Judging OthersMatthew 7 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Ask, and It Will Be Given7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
The Golden Rule12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
A Tree and Its Fruit15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Build Your House on the Rock24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The Authority of Jesus28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Jesus Cleanses a LeperMatthew 8 1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
The Faith of a Centurion5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
Jesus Heals Many14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
The Cost of Following Jesus18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Jesus Calms a Storm23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
What I'm Reading
Unbelievable? Does Josephus’ Account of John the Baptist Invalidate the Gospels?
By J. Warner Wallace 8/18/2017
In an interview on Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley, I spoke with two skeptics and discussed apparent contradictions in the history offered by the Gospel authors when compared to non-Christian historians. One skeptic offered an objection related to the account of the beheading of John the Baptist. Although I had difficulty hearing and understanding his words through the telephone connection and his accent, his argument can be summed up succinctly: Josephus records the death of John the Baptist at a time in history that appears to be around 36AD, six years after the date commonly accepted for the crucifixion of Jesus. If Josephus’ record is accurate, John was executed after the Resurrection of Jesus, and the gospel accounts are wrong. This objection, along with an objection about the role and dating of Quirinius in the Gospel of Luke, formed the basis for his skepticism toward the Gospel accounts.
While I had difficulty hearing and understanding the precise dating elements the caller referenced in his objection, I was certainly familiar enough with the nature of the complaint and the overarching principles I would use to test the testimony of Josephus against the testimony of Matthew (14:1-12) and Mark (6:14-29). I’ve written about these concepts related to eyewitness reliability in my book, Cold-Case Christianity, and it’s important to employ these principles to avoid stumbling over apparently contradictory minutia:
Principle One: Make Sure the Witnesses Were Present in the First Place
While Mark and Matthew (or at least the authors of their Gospels if you’re inclined to deny the traditional attributions) lived during the time of John’s execution, Josephus did not. Most scholars place Josephus’ birth at 37AD and date his testimony related to John the Baptist (as it is recorded in Antiquities of the Jews) at 93-94AD. There is good reason to believe Mark’s Gospel is the earliest narrative of these events and was written within 20 years of John’s execution; the case for the early dating of Mark’s text is cumulative and compelling. Mark’s account was, therefore, available to the early Christian and non-Christian observers of the life of Jesus. The first consideration for eyewitness reliability is simply proximity to the event. Were the witnesses truly present to see what they said they saw? Just as importantly, was the account available early enough in history to be fact checked by other contemporaries? In this case, we are comparing two accounts from the time of the event to one account written one generation after the event.
Principle Two: Try to Find Some Corroboration for the Claims of the Witnesses | Historical accounts (like accounts from cold-case homicide witnesses) can be verified in a variety of ways. Sometimes we use physical evidence external to the account (like archaeological discoveries) and sometimes we use the testimony of other witnesses. In this case, we have only three accounts from antiquity confirming the events surrounding John’s execution: the account from Mark, the account from Matthew and the account from Josephus. A careful reading of Matthew and Mark’s gospel reveals distinct idiosyncrasies in each account. Both authors reference the same set of facts (and are obviously familiar with each other’s claims), but express variations well within the range we would expect from two eyewitnesses. When skeptics favor Josephus’ lone account against the two accounts in the Biblical text, they simply expose their bias against the Christian narratives.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
“I Loved Heresy…But the Holy Spirit Found Me” — Thomas C. Oden (1931-2016) and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy
By Albert Mohler 12/9/2016
"I think the honest answer is that I loved the fantasies and I loved the revolutionary illusions. I truly loved them.... I was one of those who was way out on the far left edge of accommodating to modernity. And I don’t know how but the Holy Spirit found me."
Thomas C. Oden, one of the most gracious and respected theologians of our times, died yesterday at age 85. Professor Oden made the pilgrimage from theological liberalism, and what he acknowledged as an infatuation with heresy, all the way to the orthodox affirmation of biblical Christianity. His story is one of the greatest theological testimonies of our age. The following is an edited transcript of my conversation for “Thinking in Public” with Dr. Oden about his life and times and the trajectory of his theological pilgrimage. The conversation, “The Remaking of a Modern Mind,” was released on March 16, 2015. I am thankful to God for the life and testimony of Professor Thomas C. Oden.
Thomas Oden lived one of the most interesting lives of the 20th century and into the 21st. He was the General Editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Christian and the Ancient Christian Doctrine series. He was also the director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. For many years he was professor of theology at the graduate school of Drew University. His book A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir is one of the most moving Christian autobiographies I have ever read.
Mohler: Dr. Oden, when you wrote your book A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir, you told a story that only you could tell. And that’s not just in terms of the fact that the particulars of your life are unique to yourself, but rather the theological trajectory you trace is one that was only possible in the 20th century. How did you come to decide this was the way to tell your story?
Oden: I didn’t want to tell my story, I was asked by quite a few people to open a window into all of this. I really didn’t want to. I didn’t think I could write narrative, I just wasn’t prepared to do it. But now that I have worked through it and done it, I’m very pleased to have it out there. How did I decide to, or how do I understand my story in relationship to God’s story with us is the way I would put the issue. I think personal autobiography is rather unimportant in relation to the story of God with humanity, and especially his revelation of Jesus Christ. So I don’t have any pretenses about my story being my story being important, it’s just exactly what happened to me. I felt that I had, when I finally committed myself to doing this, I had to tell it exactly like it was. So that was the challenge for me. There’s a sense in which, you know, I’ve lived through the last 80 years, or 80 plus years, and so to tell the story is a little bit complicated.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
Bondage of the Will
By John Piper 4/13/2016
At the heart of Martin Luther’s theology was the conviction that human beings are totally dependent on God’s omnipotent grace to rescue us from the bondage of the will by creating and decisively fulfilling every inclination to believe and obey God. The debates of the sixteenth century about the freedom of the will versus the bondage of the will were not peripheral to the Reformation. They were at the heart of the issue. At least Luther believed they were.
His book The Bondage of the Will was an answer to Erasmus’s book Erasmus and the Age of Reformation. In 1537, nine years before his death, he wrote to Wolfgang Capito,
Regarding [the plan] to collect my writings in volumes, I am quite cool and not at all eager about it because, roused by a Saturnian hunger, I would rather see them all devoured. For I acknowledge none of them to be really a book of mine, except perhaps the one On the Bondage of the Will and the Catechism. (Luther Werke, 50:172–173; Luther compares himself to Saturn, a figure from Ancient Greek mythology who devoured most of his children)
It is remarkable that of all he had written, Luther saw his defense of the bondage of the will, and his demolition of Erasmus’s view of free will, as so crucial he wanted it (along with his catechism) preserved more than anything he had written. Why was the issue so important for Luther?
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
Reformed Theology Resurgence
By Warren Nozaki
Many young evangelicals today are embracing Reformed theology, to the extent that Time magazine has ranked it number three on its list of ten ideas that are changing the world. Igniting the new passion for Calvinism are notable Christian leaders such as John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Albert Mohler. Signs of this Reformed revival include the first printings of the Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible—completely sold out— and the increased popularity of Calvinist blogs such as “Between Two Worlds.”
