Ezekiel 34 - 36
Prophecy Against the Shepherds of IsraelEzekiel 34:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.
The Lord GOD Will Seek Them Out11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
17 “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.
The LORD’s Covenant of Peace25 “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. 29 And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. 30 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. 31 And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.”
Prophecy Against Mount SeirEzekiel 35:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, 3 and say to it, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you, and I will make you a desolation and a waste. 4 I will lay your cities waste, and you shall become a desolation, and you shall know that I am the LORD. 5 Because you cherished perpetual enmity and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of their final punishment, 6 therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you. 7 I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I will cut off from it all who come and go. 8 And I will fill its mountains with the slain. On your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those slain with the sword shall fall. 9 I will make you a perpetual desolation, and your cities shall not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
10 “Because you said, ‘These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will take possession of them’—although the LORD was there— 11 therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will deal with you according to the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them. And I will make myself known among them, when I judge you. 12 And you shall know that I am the LORD.
“I have heard all the revilings that you uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are laid desolate; they are given us to devour.’ 13 And you magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and multiplied your words against me; I heard it. 14 Thus says the Lord GOD: While the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate. 15 As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so I will deal with you; you shall be desolate, Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. Then they will know that I am the LORD.
Prophecy to the Mountains of IsraelEzekiel 36:1 “And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD. 2 Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the enemy said of you, ‘Aha!’ and, ‘The ancient heights have become our possession,’ 3 therefore prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Precisely because they made you desolate and crushed you from all sides, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you became the talk and evil gossip of the people, 4 therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD: Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and the hills, the ravines and the valleys, the desolate wastes and the deserted cities, which have become a prey and derision to the rest of the nations all around, 5 therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Surely I have spoken in my hot jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave my land to themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and utter contempt, that they might make its pasturelands a prey. 6 Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I have spoken in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the reproach of the nations. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer reproach.
8 “But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. 9 For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. 10 And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt. 11 And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 12 I will let people walk on you, even my people Israel. And they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance, and you shall no longer bereave them of children. 13 Thus says the Lord GOD: Because they say to you, ‘You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,’ 14 therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, declares the Lord GOD. 15 And I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord GOD.”
The LORD’s Concern for His Holy Name16 The word of the LORD came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. 18 So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. 19 I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. 20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.
I Will Put My Spirit Within You22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
33 “Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. 34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. 35 And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.
37 “Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
What I'm Reading
Should a Christian Be Afraid?
By Charles C. Ryrie
The answer to the question “Should a Christian Fear?” is not so obvious as it might seem to be. Although one’s immediate reaction is in the negative because of the perfect peace which the Lord Jesus gives to each believer, this is only part of the answer to the matter.
Two abuses of the doctrine of fear which are abroad today make the study of the proper doctrine mandatory. They are both based on the idea (if not the words) of 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The one concludes that, since fear ought not be a part of any Christian’s makeup, it should be avoided at all costs lest that Christian become inhibited. It often follows that carnal principles are used to accomplish this end and cure the Christian of his fear. The other abuse takes the idea of the verse as an excuse for familiarity with the Lord in His worship and service. Boldness, being made the opposite of fear by such ones, becomes then an excusing cover-up for any sort of conduct in Christian work. God preserve us from either of these abuses!
What is the proper doctrine of fear as set forth especially in the New Testament? The answer to this question is found in the study of the three Greek words for fear which are used there. (A fourth word is found in a variant reading of Hebrews 12:28 and will not be considered here.) The three words are deilia, ‘cowardice’; eulabeia, ‘reverence’; and phobos, ‘fear or alarm.’
I. The Christian and Cowardice
Five times in the New Testament the Holy Spirit has used this first word, deilia, ‘cowardice’ ( 2 Tim 1:7; John 14:27; Matt 8:26; Mark 4:40; Rev 21:8 ). In the Greek literature outside the New Testament the word regularly has this meaning of cowardice, which meaning carries over into the New Testament always in a bad sense. This base spirit will manifest itself in the professing Christian in the time of persecution, proving that his profession was not real. Therefore the Scripture declares that cowards will partake of the second death, for they were never saved ( Rev 21:8 ).
Sadly enough, even a true believer may evidently show this same spirit, since the carnal believer has qualities similar to those of the unsaved man ( 1 Cor 3:3 ). That is why Paul, after declaring that the spirit of a coward is not God-given, exhorts the Christian not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord ( 2 Tim 1:8 ). But the Scripture not only warns; it also gives the cure. The cure is the appropriation of all that Christ has given to His disciples ( John 14:27 ), and the means of appropriation is, as with all spiritual blessings, faith ( Matt 8:26 ). However, faith apart from its object is worthless; therefore, faith increases as acquaintance with the object increases. Hence the handmaid of faith is knowledge — knowledge of the Object of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Should a Christian be afraid? In the sense of deilia, ‘cowardice,’ the answer is an emphatic No.
II. The Christian and Reverence
In its various forms the second word, eulabeia, ‘reverence,’ is used seven times in the New Testament ( Acts 23:10; Heb 11:7; Luke 2:25; Acts 2:5; 8:2; Heb 5:7; 12:28 ). “The image on which it rests is that of the careful taking hold and wary handling, the eu lambanesthai, of some precious yet fragile vessel, which with ruder or less anxious handling might easily be broken.” This basic meaning is also found in Greek literature, and it is not difficult to see how it came to mean reverence. Indeed, Moulton and Milligan found the noun form used “as a title of respect, like our ‘Your Reverence.’ ”
The writer to the Hebrews ascribes to this reverence the reason for Christ’s being heard while on earth by the Father ( Heb 5:7 ). He points out further that this same quality is to be apparent in our service for God ( 12:28 ). We too must demonstrate the same yieldedness to the will of the Father accompanied by continuing, unbroken fellowship, such as Christ demonstrated in His earthly life if our service is to be acceptable. In his commentary on Hebrews, Delitzsch says: “… We may interpret eulabeia as expressing that religious fear of God and anxiety not to offend Him which manifests itself in voluntary and humble submission to His will.” He also notices the idea of circumspection in the word. In other words there is both a Godward and manward aspect to reverence. His relationship to us in salvation can never be broken, but His relationship in communion is indeed fragile. We must handle carefully that relationship by complete obedience to His will, which will include being wary of things about us. This is true reverence.
Should a Christian be afraid? When fear means ‘reverence’ the answer is an emphatic Yes.
III. The Christian and Protracted Alarm
Phobos, the third word for fear, is the common New Testament word, but it is used in both a good and bad sense. Thayer links the meaning of this word with having been struck with terror or a sense of alarm, and says that phobos is the protracted state resulting from that.5 Unsaved men stand in this protracted state of alarm from having been struck with the awesomeness of death ( Heb 2:15 ), of eternal condemnation ( Heb 10:31 ), and of future earthly judgments ( Rev 11:11; 18:10, 15 ). As believers, we have (thank God!) passed from a state of terror concerning these things into a state of perfect peace about them. Of these matters no Christian is afraid.
In another sense, however, the Christian is to be afraid in the sense of the meaning of this term phobos. In a word we may say that there is a proper sense in which the Christian should remain in a protracted state of alarm, as new feelings result from having been struck with God. One must always balance such a statement with the truth of the peace of God, that which keeps the heart of every child of His. On the other hand one must be very careful, in these days especially, not to forget that there is a very real sense in which the believer is to fear. The Scripture in speaking to the “royal priesthood” plainly says, “Fear God” ( 1 Pet 2:17 ). Be struck with Him and live in that state is the idea.
Ts right kind of godly fear will manifest itself in many and various ways. It will cause the Christian to be rightly related to and respectful of governmental authorities, since he will realize that they are ordained of God and that part of our responsibility to God is through them ( Rom 13:7; 1 Pet 3:14–15 ). Godly fear will keep the believer properly related to others both in domestic and non-domestic relationships ( Eph 5:21 ). It should cause the husband, wife, and children to keep their proper positions in the home. It should also affect labor relations; for written over this entire section of the Ephesian letter ( 5:21–6:9 ) are those significant words “in the fear of God.” Furthermore, it will affect the spiritual toil of the servant of Christ, if his service is motivated by the realization that someday he must appear before God for examination of the record and settling of accounts ( 2 Cor 5:11 ). This will in turn cause him to examine his whole spiritual life now, to see if he has entered into all of God’s provision for him ( Heb 4:1 ). How extensive are the ramifications of godly fear!
All of this notwithstanding, the most striking feature about the fear of God is the effect it will have on the church of God on earth when all its members are walking in it. At the very beginning, shortly after Pentecost, fear was a chief characteristic of the church ( Acts 2:43 ). This evidently was not the result of chastisement; for the church was as pure in those days as it ever has been, and she was continuing in teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. One could hardly imagine a more unadulterated service of God, and yet fear came upon every soul because they were struck with the person and power of almighty God. The very purity, no doubt, contributed largely to their clear vision of God. Later on when sin entered the group and God judged it openly, striking down Ananias and Sapphira, we find the church again characterized by fear ( Acts 5:5 ). In this case we are clearly told that the feeling of fear was not limited to the church alone but was felt also outside the company of believers ( Acts 5:11 ). Again, still later, the record mentions the fear of the Lord as a characteristic of the walk of the churches of Palestine ( Acts 9:31 ). The church at Ephesus knew this fear of the Lord, and it was effectual in bringing revival among the believers when they voluntarily collected and burned their books of curious arts ( Acts 19:17 ).
In each of these instances the record states that, when the church was walking in the fear of the Lord, souls were saved. This is very significant, for it gives us more than a hint of the need of the hour. It should remind us of a long-neglected principle for winning souls. Unsaved men have no fear of God, because for one thing they see so little of it reflected in the lives of those who profess to know him. The church could get along without her lobbies, pressure groups, campaigns, etc. if she were saturated with a sense of reverential awe. In the worship of the church God is often lowered to the place where there can be but little respect for Him. There is a vast difference between the proper doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ as our elder brother and the p 13 usual impression given that He, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, is a sort of—and I must be plain—‘big buddy.’
From whence comes such an impression? From whence come whispering, laughing, and talking in church? From whence come bickering, backbiting, gossip? From whence religious jazz, festivals, entertainments? Certainly not from the fear of the Lord. And it may be concluded also that the church of Jesus Christ will never be able to fulfill her mission to win men to that Lord Jesus Christ until she is walking in the fear of the Lord. In all our worship and service there must be a manifest sense of the power and presence of the living Lord.
Should a Christian be afraid? Yes and no. He must never be cowardly; he should always be reverent; he need never fear the things of condemnation and judgment; yet he should live always in the protracted state of awe that results from having been struck with God.
“How great is the love of my Savior,
Who bore all my guilt on the tree,
And compassed sin’s judgments forever,
And bade me believe and be free!
The mercy of God is behind me,
His glory is shining before.
I stand on the blest Rock of Ages:
I am safe in His grace evermore.
I know in the ages before me
The weight of His glory I’ll bear,
And dwell in the light of His presence
In the place He has gone to prepare.
The mercy etc.
He took me from sands ever sinking
And lifted me up with His arm,
He placed my feet firm and unchanging
On Him, where I stand safe from harm.
The mercy etc.
What power can alter His purpose?
What creature can separate me
From the love of my God, who now saves me—
For the flood-gates of grace are set free?
The mercy etc.”
The Coming of the Kingdom part 20
By Dr. Andrew Woods 10/22/2013
Because today's evangelical world believes that the church is experiencing the Messianic kingdom, we began a study chronicling what the Bible teaches about the kingdom. In this series, the biblical teaching on the kingdom has been surveyed from Genesis to Revelation. We have noted thus far that what the Old Testament predicts concerning an earthly kingdom was offered to Israel during Christ's First Advent. Yet, the nation rejected this kingdom offer leading to the kingdom's postponement. Therefore, what the Scripture predicts concerning the kingdom will not be fulfilled until the kingdom offer is one day re-extended to and accepted by Israel during the Tribulation. In the interim, the kingdom is future as God now pursues an interim program that includes the church.
In addition, we began scrutinizing a series of texts that "kingdom now" theologians routinely employ in order to argue that the kingdom is a present, spiritual reality. We began with the use of such alleged "kingdom now" texts in the life of Christ. We noted that the expression "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" ( Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7 ) merely communicates that the Old Testament expectation of an earthly kingdom had drawn near in the person of Christ. Had the nation enthroned Christ ( Deut. 17:15 ), the anticipated kingdom promises would have become a reality not only for Israel but also for the entire world. As long as Christ was present among first-century Israel offering them the kingdom, it was in an imminent state of nearness. This reality is an entirely different matter from saying that the kingdom was present or had arrived.
Deuteronomy 17:15 (NASB95) 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.
Seek The Kingdom
We also observed that Matthew 6:9-13 is in actuality a model prayer for the disciples consisting of three requests for the kingdom to come and three additional requests for their temporal needs to be met prior to the kingdom's establishment. Such a framework makes it obvious that the Lord did not establish the kingdom at His First Advent. If this is so, then passages such as Matthew 6:33 (restated in Luke 12:31 ) become understandable. This verse says,
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Is this verse, as "kingdom now" theologians sometimes advocate, teaching a present, spiritual form of the kingdom that Christ's disciples must seek and align their lives with? The answer to this question is provided in the immediately preceding context where Christ's model prayer for the disciples ( Matt. 6:9-13 ) consists of three requests for the kingdom to come and three additional requests for their temporal needs to be met prior to the kingdom's establishment. Thus, contextually, Matthew 6:33 is merely admonishing Christ's disciples to prioritize their lives according to the values of the coming kingdom during their brief sojourn on earth, while they live in Satan's domain, while the kingdom is in a state of abeyance.
E.R. Craven, in an extended excursus on the Greek word basileia (translated "kingdom"), well explains the true meaning of Christ's words in Matthew 6:33:
The exhortations of our Lord to "seek the Kingdom of God," Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:31. It is manifest that both these exhortations are consistent with the hypothesis of a future Kingdom — as though He had said, So act, that when the Basileia is established you may enter it. Indeed the contexts of both exhortations require that we should put that interpretation upon them: the one in Matt. follows the direction to pray "Thy Kingdom come" (ver. 10 ), and that in Luke is manifestly parallel with the exhortation to wait for an absent Lord (vers. 35–40 ). 
Such an interpretation helps explain why Paul refers to Christ's followers in the present world system as "ambassadors." Second Corinthians 5:20 states,
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God".
An ambassador is someone who represents the value system of his home country on foreign soil. America's ambassador to Iran, for example, represents American values on Iranian soil. Similarly, God's people represent the values of their true home, the coming kingdom, on Satan's turf, which is the present world system ( 1 John 5:19 ). The whole designation "ambassador" makes little sense if the kingdom were a present, spiritual reality. After all, it would be nonsensical to represent the values of the kingdom in the present world as an ambassador if the kingdom was in fact a current reality.
It is for reasons such as this that the New Testament frequently identifies God's people in the present world as "the sons of the kingdom" ( Matt. 13:38 ). A son (huios) is an heir. Galatians 4:7 explains,
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God".
An "heir" is an individual who is entitled to an inheritance. An inheritance, by definition, refers to a benefit forthcoming in the future but not yet received in the present. If the kingdom were a present reality then God's people could not be sons of the kingdom or kingdom heirs. How can one be an heir to something that he already possesses? In a previous article we noted that the New Testament consistently portrays the church as an heir of the coming kingdom as opposed to a ruler in a present existing kingdom ( Acts 14:22; 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:11 ). James 2:5 says,
"Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?".
Premillennial scholar Peters asks, "If the church is the Kingdom, and believers are now in it, why designate them 'heirs,' etc., of a Kingdom." 
Again, far from teaching a present manifestation of the kingdom, Matthew 6:33 merely teaches that God's people should prioritize their lives according to the values of the coming kingdom during their brief sojourn on earth while living in Satan's domain as the kingdom is in a state of absence and postponement. Only such a view properly handles the designations of "ambassador" and "heir."
The Kingdom Of God Has Come Upon You
We also examined Matthew 11:12, which says,
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force."
