Hosea 8 - 14
Israel Will Reap the Whirlwind
Hosea 8:1 Set the trumpet to your lips!
One like a vulture is over the house of the LORD,
because they have transgressed my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
2 To me they cry,
“My God, we—Israel—know you.”
3 Israel has spurned the good;
the enemy shall pursue him.
4 They made kings, but not through me.
They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.
5 I have spurned your calf, O Samaria.
My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
6 For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
shall be broken to pieces.
7 For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield,
strangers would devour it.
8 Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations
as a useless vessel.
9 For they have gone up to Assyria,
a wild donkey wandering alone;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
10 Though they hire allies among the nations,
I will soon gather them up.
And the king and princes shall soon writhe
because of the tribute.
11 Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they have become to him altars for sinning.
12 Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
13 As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the LORD does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker
and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
so I will send a fire upon his cities,
and it shall devour her strongholds.
The LORD Will Punish Israel
Hosea 9:1 Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute’s wages
on all threshing floors.
2 Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail them.
3 They shall not remain in the land of the LORD,
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.
4 They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the LORD,
and their sacrifices shall not please him.
It shall be like mourners’ bread to them;
all who eat of it shall be defiled;
for their bread shall be for their hunger only;
it shall not come to the house of the LORD.
5 What will you do on the day of the appointed festival,
and on the day of the feast of the LORD?
6 For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.
7 The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
8 The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God;
yet a fowler’s snare is on all his ways,
and hatred in the house of his God.
9 They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah:
he will remember their iniquity;
he will punish their sins.
10 Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim’s glory shall fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
12 Even if they bring up children,
I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm planted in a meadow;
but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.
14 Give them, O LORD—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.
15 Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.
16 Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
17 My God will reject them
because they have not listened to him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Hosea 10:1 Israel is a luxuriant vine
that yields its fruit.
The more his fruit increased,
the more altars he built;
as his country improved,
he improved his pillars.
2 Their heart is false;
now they must bear their guilt.
The LORD will break down their altars
and destroy their pillars.
3 For now they will say:
“We have no king,
for we do not fear the LORD;
and a king—what could he do for us?”
4 They utter mere words;
with empty oaths they make covenants;
so judgment springs up like poisonous weeds
in the furrows of the field.
5 The inhabitants of Samaria tremble
for the calf of Beth-aven.
Its people mourn for it, and so do its idolatrous priests—
those who rejoiced over it and over its glory—
for it has departed from them.
6 The thing itself shall be carried to Assyria
as tribute to the great king.
Ephraim shall be put to shame,
and Israel shall be ashamed of his idol.
7 Samaria’s king shall perish
like a twig on the face of the waters.
8 The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel,
shall be destroyed.
Thorn and thistle shall grow up
on their altars,
and they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us,”
and to the hills, “Fall on us.”
9 From the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, O Israel;
there they have continued.
Shall not the war against the unjust overtake them in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will discipline them,
and nations shall be gathered against them
when they are bound up for their double iniquity.
11 Ephraim was a trained calf
that loved to thresh,
and I spared her fair neck;
but I will put Ephraim to the yoke;
Judah must plow;
Jacob must harrow for himself.
12 Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
13 You have plowed iniquity;
you have reaped injustice;
you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way
and in the multitude of your warriors,
14 therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people,
and all your fortresses shall be destroyed,
as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle;
mothers were dashed in pieces with their children.
15 Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel,
because of your great evil.
At dawn the king of Israel
shall be utterly cut off.
The LORD’s Love for Israel
Hosea 11:1 hen Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son. This is Jesus Matthew 2:14-15
2 The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
4 I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
5 They shall not return to the land of Egypt,
but Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
6 The sword shall rage against their cities,
consume the bars of their gates,
and devour them because of their own counsels.
7 My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all.
8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
9 I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
10 They shall go after the LORD;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west;
11 they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD.
12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
and the house of Israel with deceit,
but Judah still walks with God
and is faithful to the Holy One.
Hosea 12:1 Ephraim feeds on the wind
and pursues the east wind all day long;
they multiply falsehood and violence;
they make a covenant with Assyria,
and oil is carried to Egypt.
The LORD’s Indictment of Israel and Judah
2 The LORD has an indictment against Judah
and will punish Jacob according to his ways;
he will repay him according to his deeds.
3 In the womb he took his brother by the heel,
and in his manhood he strove with God.
4 He strove with the angel and prevailed;
he wept and sought his favor.
He met God at Bethel,
and there God spoke with us—
5 the LORD, the God of hosts,
the LORD is his memorial name:
6 “So you, by the help of your God, return,
hold fast to love and justice,
and wait continually for your God.”
7 A merchant, in whose hands are false balances,
he loves to oppress.
8 Ephraim has said, “Ah, but I am rich;
I have found wealth for myself;
in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”
9 I am the LORD your God
from the land of Egypt;
I will again make you dwell in tents,
as in the days of the appointed feast.
10 I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets gave parables.
11 If there is iniquity in Gilead,
they shall surely come to nothing:
in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls;
their altars also are like stone heaps
on the furrows of the field.
12 Jacob fled to the land of Aram;
there Israel served for a wife,
and for a wife he guarded sheep.
13 By a prophet the LORD brought Israel up from Egypt,
and by a prophet he was guarded.
14 Ephraim has given bitter provocation;
so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him
and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.
The LORD’s Relentless Judgment on Israel
Hosea 13:1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;
he was exalted in Israel,
but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.
2 And now they sin more and more,
and make for themselves metal images,
idols skillfully made of their silver,
all of them the work of craftsmen.
It is said of them,
“Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!”
3 Therefore they shall be like the morning mist
or like the dew that goes early away,
like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor
or like smoke from a window.
4 But I am the LORD your God
from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no savior.
5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought;
6 but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot me.
7 So I am to them like a lion;
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
8 I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;
I will tear open their breast,
and there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild beast would rip them open.
9 He destroys you, O Israel,
for you are against me, against your helper.
10 Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities?
Where are all your rulers—
those of whom you said,
“Give me a king and princes”?
11 I gave you a king in my anger,
and I took him away in my wrath.
12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;
his sin is kept in store.
13 The pangs of childbirth come for him,
but he is an unwise son,
for at the right time he does not present himself
at the opening of the womb.
14 I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;
I shall redeem them from Death.
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
15 Though he may flourish among his brothers,
the east wind, the wind of the LORD, shall come,
rising from the wilderness,
and his fountain shall dry up;
his spring shall be parched;
it shall strip his treasury
of every precious thing.
16 Samaria shall bear her guilt,
because she has rebelled against her God;
they shall fall by the sword;
their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
and their pregnant women ripped open.
A Plea to Return to the LORD
Hosea 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 Take with you words
and return to the LORD;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
3 Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.
9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
What I'm Reading
Wouldn’t a Loving God Make Sure Everyone Gets to Heaven?
By J. Warner Wallace 9/14/2017
The concept of Hell is daunting for many Christians. It’s not pleasant to think our unbelieving loved ones might spend eternity separated from God, regretting their decision forever. Several religious traditions seek to avoid the problem by offering a second chance to those who reject God’s gift of forgiveness. They envision a place where rebellious souls can, in the next life, reconsider their choice or earn their way toward heaven; the Catholic tradition offers “Purgatory” and Mormonism describes a “Spirit Prison”. Both seek to offer solutions to commonly asked questions: Wouldn’t a Loving God love all of His creation? Wouldn’t He make sure everyone goes to Heaven (regardless of what they might believe in this life)? A loving God would never limit Heaven to a select few and allow billions of people to suffer in Hell, would He?
Let’s consider, however, the nature of Heaven and the truth about humans. Heaven is the realm of God, and those who ultimately enter into Heaven will be united with God forever. While that sounds fantastic for some of us, it sounds ridiculous, boring or offensive to many who reject the existence of God (and resist God’s guidelines and obligations). If everyone will eventually end up in Heaven, it is inevitable and compulsory. This type of eternal destination seems contrary to the nature of God and the nature of human “free will”:
A Compulsory Heaven Would Eradicate “Free Will” | People who deny the existence of God relish the fact they have the freedom and ability to do so. Some of these same people, however, argue a loving God would make certain everyone goes to Heaven after they die. But this kind of “universalism” actually denies human “free will” altogether. If Heaven is the only destination awaiting us (based on the assumption all who die eventually end up there), it is truly compulsory. In this view of the afterlife, we have no choice about where we end up; everyone is united with God, like it or not. A compulsory Heaven rejects the importance of human liberty, the very thing those who deny God cherish the most. By offering (but not forcing) Heaven to those who freely choose to love the One who reigns there, God is actually honoring and respecting our “free will” universally. He is, in fact, treating us with the utmost respect and dignity; something we would expect if He is all-loving in the first place.
A Compulsory Heaven Would Embrace the “Unsuited” | In addition to this, a Heaven including anyone and everyone is counter intuitive and un-reasonable. Just think about it for a minute. Most of us would agree: A Holy place of eternal reward is simply not suited for people with a certain kind of character or certain kinds of desires. All of us can think of someone from history who (by our estimate) is unqualified for eternal reward. We may not all agree on who should or shouldn’t be included in such a place, but most of us would hesitate when considering people like Hitler (or perhaps lifelong unrepentant pedophiles with murderous desires) for eternal reward in Heaven. If there is a Heaven, it is surely unsuited for certain kinds of people, and even the most skeptical among us can find someone he or she would place in this category. A compulsory Heaven, including the most vile and dangerous people from history, is not likely what skeptics have in mind when they argue for an all-inclusive final destination.
James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.
Prayer Answered and Unanswered (Prayer)
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
GOD of Israel, God of Jesus Christ, our God for ever and ever ! Help us now by the sacred Spirit to approach Thee aright with deepest reverence, but not with servile fear ; with holiest boldness, but not with presumption. Teach us as children to speak to the Father, and yet as creatures to bow before our Maker. Our Father, we would first ask Thee whether Thou hast ought against us as Thy children? Have we been asking somewhat of Thee amiss, and hast Thou given us that which we have sought? We are not conscious of it, but it may be so, and now we are brought as an answer to our presumptuous prayers into a more difficult position than the one we occupied before. Now it may be that some creature comfort is nearer to us than our God ; we had better have been without it and have dwelt in our God and have found our joy in Him. But now, Lord, in these perilous circumstances give us grace that we may not turn away from Thee.
If our position now be not such as Thou wouldst have allotted to us had we been wiser, yet nevertheless grant that we may be taught to behave ourselves aright even now lest the mercies Thou hast given should become a cause of stumbling, and the obtaining of our hearts' desire should become a temptation to us. Rather do we feel inclined to bless Thee for the many occasions in which Thou hast not answered our prayer, for Thou hast said that we did ask amiss and therefore we could not have, and we desire to register this prayer with Thee that whensoever we do ask amiss, Thou wouldst in great wisdom and love be pleased to refuse us.
O, Lord, if we at any time press our suit without a sufficiency of resignation do not regard us, we pray Thee, and though we, cry unto Thee day and night concerning anything, yet if Thou seest that herein we err regard not the voice of our cry, we pray Thee. It is our hearts' desire now, in our coolest moments, that this prayer of ours might stand on record as long as we live, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
But, O Lord, in looking back we are obliged to remember with the greatest gratitude the many occasions in which Thou hast heard our cry. We have been brought into deep distress, and our heart has sunk within us, and then have we cried to Thee and Thou hast never refused to hear us. The prayers of our lusts Thou hast rejected, but the prayers of our necessities Thou hast granted. Not one good thing hath failed of all that Thou hast promised.
Thou hast given to us exceeding abundantly above what we asked or even thought, for there was a day when our present condition would have been regarded as much too high for us ever to reach, and in looking back we are surprised that those who did be among the pots of Egypt should now sit every man under his vine and fig-tree, that those who wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way should now find a city to dwell in, that we who were prodigals in rags should now be children in the Father's bosom ; that we who were companions of swine should now be made heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Oh ! what encouragement we have to pray to such a prayer-hearing God who far exceeds the request of His children.
Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever, our inmost heart is saying. Amen, blessed be His name. If it were only for answered prayer or even for some unanswered prayers we would continue to praise and bless Thee as long as we have any being.
And now, Lord, listen to the voice of Thy children's cry. Wherever there is a sincere heart seeking for greater holiness answer Thou that request, or wherever there is a broken spirit seeking for reconciliation with Thyself be pleased to answer it now. Thou knowest where there is prayer, though it be unuttered, and even the lips do not move. Oh ! hear the publican who dares not lift his eye to heaven. Hear him while he cries, " God be merciful to me a sinner." Hear such as seem to themselves to be appointed unto death. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before Thee! Oh! that Thou wouldst grant peace and rest to every troubled spirit all over the world who now desires to turn his face to the cross and to see God in Christ Jesus.