The following will offer a general definition of terms and reasons behind the resurgence of Calvinism among today’s Christian youth.
CALVIN, CALVINISM, AND REFORMED THEOLOGY | Reformed theology emphasizes the teachings of John Calvin (1509–1564) and Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531).2 Calvin’s own theological viewpoints are expressed in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Doctrinal creeds such as the Heidelberg Confession, the Belgic Confession, and the Westminster Confession represent the major tenets of Reformed theology.3 The Reformed tradition has also given Christianity many great teachers, preachers, and theologians such as Louis Berkhoff, Jonathan Edwards, Abraham Kuyper, John Owen, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, and George Whitefield.
An extremely controversial aspect of Reformed theology is its understanding of divine election. Drawing on various passages (e.g., John 6:35–40, 44, 65; Rom. 8:28–30; 9:6–24; Eph. 1:3–6), they believe “God in eternity past chose a number of fallen creatures to be reconciled to himself. In time Christ came to save the chosen. The Holy Spirit enlightens the elect ones so that they can believe the Gospel and receive salvation. The elect can never resist the work of the Spirit nor fall away after receiving salvation. Salvation can be summarized by the Five Points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (TULIP).”
It is necessary to note, moreover, that the Five Points of Calvinism are understood by many to be an interrelated, harmonious, self-contained system; thus, rejecting one point is tantamount to rejecting every point, and the falsity of one point falsifies the whole system.5 There are, however, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike who believe one can still maintain a logically coherent theology while affirming some of the points but rejecting others. Seventeenth century French theologian Moise Amyraut, for example, postulated the atonement was “sufficient for all, but because of universal human depravity, in practice it was efficient only for the elect.”6 Norman Geisler identifies himself as a moderate Calvinist and contends for a nuanced understanding of each point.7 The debate is complex, centering upon questions related to exegesis (what does a specific passage teach?), theology (what do the Scriptures on the whole teach on the topic of divine sovereignty and human freedom?), and philosophy (does an internally coherent theological system— Calvinist, Arminian, or a mediating position—correspond to ultimate truth? How can this be known?), and volumes can be written on each of these questions.
The First Tremor
By Jon Bloom
More than three hundred years before Martin Luther was born, an unlikely reformer suddenly appeared in the city of Lyon in southeast France. His protests against doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church were strong tremors foretelling the coming spiritual earthquake called the Reformation. And the movement he launched survived to join the great Reformation. He is known to history as Peter Waldo.
Many details about Waldo are not known, including his name. We don’t know if Peter was his real first name, since it doesn’t appear in any document until 150 years after his death. His last name was most likely something like Valdès or Vaudès — Valdo (Waldo) was the Italian adaptation. We also don’t know the year Peter was born or the precise year he died — historians disagree over whether he died between 1205 and 1207 or between 1215 and 1218.
But we do know a few earthshaking things.
A Rich Ruler Repents | In 1170, Waldo was a very wealthy, well-known merchant in the city of Lyon. He had a wife, two daughters, and lots of property. But something happened — some say he witnessed the sudden death of a friend, others say he heard a spiritual song of a traveling minstrel — and Waldo became deeply troubled over the spiritual state of his soul and desperate to know how he could be saved.
The first thing he resolved was to read the Bible. But since it only existed in the Latin Vulgate, and his Latin was poor, he hired two scholars to translate it into the vernacular so he could study it.
Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children.John Bloom Books | Go to Books Page
Autumn: Dying Beautifully
By Joseph Rhea 10/17/2015
The leaves of Indianapolis die richly. They turn through glory as they go: empyrean yellow, atonement red. A carnival of color over the streets. The blessing is sudden, a shock.
We know about cholorophyll: the science behind the magic. But behind the science, there’s more magic. Why the gratuitous color? Why make dying so spectacular? In a world charged with the grandeur of God, this riotous change of scene can teach us. God puts on the mystery play of autumn and speaks:
1. Autumn wakes us up to wonder. | When spring regenerates the world, I notice the bright new green for maybe a week. I celebrate the leaves’ birth, the world’s fresh clothes. But by August, it’s all just background. These delicate, intricate, innumerable fluttering treefingers are a green wash.
There’s nothing wrong with the leaves. It’s me: repetition inoculates me against wonder. Like G. K. Chesterton says, I don’t have God’s capacity to delight again and again at each new leaf. He keeps unfurling them—they even wave to get my attention!—but the eyes of my soul glaze over.
In autumn, the creativity of God hollers. Look at these things! These paper-thin solar cells that convert sunlight into acorns! They’re everywhere, and they’re made by a God who, as N. D. Wilson reminds us, doesn’t know how to stop creating. Autumn reminds us that there’s a world of wonder.
Children, Heirs, and Fellow Sufferers
By John Piper 4/21/2002(Ro 8:13–18) 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.ESV
Today we move into the spectacular and scary promise of verse 17. Spectacular because it says that all the children of God are his heirs — we will receive the inheritance of God, and there is no greater inheritance in the universe. And scary because verse 17 says that we will have to suffer in order to receive it. “If children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
How the Spirit Testifies that We Are Children of God | But first let’s review the main point of the previous verses. Verse 16 says, “The [Holy] Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” If you belong to Jesus Christ, as verse 9 says, you have the Spirit of Christ. And what does he do in you? He testifies that you are the child of God. How does he do that? We saw at least two ways from last Sunday’s text.
First, we saw the connection between verses 13 and 14. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” So we concluded that one of the things the Spirit does to show that you are the child of God is lead you, that is, lead you into war with sin so that by his power you put to death the deeds of the body.
Second, we saw from verse 15 that the Spirit gives rise to the cry “Abba, Father!” Verse 15b: “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!’” Notice the words “by which.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit. When believers in Jesus find rising in our hearts the cry, “Abba! Father!” this is the testimony of the Spirit that we are the children of God.
John Piper Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Book 5 | Psalm 107Let the Redeemed of the LORD Say So
107:25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
Chapter 2 | The Ten Primitive Persecutions
The First Persecution, Under Nero, A.D. 67The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that 'he wished the ruin of all things before his death.' Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.
This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.
To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.
The Second Persecution, Under Domitian, A.D. 81The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators, some through malice; and others to confiscate their estates. He then commanded all the lineage of David be put to death.
Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos. Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; and a law was made, "That no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion."
A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, composed in order to injure the Christians. Such was the infatuation of the pagans, that, if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman provinces, it was laid upon the Christians. These persecutions among the Christians increased the number of informers and many, for the sake of gain, swore away the lives of the innocent.
Another hardship was, that, when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it, death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves Christians, the sentence was the same.
The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution.
Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then travelled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our Savior's crucifixion.
The sanctity of his conversation and the purity of his manners recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed bishop of Athens.
Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian's persecution.
Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.
Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Stop worrying about it
(Oct 4) Bob Gass
‘Let him have all your worries and cares.’
