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9/14/2023     Yesterday     Tomorrow

Ezekiel  46 - 48

Ezekiel 46

The Prince and the Feasts

Ezekiel 46:1     “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. 2 The prince shall enter by the vestibule of the gate from outside, and shall take his stand by the post of the gate. The priests shall offer his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. 3 The people of the land shall bow down at the entrance of that gate before the LORD on the Sabbaths and on the new moons. 4 The burnt offering that the prince offers to the LORD on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish. 5 And the grain offering with the ram shall be an ephah, and the grain offering with the lambs shall be as much as he is able, together with a hin of oil to each ephah. 6 On the day of the new moon he shall offer a bull from the herd without blemish, and six lambs and a ram, which shall be without blemish. 7 As a grain offering he shall provide an ephah with the bull and an ephah with the ram, and with the lambs as much as he is able, together with a hin of oil to each ephah. 8 When the prince enters, he shall enter by the vestibule of the gate, and he shall go out by the same way.

9 “When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead. 10 When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.

11 “At the feasts and the appointed festivals, the grain offering with a young bull shall be an ephah, and with a ram an ephah, and with the lambs as much as one is able to give, together with a hin of oil to an ephah. 12 When the prince provides a freewill offering, either a burnt offering or peace offerings as a freewill offering to the LORD, the gate facing east shall be opened for him. And he shall offer his burnt offering or his peace offerings as he does on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out the gate shall be shut.

13 “You shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the LORD daily; morning by morning you shall provide it. 14 And you shall provide a grain offering with it morning by morning, one sixth of an ephah, and one third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour, as a grain offering to the LORD. This is a perpetual statute. 15 Thus the lamb and the meal offering and the oil shall be provided, morning by morning, for a regular burnt offering.

16 “Thus says the Lord GOD: If the prince makes a gift to any of his sons as his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons. It is their property by inheritance. 17 But if he makes a gift out of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty. Then it shall revert to the prince; surely it is his inheritance—it shall belong to his sons. 18 The prince shall not take any of the inheritance of the people, thrusting them out of their property. He shall give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people shall be scattered from his property.”

Boiling Places for Offerings

19 Then he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, to the north row of the holy chambers for the priests, and behold, a place was there at the extreme western end of them. 20 And he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the guilt offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, in order not to bring them out into the outer court and so transmit holiness to the people.”

21 Then he brought me out to the outer court and led me around to the four corners of the court. And behold, in each corner of the court there was another court— 22 in the four corners of the court were small courts, forty cubits long and thirty broad; the four were of the same size. 23 On the inside, around each of the four courts was a row of masonry, with hearths made at the bottom of the rows all around. 24 Then he said to me, “These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people.”

Ezekiel 47

Water Flowing from the Temple

Ezekiel 47:1     Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.

3 Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. 5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. 9 And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

Division of the Land

13 Thus says the Lord GOD: “This is the boundary by which you shall divide the land for inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. 14 And you shall divide equally what I swore to give to your fathers. This land shall fall to you as your inheritance.

15 “This shall be the boundary of the land: On the north side, from the Great Sea by way of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, and on to Zedad, 16 Berothah, Sibraim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer-hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran. 17 So the boundary shall run from the sea to Hazar-enan, which is on the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This shall be the north side.

18 “On the east side, the boundary shall run between Hauran and Damascus; along the Jordan between Gilead and the land of Israel; to the eastern sea and as far as Tamar. This shall be the east side.

19 “On the south side, it shall run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribah-kadesh, from there along the Brook of Egypt to the Great Sea. This shall be the south side.

20 “On the west side, the Great Sea shall be the boundary to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This shall be the west side.

21 “So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 48

Ezekiel 48:1     “These are the names of the tribes: Beginning at the northern extreme, beside the way of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, as far as Hazar-enan (which is on the northern border of Damascus over against Hamath), and extending from the east side to the west, Dan, one portion. 2 Adjoining the territory of Dan, from the east side to the west, Asher, one portion. 3 Adjoining the territory of Asher, from the east side to the west, Naphtali, one portion. 4 Adjoining the territory of Naphtali, from the east side to the west, Manasseh, one portion. 5 Adjoining the territory of Manasseh, from the east side to the west, Ephraim, one portion. 6 Adjoining the territory of Ephraim, from the east side to the west, Reuben, one portion. 7 Adjoining the territory of Reuben, from the east side to the west, Judah, one portion.

8 “Adjoining the territory of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the portion which you shall set apart, 25,000 cubits in breadth, and in length equal to one of the tribal portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the midst of it. 9 The portion that you shall set apart for the LORD shall be 25,000 cubits in length, and 20,000 in breadth. 10 These shall be the allotments of the holy portion: the priests shall have an allotment measuring 25,000 cubits on the northern side, 10,000 cubits in breadth on the western side, 10,000 in breadth on the eastern side, and 25,000 in length on the southern side, with the sanctuary of the LORD in the midst of it. 11 This shall be for the consecrated priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept my charge, who did not go astray when the people of Israel went astray, as the Levites did. 12 And it shall belong to them as a special portion from the holy portion of the land, a most holy place, adjoining the territory of the Levites. 13 And alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites shall have an allotment 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in breadth. The whole length shall be 25,000 cubits and the breadth 20,000. 14 They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to the LORD.

15 “The remainder, 5,000 cubits in breadth and 25,000 in length, shall be for common use for the city, for dwellings and for open country. In the midst of it shall be the city, 16 and these shall be its measurements: the north side 4,500 cubits, the south side 4,500, the east side 4,500, and the west side 4,500. 17 And the city shall have open land: on the north 250 cubits, on the south 250, on the east 250, and on the west 250. 18 The remainder of the length alongside the holy portion shall be 10,000 cubits to the east, and 10,000 to the west, and it shall be alongside the holy portion. Its produce shall be food for the workers of the city. 19 And the workers of the city, from all the tribes of Israel, shall till it. 20 The whole portion that you shall set apart shall be 25,000 cubits square, that is, the holy portion together with the property of the city.

21 “What remains on both sides of the holy portion and of the property of the city shall belong to the prince. Extending from the 25,000 cubits of the holy portion to the east border, and westward from the 25,000 cubits to the west border, parallel to the tribal portions, it shall belong to the prince. The holy portion with the sanctuary of the temple shall be in its midst. 22 It shall be separate from the property of the Levites and the property of the city, which are in the midst of that which belongs to the prince. The portion of the prince shall lie between the territory of Judah and the territory of Benjamin.

23 “As for the rest of the tribes: from the east side to the west, Benjamin, one portion. 24 Adjoining the territory of Benjamin, from the east side to the west, Simeon, one portion. 25 Adjoining the territory of Simeon, from the east side to the west, Issachar, one portion. 26 Adjoining the territory of Issachar, from the east side to the west, Zebulun, one portion. 27 Adjoining the territory of Zebulun, from the east side to the west, Gad, one portion. 28 And adjoining the territory of Gad to the south, the boundary shall run from Tamar to the waters of Meribah-kadesh, from there along the Brook of Egypt to the Great Sea. 29 This is the land that you shall allot as an inheritance among the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions, declares the Lord GOD.

The Gates of the City

30 “These shall be the exits of the city: On the north side, which is to be 4,500 cubits by measure, 31 three gates, the gate of Reuben, the gate of Judah, and the gate of Levi, the gates of the city being named after the tribes of Israel. 32 On the east side, which is to be 4,500 cubits, three gates, the gate of Joseph, the gate of Benjamin, and the gate of Dan. 33 On the south side, which is to be 4,500 cubits by measure, three gates, the gate of Simeon, the gate of Issachar, and the gate of Zebulun. 34 On the west side, which is to be 4,500 cubits, three gates, the gate of Gad, the gate of Asher, and the gate of Naphtali. 35 The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There.”

ESV Study Bible

What I'm Reading

Are You Chasing Happiness or Holiness?

By Tony Reinke 8/7/2017

     Such a question actually reveals a common mistake of pitting holiness and happiness against each other. “God is more interested in you being holy than happy,” so the line goes.

     Some of my favorite theologians fall prey to this subtle dichotomy. And this includes one of the best thinkers I love (David Wells). In charity, and in much gratitude for everything I have learned from his writings, I’ll post a few paragraphs from his 2014 book where this tension arises, and I’ll make a friendly amendment later.

     In attempting to criticize the therapeutic definition of the faith in so many pulpits, he writes:

     In this psychological world, the God of love is a God of love precisely and only because he offers us inward balm. Empty, distracted, meandering, and dissatisfied, we come to him for help. Fill us, we ask, with a sense of completeness! Fill our emptiness! Give us a sense of direction amid the mass of competing ways and voices in the modern world! Fill the aching emptiness within!

     This is how many in the church today, especially in the evangelical church, are thinking. It is how they are praying. They are yearning for something more real within themselves than what they currently have. This is true of adults and of teenagers as well. Yes, we say earnestly, hopefully, maybe even a little wistfully, be to us the God of love!

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     Tony Reinke is senior writer for Desiring God and author of three books. He hosts the Ask Pastor John podcast and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children.

Tony Reinke Books:

The Trinity in the Destruction of Sodom (Or, the Weirdest Argument for Consubstantiality of the Son)

By Derek Rishmawy 9/4/2017

     Reading the Church Fathers on Scripture can be illuminating, surprising, and sometimes weird. This is part of what’s so fun about reading them. They come to the text of Scripture from a different time and place, with slightly different questions, exegetical instincts, and theological approaches, which present a question and a challenge to our own. I was reminded of this when diving into a little of Cyril of Alexandria’s work on the Gospel of John.

     The Patriarch Cyril is best-known for his polemic against Nestorius and the central role he played in Christological controversies which leading up to the Council of Chalcedon (at which point Cyril was dead). Many will have read his little work On the Unity of Christ, which is what I have. I was not aware, though, that his commentary on the Gospel of John was translated until recently (Brandon Crowe quotes it in his excellent book The Last Adam: A Theology of the Obedient Life of Jesus in the Gospels). On a whim I looked it up and found online for free because, well, Cyril of Alexandria. Anyways, I started poking around and stumbled on one of the oddest bits of trinitarian reasoning I’ve read in one of the Fathers.

     It comes in his comments on John 1:1, “and the Word was with God”, in his chapter arguing that the Son is consubstantial with the Father and therefore God in his own person. The trouble he’s dealing with specifically is the oddity of thinking of the Son as properly God but somehow also being “with God”, alongside him. Cyril proceeds to explain how this is so by commenting on various relevant Scriptures you might expect him to. For example, see this entirely unsurprising bit on John 14:

     Consubstantial is the Son with the Father and the Father with the Son, wherefore They arrive at an unchangeable Likeness, so that the Father is seen in the Son, the Son in the Father, and Each flashes forth in the Other, even as the Saviour Himself says, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and again, I in the Father and the Father in Me. But even though He be in the Father, and have again the Father in Him, Himself full well, as has been already said, perfectly exact unto the Form of Him Who begat Him, and depicting again in Himself without any shortcome, the Father whence He is:—-not therefore will He be deprived of His separate existence, nor will the Father lose His own special Being; but neither will the surpassing Likeness and Resemblance work any confusion of Persons, so that the Father Who begat and the Son Who is Begotten of Him should be considered as one in number. But sameness of Nature will be confessed of Both, yet the Individual Existence of Each will surely follow, so that both the Father should be conceived of as indeed Father, and the Son as Son. For thus, the Holy Ghost being numbered with them and counted as God, the Holy and Adorable Trinity will have Its Proper Fullness.