O Lord, if there are any of Thy servants exercised about the cases of others we would thank Thee for them. Raise up in the Church many intercessors who shall plead for the prosperity of Zion, and give Thee no rest till Thou establish her and make her a joy in the land.
Oh! there are some of us that cried to Thee about our country. Thou knowest how in secret we groaned and sighed over evil times, and Thou hast begun to hear us already, for which we desire to praise and bless Thy name. But we would not cease to pray for this land that Thou wouldst roll away from it all its sin, that Thou wouldst deliver it from the curse of drunkenness, rescue it from infidelity, from popery, from ritualism, from rationalism and every form of evil, that this land might become a holy land.
O, Lord, bring the multitudes of the working men to listen to the gospel. Break in, we pray Thee, upon their stolid indifference. Lord, give them a love of Thy house, a desire to hear Thy gospel, and then wilt Thou look upon the poor rich who so many of them know nothing about Thee and are worshipping their own wealth. The Lord grant that the many for whom there are no special gospel services, but who are wrapped up in self righteousness, may be brought to hear the gospel of Jesus that they also, as well as the poor, may be brought to Christ.
God bless this land with more of gospel light, and with more of gospel life and love. Thou wilt hear us, O Lord.
Then would we pray for our children, that they might be saved. Some of us can no longer pray for our children's conversion, our prayers are heard already. But there are others who have children who vex them and grieve their hearts. O God, save sons and daughters of godly people. Let them not have to sigh over their children as Eli did and as Samuel did, and may they see their sons and daughters become the children of the living God. We would pray for our servants, for our neighbours, for our kinsfolk of near or far degree, that all might be brought to Jesus. Do Thou this, O God, of Thine infinite mercy.
And as we are now making intercession we would, according to Thy Word, pray for all kings, such as are in authority, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives. We pray for all nations also. O Lord, bless and remember the lands that sit in darkness, and let them see a great light, and may missionary enterprise be abundantly successful. And let the favoured nations where our God is known, especially this land and the land across the mighty ocean that love the same Saviour and speak the same tongue, be always favoured with the Divine presence and with abundant prosperity and blessing.
O Lord, Thou hast chosen this our race and favoured it and multiplied it on the face of the earth, and whereas with this staff it crossed this Jordan it hath now become two great nations. Lord be pleased to bless the whole of the race and those absorbed into it, and then all other races that in us may be fulfilled the blessing of Abraham, "I will bless you and ye shall be a blessing."
And now, Father, glorify Thy Son ! In scattering pardons through His precious blood glorify Thy Son ! In sending forth the Eternal Spirit to convince men and bring them to His feet, Father glorify Thy Son! In enriching Thy saints with gifts and graces, and building, them up into His image, Father glorify Thy Son ! In the gathering together of the whole company of His elect and in the hastening of His kingdom and His coming. Father glorify Thy Son! Beyond this prayer we cannot go : " Glorify Thy Son that Thy Son also may glorify Thee," and unto Father, Son and Holy Spirit be glory for ever and ever. Amen,
An Ordinary Girl of Extraordinary Faith
By Simonetta Carr 9/01/2013
As sixteen-year-old Lady Jane Grey stood on the scaffold on a gray winter morning, she looked calmly out over the crowd of spectators. Then, mustering the strength she had asked God to provide, she spoke with such a poise and conviction that even her executioners were moved.
After a brief and customary admission of guilt (all those condemned to death had to admit to the justice of their punishment), Jane emphasized what mattered to her more than anything in the world. “I pray you all, good Christian people,” she said, “to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I look to be saved by none other means but only by the mercy of God and the merits of the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ.” She confessed some past sins, particularly love of self and the world, thanked God for His mercy, then asked for prayer, but was careful to add, “while I am alive,” thereby pointing out the futility of the Roman Catholic belief in prayer for the dead.
Jane had ruled England for less than two weeks, during one of the most turbulent times of its history. Young King Edward VI had just died of a pulmonary illness, leaving unconfirmed orders for the installment of Jane to the throne. Taking advantage of strong popular support, Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s firstborn, swiftly gathered her forces to claim her rights to the crown. Jane was arrested, confined to a section of the Tower of London, tried, and found guilty of treason. Initially, Mary seemed bent on showing mercy. That was until Jane’s father was caught as part of a conspiracy to overthrow the government. At that point, Jane became too great a risk to Mary’s reign. As long as she was alive, someone could try to free her and set her up again as queen. Her death sentence was sealed.
We know relatively little of Jane’s life until Edward’s death and the enactment of his will, but she emerges as a typical teenager from the few documents available. Her early letters reflect a simple desire to move away from home and a pleasing demonstration of literary skill. Her often romanticized complaint that her parents didn’t appreciate her love for higher studies sounds, in reality, like a teenager’s attempt to elicit sympathy at a time of personal frustration. Even her teacher, John Aylmer, had serious concerns when she started to display a seemingly vain interest in fashion and music.
Strangely, it’s in this ordinariness that we may find the greatest encouragement for ourselves and our children. When this very normal young girl had to face sudden humiliation, imprisonment, and eventually death, the Scriptures and theology she had consistently and almost inconspicuously learned, day after day, as a young girl—mostly in church, school, and family devotions—took prominence in her life.
Her theological training stands out particularly in her account of a three-day discussion with John Feckenham, an abbot sent by Queen Mary to persuade Jane to accept the Roman Catholic faith. Utterly convinced that “faith only saveth,” Jane confidently and passionately dismantled Feckenham’s arguments regarding the mass by pointing out that Christ sacrificed Himself once and for all on the cross and that He was offering an ordinary piece of bread while present in body with the disciples when He said, “This is my body” (Luke 22:19).
Her familiarity with Scriptures is also obvious in the letters she wrote during her imprisonment, particularly one to Thomas Harding, her former chaplain, who had renounced his faith in the gospel. In just one paragraph of that boldly explicit message, she very naturally quoted about eleven Bible verses.
Finally, her last letter to her younger sister Katherine echoes the words of comfort and instruction Jane must have heard in her younger years: “Desire, sister, to understand the law of the Lord your God. Live to die, that by death you may enter into eternal life, and then enjoy the life that Christ has gained for you by His death. Don’t think that just because you are now young, your life will be long, because young and old die as God wills…. Deny the world, defy the devil, despise the flesh, and delight yourself only in the Lord. Repent of your sins, and yet don’t despair. Be strong in faith, and yet don’t presume. With St. Paul, desire to die and to be with Christ, with whom, even in death, there is life.”
Jane inscribed the same phrase that she wrote to her sister—“Live to die, that by death you may enter into eternal life” — in the dedication of her book of prayers that she left to her jailer. In her last days, her death as a Christian was the only thing that mattered, and she embraced that task with diligence and devotion.
It’s sometimes easy to see ourselves or our children as the younger Jane — attending almost routinely or even distractedly to the means of grace and the study of God’s Word, seeing little fruit—but Jane’s life is an encouragement to persevere. If we are grounded in the gospel and sound theology, trials will not catch us unprepared. They will strengthen the faith that “comes from hearing,” while “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion” (Rom. 10:17; Phil. 1:6).
- Michelangelo for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities (For Kids series)
- Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt for Kids: Her Life and World, with 21 Activities (For Kids series)
- Weight of a Flame: The Passion of Olympia Morata (Chosen Daughters)
- Renee of France (Bitesize Biographies)
- Jonathan Edwards (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Augustine of Hippo (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Athanasius (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Martin Luther - Christian Biographies for Young Readers
- Marie Durand - Christian Biographies for Young Readers
- Anselm of Canterbury (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Lady Jane Grey (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- John Owen (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Weight of a Flame: The Passion of Olympia Morata (Chosen Daughters)
- John Calvin (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Irenaeus (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
- Peter Martyr Vermigli (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
A Sure Hope for the Future
By R.C. Sproul 9/01/2013
I’ve spoken at more conferences than I can remember, and one of the highlights of these events is the book signing wherein attendees visit with the conference speakers and the speakers sign their books. These signings are a privilege because they give the speaker a glimpse at the impact his words have had on people. I’ve talked to seminarians, grandmothers, businessmen, and just about anyone else you can think of during these signings. On occasion, children have even given me pictures that they drew for me.
As enjoyable as these signings can be, there’s one phenomenon I haven’t been able to get used to fully, and that’s the request to sign one book that I didn’t write—the Bible. I’m happy to do it, however, and often the people who want me to sign their Bible ask me for my life’s verse. The first time someone asked me for such a verse, I was perplexed. “What’s a life verse?” I asked, never having heard of this tradition whereby people pick one verse from the Bible to base their lives upon. In any case, I chose Romans 12:12 the first time I was asked to provide a life verse during a book signing. This verse features one of Paul’s great summaries of the Christian life: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
When I think of what it means to be patient in tribulation, to be constant in prayer, and to find joy in our hope that lies ahead, I think of one person who embodies that triad of virtues more than almost anyone else in history. I’m talking about the most famous patient man of all time—Job. If ever a man was called upon to hang on to his faith and his devotion to God in the midst of travail, it was Job.
I’m sure we all know Job’s story well. It opens with a little glimpse into heaven. Satan challenged God and asserted with a perverse kind of glee that humanity had rebelled against its Creator and no longer stood on His side. The Lord responded by putting forth Job as an example of one man who still loved and served Him. But Satan countered that Job served God only because of what he could get from such service, so the Lord put Job to the test to show the Accuser that he was wrong. What happened was that Satan attacked Job more violently than he did anyone else in the history of the world except for Jesus.
To make matters worse, Job then had to deal with three “friends” who told him that he suffered because of his own sin. But Job patiently and repeatedly asserted his innocence, demanding to know the reasons for his suffering since he was a righteous man who hadn’t done anything to deserve such pain.
Job wasn’t patient in the sense that he had a plastic smile on his face and whistled through all of his misery and affliction. Instead, Job was patient in the sense that he did two things: he hung on and he refused to curse God. Job definitely complained—loudly—and he challenged God, asking Him many questions. But unlike his “friends,” Job always spoke rightly about God (Job 42:8). Moreover, in the midst of all his suffering, Job made what I believe is one of the most heroic statements a human being ever uttered. In the midst of abject misery he cried out, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).
Scripture says the just shall live by faith, which doesn’t mean believing something when you’re not sure if it’s true. It means that the just shall live by trusting God. Paul distills the essence of the Christian life when he says, “Rejoice in your hope,” since our joy is vested in the future that God promises for His people. Our joy as strangers and sojourners in this valley of tears is that God has prepared a place for us—a better world that will be consummated at Christ’s return.
Paul’s use of the word hope isn’t the way we use the term today to refer to things that are uncertain. He and the other biblical authors talk about hope that is certain, hope that cannot fail, and hope that will never disappoint or embarrass you (Rom. 5:5). The New Testament calls hope the anchor of the soul (Heb. 6:13–20). Why? What is it that makes it certain? The answer is God’s sure promises and the demonstration of His faithfulness in the history of Israel, in the lives of the Apostles, and, most clearly, in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Job had very little joy, but there was still a part of his spirit that rejoiced in the midst of his tribulation. Elsewhere he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him standing on that day.” He knew that there is One who would vindicate his prayers, who would restore him some day. The exact details of the vindication he had in mind is up for speculation, for he lived long before the fullness of God’s revelation in Christ. But we do know that Job was certain of one thing, namely, that God would not allow his pain, suffering, and affliction to be the last chapter. Job groaned in the present, but he never lost his confidence in the future.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books:
- 1 The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World
- 2 The Holiness of God
- 3 Chosen by God
- 4 Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
- 5 What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics
- 6 Knowing Scripture
- 7 The Donkey Who Carried a King
- 8 Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Romans
- 11 Everyone's A Theologian
- 12 John (St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary)
- 13 Classic Teachings on the Nature of God: The Holiness of God; Chosen by God; Pleasing God—Three Books in One
- 14 The Priest with Dirty Clothes
- 15 Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism
- 16 The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus' Life Mean for You
- 17 The Barber Who Wanted to Pray
- 18 God's Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children (Classic Theology)
- 19 The Prince's Poison Cup
- 20 Mark: St. Andrews Expositional Commentary
- 21 The Mystery of the Holy Spirit
- 22 Does Prayer Change Things? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 23 The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version Hardcover w/Maps
- 24 Now, That's a Good Question!