We saw that "kingdom now" theologians contend that the kingdom had to be present in order for it to be resisted so strenuously.  However, we noted the parallel passage ( Luke 16:16 ), which says,
"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it."
Here, the emphasis is on the proclamation of the kingdom. Thus, what is actually being rejected is the proclamation of the kingdom or the message of the kingdom rather than any present manifestation of the kingdom. 
Another statement made by Christ that is utilized by "kingdom now" theologians is found in Matthew 12:28, which says,
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (see also Luke 11:20).
"Kingdom now" theologians interpret this statement to mean that Christ began a spiritual form of the Messianic kingdom at His First Advent. However, this view fails to interact with Christ's "offer of the kingdom" to first-century Israel, which is the idea that the kingdom was offered to the nation by John the Baptist, Christ, and the disciples. Yet, it was rejected by the nation, consequently postponed, and eventually will be re-offered to the nation during the future Tribulation period. This interpretive framework allows the various manifestations of the kingdom in the life of Christ ( Matt. 12:28 ), such as His miracles and exorcisms, to be interpreted as mere tokens of the coming kingdom rather than announcing an inaugurated form of the kingdom. In other words, the presence of the kingdom in the life of Christ could become a reality for Israel and the world had Israel fulfilled her responsibility of enthroning her king ( Deut. 17:15 ).  Thus, when understood in the light of this kingdom offer, Christ's statement in Matthew 12:28 was not indicative of the fact the kingdom had arrived. Rather, His statement simply meant that the tokens of the kingdom (His miracles, exorcisms, etc...) could have become a reality for the nation had Israel responded to the contingency of the offer that Christ was extending to her.
Yet another way of explaining why Matthew 12:28 does not teach a present manifestation of the kingdom is by simply noting the specific verb here employed. Interestingly, both passages ( Matt 12:28; Luke 11:20 ) use the word phthano ("has come") rather than erchomai ("comes" as in Luke 17:20 ) or anaphaino ("appear" as in Luke 19:11 ). Craven notes the significance of such a subtle, nuanced word choice:
"In the New Testament...phthano occurs only in the later, weakened sense of reaching to"...The phrase is similar to the one in 1 Thess. 2:16, where, manifestly, it was not designed to represent the wrath spoken of as already poured forth upon its objects — they were living men, but as having reached unto, overhanging them, comp. also Rom. 9:31; 2 Cor. 10:14; Phil. 3:16; 1 Thess. 4:15 ...The passages under consideration aptly accord with the idea of a near approach of the Basileia to the Jews in the person of Christ, implying an offer of establishment which might be withdrawn; they are equivalent to the declaration of Luke 10:9, 11. Continue Reading (Part 21 on Sept 11 web page)
ENDNOTES E.R. Craven, "Excursus on the Basileia," in Revelation of John, J. P. Lange (New York: Scribner, 1874), 95.
 George Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1952), 1:600.
 Craig Blaising, "The Kingdom of God in the New Testament," in Progressive Dispensationalism (Wheaton: Victor, 1993), 248.
 Stanley Toussaint, "Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist," in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 233.
 Stanley Toussaint, "The Contingency of the Coming Kingdom," in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 225, 232-35.
 Craven, "Excursus," 96.
Dr. Andrew Woods Books
Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.
Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.
By Eric Alexander 9/01/2012
While I was still a theological student, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones came from London to Glasgow to preach at the great St. Andrews Hall. This auditorium held more than two thousand people. It was packed, and the preaching was wonderful. After the meeting finished, I was waiting at the side of the platform for transport home. A long line of people were waiting to speak to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, and because I was fairly close to them, I heard some of the conversations. Interestingly, I noticed that every encounter ended in the same way: “Keep on!” was the doctor’s final exhortation as he shook hands.
As it happened, on the journey home I was in the same car as the doctor, and he engaged me in conversation. After the generalities, I summoned enough courage to ask him a question. “Doctor,” I began, “forgive me, but I could not help hearing your last words to every person you spoke with. They were ‘Keep on.’ It sounded as if that was particularly important to you.” He was immediately animated: “My dear man,” he said, “there is nothing more important. The Christian life is not a sprint; it is a marathon, and that is why Jesus says, ‘He who endures to the end shall be saved.’” To my delight, he enlarged on the subject until I was reluctant to get out of the car.
Now, in the year of my eightieth birthday, I have become more convinced than ever of the importance of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ words. One of the great temptations of old age for the Christian is to accept the idea that because physical and intellectual growth may have ceased, spiritual growth will go the same way. The testimony of Scripture is unanimously opposed to that thought. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Isaiah says in 40:29–31: “He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak… . Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength… . They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” The psalmist, speaking about the righteous in Psalm 92:14, writes, “They will still bear fruit in old age.”
Of course, we want to ask, “What is the secret of endurance, and of the renewal of the inward man?” Well, there is a “golden nugget” of truth in Philippians 2:12–13 that helps us in answering that question. There are four secrets embedded in these words of the Apostle: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
These secrets are all facts to be believed, not challenges to be faced:
1. If you are a child of God, God is at work in you (v. 13). The indwelling of God in the believer is a fundamental truth of the New Testament, exemplified in Jesus’ words in John 14:23 and Paul’s in Ephesians 3:16–19. Not only does He dwell in us, but He is engaged in a work in us — clearly the work of our full salvation.
2. God is not only at work in us, He is continuously (or, if you prefer, “perpetually”) at work in us. We know this from the tense of the verb in verse 13. Tenses are really important in the New Testament. The tense of the verb “works” is the present continuous tense, which just means that this is something God is doing all the time. He never ceases, either day or night (Ps. 121:4). God knows no “age of retirement,” so He is as active in us when we are eighty as when we were eighteen.
3. God works unto completion. Some people have great intentions and a lot of goodwill and good plans, but they achieve very little. Here, however, Paul says, “God works in you to will and to work.” That means that all His purposes are eventually fulfilled, and that continues until we are glorified in heaven.
4. God’s work in us is “for his good pleasure.” Sometimes God’s plans may differ greatly from ours. There are times when, as Jesus experienced, God’s way involves pain and loss in order to fulfill His will. But the good pleasure of God is always perfect, without flaw, and impossible to improve upon.
Is there then no challenge in these words of Paul? Of course not. Paul urges us to “work out [our] own salvation.” But that does not mean, “work out your own way of salvation,” or “work with a view to your salvation.” This salvation is already ours. God has accomplished it and given it to us. But we have to work out what God has worked in. There are two things involved in this, especially in our latter years. The first is to look to God, and to God alone for the completion of the work of our salvation. Earlier in Philippians, Paul writes, “He who has begun a good work in you will go on to complete it, until the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6). The second is, moment by moment, to set our hearts on the perfect will of God, as Jesus did: “Not my will but yours be done.” That is the desire with which our hearts need to be kept aflame.
By Donald E. Hoke | 1944
Never formally ordained, to many he’s the unofficial archbishop of American fundamentalism. With no classroom education beyond grammar school, he’s considered one of the leading biblical scholars of this generation — holds a doctor of literature degree from the largest liberal arts college in Illinois — and is the author of more than 40 wide-selling books and commentaries.
With no previous pastoral experience, he stepped into the largest fundamental pulpit in the U.S., and for 14 years he has filled the vast auditorium as no other man can, with only two Sundays in that period passing without at least one public profession of Christ.
That is Henry (better known as Harry) Allan Ironside, pastor of the Moody Memorial Church (The Moody Church) in Chicago and admittedly the prince of American conservative preachers. Though he belongs to no denomination, he has access to more pulpits than any other man in the country, and his name is a by-word in evangelical circles everywhere.
He’s a big man in more ways than one.
Physically, his rotund 5 feet 8 ½ inches would command respect everywhere; mentally, his breadth of knowledge and facility of expression make him at home with scholars in many fields, whether they be Old Testament archeologists or Chinese litterateurs; and spiritually he’s big enough to be expansively generous, big enough to be genuinely modest — three publishers have tried unsuccessfully for years to secure a biography or autobiography — big enough to admit when he’s wrong. When a young woman approached him about a new Christian enterprise a few years ago, he promised what support he could give, but predicted the work would fail. When she met him again two years later, he recognized her, remarked, “You’re the young woman who proved I was wrong!”
Ironside is a leader in conservative Protestantism today because he deserves to be.
His life is the favorite “log cabin to White House” story of a poor boy who made good. And for many years he lived like Moses, on the backside of a desert, sustained by an abiding faith in God and not seeking the position of prominence he now holds.
But God had a large place for him and put him through grueling circumstances and trials of faith which have admirable fitted him for the versatile ministry he has today.
Things were not hopeful for baby Harry even at the hour of his birth, for the attending physician pronounced him dead and laid him aside to attend to his mother. But 40 minutes later the startled nurse detected signs of pulse and plunged him into a hot bath, from which he emerged on October 14, 1876, live and healthy.
The Ironside family circle was early broken by the death of the father, when Harry was only 2, but the imprint of this godly man, whom all Toronto knew as “The Eternity Man,” was left on the simple little home. Even now Dr. Ironside recalls the substance of his mother’s daily prayer at the family altar: “O Father, keep my boy from ever desiring anything greater than to live for Thee. Save him early and make him a devoted street preacher, as his father was. Make him willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake, to gladly endure persecution and rejection by the world that cast out Thy Son, and keep him from what would dishonor Thee.”
This home and altar, supported by his widowed mother, was a haven for itinerant preachers and evangelists. And the young boy was early plagued by their unnerving, “Harry, lad, are you born again?”
Even when the family moved to Los Angeles, Calif., when he was 10, these godly men, “who carried with them the atmosphere of eternity,” still upset him with their quiet, “Are you certain that your soul is saved?” For despite the fact he had read the Bible through 10 times by the age of 12, he was not sure he had accepted Christ.
One indelible impression from that year has never left him.
Dwight L. Moody came to Los Angeles. Packed to the door, Hazzard’s Pavilion had no seat for the young towhead who pushed his way into the balcony to hear the famous preacher. But, noticing that the roof was supported by girders made of large 4x12-inch planks spiked together like a trough, young Ironside skinned up the slanting trough to a point high over the crowd, looking down on the platform. The forceful manner and earnestness of the bearded evangelist and the forceful singing of George Stebbins that night he never forgot.
But it wasn’t until two years later that 14-year-old Harry Ironside came under deep conviction of his sins at a part and ran home to fall on his knees beside his bed and accept Christ as his Saviour, finding in Romans 3 and John 3 the peace he sought.
Finished with grammar school, he had no desire to continue his education, but wanted to tell others of Christ.
The spirit and activity of the Salvation Army attracted him, and he began to take part in their meetings, testifying and singing, until he became known as “The Boy Preacher of Los Angeles.”
One night he struck his brother in a fit of anger. He was filled with remorse and longed for the experience of complete holiness and eradication of sin, concerning which many of his Army companions spoke. So, taking the train from Los Angeles on a Sunday night to a lonely station 12 miles out, he walked into a dry arroyo and fell on his face before God, determining to obtain the “second blessing of entire sanctification.”
About 3:30 a.m. he arose, confident he had yielded everything to Christ. So buoyed up was he that he walked the 12 miles back to the city to testify to the “blessing” at the 7 a.m. service. Shortly after that he enrolled as an Army cadet, and when only 18 he was made a captain in the Salvation Army and put in charge of a station.
In those days he and his buddy would walk into the crowded sections of the city at the rush hour. At the right moment his friend would raise a brightly colored umbrella with a Scripture verse on it, while Harry would peel off his coat, displaying a sweater with “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD” printed on it in bold letters.
But despite his zeal for the Lord and his glowing testimonies, he found he was not free from sin. Increasingly his inward promptings to sin, his doubts and fears weighed upon his mind. He who testified to the eradication did not have it. What’s more, he didn’t see it in the others who likewise boasted of it. Almost a nervous wreck a few years later, he went to a rest home for a brief furlough to regain his physical and spiritual equilibrium.
And there, tormented by doubts, reading any and every thing but his Bible, he met an older woman who came to him for help over the same misgivings and failures which he was so poignantly experiencing. Together they began to search the Scriptures, and little by little, he now relates, the light began to dawn: they saw they had everything in Christ, not in experience.
To go on as he was, he could not. Within a week he resigned from the Army and began to fellowship with a group commonly known as the Plymouth Brethren.
Thus at 22 Harry Ironside faced a complete revamping of his life plans. Associated with no organization, he started out on faith, preaching wherever he had opportunity — on street corners, in missions, in the desert towns.
A year later he married Helen Scofield, daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and they faced poverty and hardship together. For the next 32 years they lived entirely without promise of support of any kind, but God faithfully undertook for them.
Sitting in a dreary Salt Lake City rooming house one night several years later, they faced their situation. Not one penny of money did they have. They prayed; the young husband put God on the spot, saying they needed 40 cents for food the next day. Then, somewhat discouraged, he went out to preach on a street corner. After his message two men followed him and spoke to him. As they left they shook hands with him. In his palm when he opened it were three dimes and two nickels!
All the years that followed were filled with Elijah experiences as Ironside and his wife traveled from place to place, preaching and distributing tracts wherever they went.
Summers were spent mostly among the Indians of New Mexico and Arizona.
There one year the leaders of a Laguna Indian village approached the young missionary and asked him why he preached on the street when they had a church in town. He replied that he was not a Roman Catholic and the priest would not want him.
“The church does not belong to the priest,” the Indians retorted, “and besides, he only visits us occasionally.”
The next Sunday on invitation Ironside preached to more than 300 Indians from the pulpit of the Indian Catholic church on the text, “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich” ( 2 Corinthians 8:9 ). As a result, the leader of responses in the church was converted and became a preacher of power among his own people.
On another occasion he visited the converted wife of a desert tavern-keeper. Longing to speak to the 100 men carousing in the tavern, he heard the fiddler hesitate through a few bars of “In the Sweet By and By.” Seizing the opportunity, he went in and began to lead the men in singing old familiar hymns which they requested, adding a Scripture verse or comment at the conclusion of each. Not a glass of liquor was sold the rest of the evening.
Depending upon God for leading in his work, he was often of in strange circumstances.
Prompted to get off the train at Fresno, Calif., one night, Ironside invested his last dollar in a room and breakfast and found himself penniless and friendless the following night in a gospel meeting in a store. The two women on the platform looked at him strangely, then went down and asked him to speak, saying that they had called the meeting at God’s leading, praying for a speaker. They were sure he was the one God had sent.
His unconventional places and ways of speaking often provided many unusual and humorous opportunities.
Preaching on a San Francisco street corner one evening, he was challenged by an atheist, a leader of the old I.W.W. movement, to debate on Christianity versus atheism.
Before the crowd of 300 or 400 people, he accepted the challenge — adding, however, that he had one condition. The atheist must present at least two bona fide witnesses who had been saved from lives of disgrace and degradation by their belief, while he would provide no less than 100 who had been saved from the same state by the gospel of Christ. Hurriedly the atheist declined the terms and left, to the delight of the crowd.
As the years rolled by, the preaching ability of this unassuming expositor became known. Opportunities increased in size and number, until soon he was traveling continually from coast to coast conducting Bible conferences and evangelistic campaigns in churches, halls, stores and whatever was offered.
Many novel experiences livened those years of travel and preaching. He witnessed to Jews, Protestants, atheists, Catholics and even priests, shocking one good monk by declaring that he himself was a catholic priest.
Another time he astounded a group of nuns by asserting that he was a saint.
During his early years Mrs. Ironside faithfully traveled with him, but when their first child, Edmund, was born, her trips became less frequent and finally stopped altogether. Locating in Oakland, Calif., Mrs. Ironside raise their two boys, Edmund and John, while her husband roved the country, preaching and teaching. Later the family included Lillian, their grandchild whom they adopted on the death of her mother, who was Edmund’s first wife.
So extended were his trips finally that in John’s senior year in college he remembers his father being home only two weeks out of the 52.
Smilingly, John, former assistant pastor at The Moody Church, now assistant superintendent of men at Moody Bible Institute, declares that his father is younger now than when he first remembers him; for until he was nearly 40 he wore a full red Vandyke beard, which made him appear like a patriarch. Before he was 30 he became as bald as he is now, from a severe attack of typhoid.