     Alright, so far so classic Trinitarian. It doesn’t get more basic than Jesus’ discourses in the Gospel of John.

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Derek Rishmawy | Orange, CA | I’m a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School attempting to study Systematic Theology. Adopted by the Triune God. Husband of McKenna. Former college pastor. Beyond that, I am an admitted cliche: books, beer, beard, and a blog that takes too much of my time. I'm a regular contributor to sites like The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, The Local Church, Mere Orthodoxy, and Christianity Today. I also co-host a podcast called Mere Fidelity.

Three Scripture passages to help you fight porn

By Robert D. Jones

(Ge 39:9–10) 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.   ESV

     Contract an STI? Risk an unwanted pregnancy? Jeopardize my seminary status or my marriage or my church ministry? Disappoint my mentors? While these are legitimate concerns, nothing is higher than Joseph’s answer: “ … and sin against God?”

(1 Th 4:5) 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;   ESV

     Jones: Sexual sin for Paul is functional atheism, living like a pagan who does acknowledge God’s presence, fear God’s judgment, or love him for sending his Son to die for me.

(2 Co 5:14–15) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.   ESV

     Jones: There must be a conscious belief in God’s constant presence with you. No one would view porn if Jesus were standing next to him, so to view porn one must either ignore or marginalize the Lord’s presence or devalue pleasing him.

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     Robert D. Jones | Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling | Prior to coming to Southern, Jones served for 19 years as a pastor in West Virginia and then 12 years as a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem and Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts, along with seven mini-books (Angry at God?, Forgiveness, Bad Memories, Restoring Your Broken Marriage, Single Parenting, Freedom from Resentment, and When Trouble Shows Up). Jones is a certified counselor, fellow, and speaker with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors; a certified Christian conciliator, adjunct instructor, and church reconciliation trainer with the Institute for Christian Conciliation (a division of Peacemaker Ministries); a founding member of the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition; and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

The Great Sacrifice (Prayer)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     O GOD our Father, we do remember well when we were called to Thee ; with many sweet and wooing voices we were bidden to return. Thou didst Thyself hang out the lights of mercy that we might know the way home, and Thy dear Son himself came down to seek us. But we wandered still. It brings the tears to our eyes to think that we should have been so foolish and so wicked, for we often extinguished the light within and conscience we tried to harden, and we sinned against light and knowledge with a high hand against our God.

     Thou hast often brought us very low even to our knees, and we cried for mercy, but we rose to sin again. Blessed was that day when Thou didst strike the blow of grace—the effectual blow. Then didst Thou wither up our comeliness and all our perfection was rolled in the dust. We saw ourselves to be slain by the law, to be lost, ruined, and undone, and then we rolled to and fro in the tempests of our thoughts and staggered like drunken men, and were at our wits' end—then did we cry unto Thee in our trouble, and blessed be Thy name for ever, Thou didst deliver us.

     O happy day that sealed our pardon with the precious blood of Jesus accepted by faith. We would recall the memory of that blessed season by repeating it. We come again now to the cross whereon the Saviour bled ; we give another look of faith to Him. We trust we never take away our eyes off Him, but if we have done so we would look anew ; we would gaze into the body of the Son of God, pierced with nails, parched with thirst, bleeding, dying, because "it pleased the Father to bruise Him ; He hath put Him to grief."

     Lord God, we see in Thy crucified Son a sacrifice for sin ; we see how Thou hast made Him to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him ; and we do over again accept Him to be everything to us. This is the victim by whose blood the covenant is made through faith ; this is that Paschal Lamb by the sprinkling of whose blood all Israel is secured ; for Thou hast said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you." This is the blood which gives us access into that which is within the veil ; this is the blood which now to our souls is drink indeed, and we do rejoice in the joy which this new wine of the covenant hath given unto our spirits.

     We would take afresh the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. We would pay our vows now in the midst of all the Lord's people and in the courts of His house ; and this is a part payment of our vow that we bless the Lord Jesus who hath put away our sin. We bless Him that He hath redeemed us unto Himself not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with His own precious blood ; and we do avow ourselves to-day to be the Lord's.

     We are not our own ; we are bought with a price. Lord Jesus, renew Thy grasp of us, take us over again, for we do even with greater alacrity than ever before surrender ourselves to Thee, and so "bind the sacrifice with cords, even with cords to the horns of the altar." O Lord, I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid. Thou hast loosed my bonds. The Lord liveth and blessed be my Rock. Henceforth within that Rock I hide myself. For Him I live. The Lord enable all His people with sincere hearts, with undivided hearts, thus again to give themselves up to Jesus, and do Thou set in them anew the marks and tokens of Thy possession till every one of us shall say as many of us can say, "From henceforth let no man trouble me ; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ."

     We bless Thee, Lord, for that mark to which some of us can look back with much joy. It is not in our hand, nor in our forehead, nor on our foot, nor on our heart alone ; our whole body has been buried with Christ in baptism unto death, and now the whole body, soul and spirit, by our willing consecration, belong unto Christ henceforth and for ever.

     Our Father, there is one prayer which has kept rising to our lip even while we have been thus speaking to Thee. It comes from our very heart. It is : Bring others to Thyself. Hast Thou not said, O God of Jacob, "Yet will I gather others unto Him that have not been gathered ? " Hast Thou not given to Thy Son the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession? Lord, give Thy Son the reward of His travail ; give Him a part of that reward this day wherever He is preached. Oh! that some might be moved with the love of Christ.

     Lord, some know not who Thou art; convince them of Thy Deity and Thy power to save. Lord, many of them do not think ; they live as if they were to die, and there would be an end of them. O Divine Spirit, convince them of judgment to come. Set before each careless eye that day of terrible pomp when for every idle word that men shall speak they must give an account. O Divine Spirit, teach unreasonable men true reason ; teach the obdurate sensitiveness ; look upon them, Jesus, just as Thou didst on those of the synagogue, not with anger, but still being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts. "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do," and bring many, many, many this very day to the dear feet that were nailed to the cross. Oh ! how we long for it. Deny us what Thou wilt, only bring sinners to Thyself.

     Lord Jesus, Thou art gone from us. We rejoice that this is the fact, for Thou hast taught us that it is expedient for us that Thou shouldest go, and that the Comforter should be with us ; but, oh ! let us not miss that promised presence of the Comforter. May He be here to help and succour in all works of faith and labours of love, and may we feel that He has come among us and is dwelling with us because He is convincing the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come.

     O Spirit of God, bring men to accept the great propitiation, to see their sin washed away in the purple flood whose fount was opened when the heart of Christ was pierced, and may blood-washed sinners begin to sing on earth that everlasting anthem which shall be sung by all the redeemed in heaven. We beseech Thee now, Lord, to look upon all Thy people, and grant every one a blessing. Some are in great trouble. Deliver them, we pray Thee. Others may be in great peril, though they have no trouble. The Lord save His people from the evils of prosperity. It may be some of Thine own people find it hard to worship because of cares ; may they be able, like Abraham, when the birds came down upon the sacrifice, to drive them away.

     O Spirit of God, make us all more holy. Work in us more completely the image of Christ. We do long to be as the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and temper, and in unselfishness of life. Give us the character of Christ, we pray Thee. Redemption from the power of sin is purchased with His blood, and we crave for it, and pray that we may daily receive it. Let the whole militant Church of Christ be blessed ; put power into all faithful ministries ; convert this country ; save it from abounding sin ; let all the nations of the earth know the Lord, but especially bless those nations that speak our own dear mother tongue, where our same Lord and Christ is worshipped this day after the same fashion.

     The Lord bless His people. Bring the Church to break down all bonds of nationality, all limits of sects, and may we feel the blessed unity which is the very glory of the Church of Christ ; yea, let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Our prayer can never cease until we reach this point : " Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Nothing less than this can we ask for. And now hear us as we pray for the Sovereign and all in authority, and ask Thy blessing to rest upon this land, and let Thy blessing extend over all the family of man. We ask it for Christ's sake. Amen.

By John Walvoord (1990)

Jesus as the Vine and the Disciples as the Branches

     John 15:1–8. In opening His discussion of the disciples as those who would bear fruit for God, Jesus declared, “I am the true vine” (v.  1 ). This is the seventh “I am” of Christ as recorded in the gospel of  John. In  John 6:35 Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.” In  John 8:12 Jesus revealed, “I am the light of the world.” In  John 10:7, 9 Jesus stated, “I am the gate.” In  John 10:11, 14 Jesus affirmed, “I am the good shepherd.” In  John 11:25 Jesus stated, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In  John 14:6 Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

     In this final declaration, “I am the true Vine,” Jesus was comparing Himself to Israel as a vine that was planted but did not bear fruit (cf.  Isa. 5:1–7 ). Enlarging on the figure, He declared, “My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”John 15:1–2 ).

     When Jesus stated that the branches were in the vine, He was using a figure of speech. In  14:20 He said, “You are in me.” Believers since the day of Pentecost have been baptized and placed in God’s plan of grace for those who put their trust in Christ. In  John 15, however, where it speaks of being “in the vine,” He is talking not about position but about fruitfulness. A branch appears superficially to be in the vine, but if there is no fruit, it is pruned. The gardener views it as only a superficial connection to the vine. He is not talking here about the security of a believer in Christ but rather about the state of fruitfulness that exists in a true believer but does not exist in one who is merely a professing Christian.

     To the disciples Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (v.  3 ). In keeping with the illustration, the disciples cannot expect to bear fruit unless they remain in the vine, which would enable them to bear fruit. Jesus again affirmed that “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (v.  5 ). As in the case of a grapevine, however, some branches will not maintain a living connection with the vine and will be pruned. Accordingly, Jesus said, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (v.  6 ).

     Various interpretations have arisen concerning this statement as expressing the idea that a person, once saved, can be lost. But Jesus contradicted such interpretation. In the gospel of  John Jesus affirmed that eternal life cannot be lost ( John 5:24 ). It is ultimately a question of what God does rather than what man does in contrast here to fruitfulness, which depends on what man does in depending and drawing life from the vine. Jesus had frequently talked about the genuineness of salvation, which could not be lost in the gospel of  John 1 Cor. 3:15; 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10 ). The best explanation, however, is that it is referring to professing Christians who outwardly are joined to Christ but actually have no living connection and therefore cannot bear the fruit that can be expected of a fruitful branch. The branches do not become fruitful branches by bearing fruit; they become fruitful branches because of their abiding connection with the life of the vine.

     If the disciples remain in vital relationship to Jesus Christ and are drawing on Him for fruitfulness, He promised, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples” (vv.  7–8 ). In the discourse on the vine, three degrees of fruitfulness are mentioned: bearing fruit (v.  2 ), being “more fruitful” (v.  2 ), and bearing “much fruit” (v.  8 ). One of the marks of a fruitful Christian is that he is in prayer fellowship with God, and God can answer his prayers because they are to His glory.

The Importance of Living in a Love Relationship

     John 15:9–14. Earlier Jesus had declared that the disciples’ love for one another was to be a distinguishing characteristic of their relationship ( 13:35 ). In keeping with this, He commanded them to love one another as Jesus had loved them (v.  34 ). In repeating this theme, Jesus first of all reminded them that He had been loved by the Father and, in keeping with this, had loved the disciples. The command was, “Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (vv.  9–10 ). In talking about the love relationship, Jesus was calling their attention to the fact that if God loves them and they love God, it would be relatively easy to obey God’s commands, and obeying His commands would be an evidence of their mutual love for one another. Obedience is at once the demonstration of love.