- 25 The Intimate Marriage: A Practical Guide to Building a Great Marriage (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 26 O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God
- 27 The Prayer of the Lord
- 28 After Darkness, Light: Distinctives of Reformed Theology: Essays in Honor of R. C. Sproul
- 29 The Last Days according to Jesus: When Did Jesus Say He Would Return?
- 30 The Lightlings
- 31 Who Is the Holy Spirit? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 32 Classical Apologetics
- 33 Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life
- 34 Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification
- 35 What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 36 The King Without a Shadow
- 37 Reason to Believe: A Response to Common Objections to Christianity
- 38 Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons
- 39 Ultimate Issues (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 40 Can I Be Sure I'm Saved? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 41 How Should I Think about Money? (Crucial Questions)
- 42 What is Repentance? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 43 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- 44 Does God Control Everything? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 45 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 46 Can I Know God's Will? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 47 Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together
- 48 Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 49 Can I Trust the Bible? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 50 Holy Bible: New Geneva Study Bible, New King James Version
- 51 Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible
- 52 What is Baptism? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 53 A Walk With God: Luke
- 54 Cómo defender su fe (Una Introduccion a La Apologetica) (Spanish Edition)
- 55 Saved from What?
- 56 What Is Faith? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 57 Lifeviews
- 58 What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 59 Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology
- 60 The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? (R. C. Sproul Library)
- 61 Can I Have Joy in My Life? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust))
- 62 By R. C. Sproul - Knowing Scripture (First) (1/26/09)
When Pigs Fly
By R.C. Sproul Jr. 9/01/2013
We Protestants tend to have something of a love/hate relationship with Thomas Aquinas. On the one hand, as Protestants, at least we who are Reformed, we value theological brilliance. We admire deeply the mind of Thomas, perhaps even dreaming that had he lived in our day, he surely would have been one of us. On the other hand, as Protestants we, well, protest. That is to say, that brilliant mind was likewise noticed and put to use by Rome. Thomas was a brilliant theologian for the Church of Rome. Brilliant we love — Church of Rome, not so much.
We could spend some time arguing about how good or how bad Thomas’ theology was. Decades ago in these very pages, the equally brilliant Dr. John Gerstner, at my request, argued that Thomas’ theology was essentially Protestant. Perhaps so. I love and admire the man (or rather men, for the same principle applies to our good Dr. Gerstner) for an altogether better reason. It is because we are a proud people that we rejoice in brilliant minds. What truly commends Thomas, however, was not his brilliant mind but his humble heart.
That heart is brought front and center in one legendary story about Thomas during his student days. The story begins with Thomas entering a classroom. The professor is not yet there, but most of the students are. They are all, however, by the window, craning their necks with excitement. Thomas asks what they are looking at so intently. “Thomas, come quickly,” the students respond, “there are pigs — FLYING!” Thomas rushes to the window, only to be met by the uproarious laughter of his fellow students. As the laughter dies down, Thomas gently but potently exposes their sin by saying simply, “I would rather believe that pigs could fly than that my friends would lie to me.”
We can, if we are imbued with the spirit of the age, mock such a trusting attitude. We can scorn such credulity. We can even baptize our cynicism with supporting biblical texts. “Come on now, Thomas. Don’t you know we’re to be harmless as doves, but as wise as serpents?” (Matt. 10:16).
Or, we can see it for what it is — an expression of that godly character which made Thomas a great man. We can see it as that which we should be most zealous to emulate in his life.
Another great and brilliant man of God taught me this when I was a young student. I was a sophomore in high school and deeply and profoundly sophomoric. That is, I thought myself wise, and invested time and energy in cultivating that image. I dressed in black. I listened to ponderous lyrics from esoteric rock bands. I wrote morbid poetry about walls and masks and worms. My father gave me in one fell swoop a rebuke and a challenge. He said to me, “Son, the cheapest way to develop the reputation as an intellectual is to adopt the posture of a cynic.”
What I want is not a reputation as either an intellectual or a cynic. What I want is a reputation for following our Lord Jesus. What I want is a simplicity that cares not a whit about reputation at all. What I want is a guilelessness in my own heart that is so grounded that I expect nothing but guilelessness in my fellow believers. What I want is not to be known as a great theologian and a great man of God, but to be known by God as a humble child of His. All of which means, in short, that what I want is to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
In the end, our battles for reputation are battles to build and to expand our own kingdoms. We want to be the smartest guy in the room. Then we want to be the smartest guy in the church. Then we want to be the smartest guy we know. We want to be king of Smart-avia. Even if we don’t worry about what we will eat, or what we will wear, as those to whom Jesus spoke did, we do worry about what people will think, or worse—that they won’t think of us at all.
The world tells us this is how our life will have meaning. This is how we can have significance. The world tells us that pigs are ever and always earthbound. But Jesus calls us to believe Him. He tells us that if we will seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then we will receive all we could ever want or need. He tells us that if we will delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. The question isn’t whether we are smart enough to understand what He has said. The question is whether we are humble enough to submit to what He has said.
I suspect that when Thomas went on to his reward, he did not cast before the Lord that crown that was his reputation for theological and apologetic brilliance. I suspect that he threw that out long before He got there. Instead the crown he cast before that glassy sea was something valuable, the glory of his humility.
R.C. Sproul Jr. Books
- 1 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide to Our Daily Bread
- 2 When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling
- 3 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God
- 4 Biblical Economics: A Complete Study Course
- 5 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 6 The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and the Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free
- 7 The View from a Hearse
- 8 What's In the Bible: A Tour of Scripture from the Dust of Creation to the Glory of Revelation
- 9 Economics for Everybody Study Guide
- 10 The Call to Wonder: Loving God Like a Child
- 11 Believing God: Twelve Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept
- 12 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide to Our Daily Bread
- 13 Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith
- 14 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God by R. C. Sproul Jr. (1999-03-01)
- 15 One Holy Passion: The Consuming Thirst to Know God
- 16 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide To Our Daily Bread
- 17 Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith
- 18 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God by R. C. Sproul Jr. (1999-03-01)
- 19 One Holy Passion: The Consuming Thirst to Know God
- 20 Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide To Our Daily Bread
- 21 The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives
- 22 Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God
- 23 Tearing Down Strongholds: And Defending the Truth
- 24 Bound for Glory: A Practical Handbook For Raising a Victorious Family
- 25 After Darkness, Light: Distinctives of Reformed Theology: Essays in Honor of R. C. Sproul
- 26 Pulpit Aflame
- 27 Eternity in Our Hearts
- 28 Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- 29 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
- 30 Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God
- 31 Believing God: Twelve Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept by R.C. Sproul Jr. (2009-02-26)
- 32 Covered or Uncovered: How 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Applies to Worship and Leadership in the Church
- 33 Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology
- 34 R.C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile ,Alistair Begg , D.A. Carson,Sinclair B. Ferguson W. Robert Godfrey,Steven J. Lawson,R.C. Sproul Jr.,Derek W.H. Thomas'sHoly, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God [Hardcover](2010)
- 35 Biblical Economics Study Guide
The New Monasticism
By George Grant 9/01/2013
By the thirteenth century, the West’s idealistic wars against a fearsome Islamic threat had failed ignobly; its stagnating economy had cast a pall of depression across the once prosperous and thriving land; its national and political leaders reveled in pomp, circumstance, and internecine rivalry while their subjects cowered in poverty, fear, and injustice; and the church’s spiritual authority was marred by the flaming vices of perversity, carnality, and avarice. No wonder, then, that even the most pious men tended to press into brash, adventurous superstition or retreat into timid, monkish isolation.
Sound familiar? It should. High medievalism, for all its obvious differences, is so like our present circumstances that historian Margaret Tuchman’s famous description, “A Distant Mirror,” may be more apt than ever. Indeed, the rise of a “New Monastic Movement” among young, urban, evangelical hipsters in recent days is a reminder to us that we are not so different from our barely remembered ancestors as we might suppose. But as understandable as this impulse to run for cover in this time of uncertainty, distrust, and crumbling cultural stability might be, it is hardly a Scriptural response.
G.K. Chesterton once asserted that our world is simultaneously an ogre’s castle that must be stormed and a cottage where one might return after a long day’s labor. Life in this poor fallen world, he said, is both a battle and a refuge; it is at the same time a dangerous enterprise and a restful repose. In other words, he recognized that the world we live in, work in, and serve in is fraught with paradox—which of course, is a supremely biblical idea.
We know, for instance, that the world is only a temporary dwelling place. It is “passing away” (1 John 2:17), and we are here but for a little while as aliens and sojourners (Acts 7:6). Because we are a part “of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19), our true “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). Our affections are naturally “set … on things that are above” (Col. 3:2).
In addition, the world is filled with dangers, toils, and snares (Jer. 18:22). In tandem with the flesh and the devil, it makes war on the saints (John 15:18). “All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father” (1 John 2:16). The world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because “the cares of the world choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matt. 8:22).
Thankfully, Christ overcame the world (John 16:33) and chose us “out of the world” (15:19). Thus, we are not to be “conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2), but neither are we to “love the world” (1 John 2:15) because Christ “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4). Though we once walked “following the course of this world” (Eph. 2:2), now we are to keep ourselves “unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Indeed, “friendship with the world is enmity with God” so that whoever is a friend of the world is the enemy of God (4:4). Thus, warnings against worldliness, carnal-mindedness, and earthly attachments dominate biblical ethics.
But then, that is the problem, isn’t it? We must continue to live in the world. We must be “in” it but not be “of” it. And that is no easy feat. As John Calvin wrote, “Nothing is more difficult than to forsake all carnal thoughts, to subdue and renounce our false appetites, and to devote ourselves to God and our brethren, and to live the life of angels in a world of corruption.”
To make matters even more complex, we not only have to live in this fallen world, but we have to work in it (1 Thess. 4:11), serve in it (Luke 22:26), and minister in it (2 Tim. 4:5). We have been appointed ambassadors to it (2 Cor. 5:20), priests for it (1 Peter 2:9), and witnesses in it (Matt. 24:14). We even have to go to the uttermost parts of it (Acts 1:8), offering “a good confession” of the eternal life to which we were called (1 Tim. 6:12).
The reason for this seemingly contradictory state of affairs — enmity with the world on the one hand, responsibility to it on the other — is simply that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). Though the world is “in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) and knows neither God nor the children of God (1 Cor. 1:21), God is in Christ “reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). He is the “Savior of the world” (4:42). He is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). Indeed, He was made “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Through Christ, “all things are being reconciled” (Col. 1:20), so that finally “the kingdom of the world [shall] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15).
A genuinely integrated Christian view regarding life and work must be cognizant of both perspectives regarding the world—and treat them with equal weight. It must be engaged in the world. It must be unengaged in worldliness. It must somehow correlate spiritual concerns with temporal concerns. It must coalesce heavenly hope and landed life. It must coordinate heartfelt faith and down-to-earth practice.
The only way we can do that is to bring our faith right into the thick of our mess of a world. As appealing as a retreat into some monastic sanctuary might seem to us during these wearying days in which we live, it is hardly a biblical alternative. And while there are innumerable commendable aspects of the “New Monastic Movement”—including concern for justice issues, care for the poor, sacrificial stewardship, and covenant community—its high ideals are best pursued as we engage the world, as we “go … and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [he has] commanded [us]” (Matt. 28:19–20).
George Grant Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 104O LORD My God, You Are Very Great
27 These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!
By Alvin Reid 9/01/2013
Jimmy arrived at my house promptly at 8 a.m. to take me to the airport. He has often done this for me. Jimmy and his wife, Natalie, head overseas later this year as missionaries. He has been in a small group that I lead; he and Natalie also lead a small group at our local church.
But Jimmy was doing more than giving me a ride to the airport. This trip demonstrates the primary approach I take toward mentoring. I rarely ever go on a driving trip alone, and I virtually never drive to the airport by myself. Whenever I can, in the normal course of life, I involve someone I am mentoring. Talking about life and godliness in this context gives life to a mentoring relationship. I call this informal mentoring.
Examine the life of Christ in the Gospels and notice His approach: Jesus spoke to multitudes. He fed thousands. He taught many. He sent out seventy to witness, but He changed the world with only twelve. Even more than that, He poured Himself especially into three: Peter, James, and John.
The greatest impact I have made as a teacher and a minister has been not through preaching to crowds or teaching classes, as vital as those are. It has been those individuals who have walked with me beyond the classroom or small group in normal, everyday life, talking about ministry and theology to be sure, but talking as well about living life for Christ.
I believe in formal mentoring, and I regularly meet with one man or a few men to invest in them. At the very least, informal mentoring can be added to more formal approaches, and in my opinion is the superior mode, for it is the approach Jesus used.