Doctrinally during the 30 years after his resignation from the Salvation Army, Ironside underwent a gradual transition through the prayerful study of the Scriptures to a position of moderate Calvinism.
Cognizant of his lack of formal education, he set about to educate himself — and did so to a remarkable degree. A voracious reader, he devoured two or three books a day while traveling — not novels, but solid doctrinal and devotional works.
Desiring to know the original languages of the Scriptures, he ordered correspondence courses in Greek and Hebrew. The former he has kept up; the latter “soon discouraged” him. For scholastic recreation he took up Chinese, in which he is now well at home and reads with enjoyment. Besides language and theological study, books on every subject were fed into his mental maw to satisfy his insatiable hunger for knowledge.
Probably the greatest human factor in his success is his remarkable memory, which is so acute, according to his wife, that it enables him to remember things that never happened. Ideas, seed thoughts, even poems and quotations, once read, are firmly fixed in his mind and called forth at a moment’s notice. Lengthy Scripture quotations and obscure hymns fill his sermons, a never-ending source of wonder to the average layman.
Foundation of all his study, however, is his devotional hour with which he begins his day. Then he reads God’s Word for H.A. Ironside, and prays God’s guidance on the multiple activities in which he is engaged. This hour he tries to keep inviolable.
Outstanding in all his experiences in this period is the lesson he learned of absolute dependence upon God for every need. Living wholly on faith, he tested God’s faithfulness in every circumstance, and it is these experiences which have enriched his life in the practical understanding of God’s Word.
It was with this rich background that he faced, 14 years ago, the second great decision regarding his life work.
In 1926 Dr. P.W. Philpott had led The Moody Church congregation in building a $1,000,000 downtown structure, seating 4,040 persons. In 1929 he resigned, and the booming church looked seven months for a man big enough to fill the pulpit hallowed by the saintly succession of D.L. Moody, A.C. Dixon, R.A. Torrey, J.M. Gray and Paul Rader.
Finally in 1930 the church fathers called the 53-year-old Brethren evangelist, who had never before held a pastorate.
For months Ironside prayed over and deliberated the offer, for the idea of “pastor” was contrary to all settled practice of the Brethren. Ten months later he accepted the call and became the tenth pastor of Chicago’s historic Moody Church.
Dr. Harry Rimmer tells the story, probably somewhat apocryphal, that following his acceptance, a Brethren conference was called in the East to which Dr. Ironside was invited.
He entered the room in which were seated the leaders of the movement and was greeted by silence. He asked if they wished to have a Scripture reading or prayer. Silence followed.
Finally he said, “I know what you want, and I’ll tell you. It was this way: I prayed over the call to the church, and the Lord said to me, ‘Feed My Lambs.’ But I answered, ‘Lord, what about the Brethren?’
“Then I prayed again, and the Lord seemed to say, ‘Feed My sheep.’ Again I asked, ‘But Lord, what about the Brethren?’
“So I prayed again, and finally the Lord said to me, “’Feed My sheep. I’ll take care of the Brethren!’”
Still in fellowship with the Brethren, Ironside speaks frequently at their conferences and annual meetings held over the country.
When he entered the pulpit his first Sunday morning, he faced not only a congregation and membership of over 4,000, but also a building debt of $375,000. But not the least of his versatile abilities is raising money, and at the New Year’s Eve watch - night service Dec. 31, 1943, the last $5,000 mortgage for that indebtedness was burned, climaxing an average debt retirement of over $26,000 per year during his pastorate! Throughout the 14 years of his pastorate — the longest term of any of The Moody Church preachers — only two Sundays have passed without at least one conversion resulting from the services. Now more than 80 missionaries are supported by the church, and two or three assistant pastors direct the multiple related activities of the tremendous organization.
His ministry is unusual among his own people, for special speakers do not boost but usually deplete his Sunday attendances. None of the top-flight evangelists and pastors of the country can maintain the audience average which he has from week to week.
When he is known to be away, attendances drop sharply.
Yet his preaching is simple and unspectacular. With no outline or notes, he preaches extempore from a passage of Scripture, rarely on a topic. He never sits down to prepare sermons as such, but is continually on the lookout for illustrations and ideas to fill out his future messages.
Nearly everything he has preached has appeared in print. Stenographically reported or electrically transcribed from the radio broadcast of his Sunday morning services, his sermons now fill over 40 books. Many of these are devotional commentaries on Bible books and are hailed by some as the outstanding commentaries of the century.
Because of his prolific publishing, Ironside is probably best known to many as an author, not a preacher. Most cosmopolitan outlet of his work is probably The Sunday School Times, which weekly prints his commentary on the International lesson. This is undoubtedly his most carefully prepared work, for it alone of all his messages is written out beforehand, sometimes in longhand, always on Saturday afternoons.
One outstanding exception to his sermon - books is Except ye repent,, which won the American Tract Society’s $1,000 prize a few years ago. This he wrote longhand over the incredibly short period of three weeks, mostly on trains.
Ironside books are widely accepted today throughout evangelical Christianity, although it is true that his practice of hewing to the line occasionally keeps some out of certain bookstores.
One certain outlet for all his books, however, is the Western Book and Tract Co., which he financed and organized 30 years ago in Oakland, Calif. As a non-profit distributing depot for Christian literature and tracts as well as his own publications, it has grown until this year it will do a gross income of more than $75,000.
Probably no other name appears on as many letterheads as does H.A. Ironside’s. Though he does not belong to any denomination, he is on the board of advisers or board of reference of practically every mission board and philanthropic agency known to fundamentalism. In addition he serves on the governing board of directors of many such outstanding organizations as Wheaton College, Bob Jones College and the Africa Inland Mission. His name behind an organization is an “open sesame” to fundamentalists pocketbooks and pulpits everywhere. Bigwigs of the National Association of Evangelicals are currently surprised and rejoicing that he pledged the telling influence of The Moody Church to that movement.
Hardly a homebody, Dr. Ironside stipulated when he accepted the call to The Moody Church that he wished liberty during weekdays to take other meetings. And so he has averaged 40 weeks of the year out of the city since he has been in Chicago. Leaving his suite in the Hotel Plaza, across the street from the church, on Monday, he travels anywhere in a radius of 1,000 miles to hold meetings during the week, returning Saturday for his own Sunday services.
Four times he has gone abroad — the first time in 1936 on a vacation trip to Great Britain and Palestine. Returning to Britain the following year for the Moody Centenary, he had the greatest thrill of his life preaching in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland — pulpit of John Knox and the Scottish reformers.
When he arrived that year in Aberdeen, ancestral home of the world’s Ironside clan, he was given a tremendous welcome by the townspeople, who turned out en masse to honor this second - generation favorite son. And throughout the British Isles he was received with as wide acclaim and popularity as he is in the U.S.
In 1938 he returned again to Great Britain with J. Stratton Shufelt, then musical director of The Moody Church, to hold a series of evangelistic meetings. This time he and his song leader were hailed as another Moody and Sankey. In 1939 he returned again briefly for a rest and to speak at the world-famed Keswick Conference.
Perhaps not only his ability as a speaker but his warm, friendly personality is responsible for his widespread invitations and popularity. “Father is a gregarious animal,” says his son John, and this is amply evident in his cordiality and interest in big and small alike.
He apparently likes nothing better than to sit down at a table, tuck a napkin high on his capacious bay and, eyes twinkling, launch into a series of side-splitting stories and anecdotes about men he has met around the world — meanwhile, between stories, storing away sizable quantities of food, which he thoroughly relishes.
He has a wealth of scotch dialect tales which occasionally get the best of him and consume whole evenings when he is not preaching, as when he lectures for two weeks yearly at the Dallas Theological Seminary.
His excellent sense of humor is not absent from the pulpit, but is well governed there. On a few occasions — also in select company — he can be lured into singing, with many appropriate gestures, the old Salvation Army songs of his youth, which, contrasted with modern hymnody, are irresistibly funny.
In his busy life he has never had any time for playing, but has indulged himself in one hobby — stamp collecting. Now possessing almost a professional collection of between 25,000 and 30,000 stamps and covers, he rarely has time to devote to it as he did in the past. Bible archeology and Christian biography are also pastimes with him, on a smaller scale.
Despite his success — probably unequaled by any other man of his generation — and his recognized leadership in biblical scholarship, he is genuinely modest and unassuming. He confesses to being “afraid of Ph.D.’s” and maintains he feels out of place in college academic processions.
Harry Ironside doesn’t aspire to positions of leadership in national organizations. Like Alexander Maclaren, dean of English expository preachers, he is content to do well the task of preaching the gospel which God has assigned to him, and he doesn’t want to regulate other men’s and organization’s paths, “though I would have long ago,” he now says. “It is not organization but the individual consecration that counts in the work of the Lord,” he claims, and to that end he orients his own life.
A well-known seminary head said of him recently, “He has the most unique ministry of any man living.” The secret of that, he continued, is that Harry Ironside knows how to expound the Scriptures on the level of the ordinary listener, and he can point to the present practical value in any and every passage he expounds.
It is this ability to place the riches of the Word of God on a level accessible to the common man that has made H.A. Ironside one of the most capable and prominent preachers in fundamentalism today — a prominence that, in another generation, may well put him on a par with such giants as Moody, Spurgeon and Maclaren.
I found this article here.
He Ever Liveth (Prayer)
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
OUR God, we come to Thee by Jesus Christ who has gone within the veil on our behalf and ever liveth to make intercession for us. Our poor prayers could never reach Thee were it not for Him, but His hands are full of sweet perfume which makes our pleading sweet with Thee. His blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat, and now we know that Thou dost always hear those who approach Thee through that ever blessed name.
We have deeply felt our entire unworthiness even to lift up our eyes to the place where Thine honour dwelleth. Thou hast made us to die to our self-righteousness. We pray now because we have been quickened ; we have received a new life, and the breath of that life is prayer. We have risen from the dead, and we also make intercession through the life which Christ has given us. We plead with the living God with living hearts because He has made us to live.
Our first prayer shall be for those who do not pray. There is an ancient promise of Thine, "I am found of them that sought Me not ; I said, Behold Me, behold Me, to a people that were not a people." Prove the sovereignty of Thy grace, the priority of Thy power, which runs before the will of man, by making many willing in this the day of Thy power, and calling the things that are not as though they were. May the day come in which they that are in their graves shall hear the voice of God, and they that hear shall live.
How very often Thou shewest Thy mighty power. O Lord, we bless Thee that the voice of God has called many to Christ. Those that are hardened have felt a softness stealing over their spirits ; those who were careless have been compelled to sit down and think ; those that were wrapped up in earthly things have been compelled to think of eternal things ; and thinking, have been disturbed, and driven to despair, but afterwards led to Thee, even to Thee, dear Saviour, who wast lifted high upon the cross that by Thy death sinners might live.
But, Lord, we next would pray that Thine own people should know somewhat of the quickening of the Spirit of God. Lord, we thank Thee for the very least life to God, for the feeblest ray of faith and glimmering of hope. We are glad to see anything of Christ in any man ; but Thou hast come, O Saviour, not only that we might have life, but that we might have it more abundantly, so our prayer is that there may be abundance of life.
O make Thy people strong in the Lord, in the power of His might. Lord, we find when we walk close with God that we have no desire for the world. When we get away altogether from the things that are seen and temporal, and live upon the invisible and eternal, then we shall have angels' food ; nay, better than that, the food of Christ Himself, for his flesh is meat indeed, and His blood is drink indeed. Then have we meat to eat that the world knoweth not of. We pray Thee raise all our brothers and sisters in Christ into the high and heavenly frame of mind in which they shall be in the world and not be of it. Whether they have little or much of temporal things, may they be rich in Thee and full of joy in the Holy Ghost, and so be blessed men and women.
We pray for some of Thine own people who seem to be doing very little for Thee, Lord, have mercy upon those whose strength runs towards the world, and who give but little of their strength to the spread of the Gospel and the winning of souls. O let none of us fritter away our existence ; may we begin to live since Christ hath died ; may we reckon that because He died, we died to all the world, and because He lives, we live in newness of life. Lord we thank Thee for that newness of life.
We praise Thy name for a new heaven and a new earth ; we bless Thee that we now see what we never saw before, and hear what we never heard before. Oh ! that we might enter into the very secret place of this inner life. May we have as much grace as can be obtained ; may we become perfect after the manner of Thy servant Paul, but still press forward, seeking still to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ.
Lord, make us useful. Oh ! let no believer live to himself. May we be trying to bring others to Christ. May our servants, and work-people, and neighbours all know where we live ; and if they do not understand the secret of that life, yet may they see the fruit of that life, and may they ask, "What is this?" and enquire their way to Christ that they may be sanctified too. O Lord, we pray Thee visit Thy Church. May none of us imagine that we are living aright unless we are bringing others to the cross. Oh! keep us from worldliness ; keep us much in prayer ; keep us with the light of God shining on our forehead. May we be a happy people, not because we are screened from affliction, but because we are walking in the light of God.
Again we offer prayer for the many efforts that are scattered abroad today. May they be good wherever they are. We pray for all churches ; Lord, revive them all. Wherever Christ is preached, may it be proved that He draws all men unto Him. May the preaching of Christ today be peculiarly efficacious. Oh ! that Thou wouldst raise up many that would preach Christ, simply, boldly, and with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Send us better days ; send us days of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
Lord, shake the earth with the power of God. Oh ! that the heathen lands may hear the Word of God and live. But first convert the Church, and then Thou wilt convert the world. Oh ! deal with those that depart from the faith and grieve Thy Holy Spirit. Bring them back again to their first love, and may Christ be fully and faithfully preached everywhere to the glory of His name. Now forgive us every iniquity ; now lift us beyond the power of every sin ; now lift us to pray and praise ; now make the home full of sacred power, and, last of all, come, Lord Jesus. This is the great wish of our souls. Even so, come quickly, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.
By John Walvoord (1990)
Prophecy In The Gospel Of John
The gospel of John is not primarily a book on prophecy as John himself stated that the purpose of the book was to bring people to family in Jesus Christ ( John 20:30–31 ). Because of the special purpose of the gospel of John, it deals more with history than prophecy. Written as it was in the last part of the first century, it was ministering to the second generation of the church, which, of course, was primarily concerned with what would happen in the present age.
John 20:30–31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:28 The deity of Jesus Christ is declared in Scripture: (1) In the intimations and explicit predictions of the O.T. (a) The theophanies intimate the appearance of God in human form, and His ministry thus to man ( Gen. 16:7–13; 18:2–23, especially v. 17; 32:28 with Hos. 12:3–5; Ex. 3:2–14). (b) The Messiah is expressly declared to be the Son of God ( Psa. 2:2–9 ), and God ( Psa. 45:6, 7 with Heb. 1:8, 9; Psa. 110:1 with Mt. 22:44; Acts 2:34 and Heb. 1:13; Psa. 110:4 with Heb. 5:6; 6:20; 7:17–21; and Zech. 6:13 ). (c) His virgin birth was foretold as the means through which God could be “Immanuel,” God with us ( Isa. 7:13, 14 with Mt. 1:22, 23 ). (d) The Messiah is expressly invested with the divine names ( Isa. 9:6, 7 ). (e) In a prophecy of His death He is called Jehovah’s “fellow” ( Zech. 13:7 with Mt. 26:31 ). (f) His eternal being is declared ( Mic. 5:2 with Mt. 2:6; John 7:42 ).
(2) Christ Himself affirmed His deity, (a) He applied to Himself the Jehovistic I AM. (The pronoun “he” is not in the Greek; cf. John 8:24; John 8:56–58. The Jews correctly understood this to be our Lord’s claim to full deity [v. 59 ]. See, also, John 10:33; 18:4–6, where, also, “he” is not in the original.) (b) He claimed to be the Adonai of the O.T. ( Mt. 22:42–45. See Gen. 15:2, note). (c) He asserted His identity with the Father ( Mt. 28:19; Mk. 14:62; John 10:30; that the Jews so understood Him is shown by vs. 31, 32; John 14:8, 9; 17:5 ). (d) He exercised the chief prerogative of God ( Mk. 2:5–7; Lk. 7:48–50 ). (e) He asserted omnipresence ( Mt. 18:20; John 3:13 ); omniscience ( John 11:11–14, when Jesus was fifty miles away; Mk. 11:6–8 ); omnipotence ( Mt. 28:18; Lk. 7:14; John 5:21–23; 6:19 ); mastery over nature, and creative power ( Lk. 9:16, 17; John 2:9; 10:28 ). (f) He received and approved human worship ( Mt. 14:33; 28:9; John 20:28, 29 ).