     Now Jesus adds a further dimension: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (v.  11 ). The fruitful Christian life is not only one in which there is mutual love between God and the disciples — this relationship also brings great joy, and without this relationship, you will never be complete.

     Christ then extended the command again as in  John 13:34–35: “Love each other as I have loved you”15:12 ). The supreme evidence of this love is Christ’s own love for them to be demonstrated the next day as He laid down His life for them. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (v.  13 ). As they obey Christ and enter into this relationship, they qualify as His friends.

The New Relationship of Being Friends of God

     John 15:15–17. Though in the New Testament Paul and others delighted to call themselves servants, or slaves, of God, the relationship of Jesus to His disciples was much deeper than that. Instead of being servants, they are actually His friends and associates: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (v.  15 ). This relationship did not come from the disciples choosing Jesus, but rather from Jesus choosing them and giving them the appointment to be fruit bearers and those that manifest the love of God: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other” (vv.  16–17 ).

The World Will Hate True Disciples of Jesus

     John 15:18–25. Just as the relationship of a disciple to God and to Jesus was one of love, so, by contrast, the world will hate them because they also hated Christ. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (vv.  18–20 ). Jesus declared the world guilty because they rejected Christ and did not pay attention to His miracles (vv.  21–25 ).

The Coming of the Holy Spirit as Counselor

     John 15:18–25. Just as the relationship of a disciple to God and to Jesus was one of love, so, by contrast, the world will hate them because they also hated Christ. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (vv.  18–20 ). Jesus declared the world guilty because they rejected Christ and did not pay attention to His miracles (vv.  21–25 ).

The Disciples to Experience Persecution

     John 16:1–4; cf.  Matthew 24:9–10; Luke 21:16–19. Having mentioned their coming persecution ( John 15:18–20 ), Jesus now detailed some of their future experiences. The disciples would be put out of the synagogue, and those who killed them would think they were serving God (v.  2 ). The reason for this persecution is that those people do not know the Father or Jesus (v.  3 ). As He will be absent from them, He tells the disciples now so they will realize that prophecy is being fulfilled when it occurs.

The Work of the Holy Spirit After Jesus Returns to the Father

     John 16:7–15. Though the disciples dreaded Jesus leaving them and could not understand it, Jesus stated that it was best for Him to go so that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, could come. In respect to the world, the Holy Spirit would bring conviction concerning guilt in regard to sin, conviction of the righteousness of God in comparison to their unrighteousness, and conviction of coming judgment on sin (v.  8 ). Jesus enlarged on the truth that will be communicated. Those who receive the revelation of the Holy Spirit will understand that their sin that keeps them from being saved is the sin of unbelief (v.  9 ). They will be convinced of righteousness because Jesus, who is the perfect example of righteousness, will be with the Father and not able to model righteousness (v.  10 ). In regard to God’s coming judgment on sin, they need to know that in the death of Christ the prince of this world, Satan, stands condemned and his sentence will ultimately be fulfilled.

     In contrast to the convicting work of the Spirit in the unsaved who hear the gospel, the Spirit of God will also communicate to Christians. Jesus said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (vv.  12–14 ).

     In general, the Holy Spirit will make known the meaning of Scripture to believers in Christ. For the disciples, there may have been an additional special communication of reminding them what Jesus said while He was with them and making them understand it. The process of revelation will bring glory to Christ (v.  14 ).

Jesus’ Prediction of His Death, Resurrection, and Second Coming

     John 16:16–33. Jesus told the disciples, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me” (v.  16 ). The disciples did not understand Jesus (vv.  17–18 ). Jesus then enlarged on this prophecy: “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (vv.  20–22 ).

     In this passage Jesus was predicting His death and resurrection. In His death, they would grieve and be in pain; in His resurrection, they would have their grief turned to joy.

     In the period after the resurrection of Christ, Jesus instructed them, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (vv.  23–24 ). While Jesus was with them, of course, they could ask Him for explanation of what He said and would have opportunity to have direct communication. After He left, however, Jesus assured them that the Father would reveal to them what they needed to know and would give whatever they need. Though what Jesus said was only partially understood by the disciples, He assured them of the Father’s love. He told them plainly He was going back to the Father (vv.  25–28 ).

     When the disciples said they understood and put their trust in Christ, Jesus said, “You believe at last!” (v.  31 ). Jesus then went on to predict how they would scatter at the time of His crucifixion and leave Jesus alone. Jesus summarized His message to them: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v.  33 ).


Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times

Paul - Conversion Experience

By James S. Stewart

     "We cannot really speak of God," says Eckhardt; "when we would speak of Him we do but stammer." "We are like young children learning to speak," exclaims Luther, "and can use only half words and quarter words." So Paul felt, whenever he tried to set down in words the great decisive experience of his life. All the resources of language could not communicate it. Strive as he might to express it, the inmost secret remained inexpressible. Once he falls back on the word "unspeakable," "God's unspeakable gift," and the adjective there was no mere vague hyperbole, as often in our modern usage: it was the literal conclusion to which the failure of all attempts to capture in words the glory of the fact had driven him. The thing could not be spoken; and the apostle, like the poet, was always conscious of

     "Thoughts hardly to be pack'd
     Into a narrow act,
     Fancies that broke through language and escaped."

     Secretum meum mihi, as the mystics love to say.

     But Paul has one description of his conversion which does suggest something of the splendour of the new life into which that experience ushered him. Writing to the Corinthians, he declares:" God who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' has shone within my heart."

     In other words, something had happened comparable only to the great Fiat Lux of creation's dawn. That the sublime passage in the Genesis prologue was actually in the apostle's mind seems beyond doubt. "The earth was without form and void" —had not his own soul known that chaos? "And darkness was upon the face of the deep" —was not that a very picture of his experience before Christ came? "But the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters"—and looking back, Paul could see how true it was that from his very birth Providence had set him apart, and that, through all his blindness and rebellion, the Spirit of God had been brooding over him and guiding his destiny. "And God said, 'Let there be light': and there was light." To me, says Paul in effect, it was just like that—sheer miracle, a word proceeding out of the mouth of God, a creative act of omnipotence. To me, it was the birth of light and order and purpose and beauty, the ending of chaos and ancient night. And to me, as at that first creation, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. God who said, "Let there be light," has shone within my heart; He has scorched me with His splendour, and remade me by His strength; and I now walk for ever in a marvellous light—the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

     This conversion experience was far and away the most vital and formative influence of Paul's life. Compared with this, everything else—his Jewish ancestry, his Rabbinic training, his Hellenistic contacts, every factor of heredity and environment—was completely secondary. To see the decisive event aright, however, and to understand the consequences that flowed from it, we must approach it along the line of the religious experience of his pre-Christian days. And here at once we meet the striking fact that for years before the call came the dominating note of Paul's inner life had been one of utter failure and frustration and defeat.

     We have seen above how zealously and wholeheartedly Paul had embraced the religion of his fathers. Judaism never had a better champion. No one could rival him in enthusiasm for the spiritual heritage of his people. He plunged eagerly into the life to which law and tradition seemed beckoning him. He flung himself into the observance of their commands with unmatched ardour. But that boundless enthusiasm of the young devotee was doomed to receive a check. He found that the more keenly he pursued his ideal, the Jurthex it receded. The righteousness on which his heart was set stood afar off, mocking his endeavour. Feelings of doubt and disillusionment began to creep in. Was he perhaps on the wrong track after all? Had he accepted a challenge that was beyond his strength? He was missing the mark, and he knew it, and he was unhappy. But it was an unhappiness of the kind which, as Carlyle knew and proclaimed, springs from a man's greatness. It was the disillusionment which is one of the surest proofs that the human clay has the divine fire mingled with it. Already into the secret mind of the Pharisee the thought was stealing, which later the Christian apostle was to shout from the housetops, that the religion of Mount Sinai, "Jerusalem which now is," was a yoke of bitter bondage: already the first faint yearnings for release had entered the man's soul, the first dim far-off vision of the "Jerusalem which is above," which "is free, the mother of us all."

     (2 Co 4:6) For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. NRSV

     (Ge 1:2–3) the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. NRSV

     (Ga 1:14) I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. NRSV

     (Ga 4:24–26) Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. NRSV

A Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul's Religion

Going Outside the Camp

By James Coffield 2/01/2013

     It began as a friendly family game of Monopoly. I informed my son that he had landed on Park Place. His mind stuck on the words and started to spin: “Park Place, Park Place…” Over and over he repeated the words. I should have remembered — hard consonants at the beginnings of words often get stuck in his mind — and an obsessive - compulsive mind is one of the symptoms of autism. I’m not sure at what moment his mood changed, but his anger turned from himself to me — after all, I was the one who had said the phrase that was now bombarding his brain. He called me rude and other names. The game was over. In those moments, it is difficult for me to know what to do. They remind me that the fall did not just corrupt our bodies but our minds as well. When did my son cross the line into sin — or did he? I can’t discipline or teach the obsessiveness away. Yet, he is responsible for how he responds during these moments. How should a parent react? I became frustrated and simply wished we had not even played the game. It would have been easier to avoid the situation by not engaging my son.

     The church finds itself in the same sort of dilemma when dealing with those suffering from mental illness. Although they have spiritual roots as well, mental illnesses are collections of behaviors that are caused, at least partially, by the mind and the complex chemical reactions in the nervous system. Dealing with the illness can become messy, so we often want to discount the idea altogether and attempt to “re-teach” or discipline away the behaviors of those who suffer with these afflictions. A problem exists. During a twelve-month period, according to a National Institute of Mental Health study, slightly more than one-quarter of the U.S. adult population meets the criteria for a diagnosis of one or more mental disorders. About 6 percent of the population in any twelve-month period suffers from “seriously debilitating mental disorders.”


     We can debate the terminology, but we must acknowledge the legitimacy of mental illness. Some find it much more palatable for these issues to be either strictly medical or spiritual; however, on this side of heaven, there may not be a scalpel sharp enough to separate spiritual/psychological reasons for behavior from medical/physiological reasons for behavior. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies respond to our minds and vice versa.


     To engage is to address the topic of mental illness publicly. Twenty-five percent of all individuals will have a depressive episode during their lifetime — this should be addressed during teaching and church programs. It is sometimes easier to come into the church and admit a crime than to carry the stigma of chronic depression, schizophrenia, or another mental disorder. In surveys, the church has about the same rate of use of psychotropic medications as the general population. We are not addressing here the possible overuse of prescription drugs or the tendency to too quickly label and diagnose individuals, which are important issues. The point is that we do not have the option to ignore and not engage those who suffer from mental illness.


     We have all “sinned against sinners.” The church is often quick to reach out and serve those suffering from physical sickness, as it should. This is true even if some of our sickness is caused by our own behavior. Poor health habits, lack of exercise, and obesity are all lifestyle issues that contribute to our health. The church does not discriminate and say, “You were overweight for the last fifteen years, so we will not visit you in the hospital during your heart surgery.” As believers, we are often curious about the factors that may have contributed to the illness, but we are called to be humble and kind. We need humble curiosity when dealing with those afflicted with mental illness.

     Becoming aware of your own “mental health” is an important part of the process of humble curiosity. The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives (Updated, Expanded by Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird suggests that just like a team takes on the personality of its coach, a church develops some traits of its shepherd. The emotional health of the pastor and leaders of the church will impact the congregation. Are you chronically sad or tired? Are you becoming stuck in patterns of behavior that surprise you? Humble curiosity begins with ourselves.