Study the Gospels to see how Jesus mentored the twelve. They saw his heart for the lost (Matt. 9:35-38). He put them in situations that challenged them to think (asking them who He was in Matt. 16; the Transfiguration in Matt. 17). He defended them before the Pharisees (chap. 15). He gave them assignments such as spreading the good news and, ultimately, the Great Commission. These and scores of other examples came through the course of their daily life together.
The best learning comes not from simply listening to a mentor but from seeing truth lived out in the mentor’s life. In this way, informal mentoring offers several advantages:
Informal mentoring allows the person you mentor to see you as you live life, and vice versa. We can all put on a front in a scheduled, weekly meeting, but are less likely to do so as we conduct our normal lives daily.
Informal mentoring allows direct application in a specific context. When I speak at a university, I take students interested in collegiate ministry. I let them critique my message, evaluate the host ministry, and talk about how the gospel could impact that campus. I do the same with student ministry or at leadership conferences. I recently saw a young man who earned his PhD with me. As a student, he helped me serve my wife by planting flowers, something he had never done. We talked theology as we planted that day. He recalled that event, telling me he had just made a beautiful flowerbed for his family. Our mentoring should be theological and spiritual; we should also tie such mentoring to life.
Informal mentoring allows us to invest in others without adding more time to our calendar. When I do yard work, I involve mentees; I take them to run errands. We evangelize together. They help me with writing projects. I even let them drive me around in my car.
Informal mentoring allows us to see those whom we mentor in everyday life settings and observe how they respond. It’s hard while sitting in a weekly small group to see how a young man responds when things don’t go as planned. How does he treat the server in the restaurant? How does he speak of others in authority? How does he respond both to encouragement and rebuke? How does he apply the gospel to his life?
Informal mentoring offers excellent opportunities for defining moments. I have seen a young man process an important life concept in conversation during a two-hour drive far more often than in a more formal setting.
If you are not already doing so, think about someone you want to mentor. Ask yourself what things you currently do that would allow you to involve these protégés: running errands, cleaning your office, working on a project, or doing yard work, for instance. Think of normal activities where you could invite someone to walk with you. Adjust your lifestyle to include other people in these activities. And as you spend time together, talk about life and godliness, about theology and its application. And encourage those whom you mentor to do the same. After all, one vital aspect of the Apostolic witness was the Apostles’ proximity to Christ Jesus, as seen in Acts 4:13: “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (emphasis mine).
An Eternal Perspective: An Interview with Randy Alcorn
By Randy Alcorn 9/01/2013
Tabletalk: How did you become a Christian, and how did you receive the call to ministry?
Randy Alcorn: I grew up without Christ and without the church. When I was in high school, I attended a church to see a girl I’d met. But God can use even our wrong motives for his right purposes. (In fact, that girl became my wife years later.) After a few months of attending, I was reading the Bible regularly. One day I realized I believed what it said about Jesus. I dropped to my knees, confessed my sins, and gave my life to Christ. I have never once regretted it.
By the time I’d known the Lord two years, I knew I wanted to go to Bible college and seminary to study God’s Word. At first, I wanted to be a missionary, but then we started a church that I was asked to help pastor. I was a pastor until 1990, and I’m still part of the same church. I love it and I’m grateful.
TT: Please describe the events that led to your earning only minimum wage and giving away 100 percent of your book royalties.
RA: In 1990 I was a pastor of a large church. I was also on the board of a crisis pregnancy center, and we’d opened our home to a pregnant teenager and helped place her child for adoption. My burden for the unborn grew, and I participated in peaceful, nonviolent rescues at abortion clinics. For this I was arrested and sent to jail. An abortion clinic won a court judgment against a group of us, and I discovered that my church was about to receive a writ of garnishment for my wages. To prevent the church from either having to pay the clinic or defy a court order, I resigned.
I’d already divested myself of book royalties. Fortunately, our family had been living on only a portion of my church salary, and we’d just made our final house payment. Another court judgment followed, involving another abortion clinic. They were awarded the largest judgment ever against a group of peaceful protestors: $8.2 million.
By all appearances our lives had taken a devastating turn, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to us. What they intended for evil, God intended for good. We began a nonprofit organization, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). The only way I could avoid garnishment was to make no more than minimum wage. (I was also given some modest benefits, and my wife made a part-time secretary’s salary.) Royalties from my books go directly to EPM, which gives 100 percent of them to worthy Christian organizations as well as to help facilitate the giving away of my books to people all over the world. By God’s grace, we’ve given away more than $6 million to date.
TT: Given your experience suffering the legal consequences for protesting abortion, can you give us some advice on dealing with a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christianity?
RA: Jesus said, “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Followers of Jesus should expect injustice and misrepresentation.
I’m grateful that there are organizations working to protect the rights of Christians. But I’m concerned that we shouldn’t view ourselves as one more special interest group, clinging to entitlements and whining when people don’t like us. God’s people have a long history of not being liked.
The fact is, while the gospel is good news, it is also insulting. Many people don’t like being called sinners and told they deserve to go to hell. Peter said, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
If our eyes are on anyone but Jesus, we’re not going to have the stamina to put up with criticism or outright hostility. Paul said, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Jesus is the Audience of One. We will stand before his judgment seat, no one else’s. We should long to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What other people think won’t matter.
TT: What are two or three simple, practical ways that Christians can combat abortion in the course of their “ordinary” day-to-day lives?
RA: First, pray regularly for pro-life ministries, churches, mothers, and babies. If the darkness of child-killing is to be overcome, it will require spiritual warfare, fought with humble and persistent prayer (Eph. 6:10–20).
(Eph 6:10–20) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. ESV
Second, we can all give regular visibility to the issue of abortion in conversations and in places such as blogs and social media. Scripture says to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves (Prov. 31:8–9). It’s vitally important that we approach subjects such as abortion in a Christlike manner, full of grace and truth (see John 1:14).
Third, spearhead a pro-life ministry in your church, or find one in your area (visit www.care-net.org) and consider donating time, money, equipment, clothes, and professional skills.
If you’d like more ideas of ways to help the unborn and their mothers, I share a list on our site (www.epm.org/helpunborn).
TT: Aside from the lawsuit, has there been a defining moment in your ministry?
RA: As a young pastor, my mom was dying, and every day I would read to her the last two chapters of Revelation. Though I never heard it spoken about in my Bible college or seminary, I found compelling this picture of a resurrected world where people with real bodies will live in a redeemed culture forever centered on Christ. I began to look forward to seeing again in the new world my mother and my friends who had died. That was thirty years ago, and I have studied and written about heaven and the importance of an eternal perspective ever since.
TT: You write both fiction and non-fiction. What are the unique challenges in writing for each genre?
RA: Fiction and nonfiction are very different, of course, but certain things carry over—the need for painstaking research, engaging development, and clear language.
For me, the toughest part about being a writer is working on the big books, the ones that take a couple of years, such as Money, Possessions and Eternity and If God Is Good. I have a list of most of Alcorn's books on my book page. Click here. ) In writing my book Heaven, I had some very discouraging times where I stayed up half the night working and asked, “Lord, is this going to make a difference?” It’s something you have to accept by faith, trusting that a measurable result will come. Every time somebody writes to say their life was changed reading that book, I thank God for empowering me to persevere.
When it comes to writing fiction, there’s a big debate about the degree to which explicitly spiritual content can be part of the story. Spiritual searching and matters of faith are a very real part of many people’s lives, and when they’re not, they should be. So, while sermons don’t work in novels, spiritual realities can be artfully woven into a credible storyline. But you have to earn the right by doing it skillfully.
TT: What authors and works would you read and re-read if you had a six-month sabbatical dedicated to nothing but reading? Why?
RA: I have a list of most of Tozer's and C.S. Lewis books on my book page. Click here. ) A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Francis Schaeffer’s He Is There and He Is Not Silent, John Piper’s Desiring God, Jerry Bridges’ The Joy of Fearing God, John Piper and Jerry Bridges books also listed on Books page. and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, plus the full set of Spurgeon’s sermons. These are all books that have had a profound influence on my life.
TT: One focus of your ministry has been to encourage Christians to live with their hearts set on heaven. How can Christians develop this eternal perspective on their lives in the here and now?
RA: Many people imagine that we will remain disembodied spirits in the afterlife and that heaven won’t be a tangible, earthly place. They mistake the intermediate heaven, where we go when we die, for the eternal heaven, where we’ll live with Christ and each other as resurrected beings on a resurrected earth.
Often our ideas of heaven are based more on Platonism and Eastern mysticism than biblical Christianity, which is centered in the anticipation of God’s ultimate redemptive purpose—resurrected people living on a resurrected earth with the resurrected Jesus. There are Christians who would die rather than deny the resurrection, but they don’t understand what it means.
TT: Is it possible for Christians to be “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”? Why or why not?
RA: Many of us are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly or earthly good. As C.S. Lewis observed, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. … It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Randy Alcorn Books | Go to Books Page
The Continual Burnt Offering (Romans 10:9)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
September 20Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ESV
Everything, for the Christian, centers in the glorious reality that Jesus, who died for our sins upon the cross of shame, has been raised from the tomb and now lives to save eternally all who trust in Him. It is with the recognition of this great truth that we begin, and in the power of it we are enabled to continue in the path of devotedness to the very end, sustained by One whose endless life is the pledge of ours (Hebrews 7:16, 24, 25). To deny the physical resurrection of Jesus is to repudiate the gospel, which is based upon it (1 Corinthians 15:13-20).
Hebrews 7:16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.
Hebrews 7:24–25 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
1 Corinthians 15:13–20 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ESV
The Saviour lives, no more to die;
He lives, our Head, enthroned on high;
He lives triumphant o’er the grave;
He lives eternally to save.
The chief of sinners He receives;
His saints He loves and never leaves;
He’ll guard us safe from ev’ry ill,
And all His promises fulfill.
Abundant grace will He afford.
Till we are present with the Lord;
And prove what we have sung before,
That Jesus lives for evermore.
--- S. Medley
By John Walvoord (1990)
Winning the Prize
1 Corinthians 9:24–27. In the preceding context, Paul discussed how he labored to win as many as possible (v. 19 ). Using the figure of a race, which was very familiar to those living in Corinth, the Christian life was compared to a race for a prize. Obviously, in running a race, one must compete, and this required strict training (v. 25 ). In the races at Corinth, it was customary to give a laurel wreath crown, which in a few days would fade. By contrast, the Christian is endeavoring to gain a crown that will last forever (v. 25 ). In view of this, Paul found it necessary to limit himself to the rules of the race. He did not run aimlessly (v. 26 ). He does not fight simply by beating the air (v. 26 ). He makes his body submit and become his slave so that after he has exhorted others he himself would not be disqualified for the prize. The crown is not salvation, which is God’s gift to those who trust in Christ; it is, rather, the future reward of one who is a Christian and seeks to honor Christ in his life. The reward will be received at the judgment seat of Christ ( Rom. 14:10–12; 1 Cor. 3:11–15; 2 Cor. 5:10 ).
The Resurrection of Christ Essential to Christian Faith
1 Corinthians 15:12–19. Having offered the proof of the resurrection of Christ in the preceding context (vv. 4–8 ), these verses state that the resurrection of Christ is important because apart from this there would be a question as to whether Jesus was who He claimed to be: the Son of God who had the power to lay down His life and take it again ( John 10:17–18 ). Paul, accordingly stated, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” ( 1 Cor. 15:14 ). Again, he stated, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (v. 17 ). The fact of resurrection makes our hope extend into eternity, not to this life only (v. 19 ).
The Order of the Resurrections
1 Corinthians 15:20–28. History records that Jesus died and that He rose again. As such, He is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v. 20 ). Though others have been restored to life in both the Old and New Testaments, it may be assumed that they died again and returned to the grave. In Christ, a new order began with Christ receiving the body that will last for eternity. Because He has received a resurrection body, those who are raised after Him may also receive a similar body and will not die again. Dorcas, however, was merely restored to this life ( Acts 9:36–42 ). It was proper for Christ to die and be resurrected first and then for others in their proper order to be resurrected ( 1 Cor. 15:22–23 ).
When human history has run its course and the millennial kingdom has been fulfilled, the final judgment on the wicked ( Rev. 20:11–15 ) will take place, when Christ will be able to present the conquered world to God the Father. “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24). In some sense, God’s kingdom will continue forever as God necessarily directs His entire rule over creation.