(3) The N.T. writers ascribe divine titles to Christ ( John 1:1; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 1:4; 9:5; 2 Thes. 1:12; 1 Tim. 3:16; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 1 John 5:20 ).
(4) The N.T. writers ascribe divine perfections and attributes to Christ (e.g. Mt. 11:28; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:2; 2:23–25; 3:13; 5:17; 21:17; Heb. 1:3, 11, 12 with Heb. 13:8; Rev. 1:8, 17, 18; 2:23; 11:17; 22:13 ).
(5) The N.T. writers ascribe divine works to Christ ( John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:3 ).
(6) The N.T. writers teach that supreme worship should be paid to Christ ( Acts 7:59, 60; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 2:9, 10; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5, 6; 5:12, 13 ).
(7) The holiness and resurrection of Christ prove His deity ( John 8:46; Rom. 1:4 ). C. I. Scofield, ed., The Scofield Reference Bible: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments (New York; London; Toronto; Melbourne; Bombay: Oxford University Press, 1917), 1144–1145.
Accordingly, though the gospel of John has numerous prophecies of a general nature, the major prophetic message is found in John 13–17, revealed the night before Jesus was crucified. The Upper Room Discourse found in this section takes its place along other major prophetic portions, such as Matthew 5–7, Matthew 13, and Matthew 24–25
The Testimony of John the Baptist concerning Jesus
John 1:15–17. The ministry of John the Baptist as a forerunner of Jesus was prophesied in Isaiah 40:3–5. Matthew called attention to this ( Matt. 3:3, quoting Isa. 40:3 ). Luke quoted the whole passage of Isaiah 40:3–5 ( Luke 3:4–6 ). John the Baptist claimed that he was that prophet in connection with the baptism of Jesus ( John 1:23 ). John the Baptist had predicted, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’” (v. 15 ). John the disciple traced grace and all the blessings of God through Jesus, stating, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (vv. 16–17 ). John, in effect, announced that Jesus would bring in a new dispensation, which would have grace and truth as its central feature. These statements are compatible only with the concept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the promised Messiah of Israel.
John the Baptist Announces One Who Is Greater Than He
John 1:26–27. When John the Baptist was asked whether he was Christ or Elijah or the prophet, he disclaimed his identification with them. He stated instead that he baptized with water but that One after him would be greater than he ( 1:24–27 ).
John the Baptist Identifies Jesus as the Lamb
John 1:29–34. The day after John the Baptist announced that One was coming who was greater than he, he saw Jesus approaching, and John announced, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel” (vv. 29–31 ). Because Jesus was related to John the Baptist, no doubt they had met before, but John did not know that Jesus was the Messiah until that moment. The pronouncement that Jesus would be the Lamb of God was a prediction of His future ministry. John the Baptist stated that one of the primary reasons for his ministry was to reveal Jesus to Israel.
John the Baptist had been informed that when he met Jesus he would see a dove coming from heaven that would remain on Him: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (vv. 32–34 ). In Matthew’s record of the same incident, Matthew recorded that after Jesus was baptized, “at that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” ( Matt. 3:16–17 ). The record of John and the record of Matthew put together provide a remarkably clear demonstration of the doctrine of the Trinity. John saw the dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, remaining on Christ, and, of course, Jesus was being baptized. At the same time the voice from heaven, recorded by Matthew, indicated the presence of God the Father. Luke, likewise, confirmed the fact that the Father’s voice was heard ( Luke 3:21–22 ).
Matthew 3:16 For the first time the Trinity, foreshadowed in many ways in the O.T., is fully manifested. The Spirit descends upon the Son, and at the same moment the Father’s voice is heard from heaven. C. I. Scofield, ed., The Scofield Reference Bible: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments (New York; London; Toronto; Melbourne; Bombay: Oxford University Press, 1917), 997.
The Testimony of Nathanael
John 1:40–51. Andrew, who had been called to follow Jesus the day before, first went to find his brother Simon Peter and bring him to Jesus (vv. 40–42 ). The next day Philip was called (v. 43 ). Philip called Nathanael (v. 45 ), but Nathanael was concerned because he said no prophet came from Nazareth (vv. 45–46 ). When Nathanael approached Jesus, Jesus said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false” (v. 47 ). Nathanael was astounded that Jesus knew him and asked how He knew him (v. 48 ). Jesus’ reply was, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you” (v. 48 ). Nathanael recognized that the only way Jesus could know him, because he had been all alone, was that he was God, and he declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (v. 49 ). In connection with the finding and call of Nathanael, Jesus made the pronouncement, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that” (v. 50 ). Then Jesus added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (v. 51 ). In this passage on the call of Nathanael, John was proving first of all that Jesus is omnipresent in His deity, which explains why He saw Nathanael under the fig tree, and also that He was omniscient — knowing things in the future.
Jesus’ Prediction of His Death and Resurrection
John 2:13–22. John recorded the first purification of the temple by Jesus (vv. 13–17 ). Jesus had driven the sheep and the cattle out of the temple area and scattered the tables of the money changers (v. 15 ). John recorded, however, “Then the Jews demanded of him, ‘What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’” (v. 18 ). Jesus’ reply was the prediction of His death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (v. 19 ). The Jews, of course, thought He was talking about the temple that Herod was building, which had been under construction for forty-six years (v. 20 ). John explained that the temple Jesus was talking about was His body (v. 21 ). At the time the disciples did not understand what Jesus said, but John recorded, “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken” (v. 23 ).
Jesus Predicts His Crucifixion
John 3:14–16. When Jesus testified to Nicodemus concerning the difficulty of accepting spiritual truth, He stated, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (vv. 14–16 ). In alluding to Moses’s lifting up the snake in the desert, Jesus was referring to Numbers 21:6–9. When the children of Israel complained about not having food and water to their liking, Numbers recorded that God sent venomous snakes among the people and caused many to die (v. 6 ). When the people of Israel confessed that they had sinned, the Lord instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and place it on a pole, and if the people were bitten by the snakes, they could look at the bronze snake and be healed (vv. 8–9 ).
Using this historical illustration, Jesus declared that He also “must be lifted up” ( John 3:14 ). Just as in the case of Israel when they looked at the bronze serpent in faith and were healed, so Jesus predicted that when they looked at Him lifted up, they would believe and have eternal life (v. 15 ). In referring to being lifted up, Jesus was referring to His crucifixion and the need for them to go to the cross in faith in order to have salvation through Christ. Jesus concluded this with the great affirmation that the gift of God’s Son was an act of love and that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (v. 16 ). No doubt, the disciples did not understand what Jesus was referring to until after His death and resurrection.
Necessity of Faith in Christ to Have Life
As a summary of this important chapter, the apostle John declared, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” ( 3:36 ). This verse provides a marvelous prophecy that belief in Jesus as the Son assures an individual of eternal life in contrast to those who reject Jesus, who not only do not receive life but are under God’s wrath.
Jesus’ Testimony to the Samaritan Woman
John 4:7–42. The journey between Judea and Galilee required going through Samaria, the direct route that Jesus and His disciples used, or to go around by the east through Perea. After journeying all day, Jesus and His disciples came as far as Jacob’s well located in Samaria, and the disciples went into the village to buy food. As Jesus sat by the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus, fully aware of her spiritual need, asked her for a drink (v. 7 ). The Samaritan woman, well aware of the antagonism between Samaritans and Jews, was surprised that He would have anything to do with her. When she questioned why Jesus was willing to ask for the drink, Jesus answered her: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (v. 10 ). The Samaritan woman replied, of course, that Jesus had nothing with which to draw water, and, after all, His forefathers — Jacob and his sons — had drawn water from the well. Naturally, it raised the question as to how He could give her Living Water (vv. 11–12 ).
Jesus expounded on the living water, saying, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (vv. 13–14 ). When the Samaritan woman asked that she might have this water, Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband and come back” (v. 16 ).
In the resulting conversation, she said she had no husband, and Jesus said that was right, that though she had had five husbands, the one she was living with now was not her husband. The Samaritan woman, recognizing that she was talking to a prophet, brought up the Samaritans’ familiar contention with the Jewish people as to where they could worship. She said, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place we must worship is in Jerusalem” (v. 20.
In His reply Jesus pointed out that worship is not a matter of place but a matter of true worship in spirit and in truth (v. 23 ). The Samaritan woman replied, “‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us’” (v. 25 ). Jesus then declared to her, “I who speak to you am he” (v. 26 ).
At this point in the narrative, the disciples had returned and were surprised that He would talk to a Samaritan woman but, nevertheless, did not ask Him why. When they urged Jesus to eat, He replied, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (v. 32 ). When the disciples could not understand this, He told them, “My food ... is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (c. 34 ). Jesus then pointed out to them that the fields were white unto harvest — speaking, of course, of a spiritual harvest.
When the woman testified to the inhabitants of her village that Jesus had told her all she had ever done, because of her sinful life they naturally came out of curiosity to see One who knew all about her, and many believed (vv. 40–41 ). The gospel of John, designed to lead people to faith in Christ that they may receive eternal life, has now added the Samaritan woman as a possible candidate for salvation along with Nicodemus, a law-abiding Jew. In the process of leading the Samaritan woman to faith in Him, Jesus had demonstrated His omniscience and His capacity to give eternal life.
Jesus Heals the Son of an Official at Capernaum
John 4:43–53. When the official sought Christ to come down and heal his son, Jesus replied simply, “You may go. Your son will live” (v. 50 ). In the verses that follow, John recorded how the child was healed at that very hour, causing the entire household to believe in Jesus (vv. 52–53 ).
The Significance of Pentecost
By Charles C. Ryrie
By anyone’s standards Pentecost was a significant day. It is the purpose of this article to treat the significant aspects of the day in relation to certain major areas of theological studies.
Significance in Relation to Typology
Typology has suffered a great deal at the hands of both its friends and its enemies, since for many the study of types is still an uncertain science. Some, it is true, have found types in everything, while others in their reaction against this give little or no place for typological studies. My own definition of a type is that it is a divinely purposed illustration which prefigures its corresponding reality. This definition not only covers types which are expressly designated so by the New Testament (e.g., 1 Cor 10) but also allows for types not so designated (e.g., Joseph as a type of Christ). Yet in the definition the phrase “divinely purposed” should guard against an allegorical or pseudo-spiritual interpretation of types which sees chiefly the resemblances between Old Testament events and New Testament truths to the neglect of the historical, geographical, and local parts of those events. While all things are in a sense divinely purposed, not all details in all stories were divinely purposed illustrations of subsequently revealed truth. Pentecost is a good example of this, for although there is a clear type-antitype relationship, not all the details of the Old Testament feast find a corresponding reality in the events recorded in Acts 2.
As the antitype of one of the annual feasts of the Jews Pentecost has significance. This feast ( Lev 23:15–21 ) was characterized by an offering of two loaves marking the close of harvest. The corresponding reality of this ceremony was the joining on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit Jew and Gentile as one loaf in the one body of Christ ( 1 Cor 12:13 ). Pentecost is sometimes called the feast of weeks because it fell seven (a week of) weeks after Firstfruits. No date could be set for the observance of Firstfruits, for that depended on the ripening of the grain for harvest. However, when the time did arrive a small amount of grain was gathered, threshed, ground into flour, and presented to the Lord as a token of the harvest yet to be gathered. The corresponding reality is, of course, “Christ the firstfruits” ( 1 Cor 15:23 ). The fifty days interval between the two feasts was divinely purposed in the Old Testament type and finds exact correspondence in the New Testament antitype.
Significance in Relation to Theology
The theological significance of Pentecost concerns chiefly the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity, not Peter, played the leading role in the drama of that day; He is the power of Pentecost;, and in a very special sense the era which followed is His age. Obviously the Spirit of God has always been present in this world, but He has not always been a resident as one who permanently indwells the church. This was a new relationship which did not obtain even during the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry, for He said to His disciples concerning the Spirit, “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” ( John 14:17 ).
The Evidences of His Coming (Acts 2:1–4)
Wind. A sound as of a rushing mighty wind was the first evidence of the Spirit’s coming. It came suddenly so that it could not be attributed to any natural cause, and it came from heaven, which probably refers both to the impression given of its origin and also to its actual supernatural origin. It was not actually wind but rather a roar or reverberation, for verse two should be literally translated “an echoing sound as of a mighty wind borne violently.” It filled all the house which means that all of the 120 would have experienced the sensation since so many people would of necessity have been scattered throughout the house. This was a fitting evidence of the Spirit’s coming, for the Lord had used this very symbol when He spoke of the things of the Spirit to Nicodemus ( John 3:8 ).
Fire. The audible sign, wind, was followed by a visible one, fire. Actually the tongues which, looked like fire divided themselves over the company, a tongue settling upon the head of each one. This, too, was an appropriate sign for the presence of the Holy Spirit, for fire had long been to the Jews a symbol of the divine presence ( Exod 3:2; Deut 5:4). The form of the original text makes one doubt the presence of material fire though the appearance of the tongues was clearly as if they had been composed of fire.
Languages. Finally, each began to speak in a real language which was new to the speaker but which was understood by those from the various lands who were familiar with them. This was the third piece of evidence, and although some have assumed that this miracle was wrought on the ears of the hearers, this certainly forces the plain and natural sense of the narrative. These tongues were evidently real languages (vv. 6–8 ) which were spoken, and the imperfect tense, “was giving” (v. 4 ), indicates that they were spoken in turn, one after another.
The Effects of His Coming ( Acts 2:5–13 )
Baptism. The most important effect of the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost was the placing of men and women into the body of Christ by His baptism. Our Lord spoke of this baptizing work of the Holy Spirit just before His ascension ( Acts 1:5 ), and it is clear from His words that this was a ministry of the Spirit thus far unknown even to those to whom He had said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” ( John 20:22 ). If the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not something new to men until the day of Pentecost, then the Lord’s words in Acts 1:5 — and especially the future tense of the verb “ye shall be baptized” — mean nothing. Although it is not specifically recorded in Acts 2 that the baptism of the Spirit occurred on the day of Pentecost, it is recorded in Acts 11:15–16 that this happened then, and Peter states there that what happened at Pentecost was the fulfillment of the promise of Acts 1:5. However, it is Paul who explains what this baptism (not to be confused with what is meant in Acts 2:38 ) accomplishes when he writes, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been made to drink into one Spirit” ( 1 Cor 12:13 ). In other words, on the day of Pentecost men were first placed into the body of Christ and that by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Since the church is the body of Christ ( Col 1:18 ), the church could not have begun until Pentecost. Furthermore, since no reference to the baptism of the Spirit is found in the Old Testament, since all references in the gospels are prophetic, and since in all prophecies of the future kingdom age there is no reference to the Spirit’s baptism, we may conclude that this work of His is peculiar to this dispensation and peculiar to the church (which, it follows, must also be limited to this dispensation) in forming it and uniting the members to the body of Christ forever.
Bewilderment. Certain visible effects of the Spirit’s coming were evident in the crowd which gathered as a result of the phenomena connected with His coming. At first the people (including Eastern or Babylonian Jews, Syrian Jews, Egyptian Jews, Roman Jews, Cretes and Arabians) were amazed. Literally the text says that they stood out of themselves with wide-open astonishment (v. 7 ). This is a mental reaction showing that their minds were arrested by what they observed. Next they were perplexed (v. 12 ). This is a strong compound word from an adjective which means impassable and hence the word comes to mean to be wholly and utterly at a loss. This was mental defeat. “The amazement meant that they did not know. The perplexity meant that they knew they did not know.” Not knowing is always a blow to man’s pride; consequently this crowd, driven to find an answer to what they had seen and heard, replaced their ignorance with criticism (v. 13 ). These are merely normal reactions of Satanically - blinded minds to which the things of God are foolishness ( 2 Cor 4:4; 1 Cor 2:14 ) and should not surprise us if they occur today. The offense of the cross has not ceased.