     Lastly, the church must be a place of hope and refuge for these individuals, not a place of shame and stigma. These individuals tend to feel alone and unwanted. Let our churches become places that offer hope. Often individuals indicate that church is a place where they hide their addictions and struggles, yet it must become a place of repentance and growth. Disorders should not be celebrated, yet people suffering from mental illness can and should be encouraged, accepted, challenged, and loved within the body of Christ.

     I think I may try another game of Monopoly tonight with my son even if it gets me in trouble.

Click here to go to source

     Dr. James Coffield serves as an associate professor of counseling and the clinical director of the master’s degree program in counseling at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O My Soul
103 Of David.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.

ESV Study Bible

The Coming of the Kingdom part 24

By Dr. Andrew Woods 03/28/2014

Evangelical Confusion

Today's evangelical world believes that the church is experiencing the Messianic kingdom. To address this type of confusion, 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. 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 reality in order to show that none of these passages, when rightly understood, teach a present, spiritual form of the kingdom. We began with the use of alleged "kingdom now" texts in the earthly ministry of Christ, such as "the kingdom of heaven is at hand"Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7 ), "seek first His kingdom"Matt. 6:33 ), "until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence"Matt. 11:12 ), "the kingdom of God has come upon you"Matt. 12:28 ), "the kingdom of God is in your midst"Luke 17:21 ), "unless one is born again he cannot...enter into the kingdom of God"John 3:3-5 ), and "some...who are standing here...will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom"Matt. 16:28 ).

Kingdom Taken From Israel And Given To The Church?

Yet another statement by Christ used by "kingdom now" theologians is found in  Matthew 21:43, which says, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it." Debate persists concerning from whom the kingdom is taken and to whom it is given. "Kingdom now" theologians argue that Christ in verse  43 is teaching that the kingdom will be permanently taken away from Israel and instead given in spiritual form to the church. However, for two primary reasons, this theology of replacement is not supported by this passage. First, the replacement theologian errs in asserting that the kingdom was to be taken away from Israel as a whole. The context indicates that Christ was only speaking to first-century Israel.  Matthew 21:45 says, "When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them." This first-century group of unbelieving Israel and her religious leaders is the exclusive group that the kingdom was to be taken away from rather than Israel as a whole at all times and places.

Second, the replacement theologian errs in asserting that the church is the nation that is to receive the kingdom. The "nation" in question cannot be the church since the church is not a nation. In  Romans 10:19, Paul writes, "But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, By a nation without understanding will I anger you." Here, Paul explains how God's present blessing on the church is currently provoking unbelieving Israel to jealousy. In this description Paul calls the church a non-nation. The singular noun "nation" ethnos is twice used here to depict the church's lack of national status. After all, the church does not consist of a single nation but rather consists of believers in Jesus Christ from all nations ( Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 3:11; Rev. 5:9 ). Some use  First Peter 2:9 to support the idea that the church is a nation. However, this argument incorrectly assumes that  First Peter was written to the church at large rather than merely to the believing Jews in the Diaspora. [1]

Rather than seeing the nation as the church, it seems far better to conclude that the nation spoken of in  Matthew 21:43 is a future generation of believing Jews. This view fits well with the remaining context of  Matthew's Gospel, which speaks of a physical and spiritual future restoration of national Israel ( Matt. 23:38-39; 24:31; 25:31 ). Furthermore, the word nation (ethnos) that is translated "people" or "nation" in  Matthew 21:43 is used of national Israel elsewhere in Scripture, such as in  John 11:51 and  Acts 24:17. [2] Thus, contrary to the "kingdom now" rendering of  Matthew 21:43 that the kingdom will be taken away from Israel as a whole and instead given in spiritual form to the church, the verse when taken in context actually teaches that the kingdom will be taken away from first-century Israel only and instead given to future believing national Israel in the coming Tribulation period and millennial kingdom.

Interestingly, such a divine pattern of working through a subsequent generation after the cutting off of a previous generation would be in harmony with Israel's history. For example, despite the fact that the  Exodus generation failed to attain Canaan due to unbelief ( Num. 13–14 ), God accomplished His purposes through a subsequent generation of believing Jews as recorded in the Book of  Joshua. No doubt  Matthew's Hebrew - Christian readers would not only understand this pattern but also recognize its reassertion in the end times drama as God would set aside first-century unbelieving Israel and fulfill His kingdom program through a future generation of believing Israel.

My Kingdom Is Not Of This World

Yet another statement by Christ used by "kingdom now" theologians is found in  John 18:36, where Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." "Kingdom now" theologians use this verse to teach that Christ's kingdom is entirely spiritual rather than physical. However, for at least three reasons, Jesus did not here deny the one day future arrival of an earthly kingdom. First, Christ made this statement very late in His ministry. By this time, the offer of the kingdom that had been extended to first-century Israel ( Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7 ) had already been rejected ( Matt. 12:24 ) and taken off the table ( Matt. 21:43 ). Thus, in  John 18:36, at that specific point in time, Christ was simply explaining that God's kingdom was no longer an imminent threat to Pilate's kingdom. Constable notes the specific timing of Christ's remarks:

Jesus was not denying that His kingdom was an earthly kingdom. He was not saying it was only the spiritual rule of God over the hearts of His people. He was not saying that His kingdom had nothing to do with this world, either. This should be clear from Jesus' other references to His kingdom as being an earthly kingdom. His point was that He and His kingdom were not a present threat to Rome (cf.  18:10-11 ). It was non-threatening because God had postponed the messianic kingdom — due to Israel's unbelief — though Jesus did not explain this to Pilate. [3]

Second, the final clause of  John 18:36 contains the Greek word nyn, which is typically translated "now." This final clause could therefore be translated, "but now My kingdom is not from here" (NKJV). Thus, the idea is "My kingdom is not now established." In other words, Christ was not denying the kingdom's ultimate arrival upon earth. Rather, he was only denying its immediate arrival. Craven explains the significance of the insertion of "now":

In this utterance, it is contended that our Lord intended to declare to Pilate that the kingdom He came to establish was not after the manner of the kingdoms of this world, i. e., not external, political. It is admitted that the utterance considered in itself will bear this interpretation; but it will also bear one consistent with the theory herein advocated, especially in view of the introduction of nyn in the last clause of the verse, which may be regarded as a particle of time — My kingdom is not now established. Which of these interpretations are we to adopt? The one supposes that our Lord whispered into the ear of a heathen (neither the disciples nor the Jews were in the Pretorium, ver.  28 ), the great truth concerning His kingdom, which he had not only concealed from His disciples (hid from them in a bewildering enigma) but a few hours before on the solemn occasion of the institution of the Supper,  Luke 22:29, 30; but which, also, He continued to conceal throughout the forty days of His subsequent continuance with them, during which time He is represented as “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,”  Acts 1:3, and as opening “their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,”  Luke 24:45! The other interpretation supposes that He spake in consistency with His previous and subsequent teaching. [4]

Third, rather than denying its future, terrestrial reality, Christ was here simply making a statement as to the His kingdom's ultimate origin or source. When Christ explained "My kingdom is not of this world", the word translated "of" is the Greek preposition ek. McClain notes its significance: "The preposition is ek, indicating source or originating cause. His kingdom does not originate in the present cosmos or world system." [5] Constable similarly explains, "Jesus' kingdom is 'not of this realm' or 'from another place' (Gr. ouk enteuthen, lit. not from this place) in another sense. It will come down from heaven to the earth rather than originating from the earth. It will begin when Jesus comes down from heaven to earth at His Second Coming." [6]

Because the kingdom ultimately originates from heaven, it is referred to as "the kingdom of heaven" by John ( Matt. 3:1-2 ), Christ ( Matt. 4:17 ), and the Twelve ( Matt. 10:5-7 ). It is also called "the kingdom of heaven" since the kingdom will be inaugurated by the "God of heaven." Notice how  Daniel connects this "God of heaven" with His coming kingdom: "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed..." ( Dan. 2:44; ). In sum, rather than teaching that His kingdom is spiritual only, in  John 18:36, Christ simply explains that the future kingdom, which will one day come to the earth, ultimately originated from or is sourced in heaven. Thus, when it is understood that Christ made this statement after the kingdom offer had been withdrawn and that this verse only focuses upon the kingdom's immediacy and origin or source, then it can be concluded that  John 18:36 makes no contribution to "kingdom now" theology.

Continue Reading (Part 25 on Sept 15 web page)

[1] See Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude This issue will be given greater treatment later on in the series.
[2] Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God
[3] Thomas Constable, "Notes on John," online: www.soniclight.com, accessed 5 February 2014, 294.
[4] E.R. Craven, "Excursus on the Basileia," in Revelation of John, ed. Lange (New York: Scribner, 1874), 100.
[5] McClain, Greatness of the Kingdom, 381.
[6] Constable, "Notes on John," 294.

     Dr. Andrew Woods Books

Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.

Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.

Why Follow Jesus?

By Jonathan Dodson 3/01/2013

     In today’s culture, we are more pragmatic than reflective. Obsessed with knowing what works and how it works, we strive to repeat the formula. We are less concerned with why things work. Discipleship is no exception. Many have traded in the why for the how, motivation for the best practice. This is disconcerting. The reason for this is that practice can take us only so far. When hardship hits, practice needs motivation to continue.

     What motivates you to follow Jesus? If this question isn’t one you continually ponder and answer, you will walk away from Jesus rather than after Him.

     The Pragmatic Disciple

     Given our culture’s pragmatic bent, the modern discipleship mantra is “make disciples who make disciples.” This mantra is pragmatic and reproductive. Is pragmatic reproduction Jesus’ chief concern? When He came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, did He give an inspiring message and then move to three action points on how to make disciples? Certainly, He did model, instruct, and send (Luke 9–10). The kingdom of God is embedded with reproductive DNA (reflected in some of Jesus’ agricultural parables). But the kingdom of God is also slow and deep. It stretches across arduous lifespans and into the depths of the human heart. The reign of Christ penetrates our DNA, continually motivating us.

     Instead of focusing His training on the how, Jesus relentlessly got to the why. This is why so many of His sayings are unnerving. As a master teacher, He provoked reflection, not just action:

     As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57–58)

     Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (vv. 62–63)

     Jesus forces us to reflect on our motives for following Him. If we live for comfort and ease, we won’t give up our beds, money, and entertainment to follow Him. If idyllic community is what motivates our decisions, we won’t give up close friends and family members. Jesus is clear. If we want to be His disciples, we must be motivated by something greater than comfort and community. His kingdom must motivate us, and the kingdom comes with a cost.

     True disciples will consider and embrace the cost over and over again. They will endure because, in finding the kingdom, they have found a King worthy of their sacrifice. Searching for the why of their existence, they discover a pearl of great price. Disciples motivated by pragmatism alone may consider the cost and embrace the cause of making disciples who make disciples, but when push comes to shove, they will walk away from Jesus, not after Him. We need more than the hows of fulfilling the Great Commission to get us through the adversity of seeking first the kingdom of God.

     The Jesus Disciple

     When Jesus gave His mountaintop commission, He loaded it with kingdom motivation. The main directive to make disciples is preceded by the image of a risen, radiant king, rippling with power and authority, in heaven and on earth (Dan. 7:9–14; Matt. 28:17). He is strong enough to depose nations and glorious enough to summon their worship. We are sent under this aegis. We are not sent in the authority of our own experience but in the authority of His lordship. Our story isn’t sufficient to “make a disciple,” but His story is. Why do we go? To baptize into His name, not ours. Making disciples of all nations is no personal cause; it is the redemptive agenda of God Himself. Our motivation, then, arises from being submerged in the grace of God, not from having others align with our way of doing things.