(1 Pe 5:7) 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ESV
Author John Mason writes: ‘I couldn’t feel at peace. Unless I had everything figured out, I became anxious, restless, nervous, worried, and grouchy… similar to a drug addict who needs a fix. The severity wasn’t the same but the symptoms were. I was a Christian and supposedly walked by faith. I trusted Jesus for salvation, but in other areas I trusted myself.’ Are you living that way? Inspirational author William Ward wrote: ‘Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster, and belief in defeat. It’s a magnet that attracts negative conditions. Faith is a more powerful force that creates positive circumstances. Worry is wasting today’s time, and cluttering up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.’ When an old man was asked what had robbed him of joy in his life, he replied, ‘Things that never happened.’ Do you remember the things you worried about a year ago? Didn’t you expend a lot of energy on them? And didn’t most of them turn out to be fine after all? Almost 99 per cent of the things we worry about don’t happen. Did you know that a dense fog covering seven city blocks one hundred feet deep, is composed of less than one glass of water? Just one glass! But it can blot out practically all vision. And a cupful of worry can do the same thing. The Bible says, ‘Mere mortals can’t run their own lives… men and women don’t have what it takes’ (Jeremiah 10:23 MSG). Stop trying to control every possible outcome. Life goes better when you decide to stand on God’s Word and trust Him to take care of you.
1 Thess 3
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
A Joint Resolution of the 97th Congress, signed by Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil and President of the Senate Strom Thurmond, declared A Year of the Bible. President Reagan signed it into law on this day October 4, 1982, stating: “Now, therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in recognition of the contributions and influence of the Bible on our Republic and our people, do hereby proclaim 1983 the Year of the Bible in the United States. I encourage all citizens, each in his or her own way, to reexamine and rediscover its priceless and timeless message.”American Minute
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
The Soul of Prayer
CHAPTER IV - The Timeliness of Prayer
Let him pray now that never prayed before,
And him that prayed before but pray the more.
The nearer we are driven to the God of Christ, the more we are forced on paradox when we begin to speak. I have been led to allude to this more than once. The magnalia dei are not those great simplicities of life on which some orders of genius lay a touch so tender and sure; but they are the great reconciliations in which life’s tragic collisions come to lie “quiet, happy and supprest.” Such are the peaceful paradoxes (the paradox at last of grace and nature in the Cross) which make the world of prayer such a strange and difficult land to the lucid and rational interpreters of life. It is as miraculous as it is real that the holy and the guilty should live together in such habitual communion as the life of prayer. And it is another paradox that combines the vast power of prayer for the active soul, whether single or social, with the same soul’s shyness and aloofness in prayer.
There is a tendency to lose the true balance and adjustment here. When all goes well we are apt to overdo the aloofness that goes with spiritual engagement, and so to sacrifice some of its power and blessing for the soul. Prayer which becomes too private may become too remote, and is apt to become weak. (Just as when it is too intimate it becomes really unworthy, and may become absurd even to spiritual men; it does so in the trivialities associated sometimes with the answer to prayer.) It is neither seemly nor healthy to be nothing but shy about the greatest powers in life. If we felt them as we should, and if we had their true vitality in us, we could not be so reserved about them. Some churches suffer much from extempore prayer, but perhaps those suffer more that exclude it. It at least gives a public consecration to prayer private and personal, which prayer, from the nature of it, must be extempore and “occasional.” The bane of extempore prayer is that it is confused with prayer unprepared; and the greatest preparation for prayer is to pray. The leader of prayer should be a man of prayer—so long as prayer does not become for him a luxury which really unfits him for liturgy, and private devotion does not indispose him for public worship. Delicacy and propriety in prayer are too dearly bought if they are there at the cost of its ruling power in life, private and public, and of its prevailing power with God.
It is one of the uses of our present dreadful adversity4 that we are driven to bring the great two-handed engine of prayer frankly to the fore. There is probably a greater volume of personal prayer to-day than for generations we have had in this somewhat silent people, and there is less embarrassment in owning it. One hears tales of the humour in the trenches, but not so much of the prayer which appears, from accounts, to be at least equally and visibly there. And it is not the prayer of fear, either at home or abroad, but of seriousness, of a new moral exaltation, or at least deepening, a new sense of realities which are clouded by the sunshine of normal life. How can we but pray when we send, or our hearts go out to those who send, the dearest to the noble peril, or lose them in a noble death; or when we melt to those who are cast into unspeakable anxiety by the indirect effects of such a war upon mind or estate? We are helpless then unless we can pray. Or how can we but pray as we regain, under the very hand and pressure of God, the sense of judgment which was slipping from our easy and amiable creed? Above the aircraft we hear the wings of the judgment angel; their wind is on our faces; how should we not pray? We now discuss with each other our prayers as we have seldom done before; and we do it for our practical guidance, and not merely our theological satisfaction. We ask our neighbours’ judgment if we may pray for victory when we can be so little sure as we are in the increased complexity of modern issues that all the right is on one side; or when our enemy is a great nation to which the Christianity and the culture of the world owe an unspeakable debt, whether for reformation or illumination. And if Christian faith and prayer is a supernatural, and therefore an international rivalries and tutelary gods?
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
... from here, there and everywhere
There are many things
that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind,
and one of the most important is faith,
which cannot be acquired without prayer.
--- John Wooden
Wonder rather than doubt
is the root of all knowledge.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel
Jesus wants you to lean on Him and hand over your burdens, all of them. When you do, you’ll experience a lightness of spirit that knows no bounds.
--- Charles Stanley
Seeking His Face
Just as the small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it, likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.
--- Viktor Frankl
Thanks to Meir Yona
How A Great Many Of The People Earnestly Endeavored To Desert To The Romans; As Also What Intolerable Things Those That Staid Behind Suffered By Famine, And The Sad Consequences Thereof.
1. As Josephus was speaking thus with a loud voice, the seditious would neither yield to what he said, nor did they deem it safe for them to alter their conduct; but as for the people, they had a great inclination to desert to the Romans; accordingly, some of them sold what they had, and even the most precious things that had been laid up as treasures by them, for every small matter, and swallowed down pieces of gold, that they might not be found out by the robbers; and when they had escaped to the Romans, went to stool, and had wherewithal to provide plentifully for themselves; for Titus let a great number of them go away into the country, whither they pleased. And the main reasons why they were so ready to desert were these: That now they should be freed from those miseries which they had endured in that city, and yet should not be in slavery to the Romans: however, John and Simon, with their factions, did more carefully watch these men's going out than they did the coming in of the Romans; and if any one did but afford the least shadow of suspicion of such an intention, his throat was cut immediately.
2. But as for the richer sort, it proved all one to them whether they staid in the city, or attempted to get out of it; for they were equally destroyed in both cases; for every such person was put to death under this pretense, that they were going to desert, but in reality that the robbers might get what they had. The madness of the seditious did also increase together with their famine, and both those miseries were every day inflamed more and more; for there was no corn which any where appeared publicly, but the robbers came running into, and searched men's private houses; and then, if they found any, they tormented them, because they had denied they had any; and if they found none, they tormented them worse, because they supposed they had more carefully concealed it. The indication they made use of whether they had any or not was taken from the bodies of these miserable wretches; which, if they were in good case, they supposed they were in no want at all of food; but if they were wasted away, they walked off without searching any further; nor did they think it proper to kill such as these, because they saw they would very soon die of themselves for want of food. Many there were indeed who sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the richer sort; but of barley, if they were poorer. When these had so done, they shut themselves up in the inmost rooms of their houses, and ate the corn they had gotten; some did it without grinding it, by reason of the extremity of the want they were in, and others baked bread of it, according as necessity and fear dictated to them: a table was no where laid for a distinct meal, but they snatched the bread out of the fire, half-baked, and ate it very hastily.