Its Signficance in Relation to HomileticsThe Sermon ( Acts 2:14–36 )
Introduction — Explanation. Peter, spokesman for the eleven, seized the opportunity for a witness by answering the charge of drunkenness which had been levelled at the apostles. He thus wisely introduced his sermon by using the local situation, and taking that which was uppermost in his hearers’ thoughts. He formulated his introduction as an explanation of that which they had just seen and heard (v. 15 ).
Strangely enough he did not introduce his message with a story or joke. Nothing in the situation seemed to remind Peter of a certain story, etc. Peter’s mind was full of Scripture, not stories; Peter’s concern was for the people, not pleasantries. The disciples could not be drunk, he told them, for it was only nine o’clock in the morning. Pentecost was a feast day, and the Jews who were engaged in the services of the synagogues of Jerusalem would have abstained from eating and drinking until at least 10 a.m. and more likely noon.
From this categorical denial of the charge of drunkenness Peter passed easily and naturally to the explanation of what the phenomenon was. It was not wine but the Holy Spirit who was causing these things, and to prove this Peter quoted Joel 2:28–32. This is a very definite prophecy of the Holy Spirit’s being poured out when Israel is again established in her own land. The problem here is not one of interpretation but of usage only. Clearly Joel’s prophecy was not fulfilled at Pentecost, for (1) Peter does not use the usual Scriptural formula for fulfilled prophecy as he does in Acts 1:16 (cf. Matt 1:22; 2:17; 4:14); (2) the original prophecy of Joel will clearly not be fulfilled until Israel is restored to her land, converted, and enjoying the presence of the Lord in her midst ( Joel 2:26–28 ); (3) the events prophesied by Joel simply did not come to pass. If language means anything Pentecost did not fulfill this prophecy nor did Peter think that it did. The usage need not raise theological questions at all, for the matter is primarily homiletical and any problems should be solved in that light. Peter’s point was that the Holy Spirit and not wine was responsible for what these Jews had seen. He quotes Joel to point out that as Jews who knew the Old Testament Scriptures they should have recognized this as the Spirit’s work. In other words, their own Scriptures should have reminded them that the Spirit was able to do what they had just seen. Why then, someone may ask, did Peter include the words from Joel recorded in Acts 2:19–20? Why did he not stop with verse 18? The answer is simple. Peter not only wanted to show his audience that they should have known from the Scriptures that the Spirit could do what they had seen, but he also wanted to invite them to accept Jesus as their Messiah by using Joel’s invitation “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 21 ). Thus what is recorded in Acts 2:19–20 is simply a connecting link between the two key points in his argument. “The remainder of the quotation from Joel, verses 19, 20, has no bearing on Peter’s argument, but was probably made in order to complete the connection of that which his argument demanded.”
Theme — Jesus is Messiah. To us today it does not mean much to say that Jesus is Christ or Messiah. To a Jew of that day this was an assertion which required convincing proof, and it was the theme of Peter’s sermon. Peter’s proof is built along very simple lines. First he paints a picture of the Messiah from the Old Testament Scriptures. Then from contemporary facts he presents a picture of Jesus of Nazareth. Finally, he superimposes these two pictures on each other to prove conclusively that Jesus is Messiah. The center of each picture is the resurrection. In verses 22–24 there is a proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Then there follows (vv. 25–31 ) the prediction of resurrection from Psalm 16:8–11 which Peter applies to the Messiah. Finally, the Messiah is identified as Jesus whom they crucified and of whose resurrection they were witnesses. It is important to notice that the truth of Jesus’ resurrection was not challenged but was well attested by the conviction of these thousands of people who were in the very city where it had occurred less than two months before.
Conclusion — Application. Peter now puts it up to his hearers to decide about Jesus, and yet there is really no choice, so conclusive has been his argument. How gracious of God to appeal once again to the very people who had crucified His Son. The application was personal. Peter did not say “someone” but “ye.”
The Results ( Acts 2:37–41 )
Conviction. Peter’s sermon brought conviction of heart. The word translated “prick” is a rare one which means to pierce, stun or smite. Outside the Scriptures it is used of horses dinting the earth with their hoofs. In like manner the hearts of his hearers were smitten by Peter’s message as the Spirit of God applied it.
Conversion. To the group of 120 (which included men and women, Acts 1:14 ) were added 3000 souls ( Acts 2:41 ). They repented or changed their minds, for that is the meaning of repentance. It is not mere sorrow which is related to the emotions, for one can be sorry for sin without being repentant. Neither is it mere mental assent to certain facts, for genuine repentance involves the heart as well. For the Jews gathered at Pentecost it involved a change of relationship toward Him whom they had considered as merely the carpenter’s son of Nazareth and an imposter by receiving Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
The Spirit of God must always do the work of enlightening and converting, but men are still His method of heralding the message. May our sermons be like Peter’s — doctrinally sound, homiletically excellent, filled with and explanatory of the Word of God, and aimed at those to whom we speak.
Its Significance in Relation to Practical Theology
In the realm of practical theology two things command attention from among the many events of Pentecost and the days which immediately followed.
The Ordinance of Baptism
To the question “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized.” That this refers to the new converts’ being baptized by the Spirit is untenable for several reasons. (1) It is doubtful that Peter himself and much less probable that his hearers understood yet the truth concerning the baptism of the Spirit even though it did first occur at Pentecost. (2) If this were referring to that automatic ministry of the Spirit then there would be no need for the report of verse 41: “Then they that gladly received his word was baptized.” (3) What would this audience have understood by Peter’s answer? His words meant that they were to submit to a rite performed with water which would be a sign of their identification with this new group. They would have thought immediately of Jewish, proselyte baptism which signified entrance of the proselyte into Judaism. They would have thought of John’s baptism, submission to which meant identification with John’s message in a very definite way; for John was the first person to baptize other people (all proselyte baptisms were self-imposed), which was a striking way to ask people to identify themselves with all that he stood for. They would have realized that they were being asked to identify and associate themselves with this new group who believed Jesus was the Messiah, and Christian baptism at the hands of these disciples signified this association as nothing else could. Even today for a Jew it is not his profession of Christianity nor his attendance at Christian services nor his belief in the New Testament but his partaking of water baptism that definitely and finally excludes him from Judaism and sets him off as a Christian. And there is no reason why it should not be the same line of demarcation for all converts to Christianity, signifying the separation from the old life and association with the new.
The Organization of Believers
Its commencement. We have already noted how the church as an organism, the body of Christ, began on the day of Pentecost. But the church as an organization also began that day as the Lord added 3000 souls.
Its continuance. The power of the early church, humanly speaking, was due largely to the facts recorded in Acts 2:42. There was no rapid falling away from the newly - embraced faith. Indeed, just the opposite was true, for membership in the early church involved persevering adherance. They continued in the apostles’ doctrine. “The church is apostolic because it cleaves to the apostles …” Teaching had always had a prominent place among the Jews, and it is not strange to find the Christian group appearing as a school. The apostles were the first teachers, and the bulk of their teaching we now have in the gospels. It consisted of the facts of the Lord’s life as well as His doctrine and teaching. The church today could well afford to emulate the early church in this. Instead of capitalizing on new converts and exploiting them, we should teach them even if that means keeping them in the background for a while.
Furthermore they continued steadfastly in fellowship, and this is evidently to be understood in the broadest sense of the word, for the text says “the fellowship.” This means partnership with God, partnership with others in the common salvation and in the sharing of material goods. They also continued in the breaking of bread which refers to the Lord’s Supper though not isolated but as the climax of the agapé or love feast. At the very first this was evidently observed daily (v. 46 ) though afterward it seemed to form the great act of worship on the Lord’s Day ( 20:7 ). At least we must say that the early church remembered her Lord with great frequency and with great freedom, for it was observed in homes without distinction between ordained clergy and laity (no service of ordination having yet occurred in the church).
Finally the record says that they continued in prayers. Again the definite article is used with this word and probably indicates definite times for prayer. Further, this is a word that is used exclusively for prayer to God and indicates the offering up of the wishes and desires to God in the frame of mind of devotion.
Its characterization. The early organization was characterized by fear (v. 43 ), favor (v. 47 ), and fellowship (vv. 44–46 ). Fear kept coming on this new group as signs and wonders kept on being done through the apostles (both verbs are in the imperfect tense). This fear was not alarm or dread of injury but a prevailing sense of awe in the manifest presence of the power of God. Favor was also their portion with the people at this time although times changed very quickly. Finally, fellowship in spiritual things demonstrated itself in fellowship of goods and worship. No doubt many of the pilgrims to the feast of Pentecost lingered in Jerusalem after their conversion to learn more of their new faith, and this created a pressing economic need. Providing for them through the sale and distribution of goods was God’s way of meeting this emergency. The necessity for this was probably shortlived though we know that the saints in Jerusalem remained a poor group.
This is the significance of Pentecost — the type fulfilled, the Holy Spirit baptizing men for the first time into the body of Christ, the sermon built on the resurrection and bringing conviction and conversion, and the young church marked off and established in the word and ways of the Lord.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 101I Will Walk with Integrity
101 A Psalm Of David.
5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.
6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.
7 No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.
8 Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the LORD.
Feeding Your Soul
By Jon Bloom 9/1/2012
When your soul is in turmoil, it’s hard to see clearly. Fear, anger, sorrow, and despair can distort your perception of reality. It’s hard to keep things in perspective. They can actually magnify your troubles.
Often, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, what you need is somebody to take you by the shoulders, look you square in the eye, and speak some sense to you. Sometimes that somebody is you.
I get this from the Bible. Listen to the psalmist talk to himself: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 43:5).
This was a man in trouble. He felt threatened and overwhelmed. And in the first part of the psalm, he was doing exactly the right thing by pouring out his soul in prayer to God. But then he stopped praying and spoke directly to his soul.
God is very intentional about what He includes in the Bible. So, when God includes this kind of soultalk in the inspired hymnal for the ages, we’re supposed to notice. God clearly intends us to speak to our souls. So, we need to understand why this is important.
When the psalmists talk to themselves, what are they doing? In every instance, whether in desperation or celebration, they are reminding themselves that their hope is in God. Why? Because in a world of tribulation (John 16:33), hope drains away, and they know how crucial it is to feed one’s soul.
Hope is to our soul what energy is to our bodies. Hope is the spiritual energy generated in the soul when we believe that our future is good, even if our present is bad. Our souls must have hope to keep going, just as our bodies must have energy to keep going.
Hope is something we feel only about the future, whether it’s ten minutes or ten thousand years from now. We’re never hopeful about the past. We can be grateful for the past. The past can inspire or even guarantee a hopeful future for us. But all the wonderful things that have happened to us in the past will not fuel our hope if our future looks bleak. We must have hope for the future to keep going.
When we’re hopeful, we can endure a lot of present adversity. Think of David when he wrote: “False witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. [Yet] I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:12–13). But the more hopeless we feel, the more we want to hide or escape. Think of David when he wrote: “Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me… . Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:5–6).
When our bodies need energy, we give them food. But when our souls need hope, what do we feed them? We feed them promises— God’s promises of “a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). Hopeful promises are true soul food.
That is precisely why the Bible is a book of “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4) made by a loving God who shows that He keeps His covenants. Man was not designed to “live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). So, God designed the Bible to be a storehouse of nourishing soul food for His saints.
And if promises are soul food and hope is soul energy, then faith is how the soul eats and digests. Faith is the confidence we have that God’s promises are trustworthy— “the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1). That is why “the righteous … live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). We must eat to live. Faith eats and digests God’s promises, and this produces hope.
So, in Psalm 43, when the writer exhorts his soul to “hope in God,” he’s taking himself by the shoulders, so to speak, and saying: “Listen, soul. What are you afraid of? Have you forgotten the glorious future that God has promised you? Do you believe that your threatening circumstances are stronger than God? Get your eyes off of your troubles and remember the true Source of your hope. Eat, soul. Eat God’s promises.”
This is what you and I must do as well. When trouble comes and our souls are in turmoil, God does not want us to be passive. We must pray, yes. But sometimes we need to stop praying—stop listening to our souls recite their fears—and preach to our souls. Fear is an indicator that our souls are hungry for hope. And the only foods that will really nourish the soul are God’s promises.
In Jesus, “all the promises of God find their Yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). The past graces of His death and resurrection guarantee a neverending stream of future grace for us extending into eternity.
So, eat to the glory of God. And “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).
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.Jon Bloom Books | Go to Books Page
The Continual Burnt Offering (Acts 20:24)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
September 10Acts 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ESV
Paul delighted to speak on various occasions of what he had “received from the Lord Jesus.” It was the assurance that his was a ministry given by the risen Christ which enabled him to “endure all things for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10). He knew Christ and he knew the value of the things of God, and because of this knowledge he was able to endure “as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). It is as heavenly things loom large before the soul that one can hold the things of earth with a loose hand, and endure suffering and persecution with joyfulness knowing that Christ will estimate all aright at His judgment seat and reward according to the measure of devotedness presented here.
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Hebrews 11:27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. ESV
Think it not strange then, pilgrim, neither faint,
Much less indulge in murmuring and complaint,
If what you meet with in your heavenly road
Is hard to bear; since all is planned by God,
His child to train in wisdom’s holy ways,
And form a chosen vessel for His praise.
Now we are slow those ways to understand;
But let us bow beneath His mighty hand,
Sure that His wisdom over all presides,
His power controls, and love unerring guides.
--- J. G. Deck
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
The son of one of the Boston Tea Party “Indians,” he graduated from Harvard and eventually became Massachusetts Speaker of the House. At age 32, President James Madison appointed him the youngest Justice on the Supreme Court. He served 34 years, and helped establish the illegality of the slave trade in the Amistad case. His name was Joseph Story, and he died this day, September 10, 1845. A founder of the Harvard Law School, Joseph Story stated: “Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”American Minute
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Grace is not opposed to effort,
it is opposed to earning.
Earning is an attitude.
Effort is an action.
Grace, you know,
does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.
--- Dallas Willard
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus&8217;s Essential Teachings on Discipleship
Jesus Christ doesn’t just give us truths; he is the truth. Jesus Christ is the prophet to end all prophets. He gives us hard-copy words from God, truths on which we can build our lives, truths we have to submit to, truths we have to obey, and truths we have to build our lives on, but he himself is the truth.
--- Timothy Keller
Men of the most brilliant intelligence can be born, live and die in error and falsehood. In them, intelligence is neither a good, nor even an asset. The difference between more or less intelligent men is like the difference between criminals condemned to life imprisonment in smaller or larger cells. The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like a condemned man who is proud of his large cell.
--- Simone Weil
Two Moral Essays: Draft for a Statement of Human Obligations, and, Human Personality
You have no questions to ask of any body, no new way that you need inquire after; no oracle that you need to consult; for whilst you shut yourself up in patience, meekness, humility, and resignation to God, you are in the very arms of Christ, your heart is His dwelling-place, and He lives and works in you.
--- William Law
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
4. And now Vespasian sent Placidus against those that had fled from Gadara, with five hundred horsemen, and three thousand footmen, while he returned himself to Cesarea, with the rest of the army. But as soon as these fugitives saw the horsemen that pursued them just upon their backs, and before they came to a close fight, they ran together to a certain village, which was called Bethennabris, where finding a great multitude of young men, and arming them, partly by their own consent, partly by force, they rashly and suddenly assaulted Placidus and the troops that were with him. These horsemen at the first onset gave way a little, as contriving to entice them further off the wall; and when they had drawn them into a place fit for their purpose, they made their horse encompass them round, and threw their darts at them. So the horsemen cut off the flight of the fugitives, while the foot terribly destroyed those that fought against them; for those Jews did no more than show their courage, and then were destroyed; for as they fell upon the Romans when they were joined close together, and, as it were, walled about with their entire armor, they were not able to find any place where the darts could enter, nor were they any way able to break their ranks, while they were themselves run through by the Roman darts, and, like the wildest of wild beasts, rushed upon the point of others' swords; so some of them were destroyed, as cut with their enemies' swords upon their faces, and others were dispersed by the horsemen.
