of any creature.

     (4.) His wisdom is seen in the encouragements he gives for the studying and observing his will (Psalm 19:11); “In keeping thy commandments there is great reward.” The variety of them; there is not any particular genius in man but may find something suitable to win upon him in the revealed will of God.

     There is a strain of reason to satisfy the rational; of eloquence, to gratify the fanciful; of interest, to allure the selfish; of terror, to startle the obstinate. As a skilful angler stores himself with baits, according to the appetites of the sorts of fish he intends to catch, so in the word of God there are varieties of baits, according to the varieties of the inclinations of men; threatenings to work upon fear; promises to work upon love; examples of holy men set out for imitation; and those plainly; neither his threatenings nor his promises are dark, as the heathen oracles; but peremptory, as becomes a sovereign lawgiver; and plain, as was necessary for the understanding of a creature. As he deals graciously with men in exhorting and encouraging them, so he deals wisely herein, by taking away all excuse from them if they ruin the interest of their souls, by denying obedience to their Sovereign. Again, the rewards God proposeth are accommodated, not to the brutish parts of man, his carnal sense and fleshly appetite, but to the capacity of a spiritual soul, which admits only of spiritual gratifications; and cannot, in its own nature, without a sordid subjection to the humors of the body, be moved by sensual proposals. God backs his precepts with that which the nature of man longed for, and with spiritual delights, which can only satisfy a rational appetite; and thereby did as well gratify the noblest desires in man, as oblige him to the noblest service and work. Indeed, virtue and holiness being perfectly amiable, ought chiefly to affect our understandings, and by them draw our wills to the esteem and pursuit of them. But since the desire of happiness is inseparable from the nature of man, as impossible to be disjoined as an inclination to descend to be severed from heavy bodies, or an instinct to ascend from light and airy substances; God serves himself of the inclination of our natures to bappiness, to enjender in us an esteem and affection to the holiness he doth require. He proposeth the enjoyment of a supernatural good and everlasting glory, as a bait to that insatiable longing our natures have for happiness, to receive the impression of holiness into our souls. And, besides, he doth proportion rewards according the degrees of men’s industry, labor, and zeal for him; and weighs out a recompense, not only suited to, but above the service. He that improves five talents, is to be ruler over five cities; that is, a greater proportion of honor and glory than another (Luke 19:17, 18); as a wise father excites the affection of his children to things worthy of praise, by varieties of recompenses according to their several actions. And it was the wisdom of the steward, in the judgment of our Saviour, to give every one the “portion that belonged to him” (Luke 12:42). There is no part of the word wherein we meet not with the will and wisdom of God, varieties of duties, and varieties of encouragement, mingled together.

The Existence and Attributes of God

Characteristics of a True Church
     John MacArthur

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

John MacArthur | Grace to you

Messiah Living Water
     John MacArthur

Part 1 - John 4:1-15

Part 2 - John 4:1-15

Part 3 - John 4:1-15

John MacArthur | Grace to you

Mark 8-9
     Jon Courson

Mark 9:14-29
The Family In Good Hands
Jon Courson

click here
February 7, 2010

Mark 7-9
Jon Courson

click here
February 10, 2010

Jon Courson | Jon Courson

Mark 8-9
     Paul LeBoutillier

Mark 8 pt 1
To See and Understand
Paul LeBoutillier


Mark 8 pt 2
Taking Up Your Cross
Paul LeBoutillier


Mark 9 pt 1
The Transfiguration
Paul LeBoutillier


Mark 9 pt 2
Battling Unbelief
Paul LeBoutillier


Mark 9 pt 3
The Kingdom of God
Paul LeBoutillier


Paul LeBoutillier | Calvary Chapel Ontario, Oregon

Mark 8-9
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

Mark 9:14-29
Dads and Demons

June 18, 2023

Mark 8

July 2, 2023

Mark 9

July 5, 2023

Brett Meador | Athey Creek


Hamas Rocket Fell On Their Hospital
Special Middle East Update: The War in Israel
Amir Tsarfati

October 18, 2023

Mark 8:11-21
Spiritual Blindness | John MacArthur

Mark 9:30-41
The Virtue of Being Last | John MacArthur

Mark 9:42-50
Radical Discipleship | John MacArthur

Undermining the Headship of Christ
John MacArthur

Intro to the Contemporary Gender Debate
Ron Pierce | Biola University

Usurping the Seat of Christ
John MacArthur

The Dwelling: Prayer
Todd Pickett | Biola University

What Should we Think
About Israel
05-17-2020 | Dr. Randall Price | Liberty

Systematic Theology?
Karen Kilby
University of Nottingham