     How do we continue to make disciples when wading neck deep in sin? We have to remember that the success of our mission requires not only the authority of the King but also the mercy of the Messiah. He is the Disciple who succeeds where we fail, in perfect obedience to God. We extend mercy from His mercies that are new every day.

     But what if the mission field is too hard? Behold, He is with us always, even to the end of the age. We depend not only on the past obedience of the Faithful Disciple, but also on the present presence of the risen Lord. We make disciples in the authority of Jesus, submerged in the grace of Jesus, enduring in the mercy of Jesus, with the forever promise of the presence of King Jesus. Disciples need to recover a singular motivation to endure all the cost—the infinite sufficiency and splendor of our Lord.

     Why do we follow Jesus? Because of who He is. If we have Jesus, we have more than enough to make disciples.

Click here to go to source

     Rev. Jonathan K. Dodson is pastor of Austin City Life, a church in Austin, Texas. He is author of Gospel-Centered Discipleship and Unbelievable Gospel: Sharing a Gospel Worth Believing.

The Continual Burnt Offering (Romans 5:10)

By H.A. Ironside - 1941

September 14
Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.    ESV

     The 5th of Romans is the chapter of the five “much mores,” and is well worth considering. For example, Romans 5:10 is full of hope and encouragement for the timid believer. It assures us that He who loved us enough to give His Son for us will never give us up and allow us to drift beyond His gracious care. We have been reconciled to Him by the sacrificial death of our blessed Lord. Much more then, having been brought into so happy a relationship with Himself, we shall be saved daily and eternally through the resurrection life of the same precious Savior who died for us on the cross. It is important to see that it is not His life on earth that is referred to. As to that we are saved—reconciled—by His death. His life had to be given up in order that He might redeem us. But now we who are redeemed are kept by the ever-living One who undertakes to see us safely through all possible circumstances, and bring us at last in triumph to the Father’s house.

Thy love we own, Lord Jesus;
For though Thy toils are ended,
Thy tender heart doth take its part
With those Thy grace befriended.
Thy sympathy, how precious!
Thou succourest in sorrow,
And bidst us cheer, while pilgrims here,
And haste the hopeful morrow.

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

  • Logical analysis
    of the Bible
  • Communion
    and Worship
  • The Essentials
    of the Faith

#1 Norman Geisler |
Norman Geisler


#2 09-12-2021 | Athey Creek


#3 Norman Geisler |
Norman Geisler


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     (Sept 14)    Bob Gass

(Ps 128:3) 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. ESV

     The psalmist writes: ‘Blessed are all who fear [respect, honour and obey] the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit [rewards] of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD’ (vv. 1-4 NIV 1984 Edition). In a favourable climate, grapevines need no coaxing to grow. They’ll produce grapes in abundance, from which comes wine. And wine in the Bible speaks of joy and celebration. It’s the same in your home. As a husband, God holds you responsible for creating a climate in which your wife and family can experience ‘blessings and prosperity’. That means you must spend enough time at home to create and maintain an ideal temperature. When you’re seldom present you can’t do that, because your absence just frustrates your wife and diminishes her sense of worth and self-confidence. When she has to take second place to your career, your sports activities, and your friends - not to mention your television watching - you’ll never build a great relationship with her. To know what your wife’s needs are, you must spend quality time with her. If you want to discover her true potential and know just how wonderful a person she is, create the right climate in your home. One woman joked, ‘I never knew what real happiness was until I married my husband - now it’s too late!’ That doesn’t have to be your story. You can create a climate in which you both thrive and enjoy life.

Is 23-25
Eph 1

UCB The Word For Today
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     He was the only US President to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was appointed by President McKinley as the first governor of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War and by President Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of War. The largest President, weighing over 300 lbs, a bathtub was installed for him in the White House, big enough to hold four men. His name was William Howard Taft, and he was born this day September 15, 1857. President Taft stated: “A God-fearing nation, like ours, owes it to its inborn… sense of moral duty to testify… devout gratitude to the All-Giver for… countless benefits.”

American Minute
Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

No pillow so soft as God’s promise.
Weave in faith and God will find the thread.
--- Author Unknown

Faith must be tested,
because it can be turned into a personal possession
only through conflict.
--- Oswald Chambers

The love of these things that are outside visible Christianity keeps me outside the Church... But it also seems to me that when one speaks to you of unbelievers who are in affliction and accept their affliction as a part of the order of the world, it does not impress you in the same way as if it were a question of Christians and of submission to the will of God. Yet it is the same thing.
--- Simone Weil
Last letter to Father Joseph-Marie Perrin, from a refugee camp in Casablanca (26 May 1942), as translated in The Simone Weil Reader (1957) edited by George A. Panichas, p.111

Were it possible to see a picture of God, according to the fancies of men, it would be the most monstrous being, such a God that never was, nor ever can be. We honor God when we have worthy opinions of him suitable to his nature; when we conceive of him as a being of unbounded loveliness and perfection. We detract from him when we ascribe to him such qualities as would be a horrible disgrace to a wise and good man as injustice and impurity. Thus men debase God when they invert his order, and would create him according to their image, as he first created them according to his own; and think him not worthy to be a God, unless he fully answer the mould they would cast him into, and be what is unworthy of his nature. Men do not conceive of God as he would have them; but he must be what they would have him, one of their own shaping.
--- Stephen Charnock Attributes of God

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     9. But now sedition and civil war prevailed, not only over Judea, but in Italy also; for now Galba was slain in the midst of the Roman market-place; then was Otho made emperor, and fought against Vitellius, who set up for emperor also; for the legions in Germany had chosen him. But when he gave battle to Valens and Cecinna, who were Vitellius's generals, at Betriacum, in Gaul, Otho gained the advantage on the first day, but on the second day Vitellius's soldiers had the victory; and after much slaughter Otho slew himself, when he had heard of this defeat at Brixia, and after he had managed the public affairs three months and two days. 18 Otho's army also came over to Vitellius's generals, and he came himself down to Rome with his army. But in the mean time Vespasian removed from Cesarea, on the fifth day of the month Desius, [Sivan,] and marched against those places of Judea which were not yet overthrown. So he went up to the mountainous country, and took those two toparchies that were called the Gophnitick and Acrabattene toparchies. After which he took Bethel and Ephraim, two small cities; and when he had put garrisons into them, he rode as far as Jerusalem, in which march he took many prisoners, and many captives; but Cerealis, one of his commanders, took a body of horsemen and footmen, and laid waste that part of Idumea which was called the Upper Idumea, and attacked Caphethra, which pretended to be a small city, and took it at the first onset, and burnt it down. He also attacked Caphatabira, and laid siege to it, for it had a very strong wall; and when he expected to spend a long time in that siege, those that were within opened their gates on the sudden, and came to beg pardon, and surrendered themselves up to him. When Cerealis had conquered them, he went to Hebron, another very ancient city. I have told you already that this city is situated in a mountainous country not far off Jerusalem; and when he had broken into the city by force, what multitude and young men were left therein he slew, and burnt down the city; so that as now all the places were taken, excepting Herodlum, and Masada, and Machaerus, which were in the possession of the robbers, so Jerusalem was what the Romans at present aimed at.

     10. And now, as soon as Simon had set his wife free, and recovered her from the zealots, he returned back to the remainders of Idumea, and driving the nation all before him from all quarters, he compelled a great number of them to retire to Jerusalem; he followed them himself also to the city, and encompassed the wall all round again; and when he lighted upon any laborers that were coming thither out of the country, he slew them. Now this Simon, who was without the wall, was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves, as were the zealots who were within it more heavy upon them than both of the other; and during this time did the mischievous contrivances and courage [of John] corrupt the body of the Galileans; for these Galileans had advanced this John, and made him very potent, who made them suitable requital from the authority he had obtained by their means; for he permitted them to do all things that any of them desired to do, while their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of the men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them. They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in feminine wantonness, without any disturbance, till they were satiated therewith; while they decked their hair, and put on women's garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, and imitated not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness, that they invented unlawful pleasures of that sort. And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel-house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and when their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran every body through whom they alighted upon. However, Simon waited for such as ran away from John, and was the more bloody of the two; and he who had escaped the tyrant within the wall was destroyed by the other that lay before the gates, so that all attempts of flying and deserting to the Romans were cut off, as to those that had a mind so to do.

     11. Yet did the army that was under John raise a sedition against him, and all the Idumeans separated themselves from the tyrant, and attempted to destroy him, and this out of their envy at his power, and hatred of his cruelty; so they got together, and slew many of the zealots, and drove the rest before them into that royal palace that was built by Grapte, who was a relation of Izates, the king of Adiabene; the Idumeans fell in with them, and drove the zealots out thence into the temple, and betook themselves to plunder John's effects; for both he himself was in that palace, and therein had he laid up the spoils he had acquired by his tyranny. In the mean time, the multitude of those zealots that were dispersed over the city ran together to the temple unto those that fled thither, and John prepared to bring them down against the people and the Idumeans, who were not so much afraid of being attacked by them [because they were themselves better soldiers than they] as at their madness, lest they should privately sally out of the temple and get among them, and not only destroy them, but set the city on fire also. So they assembled themselves together, and the high priests with them, and took counsel after what manner they should avoid their assault. Now it was God who turned their opinions to the worst advice, and thence they devised such a remedy to get themselves free as was worse than the disease itself. Accordingly, in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon, and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city; which resolution they brought to perfection, and sent Matthias, the high priest, to beseech this Simon to come in to them, of whom they had so often been afraid. Those also that had fled from the zealots in Jerusalem joined in this request to him, out of the desire they had of preserving their houses and their effects. Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection, and came into the city, in order to deliver it from the zealots. The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their savior and their preserver; but when he was come in, with his army, he took care to secure his own authority, and looked upon those that had invited him in to be no less his enemies than those against whom the invitation was intended.

     12. And thus did Simon get possession of Jerusalem, in the third year of the war, in the month Xanthicus [Nisan]; whereupon John, with his multitude of zealots, as being both prohibited from coming out of the temple, and having lost their power in the city, [for Simon and his party had plundered them of what they had,] were in despair of deliverance. Simon also made an assault upon the temple, with the assistance of the people, while the others stood upon the cloisters and the battlements, and defended themselves from their assaults. However, a considerable number of Simon's party fell, and many were carried off wounded; for the zealots threw their darts easily from a superior place, and seldom failed of hitting their enemies; but having the advantage of situation, and having withal erected four very large towers aforehand, that their darts might come from higher places, one at the north-east corner of the court, one above the Xystus, the third at another corner over against the lower city, and the last was erected above the top of the Pastophoria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave a signal beforehand, with a trumpet 19 at the beginning of every seventh day, in the Evening twilight, as also at the Evening when that day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to leave off work, and when they were to go to work again. These men also set their engines to cast darts and stones withal, upon those towers, with their archers and slingers. And now Simon made his assault upon the temple more faintly, by reason that the greatest part of his men grew weary of that work; yet did he not leave off his opposition, because his army was superior to the others, although the darts which were thrown by the engines were carried a great way, and slew many of those that fought for him.

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

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)
Proverbs 24:26-27
     by D.H. Stern

26     Giving an honest answer
     is like giving a kiss.

27     Prepare your outside work,
     and get things ready for yourself on the land;
     after that, build your house.

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

                Imagination v. inspiration

     The simplicity that is in Christ. --- 2 Cor. 11:3.

     Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Matthew 11:25.).

     The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating, because when we are muddled we know the reason is in the temper of our mind. When the natural power of vision is devoted to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the power of perceiving God’s will and the whole life is kept in simplicity.