5. Now Placidus's concern was to exclude them in their flight from getting into the village; and causing his horse to march continually on that side of them, he then turned short upon them, and at the same time his men made use of their darts, and easily took their aim at those that were the nearest to them, as they made those that were further off turn back by the terror they were in, till at last the most courageous of them brake through those horsemen and fled to the wall of the village. And now those that guarded the wall were in great doubt what to do; for they could not bear the thoughts of excluding those that came from Gadara, because of their own people that were among them; and yet, if they should admit them, they expected to perish with them, which came to pass accordingly; for as they were crowding together at the wall, the Roman horsemen were just ready to fall in with them. However, the guards prevented them, and shut the gates, when Placidus made an assault upon them, and fighting courageously till it was dark, he got possession of the wall, and of the people that were in the city, when the useless multitude were destroyed; but those that were more potent ran away, and the soldiers plundered the houses, and set the village on fire. As for those that ran out of the village, they stirred up such as were in the country, and exaggerating their own calamities, and telling them that the whole army of the Romans were upon them, they put them into great fear on every side; so they got in great numbers together, and fled to Jericho, for they knew no other place that could afford them any hope of escaping, it being a city that had a strong wall, and a great multitude of inhabitants. But Placidus, relying much upon his horsemen, and his former good success, followed them, and slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the river-side, where they were stopped by the current, [for it had been augmented lately by rains, and was not fordable,] he put his soldiers in array over against them; so the necessity the others were in provoked them to hazard a battle, because there was no place whither they could flee. They then extended themselves a very great way along the banks of the river, and sustained the darts that were thrown at them, as well as the attacks of the horsemen, who beat many of them, and pushed them into the current. At which fight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious. There were besides two thousand and two hundred taken prisoners. A mighty prey was taken also, consisting of asses, and sheep, and camels, and oxen.
6. Now this destruction that fell upon the Jews, as it was not inferior to any of the rest in itself, so did it still appear greater than it really was; and this, because not only the whole country through which they fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it, but because the lake Asphaltites was also full of dead bodies, that were carried down into it by the river. And now Placidus, after this good success that he had, fell violently upon the neighboring smaller cities and villages; when he took Abila, and Julias, and Bezemoth, and all those that lay as far as the lake Asphaltites, and put such of the deserters into each of them as he thought proper. He then put his soldiers on board the ships, and slew such as had fled to the lake, insomuch that all Perea had either surrendered themselves, or were taken by the Romans, as far as Machaerus.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
don’t let your heart be glad when he stumbles.
18 For ADONAI might see it, and it would displease him;
he might withdraw his anger from your foe.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
1 Corinthians 15:29
As I read this in Corinth there were people being baptized for departed loved ones. We all love and dearly miss someone who has died. Though they may have been very kind to us they said they did not know Jesus and they did not live the life style we think they should have. We are very judgmental of other people’s lifestyles even though the Bible tells us not to judge, least we be judged. We desperately hope that our departed loved ones are with the Lord and who among us has the right to say who will be and who will not be?
Pagan Corinth was steeped in all kinds of religion. It is important to remember out of what these early Christians were emerging from. As people living in that time came to the Lord Jesus they thought about their loved ones who had died not knowing Jesus and they apparently wanted to stand in for them in baptism. That tells you how important baptism was to the earliest Christians.
The Greek indicates that Paul is not saying that being baptized for the dead is something we should do, but rather that if you don’t believe in the resurrection (Jesus returning from the grave is the point) why would you want to stand in for departed loved ones and be baptized for someone who has died?
I think Paul is asking a question about what some have been doing, but I don’t believe he is promoting their actions.
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
Worshipping as Occasion serves. When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. --- John 1:48.
We imagine we would be all right if a big crisis arose; but the big crisis will only reveal the stuff we are made of, it will not put anything into us. ‘If God gives the call, of course I will rise to the occasion.’ You will not unless you have risen to the occasion in the workshop, unless you have been the real thing before God there. If you are not doing the thing that lies nearest, because God has engineered it, when the crisis comes instead of being revealed as fit, you will be revealed as unfit. Crises always reveal character.
The private relationship of worshipping God is the great essential of fitness. The time comes when there is no more ‘fig-tree’ life possible, when it is out into the open, out into the glare and into the work, and you will find yourself of no value there if you have not been worshipping as occasion serves you in your home. Worship aright in your private relationships, then when God sets you free you will be ready, because in the unseen life which no one saw but God you have become perfectly fit, and when the strain comes you can be relied upon by God.
‘I can’t be expected to live the sanctified life in the circumstances I am in; I have no time for praying just now, no time for Bible reading, my opportunity hasn’t come yet; when it does, of course I shall be all right.’ No, you will not. If you have not been worshipping as occasion serves, when you get into work you will not only be useless yourself, but a tremendous hindrance to those who are associated with you.
The workshop of missionary munitions is the hidden, personal, worshipping life of the saint.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Job Davies, eighty-five
Winters old, and still alive
After the slow poison
And treachery of the seasons.
Miserable? Kick my arse!
It needs more than the rain's hearse,
Wind-drawn, to pull me off
The great perch of my laugh.
What's living but courage?
Paunch full of hot porridge,
Nerves strengthened with tea,
Peat-black, dawn found me
Mowing where the grass grew,
Bearded with golden dew.
Rhythm of the long scythe
Kept this tall frame lithe.
What to do? Stay green
Never mind the machine,
Whose fuel is human souls.
Live large, man, and dream small.
When a person is going to sin, Satan dances with him until he finishes the sin..
BIBLE TEXT / Numbers 22:15–20 / Then Balak sent other dignitaries, more numerous and distinguished than the first. They came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Zippor: Please do net refuse to come to me. I will reward you richly and I will do anything you ask of me. Only come and damn this people for me.” Balaam replied to Balak’s officials, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, big or little, contrary to the command of the Lord my God. So you, too, stay here overnight, and let me find out what else the Lord may say to me.” That night God came to Balaam and said to him, “If these men have came to invite you, you may go with them. But whatever I command you, that you shall do.”
MIDRASH TEXT / Numbers Rabbah 20, 11 /
That night God came to Balaam. This is what the text says,
“In a dream, a night vision,
When deep sleep falls on men.…
Then He opens men’s understanding …
To turn man away from an action,
To suppress pride in man.”
The Holy One, praised is He, hid from him [Balaam] that his going would destroy his life and take him to the Pit? “To bring him back from the Pit, that he may bask in the light of life” (Job 33:30). He [Balaam] destroyed his life by going, for when a person is going to sin, Satan dances with him until he finishes the sin. when he is destroyed, he [Satan] returns and informs him, and thus he says,
“Thoughtlessly he follows her,
Like an ox going to the slaughter,
Like a fool to the stocks for punishment—
Until the arrow pierces his liver.
He is like a bird rushing into a trap,
Not knowing his life is at stake.”
--- Proverbs 7:22–23.
The Holy One, praised is He, hid from the wicked Balaam until he went and destroyed his life. When he had lost his glory and realized it, he began to pray for his life, “May I die the death of the upright” (Numbers 23:10).
Three times, Balak, king of Moab, asks Balaam the prophet to curse the Israelites. And three times, Balaam instead blesses them. In the third and final blessing, Balaam utters the famous words מַה טֹּבוּ/Mah tovu, “How fair are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel.” These words are used today as an opening prayer upon entering a sanctuary to worship.
In the section above from the Book of Numbers, Balaam, who has previously tried to refuse the request of Balak, finally gives in. Balaam notes, however, that he can do only what God tells him. Even though Balaam subsequently blesses the Israelites—not once but three times—and does so in the most beautiful and poetic manner possible, the Rabbis still saw Balaam as “the wicked.” And because Balaam was wicked, the Holy One, praised is He, God, hid from him [Balaam] that his going to curse the Israelites would destroy his life. Not only is Balaam’s life destroyed, but his sins also will take him to the Pit, that is, the closest concept to our idea of hell.
The Rabbis introduce the notion that God offers a warning to us as we choose good or evil. God, we are told, comes to people while they sleep to prevent them from sinning, showing them, in a dream, the right way to act. The proof is in several verses from the Book of Job, though the Rabbis quote only the parts that are needed by them. The entire section reads:
“In a dream, a night vision,
When deep sleep falls on men,
While they slumber on their beds,
Then He opens men’s understanding,
And by disciplining them leaves His signature
To turn man away from an action.
To suppress pride in man.”
When a person heeds God’s instruction, God is able—as the chapter in Job concludes—“to bring him [the repentant person] back from the Pit, that he may bask in the light of life.”
He, Balaam, destroyed his life by choosing to go with the emissaries of Balak to curse the Israelites. The Rabbis bring proof for Balaam’s folly: When a person is going to sin (and the Rabbis use “going” in the sense of both “traveling” and “being on the verge of”), Satan, the metaphor for the evil urge in humans and thus the symbol of all the evil forces in the world, dances with him until he finishes the sin. Dancing is a form of both celebration and accompaniment—celebration, because the sin is actually enjoyable; accompaniment, so that the sinner not be lonely and turn back from the impending transgression. “Dancing” is often a euphemism for sex. When he, the person, is destroyed, that is, when he has done the sinful deed and has destroyed his life, he, Satan, returns and informs him that his life is wrecked.
The seventh chapter of Proverbs describes a temptress who causes men to sin. The image of a female tempting a male is intentional: “A woman comes toward him dressed like a harlot, with set purpose” (Proverbs 7:10). When a man gives in to his evil urge,
“Thoughtlessly he follows her …
Not knowing his life is at stake.”
Just as Satan does not inform the sinner that his life is ruined until after the deed, so the Holy One, praised is He, hid from the wicked Balaam the fact that he was causing his undoing until he went and destroyed his life. When he had lost his glory by losing his goodness and godliness and realized it and saw that his future would be “the Pit,” that is, hell, he began to pray for his life. The Rabbis quote a verse from Balaam’s later speech: “May I die the death of the upright” (Numbers 23:10). Balaam thus acknowledged that he had ruined his own life.
Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.
--- Zechariah 13:7.
What [caused the disciples to scatter]? (Works of John Flavel (6 Vol. Set)) They were not accustomed to do so. They never did so afterwards. They would not have done so now had there been influences from heaven on them. But how then would Christ’s sorrows have been extreme, without succor, if they had stuck to him in his troubles? No, Christ must not have the least comfort, and therefore the Lord for a time withholds his encouraging influences from them, and then they were as weak as other people.
As God permitted it, so the effectiveness of that temptation was much greater than ordinary, it was an hour when darkness reigned. Never had the disciples met with such a storm before. The Devil would have sifted and separated them so that their faith utterly failed, had Christ not secured it by his prayer for them. So it was an extraordinary trial that was on them.
That which contributed to their relapse, as a special cause of it, was the remaining corruptions that were in their hearts. Their knowledge was but little and their faith not much.
Do not censure them in your thoughts nor despise them for their weakness. Neither say in your heart, Had I been there, I would never have done as they did. They thought as little of doing what they did, and their souls detested it as much. But here you may see where a soul that fears God may be carried, if its corruptions are irritated by strong temptation, and God withholds usual influences.
[But] the outcome of their apostasy ended far better than it began—the Morning was overcast, but the Evening was clear.
Peter repents of his denial of Christ and never denied him more. All the rest likewise returned to Christ and never abandoned him anymore. And they who dared not acknowledge Christ afterwards confessed him openly before councils and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for his sake. Those who started at every sound became as bold as lions and did not fear any danger but sealed their confession of Christ with their blood. For though they abandoned him, it was not voluntarily, but by surprisal. Though they abandoned him, they still loved him; though they fled from him, there still remained a gracious principle in them; the root of the matter was still in them, which recovered them again.
--- John Flavel
49 City Road September 10
Jabez Bunting was buried near John Wesley, but other early Methodists actually ended up in Wesley’s grave. They considered it high honor to have their death dust mingled with that of the great evangelist. The crowded tomb is located behind Wesley’s Chapel on London’s City Road. In the late 1770s Wesley built his new chapel there, then built a manse next door. He moved in on September 10, 1779, writing in his journal, “This night I lodged in the new house in London. How many more nights have I to spend here?”
The answer—11 years. He died in ripe old age, his longevity attributable to several secrets contained in his new home. Today’s visitors are shown an exact replica of his chamber horse. Wesley valued exercise and considered horseback riding the best, so he designed a towering chair with tall coils and springs that allowed him to bounce up and down, hair flying and falling, until his heart was racing and his clothing drenched with sweat.
Wesley’s house also contains a primitive tabletop device for generating electricity. He believed that regular shocks of electricity were good for one’s health, and he became such a forceful advocate of electrical medicine that his sick friends lined up at his door each day for “treatment.”
The real power room of Methodism was Wesley’s tiny prayer closet with its small table, tall window, and open Bible. It adjoined his bedroom, and here Wesley stayed spiritually fit.
It was here at 49 City Road in London, a narrow brick building of five floors, that Wesley realized he was dying. He went to his room and asked for a half hour alone. The message flew through London, “Mr. Wesley is very ill! Pray!” Friends gathered, and on February 27, 1791, he recited a hymn to them: I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath / And when my voice is lost in death, / Praise shall employ my nobler powers. / My days of praise shall ne’er be past. He spoke his last words, “The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell.” And then John Wesley, who often said that his followers “died well,” did so himself.
As the saying goes, “Exercise is good for your body, but religion helps you in every way. It promises life now and forever.” These words are worthwhile and should not be forgotten.
--- 1 Timothy 4:8-9.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 10
"And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him." --- Mark 3:13.
Here was sovereignty. Impatient spirits may fret and fume, because they are not called to the highest places in the ministry; but reader be it thine to rejoice that Jesus calleth whom he wills. If he shall leave me to be a doorkeeper in his house, I will cheerfully bless him for his grace in permitting me to do anything in his service. The call of Christ’s servants comes from above. Jesus stands on the mountain, evermore above the world in holiness, earnestness, love and power. Those whom he calls must go up the mountain to him, they must seek to rise to his level by living in constant communion with him. They may not be able to mount to classic honours, or attain scholastic eminence, but they must like Moses go up into the mount of God and have familiar intercourse with the unseen God, or they will never be fitted to proclaim the Gospel of peace. Jesus went apart to hold high fellowship with the Father, and we must enter into the same divine companionship if we would bless our fellowmen. No wonder that the apostles were clothed with power when they came down fresh from the mountain where Jesus was. This Morning we must endeavour to ascend the mount of communion, that there we may be ordained to the lifework for which we are set apart. Let us not see the face of man to-day till we have seen Jesus. Time spent with him is laid out at blessed interest. We too shall cast out devils and work wonders if we go down into the world girded with that divine energy which Christ alone can give. It is of no use going to the Lord’s battle till we are armed with heavenly weapons. We must see Jesus, this is essential. At the mercy-seat we will linger till he shall manifest himself unto us as he doth not unto the world, and until we can truthfully say, “We were with him in the Holy Mount.”
Evening - September 10
--- Habakkuk 1:8.
While preparing the present volume, this particular expression recurred to me so frequently, that in order to be rid of its constant importunity I determined to give a page to it. The Evening wolf, infuriated by a day of hunger, was fiercer and more ravenous than he would have been in the Morning. May not the furious creature represent our doubts and fears after a day of distraction of mind, losses in business, and perhaps ungenerous tauntings from our fellow men? How our thoughts howl in our ears, “Where is now thy God?” How voracious and greedy they are, swallowing up all suggestions of comfort, and remaining as hungry as before. Great Shepherd, slay these Evening wolves, and bid thy sheep lie down in green pastures, undisturbed by insatiable unbelief. How like are the fiends of hell to Evening wolves, for when the flock of Christ are in a cloudy and dark day, and their sun seems going down, they hasten to tear and to devour. They will scarcely attack the Christian in the daylight of faith, but in the gloom of soul conflict they fall upon him. O thou who hast laid down thy life for the sheep, preserve them from the fangs of the wolf.