The Nature of the Resurrection Body
1 Corinthians 15:35–50. The question is raised concerning what kind of a body will be received in resurrection. Paul used the analogy of planting seed. Obviously, the body that will be resurrected is like the seed that is planted, but the seed itself perishes. Even in the natural world, men have bodies that are different than the bodies of animals or birds (v. 39 ). The inanimate bodies in space, such as the sun, the moon, and the stars, likewise have different qualities (vv. 40–41 ).
The resurrection body, therefore, will have resemblance to the body that is sown or buried, but will be raised with different qualities: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (vv. 42–44 ).
In our natural world, the natural body comes first, then later the body that is spiritual, or suited for heaven (vv. 45–46 ). Accordingly, in resurrection human beings will be given another human body and especially in the case of the saved, will have a body that is rendered imperishable, holy, and suited for the service and worship of God. As Paul concluded, it is impossible for those in their natural bodies to go into eternity unchanged. That which is perishable must become imperishable (v. 50 ).
The Mystery of the Resurrection of the Church
1 Corinthians 15:51–58; cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17. Though the normal order for all men is to live, die, and then be subject to resurrection, there will be one grand exception at the end of the age. In history, Elijah and Enoch were caught up to heaven without dying ( 2 Kings 2:11; Heb. 11:5 ). At the rapture of the church, however, a whole generation of those who are saved will be caught up to heaven without dying. This will constitute the grand exception to the normal rule of death and resurrection.
This translation without dying was revealed by Paul: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” ( 1 Cor. 15:51–53 ).
What can be known about the resurrection body? Much can be learned about our resurrection body by studying the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. From these Scriptures and this passage, it is obvious that those raised from the dead will share the rapture with those who are living on earth at the time of the rapture. Those who are raised and those who are translated will resemble what they were in earthly life. Jesus Christ was recognized, and though He had a new resurrection body, it still bore similarity to the body before the crucifixion.
As is brought out in the doctrine of the rapture ( 1 Thess. 4:14–17 ), not only will living Christians be caught up to heaven without dying, but those Christians who have died will also be resurrected. Both will receive their new bodies that are suited for heaven. As Paul stated, they will be imperishable and will never be subject to decay, and they will be immortal, not subject to death ( 1 Cor. 15:53 ). They will also be free from sin and be the objects of God’s grace and blessing throughout eternity.
At the rapture of the church, there will be a victory over death and the grave. Paul stated, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” (vv. 54–55 ). Paul was quoting from Isaiah 25:8, which states that God will “swallow up death forever,” and from Hosea 13:14 where God states, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?” This doctrine is stated with greater clarity in the New Testament as Paul traced the victory through Jesus Christ, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 1 Cor. 15:57 ).
In light of the great doctrine of the resurrection and translation and the imminent hope of the Lord’s return, believers are exhorted to make the most of their remaining time on earth. Paul stated, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v. 58 ). A believer should stand firm because he is standing on the rock Christ Jesus and on the sure promises of God. He should not allow the vicissitudes of life and the sorrows and burdens that come to move him away from confidence in God. While living out their life on earth, they are to engage in the work of the Lord always as to time and fully as to extent, because they know that following this life at the judgment seat of Christ they will be rewarded and “your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v. 58 ). This great passage dealing with the rapture of the church coupled with Paul’s earlier revelation of the Thessalonians ( 1 Thess. 4:14–17 ) constitute the principal passages on this great truth of the Lord’s coming and the bright hope that it could be soon.
1. Resurrection of Jesus Christ ( Matt. 28:1–7; Mark 16:1–7; Luke 24:1–8; John 20:1–8; Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:33; 10:40; 17:3; Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:4; Eph. 1:20; 1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Peter 3:18 ).
2. The token resurrection of some saints at the time of the resurrection of Christ ( Matt. 27:50–52 ).
3. The resurrection at the rapture ( 1 Cor. 15:51–58; 1 Thess. 4:14–17 ).
4. The resurrection of the two witnesses ( Rev. 11:3–13 ).
5. The resurrection of the Old Testament saints ( Isa. 26:19–21; Ezek. 37:12–14; Dan. 12:1–3 ).
6. The resurrection of the tribulation saints ( Rev. 20:4–6 ).
7. The resurrection of the wicked dead ( Rev. 20:11–15 ).
Prophecy In 2 Corinthians
Apart from the prophetic 2 Corinthians 5, the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians has only two prophetic allusions, both to the day of the rapture of the church. In 1:14, the reference to the day of the Lord Jesus is a specific reference to the rapture, concerning which Paul had earlier written the Thessalonians. In 4:14 he speaks of his and their resurrection, also a reference to the day of the rapture ( 1 Thess. 4:13–18 ). Paul states that he will boast of the Corinthians at the rapture ( 2 Cor. 1:14 ).
The Promise of an Eternal House in Heaven
2 Corinthians 5:1–9. Continuing his revelation concerning the temporary nature of our present life and our present bodies, Paul unfolded the great truth that our present earthly bodies, which are so temporary, will be replaced by bodies that will last forever (v. 1 ). Our present bodies have limitations and are subject to pain, illness, and death, and Christians long to have their permanent bodies (vv. 2–3 ). “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked” (vv. 2–3 ). As Paul stated it, the “mortal may be swallowed up by life” (v. 4 ).
In facing the question as to whether Christians can be absolutely certain of their future resurrection, Paul pointed out that God has given us His Holy Spirit indwelling the believer, which is our seal and assurance of future resurrection ( Eph. 4:30 ). As Paul stated here, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” ( 2 Cor. 5:5).
As Christians, there are two different states. While in their present bodies, Christians are physically away from the Lord in that they are not in His presence in heaven: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight” (vv. 6–7 ).
The alternative of being with the Lord is attractive. However, as Paul had written earlier to the Philippians, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me” ( Phil. 1:22–26).
Paul stated, however, that while he was still in the body and in this life, “we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” ( 2 Cor. 5:9 ). Our present life presents opportunities for service and reward that will not be open to us in the intermediate state between death and resurrection or after resurrection in heaven.
The Prophecy of the Judgment Seat of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:10. There are a number of reasons why a Christian should live his life with the judgment seat of Christ in view. Later in this chapter, Paul speaks of the compelling love of Christ: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (vv. 14–15).
In verse 10, the appeal is made on the basis of the judgment seat of Christ. Paul stated, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (v. 10 ). This is the central passage in the Bible on the judgment seat of Christ, and Paul alluded to it a number of times in his epistles ( Rom. 14:10–12; 1 Cor. 3:11–15; 9:24–27 ). This was reinforced by the statement of Jesus, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son as they honor the Father” ( John 5:22–23 ).
The judgment seat of Christ must not be confused with other judgments, such as the judgment of the nations ( Matt. 25:31–46 ), the judgment of Israel ( Ezek. 20:33–38 ), the judgment of righteous Israel raised at the second coming ( Dan. 12:1–2 ), or the judgment of the unsaved ( Rev. 20:11–15 ). The judgment seat of Christ is peculiar in that it relates only to Christians and apparently, is limited to those who have been saved between Pentecost and the rapture.
According to Philippians 3:11, a Christian anticipates “the resurrection from the dead,” literally “out from the dead,” implying that only some are being raised. This is also confirmed by 1 Thessalonians 4:16 where those raised are referred to as “the dead in Christ.” Instead of one general resurrection, Scriptures make it plain that there will be a series of resurrections, beginning with the resurrection of Christ, including the resurrection of a small group of saints ( Matt. 27:52–53 ), the resurrection at the rapture, the resurrection of the two witnesses ( Rev. 11:12 ), the resurrection of Old Testament saints ( Dan. 12:1–2 ), the resurrection of the tribulation martyrs ( Rev. 20:4 ), and the resurrection of the wicked ( Rev. 20:11–15 ).
From these Scriptures, it is clear that those present at the judgment seat of Christ are people who have been resurrected, or translated, at the rapture of the church and are being judged not on the issue of salvation or justification but on the question of what they had done for God while still in the world. The expression “good or bad” ( 2 Cor. 5:10 ) refers to value, not morality, a truth brought out in other passages dealing with the judgment seat of Christ. It is a solemn fact of Scripture that every Christian will give account of himself to God ( Rom. 14:12 ). In view of that, Christians have not only the motivation of love to serve Christ but also the motivation of being found worthy to the extent that their works honored and glorified God.
The Coming of the Kingdom part 30
By Dr. Andrew Woods 02/15/2015
We began scrutinizing New Testament texts that "kingdom now" theologians employ in an attempt to argue that the kingdom is a present reality to show that none of these passages teach a present, spiritual form of the kingdom. We began examining the typical texts from Acts used by "kingdom now" theologians.
Jesus Currently Reigning On David's Throne?
Perhaps the primary reason advanced by "kingdom now" theologians in their attempt to equate God's present work in the church with a present manifestation of the Messianic kingdom is that following His Ascension, Christ supposedly took His seat on David's Throne in heaven. From this regal position He now orchestrates the spiritual kingdom through the church. However, it is better to reject the notion that the Davidic Kingdom is present in any sense today and instead to maintain that this kingdom will not be inaugurated until the millennial age. At least six reasons support this conclusion.
First, we noted that the Old Testament consistently depicts the Davidic Throne in terrestrial rather than celestial terms. Second, we noted that because of this scriptural portrayal of the Davidic Throne, to argue that the Davidic Throne is now manifesting itself in this age from heaven is to contort the notions of progress of revelation and literal or normal, grammatical, historical hermeneutics. Third, no New Testament verse or passage, including those frequently appealed to in early Acts, clearly puts Christ on David's Throne in the present age. Fourth, the prophet Daniel made it clear that the Davidic, Messianic kingdom could not come until the kingdoms of man had run their course ( Dan. 2; 7 ).
Unfortunately, kingdom now theologians ignore this chronology by arguing for a present, spiritual form of the kingdom despite the fact that the kingdoms of man have not yet run their course, the Antichrist and his kingdom have not yet been overthrown, and the Second Advent has not yet occurred. Fifth, because the church is an unrevealed mystery to the Old Testament writers ( Eph 3:9 ), it is wholly unrelated to the Davidic Covenant and Kingdom. Sixth, God's present work through the church can best be described as a parenthesis or interlude in between God's past work with Israel (the first 69 weeks of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks) and God's future work with Israel (the 70th week). Because the Davidic Covenant and Kingdom specifically concerns Israel rather than the church, the Davidic Covenant and Kingdom could not be fulfilled in any sense during the present Church Age.
It is for these preceding six reasons, that the Dispensational tradition has never confused Christ's present session with the Davidic Kingdom. The only exception to this rule is the modern advent of Progressive Dispensationalism, which maintains that the Davidic Kingdom is present in spiritual form as Jesus now reigns from David's Throne from heaven over the church. While still holding to a future or "not yet" earthly reign of Christ following Christ's Second Advent, Progressive Dispensationalists still argue that the Davidic Kingdom is "already" here in spiritual form. However, because of this radical alteration in understanding Christ's present activity, many question whether this new theological approach legitimately deserves the title "Dispensationalism." The question typically posed is whether Progressive Dispensationalism represents a bonafide development within the Dispensational tradition or a significant departure from it altogether?  After conducting an in-depth survey of classical and Revised Dispensationalists as well as opponents of Dispensationalism, Nichols observes:
Although the progressive dispensationalists are careful to express their commitment to a future for ethnic Israel and a future, literal fulfillment of Israel's covenant promise, these views concerning the inaugural fulfillment of Old Testament promise, especially that of the Davidic covenant, and the redefining of the present form of the church mark an aberration from normative dispensationalism. The consistently held offer, rejection, postponement, and fully future fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom is absent from their teaching. 
Thus, Nichols concludes:
From the perspective of dispensational tradition, the current landscape of progressive dispensationalists appears to be a different terrain. The view of the offer, rejection, postponement, and fully future fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom and the corollary view of the church as something different and distinct is and has been the consistent view of normative dispensationalism. By viewing the present form of the church as an inaugural stage of the Davidic kingdom with Christ seated on the Davidic throne in heaven, the progressive dispensational position has distanced itself from this distinguishing feature of dispensationalism. The distinguishing feature of dispensationalism, i.e., the consistent distinction between Israel and the church, is all but absent. Consequently, the legitimacy of calling PD part of the dispensational tradition is questionable. 
Lightner similarly remarks, "Many who are classic dispensationalists — and even those who are not dispensationalists at all — question why those who no longer believe in the foundational essentials of dispensationalism still want to be part of the dispensationalism family. This is truly something not yet revealed."  Lightner elsewhere defines Progressive Dispensationalism as:
The term used by those who still wish to be called dispensationalists but who do not believe some of the basic essentials of dispensationalism. They do not believe God has a program for Israel and one for the church. They believe that Christ is presently on the throne of David in heaven and the Davidic kingdom is being fulfilled now in part. 