3. It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it.] But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right. They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was, and they were these to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley-meal that was concealed; and this was done when these tormentors were not themselves hungry; for the thing had been less barbarous had necessity forced them to it; but this was done to keep their madness in exercise, and as making preparation of provisions for themselves for the following days. These men went also to meet those that had crept out of the city by night, as far as the Roman guards, to gather some plants and herbs that grew wild; and when those people thought they had got clear of the enemy, they snatched from them what they had brought with them, even while they had frequently entreated them, and that by calling upon the tremendous name of God, to give them back some part of what they had brought; though these would not give them the least crumb, and they were to be well contented that they were only spoiled, and not slain at the same time.
4. These were the afflictions which the lower sort of people suffered from these tyrants' guards; but for the men that were in dignity, and withal were rich, they were carried before the tyrants themselves; some of whom were falsely accused of laying treacherous plots, and so were destroyed; others of them were charged with designs of betraying the city to the Romans; but the readiest way of all was this, to suborn somebody to affirm that they were resolved to desert to the enemy. And he who was utterly despoiled of what he had by Simon was sent back again to John, as of those who had been already plundered by Jotre, Simon got what remained; insomuch that they drank the blood of the populace to one another, and divided the dead bodies of the poor creatures between them; so that although, on account of their ambition after dominion, they contended with each other, yet did they very well agree in their wicked practices; for he that did not communicate what he got by the miseries of others to the other tyrant seemed to be too little guilty, and in one respect only; and he that did not partake of what was so communicated to him grieved at this, as at the loss of what was a valuable thing, that he had no share in such barbarity.
5. It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men's iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly:—That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. Finally, they brought the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation, by acting gloriously against them, and did almost draw that fire upon the temple, which they seemed to think came too slowly; and indeed when they saw that temple burning from the upper city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they shed any tears on that account, while yet these passions were discovered among the Romans themselves; which circumstances we shall speak of hereafter in their proper place, when we come to treat of such matters.
by D.H. Stern
A lion is roaming loose out there!”
14 The door turns on its hinges,
and the lazy man on his bed.
15 The lazy person buries his hand in the dish
but is too tired to return it to his mouth.
16 A lazy man is wiser in his own view
than seven who can answer with sense.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
The vision and the verity
Called to be saints. --- 1 Cor. 1:2.
Thank God for the sight of all you have never yet been. You have had the vision, but you are not there yet by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the blows which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to have the vision “batter’d to shape and use” by God? The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people.
There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends upon us, not upon God. If we prefer to loll on the mount and live in the memory of the vision, we will be of no use actually in the ordinary stuff of which human life is made up. We have to learn to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision, not in ecstasies and conscious contemplation of God, but to live in actualities in the light of the vision until we get to the veritable reality. Every bit of our training is in that direction. Learn to thank God for making known His demands.
The little ‘I am’ always sulks when God says do. Let the little ‘I am’ be shrivelled up in God’s indignation—“I AM THAT I AM hath sent thee.” He must dominate. Is it not penetrating to realize that God knows where we live, and the kennels we crawl into! He will hunt us up like a lightning flash. No human being knows human beings as God does.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Small Window
In Wales there are jewels
To gather, but with the eye
Only. A hill lights up
Suddenly; a field trembles
With colour and goes out
In its turn; in one day
You can witness the extent
Of the spectrum and grow rich
With looking. Have a care;
This wealth is for the few
And chosen. Those who crowd
A small window dirty it
With their breathing, though sublime
And inexhaustible the view.
Biblical counseling for today
The Bible, noble partner to our noun, is so dynamic that it permanently altered the life of a young man. Pen in hand, Paul addressed Timothy. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.… But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14–17).
Like a baby guzzling milk from a bottle, Timothy had nursed on the Old Testament Scriptures. Even before the Light had banished darkness from his soul, a godly mother and grandmother were pointing him toward the sunrise of truth. Apparently in this three-generation Jewish family, there had been a genuine reverence for the Old Testament. And Jesus had declared that much “is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). By piling the kindling of Scripture around young Timothy’s heart, his family had readied him for the Holy Spirit to light the flame of evangelical understanding.
If a time line were created for this regenerate family, it would show at least three stages to their redemptive history. (1) For years the family saturated itself with the words of the Old Testament. (2) Then Lois and Eunice, through the preaching of Paul, met their Messiah, foretold, now crucified and risen. (3) Then Timothy, beloved son and grandson, became a child of God, a brother in the Lord, as Lois, Eunice, and Paul tag-teamed him for the Gospel.
If any skeptics were prone to imagine that the Bible might be good enough to make Timothy “wise” about salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) but not good enough to make him “wise” about the world (1 Cor. 2:1–5; 3:19; James 3:13–18), hold on. Timothy was instructed to pass on to others the same truths Paul had shared with Timothy. These “others” would, in turn, pass them on to “others also” (2 Tim. 2:2, KJV). Using the analogy of spiritual kinship, what Paul (the father) was teaching Timothy (the son) was to be taught to others (the grandchildren), who would teach others also (the great-grandchildren). The same scriptural re-creation that had brought Timothy into the world would sustain him throughout his lifetime in the world. That repository of the Old and New Testaments would be useful in a fourfold way, potentially answering for Timothy and his spiritual offspring the most essential questions they could ever ask of God: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching [What is right?], rebuking [What is wrong?], correcting [How do I get right?], and training [How do I stay right?].”
Timothy’s written scriptures were so intimately connected to God that Paul described them as “God-breathed” (3:16). As Lois, Eunice, Timothy, or Paul would read the Scriptures, they knew they were reading the very words of God. And still today God talks to His people through His Word, “teaching … rebuking … correcting … and training” them.
Why did God choose to give us a never-erring library of truth? Why did God communicate to us, using more than forty authors in three languages over fifteen centuries? God did this so His people “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17).
And this rich treasury of truth is not void of interpersonal wisdom. In the presence of God, who models “truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), Paul commissioned Timothy with a flexible range of interpersonal responsibilities: “I give you this charge: preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:1–2).
The summer has ended. --- Jeremiah 8:20.
The soul of the intelligent Christian reflects the natural. (Old Wells dug Out) The year is a temple of praise on whose altar, as an offering, spring puts its blossoms and summer its grain and autumn its fruits, while winter stands at the altar praising God with psalm of snow and hail and tempest.
Summer is the perfection of the year, the season of beauty. But that wave of summer beauty is receding. The sap of the tree is halting in its upward current. The night is fast conquering the day.
In the latter part of October or the first of November is a season called Indian summer. It is the gem of the year—a haziness in the atmosphere, but everything pleasant and mild. And I see before me tonight some who have come to that season. A haziness is on their vision, but the sweetness of heaven has melted into their souls. I congratulate those who have come to the Indian summer of their lives. Their grandchildren climb on the back of the chair and run their fingers along the wrinkles that time has furrowed there. Blessed is old age, if found in the way of righteousness!