False teachers who craftily and industriously hunt for the precious life, devouring men by their false-hoods, are as dangerous and detestable as Evening wolves. Darkness is their element, deceit is their character, destruction is their end. We are most in danger from them when they wear the sheep’s skin. Blessed is he who is kept from them, for thousands are made the prey of grievous wolves that enter within the fold of the church.
What a wonder of grace it is when fierce persecutors are converted, for then the wolf dwells with the lamb, and men of cruel ungovernable dispositions become gentle and teachable. O Lord, convert many such: for such we will pray to-night.
Words and Music by Jack Hayford, 1934–
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! --- Psalm 8:1
There are many attributes of the Lord that should prompt our response of adoration and worship: His holiness, His power, His love … A very popular contemporary song by the Rev. Jack Hayford, senior pastor of the Church of the Way in Van Nuys, California, also teaches that the very regal majesty of Christ deserves our praise. This text further reminds us that Christ’s dominion over principalities, His power, and His absolute majesty in heaven are for the benefit of those who trust and follow Him here and now.
Pastor Hayford relates the following account for the writing of “Majesty:”
In 1977, my wife Anna and I spent our vacation in Great Britain, traveling throughout the land from the south country and Wales to the northern parts of Scotland. It was the same year as Queen Elizabeth’s 25th Anniversary of her coronation, and symbols of royalty were abundantly present beyond the usual.
While viewing many of the ancient castles throughout the land, Pastor Hayford began to reflect on the truth that the provisions of Christ for the believer not only include our forgiveness for sin but provide a restoration to a royal relationship with God as sons and daughters born into the heavenly family through His Majesty.
As Anna and I drove along together, at once the opening lyrics and melody of “Majesty” simply came to my heart, I seemed to feel something new of what it meant to be His—to be raised to a partnership with Him in His throne. Upon returning to our home in California, I was finally able to complete the song.
Pastor Jack Hayford provides this interpretation for his song:
“Majesty” describes the kingly, lordly, gloriously regal nature of our Savior—but not simply as an objective statement in worship of which He is fully worthy. “Majesty” is also a statement of the fact that our worship, when begotten in spirit and in truth, can align us with His throne in such a way that His Kingdom authority flows to us—to overflow us, to free us and channel through us. We are rescued from death, restored to the inheritance of sons and daughters, qualified for victory in battle against the adversary, and destined for the Throne forever in His presence.
* * * *
Majesty, worship His majesty—
Unto Jesus be all glory, power and praise—
Majesty, kingdom authority
flow from His throne unto His own,
His anthem raise.
So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus—
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus, the King.
Majesty, worship His majesty—
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all kings.
For Today: Psalm 29:4; 93:1; Hebrews 1:3; 2:9; Revelation 4:11
Allow your mind to think about the glory and majesty of Christ as the reigning King of Heaven. Worship Him with these words ---
DISCOURSE IV - ON SPIRITUAL WORSHIP
(1.) For our carriage in the particular worship. There is nothing so dangerous as spiritual pride; it deprived devils and men of the presence of God, and will hinder us of the influence of God. If we had had raised and uninterrupted motions in worship, we should be apt to be lifted up; and the evil stands ready to tempt us to self-confidence. You know how it was with Paul (2 Cor. 12:1–7); his buffetings were occasions to render him more spiritual than his raptures, because more humble. God suffers those wanderings, starts, and distractions, to prevent our spiritual pride; which is as a worm at the root of spiritual worship, and mind us of the dusty frame of our spirits, how easily they are blown away; as he sends sickness to put us in mind of the shortness of our breath, and the easiness to lose it. God would make us ashamed of ourselves in his presence; that we may own, that what is good in any duty, is merely from his grace and Spirit, and not from ourselves; that with Paul we may cry out, “By grace we are what we are,” and by grace we do what we do; we may be hereby made sensible, that God can always find something in our exactest worship, as a ground of denying us the successful fruit of it. If we cannot stand upon our duties for salvation, what can we bottom upon in ourselves? If therefore they are occasions to make us out of love with any righteousness of our own, to make us break our hearts for them, because we cannot keep them out; if we mourn for them as our sins, and count them our great afflictions, we have attained that brokenness which is a choice ingredient in a spiritual sacrifice. Though we have been disturbed by them, yet we are not robbed of the success; we may behold an answer of our worship in our humiliation, in spite of all of them.
(2.) For the baseness of our nature. These unsteady motions help us to discern that heap of vermin that breeds in our nature. Would any man think he had such an averseness to his Creator and Benefactor; such an unsuitableness to him; such an estrangedness from him, were it not for his inspection into his distracted frame? God suffers this to hang over us as a rod of correction, to discover and fetch out the folly of our hearts. Could we imagine our natures so highly contrary to that God who is so infinitely amiable, so desirable an object; or that there should be so much folly and madness in the heart, as to draw back from God in those services which God hath appointed as pipes through which to communicate his grace, to convey himself, his love and goodness to the creature? If, therefore, we have a deep sense of, and strong reflections upon our base nature, and bewail that mass of averseness which lies there, and that fulness of irreverence towards the God of our mercies, the object of our worship, it is a blessed improvement of our wanderings and diversions. Certainly, if any Israelite had brought a lame and rotten lamb to be sacrificed to God, and afterward had bewailed it, and laid open his heart to God in a sensible and humble confession of it, that repentance had been a better sacrifice, and more acceptable in the sight of God, than if be had brought a sound and a living offering.
Secondly, When they are occasions to make us prize duties of worship. When we argue, as rationally we may, that they are of singular use, since our corrupt hearts and a malicious devil doth chiefly endeavor to hinder us from them, and that we find we have not those gadding thoughts when we are upon worldly business, or upon any sinful design which may dishonor God and wound our souls. This is a sign sin and Satan dislike worship, for he is too subtle a spirit to oppose that which would further his kingdom. As it is an argument the Scripture is the word of God, because the wickedness of the world doth so much oppose it, so it is a ground to believe the profitableness and excellency of worship, because Satan and our own unruly hearts do so much interrupt us in it: if, therefore, we make this use of our cross-steps in worship, to have a greater value for such duties, more affections to them, and desires to be frequent in them, our hearts are growing spiritual under the weights that would depress them to carnality.
Thirdly, When we take a rise from hence, to have heavenly admirations of the graciousness of God, that he should pity and pardon so many slight addresses to him, and give any gracious returns to us.
Though men have foolish rangings every day, and in every duty, yet free grace is so tender as not to punish them (Gen. 8:21): “And the Lord smelt a sweet savor; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not curse the ground for man’s sake, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” It is observable, that this was just after a sacrifice which Noah offered to God (ver. 20): but probably not without infirmities common to human nature, which may be grounded upon the reason God gives, that though he had destroyed the earth before, because of the “evil of man’s imaginations” (Gen. 6:5), he still found evil imaginations; he doth not say in the heart of Cham, or others of Noah’s family, but in man’s heart, including Noah also, who had both the judgments of God upon the former world, and the mercy of God in his own preservation, before his eyes; yet God saw evil imaginations rooted in the nature of man, and though it were so, yet he would be merciful. If, therefore, we can, after finding our hearts so vagrant in worship, have real frames of thankfulness that God hath spared us, and be heightened in our admirations at God’s giving us any fruit of such a distracted worship, we take advantage from them to be raised into an evangelical frame, which consists in the humble acknowledgments of the grace of God.
When David takes a review of those tumultuous passions which had rued his mind, and possessed him with unbelieving notions of God in the persons of his prophets (Psalm 116:11), how high doth his soul mount in astonishment and thankfulness to God for his mercy! (ver. 12.) Notwithstanding his distrust, God did graciously perform his promise, and answer his desire: then it is, “What shall I render to the Lord?” His heart was more affected for it, because it had been so passionate in former distrusts. It is indeed a ground of wondering at the patience of the Spirit of God, that he should guide our hearts when they are so apt to start out, as it is the patience of a master to guide the hand of his scholar, while he mixes his writing with many blots. It is not one or two infirmities the Spirit helps us in, and helps over, but many (Rom. 8:26). It is a sign of a spiritual heart, when he can take a rise to bless God for the renewing and blowing up his affections, in the midst of so many incursions from Satan to the contrary, and the readiness of the heart too much to comply with them.
Fourthly, When we take occasion from thence to prize the mediation of Christ. The more distractions jog us, the more need we should see of going out to a Saviour by faith. One part of our Saviour’s office is to stand between us and the infirmities of our worship. As he is an advocate, he presents our services, and pleads for them and us (1 John 2:1), for the sins of our duties, as well as for our other sins. Jesus Christ is an High-priest, appointed by God to take away the “iniquities of our holy things,” which was typified by Aaron’s plate upon his mitre (Exod. 28:36, 38). Were there no imperfections, were there no creeping up of those frogs into our minds, we should think our worship might merit acceptance with God upon its own account; but if we behold our own weakness, that not a tear, a groan, a sigh, is so pure, but must have Christ to make it entertainable; that there is no worship without those blemishes; and upon this, throw all our services into the arms of Christ for acceptance, and solicit him to put his merits in the front, to make our ciphers appear valuable; it is a spiritual act, the design of God in the gospel being to advance the honor and mediation of his Son. That is a spiritual and evangelical act which answers the evangelical design. The design of Satan, and our own corruption is defeated, when those interruptions make us run swifter, and take faster hold on the High-priest who is to present our worship to God, and our own souls receive comfort thereby. Christ had temptations offered to him by the devil in his wilderness retirement, that, from an experimental knowledge, he might be able more “compassionately to succor us” (Heb. 2:18); we have such assaults in our retired worship especially, that we may be able more highly to value him and his mediation.
3. Let us not, therefore, be discouraged by those interruptions and starts of our hearts.
(1.) If we find in ourselves a strong resistance of them. The flesh will be lusting; that cannot be hindered; yet if we do not fulfil the lusts of it, rise up at its command, and go about its work, we may be said to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 17): we “walk in the Spirit,” if we “fulfil not the lusts of the flesh,” though there be a lusting of the flesh against the Spirit; so we worship in the Spirit, though there be carnal thoughts arising if we do not fulfil them; though the stirring of them discovers some contrariety in us to God, yet the resistance manifests that there is a principle of contrariety in us to them; that as there is something of flesh that lusts against the spirit, so there is something of spirit in worship which lusts against the flesh: we must take heed of omitting worship, because of such inroads, and lying down in the mire of a total neglect. If our spirits are made more lively and vigorous against them; if those cold vapors which have risen from our hearts make us, like a spring in the midst of the cold earth, more warm, there is, in this case, more reason for us to bless God, than to be discouraged. God looks upon it as the disease, not the wilfulness of our nature; as the weakness of the flesh, not the willingness of the spirit. If we would shut the door upon them, it seems they are unwelcome company; men do not use to lock their doors upon those they love; if they break in and disturb us with their impertinences, we need not be discomforted, unless we give them a share in our affections, and turn our back upon God to entertain them; if their presence makes us sad, their flight would make us joyful.
(2.) If we find ourselves excited to a stricter watch over our hearts against them; as travellers will be careful when they come to places where they have been robbed before, that they be not so easily surprised again. We should not only lament when we have had such foolish imaginations in worship breaking in upon us, but also bless God that we have had no more, since we have hearts so fruitful of weeds. We should give God the glory when we find our hearts preserved from these intruders, and not boast of ourselves, but return him our praise for the watch and guard he kept over us, to preserve us from such thieves. Let us not be discomforted; for as the greatness of our sins, upon our turning to God, is no hindrance to our justification, because it doth not depend upon our conversion as the meritorious cause, but upon the infinite value of our Saviour’s satisfaction, which reaches the greatest sins as well as the least; so the multitude of our bewailed distractions in worship are not a hindrance to our acceptation, because of the uncontrollable power of Christ’s intercession.
Use IV. is for exhortation. Since spiritual worship is due to God, and the Father seeks such to worship him, how much should we endeavor to satisfy the desire and order of God, and act conformable to the law of our creation and the love of redemption! Our end must be the same in worship which was God’s end in creation and redemption; to glorify his name, set forth his perfections, and be rendered fit, as creatures and redeemed ones, to partake of that grace which is the fruit of worship. An evangelical dispensation requires a spiritual homage; to neglect, therefore, either the matter or manner of gospel duties, is to put a slight upon gospel privileges. The manner of duty is ever of more value than the matter; the scarlet dye is more precious than the cloth tinctured with it. God respects more the disposition of the sacrificer than the multitude of the sacrifices. The solemn feasts appointed by God were but dung as managed by the Jews (Mal. 2:3). The heart is often welcome without the body, but the body never grateful without the heart. The inward acts of the spirit require nothing from without to constitute them good in themselves; but the outward acts of devotion require inward acts to render them savory to God. As the goodness of outward acts consists not in the acts themselves, so the acceptableness of them results not from the acts themselves, but from the inward frame animating and quickening those acts, as blood and spirits running through the veins of a duty to make it a living service in the sight of God. Imperfections in worship hinder not God’s acceptation of it, if the heart, spirited by grace, be there to make it a sweet savor. The stench of burning flesh and fat in the legal sacrifices might render them noisome to the outward senses; but God smelt a sweet savor in them, as they respected Christ.
When the heart and spirit are offered up to God, it may be a savory duty, though attended with unsavory imperfections; but a thousand sacrifices without a stamp of faith, a thousand spiritual duties with an habitual carnality, are no better than stench with God. The heart must be purged, as well as the temple was by our Saviour, of the thieves that would rob God of his due worship.
Antiquity had some temples wherein it was a crime to bring’ any gold; therefore those that came to worship laid their gold aside before they went into the temple. We should lay aside our worldly and trading thoughts before we address to worship (Isa. 26:9) “With my spirit within me will I seek thee early.” Let not our minds be gadding abroad, and exiled from God and themselves. It will be thus when the “desire of our soul is to his name, and the remembrance of him” (ver. 8). When he hath given so great and admirable a gift as that of his Son, in whom are all things necessary to salvation, righteousness, peace, and pardon of sin, we should manage the remembrance of his name in worship with the closest unitedness of heart, and the most spiritual affections. The motion of the spirit is the first act in religion; to this we are obliged in every act. The devil requires the spirit of his votaries; should God have a less dedication than the devil?
Motives to back this exhortation.
I. Not to give God our spirit is a great sin. It is a mockery of God, not worship, contempt, not adoration, whatever our outward fervency or protestations may be. Every alienation of our hearts from him is a real scorn put upon him. The acts of the soul are real, and more the acts of the man than the acts of the body; because they are the acts of the choicest part of man, and of that which is the first spring of all bodily motions; it is the λόγος νδιαθετο,ς the internal speech whereby we must speak with God. To give him, therefore, only an external form of worship without the life of it, is a taking his name in vain. We mock him, when we mind not what we are speaking to him, or what he is speaking to us; when the motions of our hearts are contrary to the motions of our tongues; when we do anything before him slovenly, impudently, or rashly. As in a lutinist it is absurd to sing one tune and play another; so it is a foul thing to tell God one thing with our lips, and think another with our hearts. It is a sin like that the apostle chargeth the heathens with (Rom. 1:28) “They like not to retain God in their knowledge” Their stomachs are sick while they are upon any duty, and never leave working till they have thrown up all the spiritual part of worship, and rid themselves of the thoughts of God, which are as unwelcome and troublesome guests to them. When men behave themselves in the sight of God, as if God were not God, they do not only defame him, but deny him, and violate the unchangeable perfections of the Divine nature.