The Apostles Preached The Kingdom In Acts
Beyond the argument from early Acts that Jesus is now reigning on David's Throne from heaven, "kingdom now" theologians also rely upon the handful of references to the "kingdom" scattered throughout Acts indicating that the apostles "preached the things concerning the kingdom of God." Interestingly, the Greek term basileia typically translated "kingdom of God" appears eight times in Acts ( 1:3, 6; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31 ). However, all of these passages fail to define exactly what is meant by the use of the term "kingdom." Thus, the term must be understood in light of what has preceded in the progress of divine revelation. Because, as explained throughout this series, "kingdom" always carries a technical meaning connoting a terrestrial element of Christ the King reigning over a repentant Israel from Jerusalem, these scant references to the kingdom in Acts must also be understood in a futuristic, terrestrial sense rather than strictly in a present, spiritual sense. McClain's analysis of these verses is significant:
The term "kingdom" (Grk. basileia) occurs eight times in Acts as referring to the divine rule...In the Book of Acts this "kingdom of God" appears as something future, the term being used, as James Orr has observed, "in an almost exclusively eschatological sense." The Old Testament prophecies of the Messianic Kingdom, occasionally quoted by the apostles (cf. Acts 2:25-36; 3:22-36; 13:22-39 ) are used to show the regal rights of Jesus the Messiah. But nowhere do they ever assert that the Kingdom has been established. In passages about which there can be no dispute, this is a matter which belongs to the future when the King returns from heaven (cf. 1:6-11; 3:19-21; 15:13-16 ). The passage in 14:22, "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," is sometimes used to prove a present Messianic Kingdom established on earth in the church. But such a use would prove too much...But in the Old Testament prophetic picture of the coming Messianic Kingdom, as every intelligent Jew understood, a period of terrible tribulation always precedes its establishment on earth...Therefore the passage in 14:22 is in complete harmony with the historical situation and the progress of revelation...The argument advanced by some, that since the apostles throughout the Acts period preached "the things concerning the kingdom of God" ( 19:8 ), therefore the Kingdom must have already been established, is not very good logic. Most of us preach and teach many things in the Christian faith which are not yet realized in experience. No sensible person would argue that because the apostles continually preached the resurrection of the dead, therefore, it must have already taken place. 
It is also worth noting how few references there are to the word "kingdom" in Acts in comparison to Luke's prequel to Acts ( Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1 ), known as the Gospel of Luke. Despite the fact that "kingdom" is only found eight times in Acts, it is used forty-five times in Luke. Why the difference? As explained earlier in this series, the Gospels record the offer of the kingdom to national Israel ( Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7; Luke 10:1, 9 ). Thus, in the Gospels the kingdom is portrayed as being in a state of imminency or immediate expectancy. However, the Gospels also record Israel's rejection of their king ( John 19:15 ) thereby leading to the kingdom's postponement. Thus, by the time the events recorded in Acts transpire, the kingdom is in a state of abeyance or postponement. Consequently, it is referred to as the ultimate yet distant hope of the Church-Age believer. Only such a reading could explain the voluminous use of the term in Luke's Gospel compared to its scant use in Acts. Toussaint well explains:
It is difficult to explain why Luke does not use the term if the kingdom is being inaugurated. He employs it forty-five times in the gospel…one would expect Luke to use the word if such a startling thing as the inauguration of the kingdom had taken place. The fact that Luke uses kingdom only eight times in Acts after such heavy usage in his gospel implies that the kingdom had not begun but was in fact, postponed. Continue Reading (Part 31 on Sept 21 web page)
ENDNOTES Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism.  Stephen Nichols, "The Dispensational Vew of the Davidic Kingdom: A Response to Progressive Dispensationalism," in The Master's Perspective on Biblical Prophecy, ed. Mayue and Thomas, Master's Perspective Series (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002), 54.  Stephen Nichols, "The Dispesnational View of the Kingdom: A Response to Progressive Dispensationalism," The Master's Seminary Journal 7 (Fall 1996): 238.  Robert Lightner, Last Days Handbook: Revised and Updated.  Ibid., 233.  Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God.  Stanley D. Toussaint, "Israel and the Church of a Traditional Dispensationalist," in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional & Progressive Views, ed. Herbert W. Bateman (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 242.
Dr. Andrew Woods Books
Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.
Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Knowing who you are in Christ
(Sept 20) Bob Gass
(Is 43:1) 43 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. ESV
We hear about people being released from prison after serving time for a crime they didn’t commit. It was a case of mistaken identity. Identifying someone means having the ability to recognise and say exactly who they are. Satan wants you to identify with who people say you are, versus who God says you are. And unless you know who you are in God’s eyes, Satan will hammer you with feelings of condemnation and unworthiness. God’s grace and unconditional love for you is the only secure foundation on which to base your salvation and self-worth. Today He says to you: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’ Jesus identified with God’s opinion only: ‘I know where I came from and where I am going’ (John 8:14 AMP). People said terrible things about Jesus, yet here’s what God said about Him: ‘The stone…the builders rejected has become the…cornerstone’ (Psalm 118:22 NKJV). Sometimes we’re so busy telling people what to do that we neglect to tell them who they are. Knowing who you are in Christ gives you confidence to hold your head high. You are ‘complete’ because of your relationship to Christ (see Colossians 2:10). God sees you clothed in Christ’s righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Once you accept that, you stop feeling like you constantly fall short. When you have money in the bank and you need to withdraw it, you don’t feel pressured because you know it’s in an account with your name on it. Likewise, you don’t have to struggle for other people’s approval when you know you’re loved and accepted by God.
(Jn 8:14) Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. ESV
(Ps 118:22) 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. ESV
(Col 2:10) 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ESV
(2 Co 5:21) 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ESV
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He helped write the Bill of Rights in the first session of Congress. He was a Representative of Massachusetts and participated in ratification of the Constitution. He was offered the presidency of Harvard, but declined due to ill health. His name was Fisher Ames. In an article published this day, September 20, 1789, in the Palladium magazine, Fisher Ames wrote: “We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education… putting… books into the hands of children containing fables…. [and] spending less time in the classroom on the Bible…The Bible states the great moral lessons better than any other manmade book.”American Minute
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
The Soul of Prayer
CHAPTER I / The Inwardness of Prayer
It is difficult and even formidable thing to write on prayer, and one fears to touch the Ark. Perhaps no one ought to undertake it unless he has spent more toil in the practice of prayer than on its principle. But perhaps also the effort to look into its principle may be graciously regarded by Him who ever liveth to make intercession as itself a prayer to know better how to pray. All progress in prayer is an answer to prayer—our own or another’s. And all true prayer promotes its own progress and increases our power to pray.
The worst sin is prayerlessness. Overt sin, or crime, or the glaring inconsistencies which often surprise us in Christian people are the effect of this, or its punishment. We are left by God for lack of seeking Him. The history of the saints shows often that their lapses were the fruit and nemesis of slackness or neglect in prayer. Their life, at seasons, also tended to become inhuman by their spiritual solitude. They left men, and were left by men, because they did not in their contemplation find God; they found but the thought or the atmosphere of God. Only living prayer keeps loneliness humane. It is the great producer of sympathy. Trusting the God of Christ, and transacting with Him, we come into tune with men. Our egoism retires before the coming of God, and into the clearance there comes with our Father our brother. We realize man as he is in God and for God, his Lover. When God fills our heart He makes more room for man than the humanist heart can find. Prayer is an act, indeed the act, of fellowship. We cannot truly pray even for ourselves without passing beyond ourselves and our individual experience. If we should begin with these the nature of prayer carries us beyond them, both to God and to man. Even private prayer is common prayer—the more so, possibly, as it retires from being public prayer.
Not to want to pray, then, is the sin behind sin. And it ends in not being able to pray. That is its punishment—spiritual dumbness, or at least aphasia, and starvation. We do not take our spiritual food, and so we falter, dwindle, and die. “In the sweat of your brow ye shall eat your bread.” That has been said to be true both of physical and spiritual labour. It is true both of the life of bread and of the bread of life.
Prayer brings with it, as food does, a new sense of power and health. We are driven to it by hunger, and, having eaten, we are refreshed and strengthened for the battle which even our physical life involves. For heart and flesh cry out for the living God. God’s gift is free; it is, therefore, a gift to our freedom, i.e. renewal to our moral strength, to what makes men of us. Without this gift always renewed, our very freedom can enslave us. The life of every organism is but the constant victory of a higher energy, constantly fed, over lower and more elementary forces. Prayer is the assimilation of a holy God’s moral strength.
We must work for this living. To feed the soul we must toil at prayer. And what a labour it is! “He prayed in an agony.” We must pray even to tears if need be. Our cooperation with God is our receptivity; but it is an active, a laborious receptivity, an importunity that drains our strength away if it do not tap the sources of the Strength Eternal. We work, we slave, at receiving. To him that hath this laborious expectancy it shall be given. Prayer is the powerful appropriation of power, of divine power. It is therefore creative.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Grace is the nourisher of optimism.
"It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace"
Grace is the secret energy of a fortified will.
--- John Henry Jowett
If you are always taking blessings to yourself
and never learn to pour out anything unto the Lord,
other people do not get their horizon enlarged
… through you.
--- Oswald Chambers
What is true religion? It is not the religion which contains most truth in the theological sense of the word. It is not the religion most truly thought out, not that which most closely fits with thought. It is religion which comes to itself most powerfully in prayer. It is the religion in which the soul becomes very sure of God and itself in prayer. Prayer contains the very heart and height of truth, …
--- P. T. Forsyth
Soul of Prayer
All is of God; the only thing of my very own which I contribute to my redemption is the sin from which I need to be redeemed.
--- William Temple
... from here, there and everywhere
by Ryan Nicholson
What am I here for and what’s my purpose? A very simple question I think many of us have asked. I confess, I’ve asked those questions. The answer is simple, but it’s never been popular or easy: follow me!
Imagine a world, vast and void of life. No roads congested with traffic, no hustle and bustle of people scurrying about trying to stand out and make a name for themselves- nothing. Nothing except the Spirit of the Lord as He hovered above the face of the deep. The sun, the moon, and the stars were not set into motion for they did not exist. No dinosaurs, nothing for carbon-14 to trace - nothing but darkness. But darkness has to move aside when the Creator passes by, and life was born upon His breath as He spoke “Let there be Light”
Fast forward to a time of oppression. A people in captivity in foreign land holding on to a promise. The 12 tribes of Israel were to follow the pillar of cloud by day and the fire by night. In a sense, “Follow Me!” Follow Me despite the army behind you. Follow Me despite the heat, lack of food and water. Follow Me despite the giants in the land. Follow Me because the same breath that scatters the darkness made a promise to you.
How did Jesus’ ministry start? He found 12 unassuming people and said, “Follow Me!” Follow Me despite the angry mob accusing you of wrong doings. Follow Me despite being persecuted for My namesake. Follow Me because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The furnace door opened in front of the three young men who stood in defiance in front of the king. To say it was hot is an understatement, but they knew where God was. He was in the fire. If that was the path they had to take to follow Him, so be it. The man-made inferno they faced paled in comparison to the God that sparked the sun and all the stars into motion.
What does the furnace door look like in your life? As Christians, we would like to believe God is standing in a open field full of flowers, a warm breeze blowing through the tall, green grass and waving us to follow. Follow Me, despite the wrongful accusations. Follow Me despite the loss of a loved one. Follow Me!
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”
So, to answer the previous question of why am I here and what’s my purpose. I am here to be in fellowship with my Maker. My purpose is to bring Him praise through the gifts He has bestowed on me. The journey might take you through the desert and no means to provide for yourself. It may take you through the fire where you can be burned beyond all recognition. And you may even feel like crying out, “Lord I don’t want to go there!” We’ve all felt that way. Next time you do, ask yourself, why was He hovering over the face of the deep? The answer: He loves you!
Next time you feel despair, downhearted, or burdened, reach out your hand, turn your eyes up to the Lord and say, “Lead me Lord! I will Follow!
Ryan Nicholson is a follower of Jesus Christ and is married to Crystal. They have four children; Autumn, Connor, Heidi and Aubrey. Ryan is a District Manager for Pepsico. Links to his other articles are listed below:
attributed to Dr. D.H. "Dee" Groberg
I like to work on my website and listen to messages by my Pastor, Brett Meador. We started attending Athey Creek 4/1/2018. Since then I started in Genesis and I listen to several of his messages every day as I am making the bed, doing laundry, washing dishes, folding clothes, and working on my website. If my bride of 35 years calls and asks what I am doing I say something like, "Brett and I are doing my chores."