But my text is appropriate for all those whose fortunes have perished. If you lose your property at thirty or forty years of age, it is only a sharp discipline, generally, by which later you come to larger success. It is folly to sit down in midlife discouraged. Though the meridian of life has passed with you, and you have been routed in many a conflict, do not give up in discouragement. There are victories yet for you to gain.
But sometimes monetary disaster comes when there is something in your age or in your health or in your surroundings that makes you know that you will never get up again. Leaves of worldly property all scattered—the daybook, the ledger, and the money. But you have more remaining than you have lost.
Sons and daughters of God, do not mourn when your property goes. The world is yours, and life, death, immortality, thrones of grandeur, rivers of gladness, and shining mansions are yours, and God is yours! The eternal God has sworn it, and every time you doubt it, you charge the King of heaven and earth with perjury. Instead of complaining how hard you have it, go home tonight, take up your Bible full of promises, get down on your knees before God, and thank him for what you have, instead of spending so much time complaining about what you do not have.
--- T. DeWitt Talmage
Pre-answers to Prayer
Occasionally God answers our prayers before we offer them. William Tyndale put his life at risk when he decided to translate the Bible into the English language during the days of King Henry VIII. The church and government opposed him, but he told one clergyman, “If God spare my life, I will cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou dost.” On October 6, 1536 he was burned at the stake for his efforts. His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
He perished without knowing the Lord had already answered his prayer—one year earlier, almost to the very day. The answer? Miles Coverdale. Born in 1488, Coverdale came under the influence of Robert Barnes at Cambridge who discussed ideas “out of Germany” with him. When Coverdale picked up the Bible and began reading it for himself, he fell in love with it. “Now I begyne to taste of Holy Schryptures; now (honour be to God) I am sett to the most swete smell with the godly savour of holy and awncyent Doctoures.”
Soon he began preaching an evangelical message. It proved impossible for him in England, so he fled to the Continent where he spent seven years translating the Bible from Latin into English for his own people. It was published in 1535, the first complete edition of the Bible in English. He wisely dedicated it to King Henry VIII, who, being flattered, allowed it to become the first English rendering of Scripture to circulate without official hindrance—thus answering Tyndale’s prayer one year in advance.
In his preface Coverdale said he had not coveted the task of translating Scripture, but “it greued (grieved) me yt other nacyons shulde be more plentously prouyded (provided) with ye scripture in theyr mother tongue than we. … ”
Coverdale became rector of St. Magnus Church near London Bridge, and visitors today can read a memorial plaque on the east wall of the church: … he spent many years of his life preparing a translation of the Scriptures. On the 4th of October, 1535, the first complete printed English version of the Bible was published under his direction.
I will answer their prayers before they finish praying.
--- Isaiah 65:24.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 4
“At Evening time it shall be light.” --- Zechariah 14:7.
Oftentimes we look forward with forebodings to the time of old age, forgetful that at eventide it shall be light. To many saints, old age is the choicest season in their lives. A balmier air fans the mariner’s cheek as he nears the shore of immortality, fewer waves ruffle his sea, quiet reigns, deep, still and solemn. From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the more real flame of earnest feeling remains. The pilgrims have reached the land Beulah, that happy country, whose days are as the days of heaven upon earth. Angels visit it, celestial gales blow over it, flowers of paradise grow in it, and the air is filled with seraphic music. Some dwell here for years, and others come to it but a few hours before their departure, but it is an Eden on earth. We may well long for the time when we shall recline in its shady groves and be satisfied with hope until the time of fruition comes. The setting sun seems larger than when aloft in the sky, and a splendour of glory tinges all the clouds which surround his going down. Pain breaks not the calm of the sweet twilight of age, for strength made perfect in weakness bears up with patience under it all. Ripe fruits of choice experience are gathered as the rare repast of life’s Evening, and the soul prepares itself for rest.
The Lord’s people shall also enjoy light in the hour of death. Unbelief laments; the shadows fall, the night is coming, existence is ending. Ah no, crieth faith, the night is far spent, the true day is at hand. Light is come, the light of immortality, the light of a Father’s countenance. Gather up thy feet in the bed, see the waiting bands of spirits! Angels waft thee away. Farewell, beloved one, thou art gone, thou wavest thine hand. Ah, now it is light. The pearly gates are open, the golden streets shine in the jasper light. We cover our eyes, but thou beholdest the unseen; adieu, brother, thou hast light at even-tide, such as we have not yet.
Evening - October 4
“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” --- 1 John 2:1.
“If any man sin, we have an advocate.” Yes, though we sin, we have him still. John does not say, “If any man sin he has forfeited his advocate,” but “we have an advocate,” sinners though we are. All the sin that a believer ever did, or can be allowed to commit, cannot destroy his interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, as his advocate. The name here given to our Lord is suggestive. “Jesus.” Ah! then he is an advocate such as we need, for Jesus is the name of one whose business and delight it is to save. “They shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” His sweetest name implies his success. Next, it is “Jesus Christ”—Christos, the anointed. This shows his authority to plead. The Christ has a right to plead, for he is the Father’s own appointed advocate and elected priest. If he were of our choosing he might fail, but if God hath laid help upon one that is mighty, we may safely lay our trouble where God has laid his help. He is Christ, and therefore authorized; he is Christ, and therefore qualified, for the anointing has fully fitted him for his work. He can plead so as to move the heart of God and prevail. What words of tenderness, what sentences of persuasion will the anointed use when he stands up to plead for me! One more letter of his name remains, “Jesus Christ the righteous.” This is not only his character BUT his plea. It is his character, and if the Righteous One be my advocate, then my cause is good, or he would not have espoused it. It is his plea, for he meets the charge of unrighteousness against me by the plea that he is righteous. He declares himself my substitute and puts his obedience to my account. My soul, thou hast a friend well fitted to be thine advocate, he cannot but succeed; leave thyself entirely in his hands.
I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY
A. Catherine Hankey, 1834–1911
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
Soul-winning should be the normal product of our commitment to discipleship and a daily intimate relationship with the Lord. Soul-winning is not salesmanship, in which we try to manipulate or subdue lost individuals to a decision. It is simply taking a message, the objective historical truths of the Gospel, and then speaking with the authority of Jesus Christ in the power and love of the Holy Spirit.
Sharing our personal faith should be a joyful and satisfying experience, just as it was with Kate Hankey, author of this hymn’s text. Although she was born into the home of a wealthy English banker and a member of the Anglican church, Kate early in life developed a fervent evangelical concern. She began organizing Sunday school classes for rich and poor throughout London. These classes had a strong influence in the city, with a large number of the young students in turn becoming zealous Christian workers.
When Kate was only 30 years old, however, she experienced a serious illness. During a long period of recovery, she wrote a lengthy poem on the life of Christ. The poem consisted of two main sections, each containing 50 verses. The first section of the poem was titled “The Story Wanted,” later adapted for another of Catherine Hankey’s familiar hymn texts, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story,” still widely sung today. Later that same year while recovering from her illness, Kate completed the second part of her poem, titled “The Story Told,” which became the basic part of “I Love to Tell the Story.”