1. It is against the majesty of God, when we have not awful thoughts of that great Majesty to whom we address; when our souls cleave not to him when we petition him in prayer, or when he gives out his orders to us in his Word. It is a contempt of the majesty of a prince, if, whilst he is speaking to us, we listen not to him with reverence and attention, but turn our backs on him, to play with one of his hounds, or talk with a beggar; or while we speak to him, to rake in a dunghill. Solomon adviseth us to “keep our foot when we go to the house of God” (Eccles. 5:1). Our affections should be steady, and not slip away again; why? (ver. 2 because “God is in heaven,” &c. He is a God of majesty; earthly, dirty frames are unsuitable to the God of heaven; low spirits are unsuitable to the Most High. We would not bring our mean servants or dirty dogs into a prince’s presence chamber; yet we bring not only our worldly, but our profane affections into God’s presence. We give in this case those services to God which our Governor would think unworthy of him (Mal. 1:8). The more excellent and glorious God is, the greater contempt of him it is to suffer such foolish affections to be competitors with him for our hearts. It is a scorn put upon him to converse with a creature, while we are dealing with him; but a greater to converse in our thoughts and fancies with some sordid lust, which is most hateful to him; and the more aggravation it attracts, in that we are to apprehend him the most glorious object sitting upon his throne in time of worship, and ourselves standing as vile creatures before him, supplicating for our lives, and the conveyance of grace and mercy to our souls; as if a grand mutineer, instead of humbly begging the pardon of his offended prince, should present his petition not only scribbled and blotted, but besmeared with some loathsome excrement. It is unbecoming both the majesty of God, and the worship itself, to present him with a picture instead of a substance, and bring a world of nasty affections in our hearts, and ridiculous toys in our heads before him, and worship with indisposed and heedless souls. He is a great King (Mal. 1:14): therefore address to him with fear and reverence.
2. It is against the life of God. Is a dead worship proportioned to a living God? The separation of heavenly affections from our souls before God, makes them as much a carcass in his sight, as the divorce of the soul makes the body a carcass. When the affections are separated, worship is no longer worship, but a dead offering, a lifeless bulk; for the essence and spirit of worship is departed. Though the soul be present with the body in a way of information, yet it is not present in a way of affection, and this is the worst; for it is not the separation of the soul from informing that doth separate a man from God, but the removal of our affections from him. If a man pretend an application to God, and sleep and snore all the time, without question such a one did not worship. In a careless worship the heart is morally dead while the eyes are open: the heart of the spouse (Cant. 5:2) waked while her eyes slept; and our hearts, on the contrary, sleep while our eyes wake. Our blessed Saviour hath died to purge our consciences from dead works and frames, that we may serve the living God (Heb. 9:14); to serve God as a God of life. David’s soul cried and fainted for God under this consideration (Psalm 42:2); but to present our bodies without our spirits, is such a usage of God, that implies he is a dead image, not worthy of any but a dead and heartless service, like one of those idols the Psalmist speaks of (Psalm 115:5), that have “eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not;” no life in it. Though it be not an objective idolatry, because the worship is directed to the true God; yet I may call it a subjective idolatry in regard of the frame, fit only to be presented to some senseless stock. We intimate God to be no better than an idol, and to have no more knowledge of us and insight into us, than an idol can have. If we did believe him to be the living God, we durst not come before him with services so unsuitable to him, and reproaches of him.
3. It is against the infiniteness of God. We should worship God with those boundless affections which bear upon them a shadow or image of his infiniteness; such are the desires of the soul which know no limits, but start out beyond whatsoever enjoyment the heart of man possesses. No creeping creature was to be offered to God in sacrifice, but such as had legs to run, or wings to fly. For us to come before God with a light creeping frame, is to worship him with the lowest finite affections, as though anything, though never so mean or torn, might satisfy an infinite Being; as though a poor shallow creature could give enough to God without giving him the heart, when, indeed, we cannot give him a worship proportionable to his infiniteness, did our hearts swell as large as heaven in our desires for him in every act of our duties.
4. It is against the spirituality of God. God being a Spirit, calls for a worship in spirit; to withhold this from him implies him to be some gross corporeal matter. As a Spirit, he looks for the heart; a wrestling heart in prayer, a trembling heart in the Word (Isa. 56:2).
56 1 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
To bring nothing but the body when we come to a spiritual God to beg spiritual benefits, to wait for spiritual communications, which can only be dispensed to us in a spiritual manner, is unsuitable to the spiritual nature of God. A mere carnal service implicitly denies his spirituality, which requires of us higher engagements than mere corporeal ones. Worship should be rational, not an imaginative service, wherein is required the activity of our noblest faculties; and our fancy ought to have no share in it, but in subserviency to the more spiritual part of our soul.
5. It is against the supremacy of God. As God is one and the only Sovereign; so our hearts should be one, cleaving wholly to him, and undivided from him. In pretending to deal with him, we acknowledge his deity and sovereignty; but in withholding our choicest faculties and affections from him, and the starting of our minds to vain objects, we intimate their equality with God, and their right as well as his to our hearts and affections. It is as if a princess should commit adultery with some base scullion while she is before her husband, which would be a plain denial of his sole right to her. It intimates that other things are superior to God; they are true sovereigns that engross our hearts. If a man were addressing himself to a prince, and should in an instant turn his back upon him, upon a beck or nod from some inconsiderable person; is it not an evidence that that person that invited him away hath a greater sovereignty over him than that prince to whom he was applying himself? And do we not discard God’s absolute dominion over us, when, at the least beck of a corrupt inclination, we can dispose of our hearts to it, and alienate them from God? as they, in Ezek. 33:32,
(Eze 33:30–33) 30 “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ 31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. 32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. 33 When this comes—and come it will!—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
left the service of God for the service of their covetousness, which evidenced that they owned the authority of sin more than the authority of God. This is not to serve God as our Lord and absolute Master, but to make God serve our turn, and submit his sovereignty to the supremacy of some unworthy affection. The creature is preferred before the Creator, when the heart runs most upon it in time of religious worship, and our own carnal interest swallows up the affections that are due to God. It is “an idol set up in the heart” (Ezek. 14:4) in his solemn presence, and attracts that devotion to itself which we only owe to our Sovereign Lord; and the more base and contemptible that is to which the spirit is devoted, the more contempt there is of God’s dominion. Judas’s kiss, with a “Hail Master!” was no act of worship, or an owning his Master’s authority, but a designing the satisfaction of his covetousness in the betraying of him.
6. It is against the wisdom of God. God, as a God of order, has put earthly, things in subordination to heavenly; and we, by this unworthy carriage, invert this order, and put heavenly things in subordination to earthly; in placing mean and low things in our hearts, and bringing them so placed into God’s presence, which his wisdom at the creation put under our feet. A service without spiritual affections is a “sacrifice of fools” (Eccles. 5:1), which have lost their brains and understandings: a foolish spirit is very unsuitable to an infinitely wise God. Well may God say of such a one, as Achish of David, who seemed mad, “Why have you brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” (1 Sam. 21:15.)
7. It is against the omnisciency of God. To carry it fair without, and impertinently within, is as though God had not an all-seeing eye that could pierce into the heart, and understand every motion of the inward faculties; as though God were easily cheated with an outward fawning service, like an apothecary’s box with a gilded title, that may be full of cobwebs within. What is such a carriage, but a design to deceive God, when, with Herod, we pretend to worship Christ, and intend to murder all the motions of Christ in our souls A heedless spirit, an estrangement of our souls, a giving the reins to them to run out from the presence of God to see every reed shaken with the wind, is to deny him to be the Searcher of hearts, and the Discerner of secret thoughts; as though he could not look through us to the darkness and remoteness of our minds, but were an ignorant God, who might be put off with the worst as well as the best in our flock. If we did really believe there were a God of infinite knowledge, who saw our frames and whether we came dressed with wedding garments suitable to the duties we are about to perform, should we be so garish, and put him off with such trivial stuff, without any reverence of his Majesty?
8. It is against the holiness of God. To alienate our spirits is to offend him while we pretend to worship him; though we may be mighty officious in the external part, yet our base and carnal affections make all our worship but as a heap of dung; and who would not look upon it as an affront to lay dung before a prince’s throne? (Prov. 21:27), “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;” how much more when he brings it with a wicked mind? A putrefied carcass under the law had not been so great an affront to the holiness of God, as a frothy unmelted heart, and a wanton fancy, in a time of worship. God is so holy, that if we could offer the worship of angels, and the quintessence of our souls in his service, it would be beneath his infinite purity; how unworthy, then, are they of him, when they are presented not only without the sense of our uncleanness, but sullied with the fumes and exhalations of our corrupt affections, which are as so many plague-spots upon our duties, contrary to the unspotted purity of the Divine nature? Is not this an unworthy conceit of God, and injurious to his infinite holiness?
9. It is against the love and kindness of God. It is a condescension in God to admit a piece of earth to offer up a duty to him, when he hath myriads of angels to attend him in his court, and celebrate his praise. To admit man to be an attendant on him, and a partner with angels, is a high favor. It is not a single mercy, but a heap of mercies, to be admitted into the presence of God (Psalm 5:7): “I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercies.” When the blessed God is so kind as to give us access to his majesty, do we not undervalue his kindness when we deal uncivilly with him, and deny him the choicest part of ourselves? It is a contempt of his sovereignty, as our spirits are due to him by nature; a contempt of his goodness, as our spirits are due to him by gratitude. How abusive a carriage is it to make use of his mercy to encourage our impudence, that should excite our fear and reverence! How unworthy would it be for an indigent debtor to bring to his indulgent creditor an empty purse instead of payment! When God holds out his golden sceptre to encourage our approaches to him, stands ready to give us the pardon of sin and full felicity, the best things he hath, is it a fit requital of his kindness to give him a formal outside only, a shadow of religion; to have the heart overswayed with other thoughts and affections, as if all his proffers were so contemptible as to deserve only a slight at our hands? It is a contempt of the love and kindness of God.
10. It is against the sufficiency and fulness of God. When we give God our bodies, and the creature our spirits, it intimates a conceit that there is more content to be had in the creature than in God blessed forever; that the waters in the cistern are sweeter than those in the fountain. Is not this a practical giving God the lie, and denying those promises wherein he hath declared the satisfaction he can give to the spirit, as he is the God of the spirits of all flesh? If we did imagine the excellency and loveliness of God were worthy to be the ultimate object of our affections, the heart would attend more closely upon him, and be terminated in him; did we believe God to be all-sufficient, full of grace and goodness, a tender Father, not willing to forsake his own, willing, as well as able, to supply their wants, the heart would not so lamely attend upon him, and would not upon every impertinency be diverted from him. There is much of a wrong notion of God, and a predominancy of the world above him in the heart, when we can more savorly relish the thoughts of low inferior things than heavenly, and let our spirits upon every trifling occasion be fugitive from him; it is a testimony that we make not God our chiefest good. If apprehensions of his excellency did possess our souls, they would be fastened on him, glued to him; we should not listen to that rabble of foolish thoughts that steal our hearts so often from him. Were our breathings after God as strong as the pantings of the hart after the water-brooks, we should be like that creature, not diverted in our course by every puddle. Were God the predominant satisfactory object in our eye, he would carry our whole soul along with him. When our spirits readily retreat from God in worship upon every giddy motion, it is a kind of repentance that ever we did come near him, and implies that there is a fuller satisfaction, and more attractive excellency in that which doth so easily divert us, than in that God to whose worship we did pretend to address ourselves. It is as if, when we are petitioning a prince, we should immediately turn about, and make request to one of his guard, as though so mean a person were more able to give us the boon we want than the sovereign is.
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Sect. CXLV. — AND here is solved that question of the Diatribe so often repeated throughout its book — “if we can do nothing, to what purpose are so many laws, so many precepts, so many threatenings, and so many promises?” —
Paul here gives an answer: “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” His answer is far different from that which would enter the thoughts of man, or of “Free-will.” He does not say, by the law is proved “Free-will,” because it co-operates with it unto righteousness. For righteousness is not by the law, but, “by the law is the knowledge of sin:” seeing that, the effect, the work, and the office of the law, is to be a light to the ignorant and the blind; such a light, as discovers to them disease, sin, evil, death, hell, and the wrath of God; though it does not deliver from these, but shews them only. And when a man is thus brought to a knowledge of the disease of sin, he is cast down, is afflicted, nay despairs: the law does not help him, much less can he help himself. Another light is necessary, which might discover to him the remedy. This is the voice of the Gospel, revealing Christ as the Deliverer from all these evils. Neither “Free-will” nor reason can discover Him. And how should, it discover Him, when it is itself dark and devoid even of the light of the law, which might discover to it its disease, which disease, in its own light it seeth not, but believes it to be sound health.
So also in Galatians iii., treating on the same point, he saith, “Wherefore then serveth the law?” To which he answers, not as the Diatribe does, in a way that proves the existence of “Free-will,” but he saith, “it was added because of transgressions, until the Seed should come, to whom the promise was made.” (Gal. iii. 19). He saith, “because of transgressions;” not, however, to restrain them, as Jerome dreams; (for Paul shews, that to take away and to restrain sins, by the gift of righteousness, was that which was promised to the Seed to come;) but to cause transgressions to abound, as he saith Rom. v. 20, “The law entered that sin might abound.” Not that sins were not committed and did not abound without the law, but they were not known to be transgressions and sins of such magnitude; for the most and greatest of them, were considered to be righteousnesses. And while sins are thus unknown, there is no place for remedy, or for hope; because, they will not submit to the hand of the healer, considering themselves to be whole, and not to want a physician. Therefore, the law is necessary, which might give the knowledge of sin; in order that, he who is proud and whole in his own eyes, being humbled down into the knowledge of the iniquity and greatness of his sin, might groan and breathe after the grace that is laid up in Christ.
Only observe, therefore, the simplicity of the words — “By the law is the knowledge of sin;” and yet, these alone are of force sufficient to confound and overthrow “Free-will” altogether. For if it be true, that of itself, it knows not what is sin, and what is evil, as the apostle saith here, and Rom. vii. 7-8, “I should not have known that concupiscence was sin, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet,” how can it ever know what is righteousness and good? And if it know not what righteousness is, how can it endeavour to attain unto it? We know not the sin in which we were born, in which we live, in which we move and exist, and which lives, moves, and reigns in us; how then should we know that righteousness which is without us, and which reigns in heaven? These works bring that miserable thing “Free-will” to nothing — nothing at all!
Sect. CXLVI. — THE state of the case, therefore, being thus, Paul speaks openly with full confidence and authority, saying, “But now the righteousness of God is manifest without the law, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe in Him: (for there is no difference, for all have sinned and are without the glory of God:) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for sin, through faith in His blood, &c.” (Rom. iii. 22-26).
Here Paul speaks forth very thunder-bolts against “Free-will.” First, he saith, “The righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” Here he marks the distinction between the righteousness of God, and the righteousness of the law: because, the righteousness of faith comes by grace, without the law. His saying, “without the law,” can mean nothing else, but that Christian righteousness exists, without the works of the law: inasmuch as the works of the law avail nothing, and can do nothing, toward the attainment unto it. As he afterwards saith, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Rom. iii. 28). The same also he had said before, “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight.” (Rom. iii. 20).
From all which it is most clearly manifest, that the endeavour and desire of “Free-will” are a nothing at all. For if the righteousness of God exist without the law, and without the works of the law, how shall it not much rather exist without “Free-will”! especially, since the most devoted effort of “Free-will” is, to exercise itself in moral righteousness, or the works of that law, from which its blindness and impotency derive their ‘assistance!’ This word “without,” therefore abolishes all moral works, abolishes all moral righteousness, abolishes all preparations unto grace. In a word, scrape together every thing you can as that which pertains to the ability of “Free-will,” and Paul will still stand invincible saying, — the righteousness of God is “without” it!
But, to grant that “Free-will” can, by its endeavour, move itself in some direction, we will say, unto good works, or unto the righteousness of the civil or moral law; yet, it is not moved toward the righteousness of God, nor does God in any respect allow its devoted efforts to be worthy unto the attainment of this righteousness: for He saith, that His righteousness availeth without the works of the law. If therefore, it cannot move itself unto the attainment of the righteousness of God, what will it be profited, if it move itself by its own works and endeavours, unto the attainment of (if it were possible) the righteousness of angels! Here, I presume, the words are not ‘obscure or ambiguous,’ nor is any place left for ‘tropes’of any kind. Here Paul distinguishes most manifestly the two righteousnesses; assigning the one to the law, the other to grace; and declares that the latter is given without the former, and without its works; and that the former justifies not, nor avails anything, without the latter. I should like to see, therefore, how “Free-will” can stand, or be defended, against these Scriptures!