I can honestly say I have learned more in the last 18 months then I learned in seminary on my way to a MDiv. How I wish we had come to Athey in 1996, but we were in California.
If you want to move closer to God you don't need to spend $75,000 on a seminary education. That could very well hurt your relationship with God. In stead, find a church that believes the Bible is the word of God.
Today, 9/21/2019, as I was listening to a teaching Brett did 8/5/2007 he read this excellent poem.
in front of failure’s face,
my downward fall is broken
by the memory of a race.
A children’s race, young boys, young men;
how I remember well,
excitement sure, but also fear,
it wasn’t hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope,
each thought to win that race
or tie for first, or if not that,
at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side,
each cheering for their son,
and each boy hoped to show his folks
that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they flew,
like chariots of fire,
to win, to be the hero there,
was each young boy’s desire.
One boy in particular,
whose dad was in the crowd,
was running in the lead and thought
“My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field
and crossed a shallow dip,
the little boy who thought he’d win,
lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself,
his arms flew everyplace,
and midst the laughter of the crowd
he fell flat on his face.
As he fell, his hope fell too;
he couldn’t win it now.
Humiliated, he just wished
to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up
and showed his anxious face,
which to the boy so clearly said,
“Get up and win that race!”
He quickly rose, no damage done,
behind a bit that’s all,
and ran with all his mind and might
to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself,
to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs.
He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before
with only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now,
I shouldn’t try to race.”
But through the laughing crowd he searched
and found his father’s face
with a steady look that said again,
“Get up and win that race!”
So he jumped up to try again,
ten yards behind the last.
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought,
“I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had,
he regained eight, then ten...
but trying hard to catch the lead,
he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently.
A tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running anymore!
Three strikes I’m out! Why try?
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought.
“I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad,
who soon he’d have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low,
“you haven’t lost at all,
for all you have to do to win
is rise each time you fall.
Get up!” the echo urged him on,
“Get up and take your place!
You were not meant for failure here!
Get up and win that race!”
So, up he rose to run once more,
refusing to forfeit,
and he resolved that win or lose,
at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now,
the most he’d ever been,
still he gave it all he had
and ran like he could win.
Three times he’d fallen stumbling,
three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win,
he still ran to the end.
They cheered another boy who crossed
the line and won first place,
head high and proud and happy --
no falling, no disgrace.
But, when the fallen youngster
crossed the line, in last place,
the crowd gave him a greater cheer
for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last
with head bowed low, unproud,
you would have thought he’d won the race,
to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said,
“I didn’t do so well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said.
“You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and bleak
and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy
helps me in my own race.
For all of life is like that race,
with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win
is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair
shout loudly in my face,
another voice within me says,
“Get up and win that race!”
I found this poem here.
Thanks to Meir Yona
How Titus Marched To Jerusalem, And How He Was In Danger As He Was Taking A View Of The City Of The Place Also Where He Pitched His Camp
1. Now, as Titus was upon his march into the enemy's country, the auxiliaries that were sent by the kings marched first, having all the other auxiliaries with them; after whom followed those that were to prepare the roads and measure out the camp; then came the commander's baggage, and after that the other soldiers, who were completely armed to support them; then came Titus himself, having with him another select body; and then came the pikemen; after whom came the horse belonging to that legion. All these came before the engines; and after these engines came the tribunes and the leaders of the cohorts, with their select bodies; after these came the ensigns, with the eagle; and before those ensigns came the trumpeters belonging to them; next these came the main body of the army in their ranks, every rank being six deep; the servants belonging to every legion came after these; and before these last their baggage; the mercenaries came last, and those that guarded them brought up the rear. Now Titus, according to the Roman usage, went in the front of the army after a decent manner, and marched through Samaria to Gophna, a city that had been formerly taken by his father, and was then garrisoned by Roman soldiers; and when he had lodged there one night, he marched on in the Morning; and when he had gone as far as a day's march, he pitched his camp at that valley which the Jews, in their own tongue, call "the Valley of Thorns," near a certain village called Gabaothsath, which signifies "the Hill of Saul," being distant from Jerusalem about thirty furlongs.6 There it was that he chose out six hundred select horsemen, and went to take a view of the city, to observe what strength it was of, and how courageous the Jews were; whether, when they saw him, and before they came to a direct battle, they would be affrighted and submit; for he had been informed what was really true, that the people who were fallen under the power of the seditious and the robbers were greatly desirous of peace; but being too weak to rise up against the rest, they lay still.
2. Now, so long as he rode along the straight road which led to the wall of the city, nobody appeared out of the gates; but when he went out of that road, and declined towards the tower Psephinus, and led the band of horsemen obliquely, an immense number of the Jews leaped out suddenly at the towers called the "Women's Towers," through that gate which was over against the monuments of queen Helena, and intercepted his horse; and standing directly opposite to those that still ran along the road, hindered them from joining those that had declined out of it. They intercepted Titus also, with a few other. Now it was here impossible for him to go forward, because all the places had trenches dug in them from the wall, to preserve the gardens round about, and were full of gardens obliquely situated, and of many hedges; and to return back to his own men, he saw it was also impossible, by reason of the multitude of the enemies that lay between them; many of whom did not so much as know that the king was in any danger, but supposed him still among them. So he perceived that his preservation must be wholly owing to his own courage, and turned his horse about, and cried out aloud to those that were about him to follow him, and ran with violence into the midst of his enemies, in order to force his way through them to his own men. And hence we may principally learn, that both the success of wars, and the dangers that kings 7 are in, are under the providence of God; for while such a number of darts were thrown at Titus, when he had neither his head-piece on, nor his breastplate, [for, as I told you, he went out not to fight, but to view the city,] none of them touched his body, but went aside without hurting him; as if all of them missed him on purpose, and only made a noise as they passed by him. So he diverted those perpetually with his sword that came on his side, and overturned many of those that directly met him, and made his horse ride over those that were overthrown. The enemy indeed made a shout at the boldness of Caesar, and exhorted one another to rush upon him. Yet did these against whom he marched fly away, and go off from him in great numbers; while those that were in the same danger with him kept up close to him, though they were wounded both on their backs and on their sides; for they had each of them but this one hope of escaping, if they could assist Titus in opening himself a way, that he might not be encompassed round by his enemies before he got away from them. Now there were two of those that were with him, but at some distance; the one of which the enemy compassed round, and slew him with their darts, and his horse also; but the other they slew as he leaped down from his horse, and carried off his horse with them. But Titus escaped with the rest, and came safe to the camp. So this success of the Jews' first attack raised their minds, and gave them an ill-grounded hope; and this short inclination of fortune, on their side, made them very courageous for the future.
3. But now, as soon as that legion that had been at Emmaus was joined to Caesar at night, he removed thence, when it was day, and came to a place called Seopus; from whence the city began already to be seen, and a plain view might be taken of the great temple. Accordingly, this place, on the north quarter of the city, and joining thereto, was a plain, and very properly named Scopus, [the prospect,] and was no more than seven furlongs distant from it. And here it was that Titus ordered a camp to be fortified for two legions that were to be together; but ordered another camp to be fortified, at three furlongs farther distance behind them, for the fifth legion; for he thought that, by marching in the night, they might be tired, and might deserve to be covered from the enemy, and with less fear might fortify themselves; and as these were now beginning to build, the tenth legion, who came through Jericho, was already come to the place, where a certain party of armed men had formerly lain, to guard that pass into the city, and had been taken before by Vespasian. These legions had orders to encamp at the distance of six furlongs from Jerusalem, at the mount called the Mount of Olives 8 which lies over against the city on the east side, and is parted from it by a deep valley, interposed between them, which is named Cedron.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
for if you eat too much of it, you may throw it up;
17 so don’t visit your neighbor too much,
or he may get his fill of you and come to hate you.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
The divine rule of life
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. --- Matthew 5:48.
Our Lord’s exhortation in these verses is to be generous in our behaviour to all men. In the spiritual life beware of walking according to natural affinities. Everyone has natural affinities; some people we like and others we do not like. We must never let those likes and dislikes rule in our Christian life. “If we walk in the light as God is in the light,” God will give us communion with people for whom we have no natural affinity.
The Example Our Lord gives us is not that of a good man, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”—show to the other man what God has shown to you; and God will give us ample opportunities in actual life to prove whether we are perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. To be a disciple means that we deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people. “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, …”
The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but Godlikeness: If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life, not in times of communion with God. When we come in contact with things that create a buzz, we find to our amazement that we have power to keep wonderfully poised in the centre of it all.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The Face (Pieta)
When I close my eyes, I can see it,
That bare hill with the man ploughing,
Corrugating that brown roof
Under a hard sky. Under him is the farm,
Anchored in its grass harbour;
And below that the valley
Sheltering its few folk,
With the school and the inn and the church,
The beginning, middle and end
Of their slow journey above ground.
He is never absent, but like a slave
Answers to the mind's bidding,
Endlessly ploughing, as though autumn
Were the one season he knew.
Sometimes he pauses to look down
To the grey farmhouse, but no signals
Cheer him; there is no applause
For his long wrestling with the angel
Of no name. I can see his eye
That expects nothing, that has the rain's
Colourlessness. His hands are broken
But not his spirit. He is like bark
Weathering on the tree of his kind.
He will go on; that much is certain.
Beneath him tenancies of the fields
Will change; machinery turn
All to noise. But on the walls
Of the mind's gallery that face
With the hills framing it will hang
Unglorified, but stern like the soil.
BIBLE TEXT / Deuteronomy 3:25–27 / “… Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.” But the Lord was wrathful with me on your account and would not listen to me. The Lord said to me, “Enough! Never speak to Me of this matter again! Go up to the summit of Pisgah and gaze about, to the west, the north, the south, and the east. Look at it well, for you shall not go across yonder Jordan.…”
MIDRASH TEXT/ Deuteronomy Rabbah 2, 9 / For you shall not go across yonder Jordan. The Holy One, praised is He, said to Moses, “If you are buried here, near them, then because of your virtue they will come with you.” Rabbi Levi said, “To what can this be compared? To a person who lost his small change in a dark place. He said, ‘If I say “Bring me a light so I can gather my small change,” no one would pay attention to me.’ He took a gold coin and threw it among them [the small change] and began to call out, saying, ‘Bring me a light! I had a gold coin and it fell here.’ They brought him a light. What did he do? Once he took the gold coin, he said to them, ‘I beg of you; wait for me so I can gather the small change.’ And he gathered them. By virtue of the gold, the small change was gathered. So too, the Holy One, praised is He, said to Moses, ‘If you are buried near them in the desert, they will come because of your virtue and you will come at their head, as it says,
“He chose for himself the best, For there is the portion of the revered chieftain, Where the heads of the people come.” ’ ”
--- (Deuteronomy 33:21). CONTEXT
In the Book of Numbers, Moses was punished by God for striking the rock that would bring forth water for the Israelites, instead of speaking to it:
“Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.”
--- (Numbers 20:12).
Now, in the Book of Deuteronomy, shortly before his death, Moses is told by God to view the land of Israel from a mountaintop. The earlier punishment is affirmed: Moses can see it from afar; he cannot enter it. “For you shall not go across yonder Jordan.”
The reader is touched by this human tragedy. Moses labored for forty years for one goal: to bring his people into their land. And now, just on the verge of success, he is denied seeing that mission come to completion. The reader is also likely to be troubled by the harshness of the punishment. For one small mistake—hitting a rock, instead of talking to it—the reward of a lifetime of work is canceled out for Moses. He will die and be buried, alone, on a mountain in the desert. This does not seem to be the way it should end for the greatest of our leaders.
Perhaps that is why the Midrash writes a new ending to the story. Moses is no longer the flawed leader who is punished for his sins and shortcomings. Instead, he is the “gold coin” who is used by God to save the “small change,” the Israelites, lost in the darkness. At some point in the future, the Rabbis believed, the dead will be resurrected. The entire generation of Israelites, whom Moses brought out of Egypt and who died over the course of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, will live again. They will again require a leader to bring them from the desert into the land of Israel. Moses will be that leader. His mission will ultimately be accomplished. And he himself will, at long last, reach the promised land. “If you are buried near them in the desert, they will come because of your virtue and you will come at their head.” This tragic figure (unable to bring the slaves—or himself—into Israel) will become the heroic leader who remained behind with those who died in the desert so he could bring them to ultimate redemption at the “end of days.”