I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love. I love to tell the story because I know ’tis true. It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams. I love to tell the story—It did so much for me, and that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
I love to tell the story, for those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest. And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song, ’twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.
Refrain: I love to tell the story! ’Twill be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
For Today: Daniel 12:3; Matthew 4:19; Acts 4:12; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 4:9, 10
Reflect seriously on this often quoted description of soul-winning—“It is proclaiming the good news just as one contented beggar tells a starving beggar friend where there is food.” Sing this musical testimony ---
DISCOURSE VII - ON GOD’S OMNIPRESENCE
1. The omnipresence of God is a comfort in all violent temptations. No fiery dart can be so present with us, as God is present both with that and the marksman. The most raging devils cannot be so near us, as God is to us and them. He is present with his people to relieve them, and present with the devil to manage him to his own holy purposes: so he was with Job, defeating his enemies, and bringing him triumphantly out of those pressing trials. This presence is such a terror, that whatsoever the devil can despoil us of, he must leave this untouched. He might scratch the apostle with a thorn (2 Cor. 12:7, 9), but he could not rifle him of the presence of divine grace, which God promised him. He must prevail so far as to make God cease to be God, before he can make him to be distant from us; and while this cannot be, the devils and men can no more hinder the emanations of God to the soul, than a child can cut off the rays of the sun from embellishing the earth. It is no mean support for a good man, at any time, buffeted by a messenger of Satan, to think God stands near him, and behold how ill he is used. It would be a satisfaction to a king’s favorite, in the midst of the violence some enemies might use to him apon a surprise, to understand that the king who loves him stands behind a curtain, and through a hole sees the injuries he suffers: and were the devil as considering as he is malicious, he could not but be in great fear at God’s being in the generation of the righteous, as his serpentine seed is (Prov. 3:6): “They were in great fear, for God is in the generation of the righteous.”
2. The omnipresence of God is a comfort in sharp afflictions. Good men have a comfort in this presence in their nasty prisons, oppressing tribunals; in the overflowing waters or scorching flames he is still with them (Isa. 43:2); and many times by his presence keeps the bush from consuming, when it seems to be all in a flame. In afflictions God shows himself most present, when friends are most absent: “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord shall take me up” (Psalm 27:10), then God will stoop and gather me into his protection; or, (Heb.) “shall gather me,” alluding to those tribes that were to bring up the rear in the Israelites’ march, to take care that none were left behind, and exposed to famine or wild beasts, by reason of some disease that disenabled them to keep pace with their brethren. He that is the sanctuary of his people in all calamities, is more present with them to support them, than their adversaries can be present with them to afflict them (Psalm 4:2), a present help in the time of trouble; He is present with all things for this end; though his presence be a necessary presence in regard of the immensity of his nature, yet the end of this presence in regard that it is for the good of his people, is a voluntary presence. It is for the good of man he is present in the lower world, and principally for the good of his people, for whose sake he keeps up the world (2 Chron. 16:9). “His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.” If he doth not deliver good men from afflictions, he will be so present as to manage them in them, as that his glory shall issue from them, and their grace be brightened by them. What a man was Paul when he was lodged in a prison, or dragged to the courts of judicature, when he was torn with rods, or laden with chains! then did he show the greatest miracles, made the judge tremble upon the bench, and brake the heart, though not the prison, of the jailor; so powerful is the presence of God in the pressures of his people. This presence outweighs all other comforts, and is more valuable to a Christian than barns of corn, or cellars of wine can be to a covetous man (Psalm 4:7): it was this presence was David’s cordial in the mutinying of his soldiers (1 Sam. 30:6). What a comfort is this in exile, or a forced desertion of our habitations! Good men may be banished from their country, but never from the presence of their Protector; ye cannot say of any corner of the earth, or of any dungeon in a prison, God is not here; if you were cast out of your country a thousand miles off, you are not out of God’s precinct; his arm is there to cherish the good, as well as to drag out the wicked; it is the same God, the same presence in every country, as well as the same sun, moon, and stars; and were not God everywhere, yet he could not be meaner than his creature the sun in the firmament, which visits every part of the habitable world in twenty-four hours.
3. The omnipresence of God is a comfort in all duties of worship. He is present to observe, and present to accept our petitions, and answer our suits. Good men have not only the essential presence, which is common to all, but his gracious presence; not only the presence that flows from his nature, but that which flows from his promise; his essential presence makes no difference between this and that man in regard of spirituals, without this in conjunction with it; his nature is the cause of the presence of his essence; his will engaged by his truth is the cause of the presence of his grace. He promised to meet the Israelites in the place where he should set his name, and in all places where he doth record it (Exod. 20:4). “In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee;” in every place where I shall manifest the special presence of my divinity. In all places, hands may be lifted up, without doubting of his ability to hear; he dwells in the contrite hearts, wherever it is most in the exercise of contrition; which is usually in times of special worship (Isa. 7:15), and that to revive and refresh them. Habitation notes a special presence, though he dwell in the highest heavens in the sparklings of his glory, he dwells also in the lowest hearts in the beams of his grace; as none can expel him from his dwelling in heaven, so none can reject him from his residence in the heart. The tabernacle had his peculiar presence fixed to it (Lev. 26:11); his soul should not abhor them, as they are washed by Christ, though they are loathsome by sin: in a greater dispensation there cannot be a less presence, since the church under the New Testament is called the temple of the Lord, wherein he will both dwell and walk (2 Cor. 6:6); or, I will indwell in them; as if he should say, I will dwell in and in them; I will, dwell in them by grace, and walk in them by exciting their graces; he will be more intimate with them than their own souls, and converse with them as the living God, i. e. as a God that hath life in himself, and life to convey to them in their converse with him; and show his spiritual glory among them in a greater measure than in the temple, since that was but a heap of stones, and the figure of the Christian church the mystical body of his Son.
His presence is not less in the substance than it was in the shadow; this presence of God in his ordinances, is the glory of a church, as the presence of a king is the glory of a court, the defence of it, too, as a wall of fire (Zech. 2:5); alluding to the fire travellers in a wilderness made to fright away wild beasts. It is not the meanness of the place of worship can exclude him; the second temple was not so magnificent as the first of Solomon’s erecting, and the Jews seemed to despond of so glorious a presence of God in the second, as they had in the first, because they thought it not so good for the entertainment of Him that inhabits eternity; but God comforts them against this conceit again and again (Hag. 2:3, 4): “be strong, be strong, be strong, I am with you;” the meanness of the place shall not hinder the grandeur of my presence, no matter what the room is, so it be the presence-chamber of the king, wherein he will favor our suits; he can everywhere slide into our souls with a perpetual sweetness, since he is everywhere, and so, intimate with every one that fears him. If we should see God on earth in his amiableness, as Moses did, should we not be encouraged by his presence, to present our requests to him, to echo out our praises of him? and have we not as great a ground now to do it, since he is as really present with us, as if he were visible to us? he is in the same room with us, as near to us as our souls to our bodies, not a word but he hears, not a motion but he sees, not a breath but he perceives; he is through all, he is in all.