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
Souillac: Le Sacrifice d'Abraham
     the Poetry of RS Thomas

                Souillac: Le Sacrifice d'Abraham

And he grasps him by the hair
  With innocent savagery.
  And the son's face is calm;
  There is trust there.
And the beasts look on.

This is what art could do,
  Interpreting faith
  With serene chisel.
  The resistant stone
  Is quiet as our breath,
  And is accepted.

Selected poems, 1946-1968
Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     Numbers 25:10–15

     Whoever tarnishes himself also tarnishes his family with him.

Numbers 25:10–15 / The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My passion. Say, therefore, ‘I grant him My pact of friendship. It shall be for him and his descendants after him a pact of priesthood for all time, because he took impassioned action for his God, thus making expiation for the Israelites.’ ”

     The name of the Israelite who was killed, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri son of Salu, chiefiain of a Simeonite ancestral house. The name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi daughter of Zur; he was the tribal head of an ancestral house of Midian.

     MIDRASH TEXT / Numbers Rabbah 21, 3 / The name of the Israelite who was killed, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman. Just as the Holy One, praised is He, attends to the praise of the righteous, to publicize it [their deeds] in the world, so too He attends to the condemnation of the wicked, to publicize it in the world. He publicized [the deeds of] Phinehas for praise and Zimri for condemnation. Concerning them it says, “The name of the righteous is invoked in blessing, but the fame of the wicked rots” (
Proverbs 10:7).

     Chieftain of a Simeonite ancestral house. Whoever tarnishes himself also tarnishes his family with him. Zimri son of Salu. The text is astonished at this! “He who breaches a stone fence will be bitten by a snake” (
Ecclesiastes 10:8). His ancestor was originally zealous against immorality, “Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons … took …” (Genesis 34:25). This one [Zimri] breached the fence that his ancestor had made.


Numbers 25, we are told that “while Israel [the people] was staying at Shittim, the people profaned themselves by whoring [or: began to commit harlotry] with the Moabite women, who invited the people to sacrifice to their god.” This angered God greatly. But it also angered Phinehas, and when he saw an Israelite man bringing a Midianite woman to his tent, Phinehas followed them there and killed both of them. Phinehas’s action checked the plague that had started against the Israelites, apparently provoked by God’s anger at their sin. The Bible text, above, picks up the story at this point.

     The name of the Israelite who was killed by Phinehas, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman.… The Rabbis wonder: Why are the names of the Israelite man and the Midianite woman specified? Why not just say, “Phinehas killed the sinning couple and assuaged God’s anger, stopping the plague against the Israelites”? The answer that the Rabbis give is that the Holy One, praised is He, attends to the praise of the righteous by specifically mentioning the name of the hero, Phinehas. So too He, God, attends to the condemnation of the wicked, to publicize it in the world. This is why the biblical text indicates not only the sin, but also the sinners, Zimri and Cozbi. God is an “equal opportunity publicizer”: He publicized Phinehas for praise and Zimri for condemnation. A verse from Proverbs seems to speak directly to this situation: “The name of the righteous is invoked in blessing, but the fame of the wicked rots.”

     This answers the question why the names of Phinehas, Zimri, and Cozbi are mentioned in the text. But why are their ancestries also given? In each of the three cases, the person’s name, lineage, and ancestral house—as in “Zimri son of Salu, chieftain of a Simeonite ancestral house”—is mentioned. This lead the Rabbis to assert that whoever tarnishes himself also tarnishes his family with him. Why else mention the ancestry, unless there was an impact on the family? We are told that Zimri son of Salu was from the tribe of Simeon. Looking back at the history of Simeon, the Rabbis remembered the rape of Dinah (
Genesis 34). In this story, Shechem forces himself on Dinah, and her brothers Simeon and Levi avenge the deed by slaying all the males of Shechem’s city. The text is astonished at this, apparently at the change for the worse that has happened to the Simeonite line. In the days of Jacob, they were outraged at a sexual indiscretion; in the days of Moses, they are the perpetrators of a sexual impropriety. The Rabbis quote a verse from Ecclesiastes to prove that one who breaks boundaries will himself be punished. “He who breaches a stone fence, Zimri, who engaged in immorality, will be bitten by a snake,” that is, executed in a harsh manner for his sin. Just as Simeon used a sword to kill Shechem, Phinehas used a spear to kill Zimri.

Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living
Take Heart
     September 14

     “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
Zechariah 13:7

     Was the sword drawn against the Shepherd, and he left alone to receive the mortal strokes of it? (Works of John Flavel (6 Vol. Set)) How should all adore both the justice and mercy of God so illustriously displayed in this! Here is the triumph of divine justice—and the highest triumph that it ever had—to single forth the chief Shepherd, the man that is God’s equal, and sheathe its sword in his breast for satisfaction. No wonder it is drawn and brandished with such a triumph: Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd! For in this blood shed by it is more glory than if the blood of all the men and women in the world had been shed.

     And the mercy and goodness of God is no less shown in giving the sword a commission against his equal, rather than against us. Why did he not rather say, Awake, O sword, against the people who are my enemies; shed the blood of those who have sinned against me? Blessed be God, that the dreadful sword was not drawn and brandished against our souls, that God did not set it to our breasts, that he did not make it fat with our flesh and bathe it in our blood—that his friend was abused so that his enemies might be spared. O what manner of love was this! Blessed be God therefore for Jesus Christ, who received the fatal stroke himself and has now so sheathed that sword in its scabbard that it will never be drawn any more against any that believe in him.

     Were the sheep scattered when the Shepherd was beaten? Learn from this that the best of us do not know our own strength till we come to the trial. Little did these holy men imagine such a cowardly spirit had been in them till temptation put it to the proof. Let this therefore be a caution forever to the people of God. You resolve never to forsake Christ, you do well, but so did these and yet were scattered from him. You can never take a just measure of your own strength till temptation has tried it. It is said that God led the people so many years in the wilderness to prove them and to know them—that is, to make them know—what was in their hearts. Little did they think such unbelief, murmuring, discontent, and a spirit bent to backsliding had been in them, until their straits in the wilderness gave them the sad experience of these things.
--- John Flavel

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day
     Golden Mouthed  September 14

     For 15 centuries, this day in church history has belonged to John Chrysostom, who died on September 14, 407 at age 60. His powerful RS Thomas gave him the reputation as the greatest orator in Christian history. Indeed, the name Chrysostom means “Golden Mouthed.”

     John was born in Antioch, Syria. His father, a high-ranking Roman officer, died shortly after John’s birth. His mother Anthusa devoted herself to raising John in the nurture of the Lord. She placed him in the finest schools; and under the well-known orator Libanius, John mastered the art of rhetoric.

     John became a lawyer, well known for powerful speaking. His legal studies led him to reexamine Christianity’s beliefs, and he became so impressed with Scripture that he resigned the law, was baptized, and wanted to join a monastery. When his mother persuaded him to remain home and comfort her in her old age, John turned his home into a personal monastery, eating simply, making few purchases, and spending much time in study.

     After his mother’s death, Chrysostom studied and worked quietly as a monk for six years, followed by two more Elijah-like years in a hermit’s cave. Then he began preaching. His messages were practical, powerful, and sprinkled with humor. He effectively led his listeners through the Bible in exegetical fashion. His oratory was so powerful that his audiences frequently burst into spontaneous applause, a practice he disliked.

     In 398 John was elected patriarch of Constantinople, but when John’s plainspoken messages riled priests and politicians there, he was banished to a remote spot on the Black Sea. “The doctrine of Christ did not begin with me,” he told saddened parishioners, “and it shall not die with me.” His forced departure caused a riot in Constantinople, and on the night of the riot, a powerful earthquake shook the city. The public officials immediately sent for him and he returned in triumph. But John’s blunt, biblical RS Thomas continued to rankle the authorities, and he was again deposed and entered a period of ministry through letters and epistles before dying on this date in the year 407, his last words being, “Glory be to God for all things. Amen.”

     Ezekiel, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They are just like their ancestors who rebelled against me and refused to stop. They are stubborn and hardheaded. But I, the LORD God, have chosen you to tell them what I say. Those rebels may not even listen, but at least they will know that a prophet has come to them.
--- Ezekiel 2:3-5.

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

          Morning - September 14

     "There were also with him other little ships." --- Mark 4:36.

     Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and his presence preserved the whole convoy. It is well to sail with Jesus, even though it be in a little ship. When we sail in Christ’s company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as he fares; and when the waves are rough to him, they will be rough to us. It is by tempest and tossing that we shall come to land, as he did before us.

     When the storm swept over Galilee’s dark lake all faces gathered blackness, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck. When all creature help was useless, the slumbering Saviour arose, and with a word, transformed the riot of the tempest into the deep quiet of a calm; then were the little vessels at rest as well as that which carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there be sorrow upon the sea, when Jesus is on it there is joy too. May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbour. His Church is the Admiral’s flagship, let us attend her movements, and cheer her officers with our presence. He himself is the great attraction; let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day’s cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the centre of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.

          Evening - September 14

     “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” --- Psalm 32:5.

     David’s grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible upon his outward frame: “his bones waxed old”; “his moisture was turned into the drought of summer.” No remedy could he find, until he made a full confession before the throne of the heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silence, and his heart became more and more filled with grief: like a mountain tarn whose outlet is blocked up, his soul was swollen with torrents of sorrow. He fashioned excuses; he endeavoured to divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a festering sore his anguish gathered, and as he would not use the lancet of confession, his spirit was full of torment, and knew no rest. At last it came to this, that he must return unto his God in humble penitence, or die outright; so he hastened to the mercy-seat, and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities before the all-seeing One, acknowledging all the evil of his ways in language such as you read in the fifty-first and other penitential Psalms. Having done this, a work so simple and yet so difficult to pride, he received at once the token of divine forgiveness; the bones which had been broken were made to rejoice, and he came forth from his closet to sing the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven. See the value of a grace-wrought confession of sin! It is to be prized above all price, for in every case where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the repentance and confession deserve mercy, but for Christ’s sake. Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, O Lord, thou art a God “ready to pardon!” Therefore will we acknowledge our iniquities.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     September 14


     J. Wilbur Chapman, 1859–1918

     Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. --- Titus 2:13, 14

     To the artist, Christ is the one altogether lovely.
     To the builder, He is the sure foundation.
     To the doctor, He is the great physician.
     To the geologist, He is the Rock of Ages.
     To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God who cleanses and forgives sin.
     To the Christian, Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, our great Savior.

     --- Unknown

     Through the centuries, artists and poets who have been impressed with Christ have tried valiantly to present His portrait both with brush and pen. Yet even the noblest efforts of these dedicated men and women seem feeble and inadequate.

     Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman has provided a worthy text extolling various attributes of Christ as they relate to our personal lives: “Friend of sinners,” “Lover of my soul,” “Strength in weakness,” “My victory, help in sorrow, comfort, guide, keeper, pilot.” Finally, after reviewing everything that Christ means to a believer, we can do no better than to respond with Chapman’s refrain: “Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend!”

     “Our Great Savior” first appeared in its present form in the hymnal Alexander’s Gospel Songs, No. 2, published in 1910.

     Jesus! what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul. Friends may fail me, foes assail me; He, my Savior, makes me whole.
     Jesus! what a strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him; tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He, my strength, my vict’ry wins.
     Jesus! what a help in sorrow! While the billows o’er me roll, even when my heart is breaking, He, my comfort, helps my soul.
     Jesus! what a guide and Keeper! While the tempest still is high, storms about me, night o’er-takes me, He, my Pilot, hears my cry.
     Jesus! I do now receive Him; more than all in Him I find; He hath granted me forgiveness; I am His, and He is mine.
     Chorus: Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.