4. The omnipresence of God is a comfort in all special services. God never puts any upon a hard task, but he makes promises to encourage them and assist them, and the matter of the promise is that of his presence; so he did assure the prophets of old when he set them difficult tasks, and strengthened Moses against the face of Pharaoh, by assuring him “he would be with his mouth” (Exod. 4:12); and when Christ put his apostles upon a contest with the whole world, to preach a gospel that would be foolishness to the Greeks, and a stumbling block to the Jews, he gives them a cordial only composed of his presence (Matt. 28:20), I will be with you; it is this presence scatters by its light the darkness of our spirits; it is this that is the cause of what is done for his glory in the world; it is this that mingles itself with all that is done for his honor; it is this from whence springs all the assistance of his creatures, marked out for special purposes.
5. This presence is not without the special presence of all his attributes. Where his essence is, his perfections are, because they are one with his essence; yea, they are his essence, though they have their several degrees of manifestation. As in the covenant, he makes over himself, not a part of himself, but his whole deity; so in promising of his presence, he means not a part of it, but the whole, the presence of all the excellencies of his nature to be manifested for our good. It is not a piece of God is here and another parcel there, but God in his whole essence and perfections; in his wisdom to guide us, his power to protect and support us, his mercy to pity us, his fulness to refresh us, and his goodness to relieve us: he is ready to sparkle out in this or that perfection, as the necessities of his people require, and his own wisdom directs for his own honor; so that being not far from us in an excellency of his nature, we can quickly have recourse to him upon any emergency; so that if we are miserable, we have the presence of his goodness; if we want direction, we have the presence of his wisdom; if we are weak, we have the presence of his power; and should we not rejoice in it, as a man doth in the presence of a powerful, wealthy, and compassionate friend?
Third, Use. Of Exhortation.
1. Let us be much in the actual thoughts of this truth. How should we enrich our understandings with the knowledge of the excellency of God, whereof this is none of the least; nor hath less of honey in its bowels, though it be more terrible to the wicked than the presence of a lion; it is this that makes all other excellencies of the divine nature sweet. What would grace, wisdom, power, signify at a distance from us? Let us frame in our minds a strong idea of it; it is this makes so great a difference between the actions of one man and another; one maintains actual thoughts of it, another doth not: though all believe it as a perfection pertaining to the infiniteness of his essence. David, or rather a greater than David, had God always before him; there was no time, no occasion, wherein he did not stir up some lively thoughts of him (Psalm 16:8). Let us have right notions of it; imagine not God as a great King, sitting only in his majesty in heaven; acting all by his servants and ministers. This, saith one, is a childish and unworthy conceit of God, and may in time bring such a conceiver by degrees to deny his providence; the denial of this perfection is an axe at the root of religion; if it be not deeply imprinted in the mind, personal religion grows faint and feeble. Who would fear that God that is not imagined to be a witness of his actions? Who would worship a God at a distance both from the worship and the worshipper? Let us believe this truth, but not with an idle faith, as if we did not believe it. Let us know, that as wheresoever the fish moves, it is in the water; wheresoever the bird moves, it is in the air; so wheresoever we move, we are in God. As there is not a moment but we are under his mercy, so there is not a moment that we are out of his presence. Let us therefore look upon nothing, without thinking who stands by, without reflecting upon him in whom it lives, moves and hath its being. When you view a man, you fix your eyes upon his body, but your mind upon that invisible part that acts every member by life and motion, and makes them fit for your converse. Let us not bound our thoughts to the creatures we see, but pierce through the creature to that boundless God we do not see: we have continual remembrances of his presence; the light, whereby we see, and the air, whereby we live, give us perpetual notices of it, and some weak resemblance; why should we forget it? yea, what a shame is our unmindfulness of it, when every cast of our eye, every motion of our lungs, jogs us to remember it? Light is in every part of the air, in every part of the world, yet not mixed with any, both remain entire in their own substance. Let us not be worse than some of the heathens, who pressed this notion upon themselves for the spiriting their actions with virtue, that all paces were full of God. This was the means Basil used to prescribe, upon a question asked him, How shall we do to be serious? mind God’s presence. How shall we avoid distractions in service? think of God’s presence. How shall we resist temptation? oppose to them the presence of God.
(1.) This will be a shield against all temptations. God is present, is enough to blunt the weapons of hell; this will secure us from a ready compliance with any base and vile attractives, and curb that headstrong principle in our nature, that would join hands with them; the thoughts of this would, like the powerful presence of God with the Israelites, take off the wheels from the chariots of our sensitive appetites, and make them perhaps move slower, at least, towards a temptation. How did Peter fling off’ the temptation which had worsted him, upon a look from Christ! The actuated faith of this would stifle the darts of Satan, and fire us with an anger against his solicitations, as strong as the fire that inflames the darts. Moses’ sight of Him that was invisible, strengthened him against the costly pleasures and luxuries of a prince’s court (Heb. 11:27). We are utterly senseless of a Deity, if we are not moved with this item from our consciences, God is present. Had our first parents actually considered the nearness of God to them, when they were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit, they had not probably been so easily overcome by the temptation. What soldier would be so base as to revolt under the eye of a tender and obliging general? or what man so negligent of himself, as to rob a house in the sight of a judge? Let us consider that God is as near to observe us, as the devil to solicit us, yea, nearer; the devil stands by us, but God is in us; we may have a thought the devil knows not, but not a thought but God is actually present with, as our souls are with the thoughts they think; nor can any creature attract our heart, if our minds were fixed on that invisible presence that contributes to that excellency, and sustains it, and considered that no creature could be so present with us as the Creator is.
(2.) It will be a spur to holy actions. What man would do an unworthy action, or speak an unhandsome word, in the presence of his prince? The eye of the general inflames the spirit of a soldier. Why did David keep God’s testimonies (Psalm 119:168)? because he considered that all his ways were before him; because he was persuaded his ways were present with God; God’s precepts should be present with him.
The same was the cause of Job’s integrity (Job 31:4): “Doth he not see my ways?” To have God in our eye is the way to be sincere (Gen. 17:1); “walk before me” as in my sight, “and be thou perfect.” Communion with God consists chiefly in an ordering our ways as in the presence of him that is invisible. This would make us spiritual, raise and watchful in all our passions, if we considered that God is present with us in our shops, in our chambers, in our walks, and in our meetings, as present with us as with the angels in heaven; who, though they have a presence of glory above us, yet have not a greater measure of his essential presence than we have. What an awe had Jacob upon him when he considered God was present in Bethel (Gen. 28:16, 17)! If God should appear visibly to us when we were alone, should we not be reverend and serious before him? God is everywhere about us, he doth encompass us with his presence. Should not God’s seeing us have the same influence upon us as our seeing God? He is not more essentially present if he should so manifest himself to us, than when he doth not. Who would appear besmeared in the presence of a great person? or not be ashamed to be found in his chamber in a nasty posture by some visitant? Would not a man blush to be catched about some mean action, though it were not an immoral crime? If this truth were impressed upon our spirits, we should more blush to have our souls daubed with some loathsome lust; swarms of sin, like Egyptian lice and frogs, creeping about our, heart in his sight. If the most sensual man be ashamed to do a dishonest action in the sight of a grave and holy man, one of great reputation for wisdom and integrity, how much more should we lift up ourselves in the ways of God, who is infinite and immense, is everywhere, and inflntely superior to man, and more to be regarded! We could not seriously think of his presence but there would pass some intercourse between us; we should be putting up some petition upon the sense of our indigence, or sending up our praises to him upon the sense of his bounty. The actual thoughts of the presence of God is the life and spirit of all religion; we could not have sluggish spirits and a careless watch if we considered that his eye is upon us all the day.
(3.) It will quell distractions in worship. The actual thoughts of this would establish our thoughts, and pull them back when they begin to rove: the mind could not boldly give God the slip if it had lively thoughts of it; the consideration of this would blow off all the froth that lies on the top of our spirits. An eye, taken up with the presence of one object, is not at leisure to be filled with another: he that looks intently upon the sun, shall have nothing for a while but the sun in his eye. Oppose to every intruding thought the idea of the Divine omnipresence, and put it to silence by the awe of his Majesty. When the master is present, scholars mind their books, keep their places, and run not over the forms to play with one another; the master’s eye keeps an idle servant to his work, that otherwise would be gazing at every straw, and prating to every passenger. How soon would the remembrance of this dash all extravagant fancies out of countenance, just as the news of the approach of a prince would make the courtiers bustle up themselves, huddle up their vain sports, and prepare themselves for a reverent behavior in his sight!
We should not dare to give God a piece of our heart when we apprehended him present with the whole: we should not dare to mock one that we knew were more inwards with us than we are with ourselves, and that beheld every motion of our mind, as well as action of our body.
2. Let us endeavor for the more special and influential presence of God. Let the essential presence of God be the ground of our awe, and his gracious influential presence the object of our desire. The heathen thought themselves secure if they had their little petty household gods with them in their journeys: such seem to be the images Rachel stole from her father (Gen. 31:19) to company her travel with their blessings: she might not at that time have cast off all respect to those idols, in the acknowledgment of which she had been educated from her infancy; and they seem to be kept by her till God called Jacob to Bethel, after the rape of Dinah (Gen. 35:4), when Jacob called for the strange gods, and hid them under the oak. The gracious presence of God we should look after, in our actions, as travellers, that have a charge of money or jewels, desire to keep themselves in company that may protect them from highwaymen that would rifle them. Since we have the concerns of the eternal happiness of our souls upon our hands, we should endeavor to have God’s merciful and powerful presence with us in all our ways (Psalm 14:5); “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths:” acknowledge him before any action, by imploring; acknowledge him after, by rendering him the glory; acknowledge his presence before worship, in worship, after worship: it is this presence makes a kind of heaven upon earth; causeth affliction to put off the nature of misery. How much will the presence of the sun outshine the stars of lesser comforts, and fully answer the want of them! The ark of God going before us, can only make all things successful. It was this led the Israelites over Jordan, and settled them in Canaan. Without this we signify nothing: though we live without this, we cannot be distinguished forever from evils; his essential presence they have; and if we have no more, we shall be no better. It is the enlivening fructifying presence of the sun that revives the languishing earth; and this only can repair our ruined soul. Let it be, therefore, our desire, that as he fills heaven and earth by his essence, he may fill our understandings and wills by his grace, that we may have another kind of presence with us than animals have in their brutish state, or devils in their chains: his essential presence maintains our beings, but his gracious presence confers and continues a happiness.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Excerpt From Simply Christian
The Spirit is given to begin the work of making God’s future real in the present. That is the first, and perhaps the most important, point to grasp about the work of this strange personal power for which so many images are used. Just as the resurrection of Jesus opened up the unexpected world of God’s new creation, so the Spirit comes to us from that new world, the world waiting to be born, the world in which, according to the old prophets, peace and justice will flourish and the wolf and the lamb will lie down side by side. One key element of living as a Christian is learning to live with the life, and by the rules, of God’s future world, even as we are continuing to live within the present one (which Paul calls “the present evil age” and Jesus calls “this corrupt and sinful generation”).
That is why St. Paul, our earliest Christian writer, speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee or the down-payment of what is to come. The Greek word he uses is arrabōn, which in modern Greek means an engagement ring, a sign in the present of what is to come in the future.
Paul speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee of our “inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). He isn’t simply using an image taken from the ordinary human transaction whereby, when a person dies, someone else inherits his or her wealth—an “inheritance” from which one might perhaps receive something in advance, an early first installment. Nor is he simply speaking, as many Christians have supposed, of our “going to heaven,” as though celestial bliss were the full “inheritance” God had in mind for us. No. He is drawing on a major biblical theme and taking it in a striking new direction. To grasp this is to see why the Spirit is given in the first place, and indeed who the Spirit actually is.
The theme upon which Paul is drawing when he speaks of the “inheritance” to come, of which the Spirit is given as a down payment, is our old friend the exodus story, in which Israel escapes from Egypt and goes off to the Promised Land. Canaan, the land we now call the Holy Land, was their promised “inheritance,” the place where they would live as God’s people. It was where—provided they maintained their side of the covenantal agreement—God would live with them and they with God. As both the foretaste of that promise, and the means by which they were led to inherit it, God went with them on the way, a strange holy Presence guiding and directing their wanderings and grieving over their rebellions.
So when Paul speaks of the Spirit as the “guarantee of our inheritance,” he is evoking, as Jesus himself had done, this whole exodus tradition, the story which began with Passover and ended with the Promised Land. He is saying, in effect, You are now the people of the true exodus. You are now on your way to your inheritance.
But if that “inheritance” isn’t a disembodied heaven, neither is it simply one small country among others. The whole world is now God’s holy land. At the moment the world appears as a place of suffering and sorrow as well as of power and beauty. But God is reclaiming it. That’s what Jesus’s death and resurrection were all about. And we are called to be part of that reclaiming. One day all creation will be rescued from slavery, from the corruption, decay, and death which deface its beauty, destroy its relationships, remove the sense of God’s presence from it, and make it a place of injustice, violence, and brutality. That is the message of rescue, of “salvation,” at the heart of one of the greatest chapters Paul ever wrote, the eighth chapter of his Letter to the Romans.
So what does it mean to say that this future has begun to arrive in the present? What Paul means is that those who follow Jesus, those who find themselves believing that he is the world’s true Lord, that he rose from the dead—these people are given the Spirit as a fore-taste of what that new world will be like. If anyone is “in the Messiah” (one of Paul’s favorite ways of describing those who belong to Jesus), what they have and are is…new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Your own human self, your personality, your body, is being reclaimed, so that instead of being simply part of the old creation, a place of sorrow and injustice and ultimately the shame of death itself, you can be both part of the new creation in advance and someone through whom it begins to happen here and now.
What does this say about the Holy Spirit? It says that the Spirit plays the same role in our pilgrimage from Passover to the Promised Land—from Jesus’s resurrection, in other words, to the final moment when all creation will be renewed—that was played in the old story by the pillar of cloud and fire. The Spirit is the strange, personal presence of the living God himself, leading, guiding, warning, rebuking, grieving over our failings, and celebrating our small steps toward the true inheritance.
But if the Spirit is the personal presence of God himself, what does this say about us as Christians? Let Paul again give the answer. You, he says, are the Temple of the living God.