     For Today: Luke 7:34; Romans 3:24, 25; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:18; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 5:9

     Give Christ the praise of your heart for all that He really means in life—in your vocation, pursuits, personal relationships … Use this musical expression to carry your praise ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
What happened on
     September 14, 1812

          Francis Scott Key

     A story of how our national anthem came to be.

     I was asked by someone to put a video together for this audio and upload it, so here it is. I was never expecting it to get so many views.

     Yes I'm aware some info is sketchy and wording isn't exactly right. Please stop sending complaints. Like I said before, I'm doing a favor for someone here. You can look up the accurate story if want the precise info.

     Here's a link to one of many sources for info on the true story: https://tinyurl.com/yb6laets

     Hope you enjoy the message of this video though. God Bless America

     P.S: Really sorry about the typos in the anthem

     I don't own the audio or pics and the flag video that I used towards the end belongs to FarWestTexas. --- Mona Rose

September 14, 1812

The Existence and Attributes of God
     Stephen Charnock


     III. Eternity is only proper to God, and not communicable. It is as great a madness to ascribe eternity to the creature, as to deprive the Lord of the creature of eternity. It is so proper to God, that when the apostle would prove the deity of Christ, he proves it by his immutability and eternity, as well as his creating power: “Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” (Heb. 1:10–12) The argument had not strength, if eternity belonged essentially to any but God; and therefore he is said only to have “immortality” (1 Tim. 6:16): all other things receive their being from him, and can be deprived of their being by him: all things depend on him; he of none all other things are like clothes, which would consume if God preserved them not.

     Immortality is appropriated to God, i. e. a n independent immortality. Angels and souls have an immortality, but by donation from God, not by their own essence; dependent upon their Creator, not necessary in their own nature: God might have annihilated them after he had created them; so that their duration cannot properly be called an eternity, it being extrinsical to them, and dependent upon the will of their Creator, by whom they may be extinguished; it is not an absolute and necessary, but a precarious immortality. Whatsoever is not God, is temporary; whatsoever is eternal, is God. It is a contradiction to say a creature can be eternal; as nothing eternal is created, so nothing created is eternal. What is distinct from the nature of God cannot be eternal, eternity being the essence of God. Every creature, in the notion of a creature, speaks a dependence on some cause, and therefore cannot be eternal. As it is repugnant to the nature of God not to be eternal, so it is repugnant to the nature of a creature to be eternal; for then a creature would be equal to the Creator, and the Creator, or the Cause, would not be before the creature, or effect. It would be all one to admit many gods, as many eternals; and all one to say, God can be created, as to say a creature can be unereated, which is to be eternal.

     1. Creation is a producing something from nothing. What was once nothing, cannot therefore be eternal; not being was eternal; therefore its being could not be eternal, for it should be then before it was, and would be something when it was nothing. It is the nature of a creature to be nothing before it was created; what was nothing before it was, cannot be equal with God in an eternity of duration.

     2. There is no creature but is mutable, therefore not eternal. As it had a change from nothing to something, so it may be changed from being to not being. If the creature were not mutable, it would be most perfect, and so would not be a creature, but God; for God only is most perfect. It is as much the essence of a creature to be mutable, as it is the essence of God to be immutable. Mutability and eternity are utterly inconsistent.

     3. No creature is infinite, therefore not eternal: to be infinite in duration is all one as to be infinite in essence. It is as reasonable to conceive a creature immense, filling all places at once, as eternal, extended to all ages; because neither can be without infiniteness, which is the property of the Deity. A creature may as well be without bounds of place, as limitations of time.

     4. No effect of an intellectual free agent can be equal in duration to its cause. The productions of natural agents are as ancient often as themselves; the sun produceth a beam as old in time as itself; but who ever heard of a piece of wise workmanship as old as the wise artificer? God produced a creature, not necessarily and naturally, as the sun doth a beam, but freely, as an intelligent agent. The sun was not necessary; it might be or not be, according to the pleasure of God. A free act of the will is necessary to precede in order of time, as the cause of such effects as are purely voluntary. Those causes that act as soon as they exist act naturally, necessarily, not freely, and cannot cease from acting. But suppose a creature might have existed by the will of God from eternity; yet, as some think, it could not be said absolutely, and in its own nature to be eternal, because eternity was not of the essence of it. The creature could not be its own duration; for though it were from eternity, it might not have been from eternity, because its existence depended upon the free will of God, who might have chose whether he would have created it or no. God only is eternal; “the first and the last, the beginning and the end;” who, as he subsisted before any creature had a being, so he will eternally subsist if all creatures were reduced to nothing.

     IV. Use 1. Information. If God be of an eternal duration, then “Christ is God.” Eternity is the property of God, but it is ascribed to Christ: “He is before all things” (Col. 1:17), i. e. all created things; he is therefore no creature, and if no creature, eternal. “All things were created by him,” both in heaven and in earth, angels, as well as men, whether they be thrones or dominions (ver. 16). If all things were his creatures, then he is no creature; if he were, all things were not created by him, or he must create himself. He hath no difference of time; for he is “the same yesterday, to-day, and forever:” the same, with the name of God, “I Am,” which signifies his eternity. He is no more to-day than he was yesterday, nor will be any other to-morrow than he is to-day; and therefore Melchizedec, whose descent, birth, and death, father and mother, beginning and end of days, are not upon record, was a type of the existence of Christ without difference of time; “Having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God” (Heb. 7:3). The suppression of his birth and death was intended by the Holy Ghost as a type of the excellency of Christ’s person in regard of his eternity, and the duration of his charge in regard of his priesthood. As there was an appearance of an eternity in the suppression of the race of Melchisedec, so there is a true eternity in the Son of God. How could the eternity of the Son of God be expressed by any resemblance so well, as by such a suppression of the beginning and end of this great person, different from the custom of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament, who often records the generations and ends of holy men; and why might not this, which was a kind of a shadow of eternity, be a representation of the true eternity of Christ, as well as the restoration of Isaac to his father without death, is said to be a figure of the resurrection of Christ after a real death? Melchisedec is only mentioned once (without any record of his extraction) in his appearance to Abraham after his victory, as if he came from heaven only for that action, and instantly disappeared again, as if he had been an eternal person. And Christ himself hints his own eternity: “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:28). He goes to the Father as he came from the Father; he goes to the Father “for everlasting,” so he came from the Father “from everlasting;” there is the same duration in coming forth from the Father, as in returning to the Father. But more plainly: he speaks of a glory that he “had with the Father before the world was” (John 17:5), when there was no creature in being. This is an actual glory, and not only in decree; for a decreed glory believers had, and why may not every one of them say the same words, “Father, glorify me with that glory which I had with thee before the world was,” if it were only a glory in decree? Nay, it maybe said of every man, he was before the world was, because he was so in decree. Christ speaks of something peculiar to him, a glory in actual possession before the world was: “Glorify me, embrace, honor me as thy Son, whereas I have now been, in the eyes of the world, handled disgracefully as a servant.” If it were only in decree, why is not the like expression used of others in Scripture as well as of Christ? Why did he not use the same words for his disciples that were then with him, who had a glory in decree? His eternity is also mentioned in the Old Testament: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old” (Prov. 8:22). If he were the work of God, he existed before himself, if he existed before all the works of God. It is so not properly meant of the essential wisdom of God, since the discourse runs in the name of a person; and several passages there are which belong not so much to the essential wisdom of God, as ver. 13: “The evil way and the froward mouth do I hate,” which belongs rather to the holiness of God, than to the essential wisdom of God; besides, it is distinguished from Jehovah, as possessed by, him, “and rejoicing before him.” Y et plainer: “Out of thee,” i. e. Bethlehem, “shall he come forth to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” מימי עולם “from the ways of eternity” (Mic. 5:2). There are two goings forth of Christ described, one from Bethlehem, in the days of his incarnation, and another from eternity. The Holy Ghost adds, after his prediction of his incarnation, his going out from everlasting, that none should doubt of his deity. If this going out from everlasting were only in the purpose of God, it might be said of David, and of every creature; and in Isa. 9:6 he is particularly called the “everlasting,” or “eternal Father;” not the Father in the Trinity, but a Father to us; yet “eternal,” the “Father of eternity.” As he is the “mighty God,” so he is “the everlasting Father.” Can such a title be ascribed to any whose being depends upon the will of another, and may be dashed out at the pleasure of a superior? As the eternity of God is the ground of all religion, so the eternity of Christ is the ground of the Christian religion. Could our sins be perfectly expiated had he not an eternal divinity to answer for the offences committed against an eternal God? Temporary sufferings had been of little validity, without an infiniteness and eternity in his person to add weight to his passion.

     2. If God be eternal, he knows all things as present. All things are present to him in his eternity; for this is the notion of eternity, to be without succession. If eternity be one indivisible point, and is not diffused into preceding and succeeding parts, then that which is known in it or by it is perceived without any succession, for knowledge is as the substance of the person knowing; if that hath various actions and distinct from itself, then it understands things in differences of time as time presents them to view. But, since God’s being depends not upon the revolutions of time, so neither does his knowledge; it exceeds all motions of years and days, comprehends infinite spaces of past and future. God considers all things in his eternity in one simple knowledge, as if they were now acted before him: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world;” 􀀀π 􀀀 α􀀀􀀀ν, οàς seculo, “from eternity” (Acts 15:18). God’s knowledge is co-eternal with him; if he knows that in time which he did not not know from eternity, he would not be eternally perfect, since knowledge is the perfection of an intelligent nature.

     3. How bold and foolish is it for a mortal creature to censure the counsels and actions of an eternal God, or be too curious in his inquisitions! It is by the consideration of the unsearchable number of the years of God that Elihu checks too bold inquiries: “who hath enjoined him his way, or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? Behold, God is great, and we know him not; neither can the number of his years be searched out.” Eternity sets God above our inquiries and censures. Infants of a day old are not able to understand the acts of wise and gray heads: shall we, that are of so short a being and understanding as yesterday, presume to measure the motions of eternity by our scanty intellects? We that cannot foresee an unexpected accident which falls in to blast a well-laid design, and run a ship many leagues back from the intended harbor; we cannot understand the reason of things we see done in time, the motions of the sea, the generation of rain, the nature of light, the sympathies and antipathies of the creatures; and shall we dare to censure the actions of an eternal God, so infinitely beyond our reach? The counsels of a boundless being are not to be scanned by the brain of a silly worm, that hath breathed but a few minutes in the world. Since eternity cannot be comprehended in time, it is not to be judged by a creature of time: “Let us remember to magnify his works which we behold,” because he is eternal, which is the exhortation of Elihu, backed by this doctrine of God’s eternity (Job 36:24), and not accuse any work of him who is the “Ancient of Days,” or presume to direct him of whose eternity we come infinitely short. Whenever, therefore, any unworthy notion of the counsels and works of God is suggested to us by Satan, or our own corrupt hearts, let us look backward to God’s eternal and our own short duration, and silence ourselves with the same question wherewith God put a stop to the reasoning of Job—“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4), and reprove ourselves for our curiosity, since we are of so short a standing, and were nothing when the eternal God laid the first stone of the world.

     4. What a folly and boldness is there in sin, since an eternal God is offended thereby! All sin is aggravated by God’s eternity. The blackness of the heathen idolatry was in changing the glory of the incorruptible God (Rom. 1:23); erecting resemblances of him contrary to his immortal nature; as if the eternal God, whose life is as unlimited as eternity, were like those creatures whose beings are measured by the short ell of time, which are of a corruptible nature, and daily passing on to corruption; they could not really deprive God of his glory and immortality, but they did in estimation. There is in the nature of every sin a tendency to reduce God to a not being. He that thinks unworthily of God, or acts unworthily towards him, doth (as much as in him lies) sully and destroy these two perfections of his, immutability and eternity. It is a carriage, as if he were as contemptible as a creature that were but of yesterday, and shall not remain in being to-morrow. He that would put an end to God’s glory by darkening it, would put an end to God’s life by destroying it. He that should love a beast with as great an affection as he loves a man, contemns a rational nature; and he that loves a perishing thing with the same affection he should love an everlasting God, contemns his eternity; he debaseth the duration of God below that of the world. The low valuation of God speaks him in his esteem no better than withering grass, or a gourd, which lasts for a night; and the creature which possesses his affection, to be a good that lasts forever. How foolish, then, is every sin that tends to destroy a being that cannot destroy or desert himself; a Being, without whose eternity the sinner himself could not have had the capacity of a being to affront him! How base is that which would not let the works of God remain in their established posture! How much more base is not enduring the fountain and glory of all beings, that would not only put an end to the beauty of the world, but the eternity of God!

     5. How dreadful is it to lie under the stroke of an eternal God! His eternity is as great a terror to him that hates him, as it is a comfort to him that loves him; because he is the “living God, an everlasting king, the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation” (Jer. 10:10). Though God be least in their thoughts, and is made light of in the world, yet the thoughts of God’s eternity, when he comes to judge the world, shall make the slighters of him tremble. That the Judge and punisher lives forever, is the greatest grievance to a soul in misery, and adds an inconceivable weight to it, above what the infiniteness of God’s executive power could do without that duration. His eternity makes the punishment more dreadful than his power; his power makes it sharp, but his eternity renders it perpetual; ever to endure, is the sting at the end of every lash. And how sad is it to think that God lays his eternity to pawn for the punishment of obstinate sinners, and engageth it by an oath, that he will “whet his glittering sword,” that his “hand shall take hold of judgment,” that he will “render vengeance to his enemies, and a reward to them that hate him;” a reward proportioned to the greatness of their offences, and the glory of an eternal God! “I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever;” (Deut. 32:40, 41): i. e., as surely as I live forever, I will whet my glittering sword. As none can convey good with a perpetuity, so none can convey evil with such a lastingness as God. It is a great loss to lose a ship richly fraught in the bottom of the sea, never to be cast upon the shore; but how much greater is it to lose eternally a sovereign God, which we were capable of eternally enjoying, and undergo an evil as durable as that God we slighted, and were in a possibility of avoiding! The miseries of men after this life are not eased, but sharpened, by the life and eternity of God.

The Existence and Attributes of God

The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)

     Sect. CLV. — ADD to this that example, Rom. x. 24, taken out of Isaiah, “I was found of them that sought Me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not for Me.” He speaks this with reference to the Gentiles: — that it was given unto them to hear and know Christ, when before, they could not even think of Him, much less seek Him, or prepare themselves for Him by the power of “Free-will.” From this example it is sufficiently evident, that grace comes so free, that no thought concerning it, or attempt or desire after it, precedes. So also Paul — when he was Saul, what did he do by that exalted power of “Free-will?” Certainly, in respect of reason, he intended that which was best and most meritoriously good. But by what endeavours did he come unto grace? He did not only not seek after it, but received it even when he was furiously maddened against it!

     On the other hand, he saith of the Jews “The Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained unto the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness hath not attained unto the law of righteousness” (Rom. ix. 30-31). What has any advocate for “Free-will” to mutter against this? The Gentiles when filled with ungodliness and every vice, receive righteousness freely from a mercy-shewing God: while the Jews, who follow after righteousness with all their devoted effort and endeavour, are frustrated. Is this not plainly saying, that the endeavour of “Free-will” is all in vain, even when it strives to do the best; and that “Freewill,” of itself, can only fall back and grow worse and worse?

     Nor can any one say, that the Jews did not follow after righteousness with all the power of “Free-will.” For Paul himself bears this testimony of them, “That they had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge,” (Rom. x. 2). Therefore, nothing which is attributed to “Free-will” was wanting to the Jews; and yet, it attained unto nothing, nay unto the contrary of that after which they strove. Whereas, there was nothing in the Gentiles which is attributed to “Free-will,” and they attained unto the righteousness of God. And what is this but a most manifest example from each nation, and a most clear testimony of Paul, proving that grace is given freely to the most undeserving and unworthy, and is not attained unto by any devoted efforts, endeavours, or works, either small or great, of any men, be they the best and most meritorious, or even of those who have sought and followed after righteousness with all the ardour of zeal?

      Sect. CLVI. — NOW let us come to JOHN, who is also a most copious and powerful subverter of “Free-will.”

     He, at the very first outset, attributes to “Free-will” such blindness, that it cannot even see the light of the truth: so far is it from possibility, that it should endeavour after it. He speaks thus, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John i. 5). And directly afterwards, “He was in the world, and the world knew Him not; He came unto His own, and His own knew Him not.” (Verses 10-11).

     What do you imagine he means by “world?” Will you attempt to separate any man from being included in this term, but him who is born again of the Holy Spirit? The term “world” is very particularly used by this apostle; by which he means, the whole race of men. Whatever, therefore, he says of the “world,” is to be understood of the whole race of men. And hence, whatever he says of the “world,” is to be understood also of “Free-will,” as that which is most excellent in man. According to this apostle, then, the “world” does not know the light of truth; the “world” hates Christ and His; the “world” neither knows nor sees the Holy Spirit; the whole “world” is settled in enmity; all that is in the “world,” is “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” “Love not the world.” “Ye (saith He) are not of the world.” “The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil.”

     All these and many other like passages are proclamations of what “Free-will’ is — ‘the principal part’ of the world, ruling the empire of Satan! For John also himself speaks of the world by antithesis; making the “world” to be, every thing in the world which is not translated into the kingdom of the Spirit. So also Christ saith to the apostles, “I have chosen you out of the world, and ordained you,” &c, (John xv. 16). If therefore, there were any in the world, who, by the powers of “Free-will, “endeavoured so as to attain unto good, (which would be the case if “Free-will” could do any thing) John certainly ought, in reverence for these persons, to have softened down the term, lest, by a word of such general application, he should involve them in all those evils of which he condemns the world. But as he does not this, it is evident that he makes “Free-will” guilty of all that is laid to the charge of the world: because, whatever the world does, it does by the power of “Free-will”: that is, by its will and by its reason, which are its most exalted faculties. — He then goes on,

     “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on His Name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John i. 12-13).

     Having finished this distinctive division, he rejects from the kingdom of Christ, all that is “of blood,” “of the will of the flesh,” and “of the will of man.” By “blood,” I believe, he means the Jews; that is, those who wished to be the children of the kingdom, because they were the children of Abraham and of the Fathers; and hence, gloried in their “blood.” By “the will of the flesh,” I understand the devoted efforts of the people, which they exercised in the law and in works: for “flesh” here signifies the carnal without the Spirit, who had indeed a will, and an endeavour, but who, because the Spirit was not in them, were carnal. By “the will of man,” I understand the devoted efforts of all generally, that is, of the nations, or of any men whatever, whether exercised in the law, or without the law. So that the sense is — they become the sons of God, neither by the birth of the flesh, nor by a devoted observance of the law, nor by any devoted human effort whatever, but by a Divine birth only.

     If therefore, they be neither born of the flesh, nor brought up by the law, nor prepared by any human discipline, but are born again of God, it is manifest, that “Free-will” here profits nothing. For I understand “man,” to signify here, according to the Hebrew manner of speech, any man, or all men; even as “flesh,” is understood to signify, by antithesis, the people without the Spirit: and “the will of man,” I understand to signify the greatest power in men, that is, that ‘principal part,’ “Free-will.”

     But be it so, that we do not dwell thus upon the signification of the words, singly; yet, the sum and substance of the meaning is most clear; — that John, by this distinctive division, rejects every thing that is not of Divine generation; since he says, that men are made the sons of God none otherwise than by being born of God; which takes place, according to his own interpretation — by believing on His name! In this rejection therefore, “the will of man,” or “Free-will,” as it is not of divine generation, nor faith, is necessarily included. But if “Free-will” avail any thing, “the will of man” ought not to be rejected by John, nor ought men to be drawn away from it, and sent to faith and to the new birth only; lest that of Isaiah should be pronounced, against him, “Woe unto you that call good evil.” Whereas now, since he rejects alike all “blood,” “the will of the flesh,” and “the will of man,” it is evident, that “the will of man” avails nothing more towards making men the sons of God, than “blood” does, or the carnal birth. And no one doubts whether or not the carnal birth makes men the sons of God; for as Paul saith, “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God;” (Rom. ix. 8), which he proves by the examples of Ishmael and Esau.

     Sect. CLVII. — THE same John, introduces the Baptist speaking thus of Christ, “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (John i. 16).

     He says, that grace is received by us out of the fullness of Christ — but for what merit or devoted effort? “For grace,” saith He; that is, of Christ; as Paul also saith, “The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Rom. v. 15). — Where is now the endeavour of “Free-will” by which grace is obtained! John and Paul here saith, that grace is not only not received for any devoted effort of our own, but even for the grace of another, or the merit of another, that is “of one Man Jesus Christ.” Therefore, it is either false, that we receive our grace for the grace of another, or else it is evident, that “Free-will” is nothing at all; for both cannot consist — that the grace of God, is both so cheap, that it may be obtained in common and every where by the ‘little endeavour’ of any man; and at the same time so dear, that it is given unto us only in and through the grace of one Man, and He so great!

     And I would also, that the advocates for “Free-will” be admonished in this place, that when they assert “Free-will,” they are deniers of Christ. For if I obtain grace by my own endeavours, what need have I of the grace of Christ for the receiving of my grace? Or, what do I want when I have gotten the grace of God? For the Diatribe has said, and all the Sophists say, that we obtain grace, and are prepared for the reception of it, by our own endeavours; not however according to ‘worthiness,’ but according to ‘congruity.’ This is plainly denying Christ: for whose grace, the Baptist here testifies, that we receive grace. For as to that fetch about ‘worthiness’and ‘congruity,’ I have refuted that already, and proved it to be a mere play upon empty words, while the ‘merit of worthiness’ is really intended; and that, to a more impious length than ever the Pelagians themselves went, as I have already shewn. And hence, the ungodly Sophists, together with the Diatribe, have more awfully denied the Lord Christ who bought us, than ever the Pelagians, or any heretics have denied Him. So far is it from possibility, that grace should allow of any particle or power of “Free-will!”

     But however, that the advocates for “Free-will” deny Christ, is proved, not by this Scripture only, but by their own very way of life. For by their “Free-will,” they have made Christ to be unto them no longer a sweet Mediator, but a dreaded Judge, whom they strive to please by the intercessions of the Virgin Mother, and of the Saints; and also, by variously invented works, by rites, ordinances, and vows; by all which, they aim at appeasing Christ, in order that He might give them grace. But they do not believe, that He intercedes before God and obtains grace for them by His blood and grace; as it is here said, “for grace.” And as they believe, so it is unto them! For Christ is in truth, an inexorable judge to them, and justly so; for they leave Him, who is a Mediator and most merciful Saviour, and account His blood and grace of less value than the devoted efforts and endeavours of their “Free-will!”

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