A prooftext for this revisionist history is found at the end of the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses delivers a farewell blessing to the twelve tribes, the children of those slaves he had brought out of Egypt and who now would enter the land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua. The verse quoted by the Rabbis actually comes in the blessing that Moses gives to the tribe Gad. It may originally have referred to that tribe’s request for the land east of the Jordan river and Gad’s promise to lead the Israelites into battle against the Canaanites. The verse—
He chose for himself the best,
For there is the portion of the revered chieftain,
Where the heads of the people come …
—in its P’shat or contextual meaning was understood to mean
He [the tribe of Gad] chose for himself the best [plot of land,
east of the Jordan river],
For there [east of Jordan] is the [burial] portion of the
revered chieftain [Moses],
Where the heads of the people [the tribe of Gad] come
[to lead the way into battle].
But as the Rabbis reread this poetic line in a midrashic light, they saw it as referring to Moses and his ultimate destiny:
He [Moses] chose for himself the best [plot of land, as a burial place], For there [east of Jordan] is the [burial] portion of the revered chieftain [Moses], Where [Moses will come one day to lead] the heads of the people [into the promised land].
For the transgression of my people he was stricken.
--- Isaiah 53:8.
When you are completely terror stricken in conscience, you must be on your guard that your sins do not thus remain in your conscience and nothing but pure doubt certainly come out of it. ( The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther Based on the Kaiser Chronological: Edition, With References to the Erlangen and Walch Editions, Vol. 11 (Classic Reprint) )
Then cast your sins from yourself on Christ. Believe that your sins are his wounds and sufferings, that he carries them and makes satisfaction for them, as Saint Peter says in his first epistle: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (2:24). On these and like passages you must rely with all your weight, and so much the more the harder your conscience martyrs you. For if you do not take this course but miss the opportunity of stilling your heart, then you will never secure peace and must finally despair in doubt. For if we deal with our sins in our consciences and let them continue in us and be cherished in our hearts, they become much too strong for us to manage, and they will live forever. But when we see that they are laid on Christ and he has triumphed over them by his resurrection, and we believe it, then they are dead and have become as nothing. Thus Saint Paul speaks, in Romans 4:25, that Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification; that is, by his resurrection he makes us righteous and free from all sin, even if we believe differently.
Now if you are not able to believe, then you should pray to God for faith. For this is a matter in the hands of God that is entirely free and is also bestowed alike at times knowingly, at times secretly.
Look on Christ’s sufferings no longer, for they have already done their work and terrified you, but press through all difficulties and see how full of love is his heart toward you—love that compelled him to bear the heavy load of your conscience and your sin. Thus will your heart be loving and sweet toward him and the assurance of your faith be strengthened. Then ascend higher through the heart of Christ to the heart of God, and see that Christ would not have been able to love you if God had not willed it. Be thus drawn to the Father through Christ. That means to know God aright, if we understand him by his goodness and love, there our faith and confidence can then stand unmovable. A person is truly thus born anew in God.
--- Martin Luther
Ten More Days
Her name, Pandita Pamabai, though unfamiliar to many today, is etched in glory. Her father was a Brahmin priest who, at age 44, married a 9-year-old girl. Wanting to educate her, he took her to a remote forest in southern India, built a house, and, having removed all distractions, taught her all he knew. Here in 1858, Pandita was born. Her father determined to give her, too, an education; and by the time she was 12, Pandita had memorized 18,000 Sanskrit verses and had become fluent in various languages.
But the little family encountered mounting debts, then hunger. Pandita’s father “held me tightly in his arms, and stroking my head and cheeks, told me he loved me, how he had taught me to do right, and never to depart from the way of righteousness.”
Then he died of starvation, followed by her mother. Pandita set off across India, sleeping in the open, suffering from cold, eating berries. She began doubting her father’s idols; and finally in Calcutta, she learned of Jesus Christ.
Educated women were novelties in India, and Pandita began lecturing here and there, seeking to raise the standard of life for women. Traveling to England and America, she embraced Christ and was baptized. She studied mathematics and medicine in Western universities; and she sought financial support for a home for child-widows in India. In the late 1880s she returned to India and opened the Mukti (Salvation) Mission. It was thronged by hundreds of desperate girls. She and her workers dug wells, planted trees, tilled the land, and preached the Gospel. Hundreds were converted. Thousands were rescued from starvation. She established schools to educate her girls. Then a church was built with these lines inscribed on the foundation: Praise the Lord. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of Hosts. That Rock was Christ. September 20, 1899.
Her last years were spent translating the Bible into Marathi. She had almost completed the task when she fell ill. She prayed for ten more days in which to complete her work; and ten days later, on April 5, 1922, she died, having just finished the last page.
I am the LORD All-Powerful. So don’t depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit.
--- Zechariah 4:6
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 20
"The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon." --- Judges 7:20.
Gideon ordered his men to do two things: covering up a torch in an earthen pitcher, he bade them, at an appointed signal, break the pitcher and let the light shine, and then sound with the trumpet, crying, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon! the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!” This is precisely what all Christians must do. First, you must shine; break the pitcher which conceals your light; throw aside the bushel which has been hiding your candle, and shine. Let your light shine before men; let your good works be such, that when men look upon you, they shall know that you have been with Jesus. Then there must be the sound, the blowing of the trumpet. There must be active exertions for the ingathering of sinners by proclaiming Christ crucified. Take the Gospel to them; carry it to their door; put it in their way; do not suffer them to escape it; blow the trumpet right against their ears. Remember that the true war-cry of the Church is Gideon’s watchword, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!” God must do it, it is his own work. But we are not to be idle; instrumentality is to be used—“The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!” If we only cry, “The sword of the Lord!” we shall be guilty of an idle presumption; and if we shout, “The sword of Gideon!” alone, we shall manifest idolatrous reliance on an arm of flesh: we must blend the two in practical harmony, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!” We can do nothing of ourselves, but we can do everything by the help of our God; let us, therefore, in his name determine to go out personally and serve with our flaming torch of holy example, and with our trumpet tones of earnest declaration and testimony, and God shall be with us, and Midian shall be put to confusion, and the Lord of hosts shall reign for ever and ever.
Evening - September 20
“In the Evening withhold not thy hand.” --- Ecclesiastes 11:6.
In the Evening of the day opportunities are plentiful: men return from their labour, and the zealous soul-winner finds time to tell abroad the love of Jesus. Have I no Evening work for Jesus? If I have not, let me no longer withhold my hand from a service which requires abundant labour. Sinners are perishing for lack of knowledge; he who loiters may find his skirts crimson with the blood of souls. Jesus gave both his hands to the nails, how can I keep back one of mine from his blessed work? Night and day he toiled and prayed for me, how can I give a single hour to the pampering of my flesh with luxurious ease? Up, idle heart; stretch out thy hand to work, or uplift it to pray; heaven and hell are in earnest, let me be so, and this Evening sow good seed for the Lord my God.
The Evening of life has also its calls. Life is so short that a Morning of manhood’s vigour, and an Evening of decay, make the whole of it. To some it seems long, but a four-pence is a great sum of money to a poor man. Life is so brief that no man can afford to lose a day. It has been well said that if a great king should bring us a great heap of gold, and bid us take as much as we could count in a day, we should make a long day of it; we should begin early in the Morning, and in the Evening we should not withhold our hand; but to win souls is far nobler work, how is it that we so soon withdraw from it? Some are spared to a long Evening of green old age; if such be my case, let me use such talents as I still retain, and to the last hour serve my blessed and faithful Lord. By his grace I will die in harness, and lay down my charge only when I lay down my body. Age may instruct the young, cheer the faint, and encourage the desponding; if eventide has less of vigorous heat, it should have more of calm wisdom, therefore in the Evening I will not withhold my hand.
JESUS, THE VERY THOUGHT OF THEE
Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091–1153
English Translation—Edward Caswall, 1814–1876
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1, 2)
This hymn text comes from the height of the Middle Ages, a period of history often scornfully called “The Dark Ages.” The spiritual and moral darkness of the church had reached a new blackness. The institution founded by Christ some 1,000 years prior was mainly degenerate and corrupt. The moral standards of many of its prominent leaders were characterized by disgrace and shame. Yet within this system of religious confusion, God laid it upon the heart of a dedicated monk to write a devotional poem about his Lord that has since become the text for one of the finest hymns in our hymnals. As was true then and now, God always has a remnant of true believers who maintain His eternal truths.
At an early age Bernard was known for his piety and scholarship. With his natural charms and talents, he had many opportunities open to him for a successful secular life. While still in his early 20’s, however, he chose the life of a monk at the monastery of Citeaux, France. Within three years Bernard’s forceful personality, talents, and leadership qualities were recognized, and he was asked to form other branches of this order throughout Europe. Within Bernard’s lifetime 162 other such orders were founded. One of these new monasteries was at Clairvaux, France, where Bernard was made its abbot or head. Here he remained until his death in 1153.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee with sweetness fills my breast; but sweeter far Thy face to see and in Thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, nor can the mem’ry find a sweeter sound than Thy blest name, O Savior of mankind.
O hope of ev’ry contrite heart, O joy of all the meek, to those who fall how kind Thou art! how good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah, this nor tongue nor pen can show—the love of Jesus, what it is; none but His loved ones know.
Jesus, our only joy be Thou, as Thou our prize wilt be; Jesus, be Thou our glory now and thru eternity.
For Today: Psalm 66:2; 130:7; Jeremiah 17:7; Ephesians 3:19
Earnestly seek to be one of God’s faithful remnant—“salt” and “light”—keeping His truths alive for this generation to hear and believe.
DISCOURSE VI - ON THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD
Doctrine. God is unchangeable in his essence, nature, and perfections. Immutability and eternity are linked together; and, indeed, true eternity is true immutability; whence eternity is defined the possession of an immutable life. Yet immutability differs from eternity in our conception; immutability respects the essence or existence of a thing; eternity respects the duration of a being in that state, or rather, immutability is the state itself; eternity is the measure of that state. A thing is said to be changed, when it is otherwise now in regard of nature, state, will, or any quality than it was before; when either something is added to it, or taken from it; when it either loses or acquires. But now it is the essential property of God, not to have any accession to, or diminution of, his essence or attributes, but to remain entirely the same. He wants nothing; he loses nothing; but doth uniformly exist by himself, without any new nature, new thoughts, new will, new purpose, or new place. This unchangeableness of God was anciently represented by the figure of a cube, a piece of metal or wood framed four-square, when every side is exactly of the same equality; cast it which way you will, it will always be in the same posture, because it is equal to itself in all its dimensions. He was therefore said to be the centre of all things, and other things the circumference; the centre is never moved, while the circumference is; it remains immovable in the midst of the circle; “There is no variableness nor shadow of turning with him” (James 1:17). The moon hath her spots, so hath the sun; there is a mixture of light and darkness; it hath its changes; sometimes it is in the increase, sometimes in the wane; it is always either gaining or losing, and by the turnings and motions, either of the heavenly bodies or of the earth, it is in its eclipse, by the interposition of the earth between that and the sun. The sun also hath its diurnal and annual motion; it riseth and sets, and puts on a different face; it doth not always shine with the noon-day light; it is sometimes veiled with clouds and vapors; it is always going from one tropic to another, whereby it makes various shadows on the earth, and produceth the various seasons of the year; it is not always in our hemisphere, nor doth it always shine with an equal force and brightness in it. Such shadows and variations have no place in the eternal Father of Lights; he hath not the least spot or diminution of brightness; nothing can cloud him or eclipse him. For the better understanding this perfection of God, I shall premise three things.
1. The immutability of God is a perfection. Immutability considered in itself, without relation to other things, is not a perfection. It is the greatest misery and imperfection of the evil angels, that they are immutable in malice against God; but as God is infinite in essence, infinitely good, wise, holy; so it is a perfection necessary to his nature, that he should be immutably all this, all excellency, goodness, wisdom, immutably all that he is; without this he would be an imperfect Being. Are not the angels in heaven, who are confirmed in a holy and happy state, more perfect than when they were in a possibility of committing evil and becoming miserable? Are not the saints in heaven, whose wills by grace do unalterably cleave to God and goodness, more perfect than if they were as Adam in Paradise, capable of losing their felicity, as well as preserving it? We count a rock, in regard of its stability, more excellent than the dust of the ground, or a feather that is tossed about with every wind; is it not also the perfection of the body to have a constant tenor of health, and the glory of a man not to warp aside from what is just and right, by the persuasions of any temptations?
2. Immutability is a glory belonging to all the attributes of God. It is not a single perfection of the Divine nature, nor is it limited to particular objects thus and thus disposed. Mercy and justice have their distinct objects and distinct acts; mercy is conversant about a penitent, justice conversant about an obstinate sinner. In our notion and conception of the Divine perfections, his perfections are different: the wisdom of God is not his power, nor his power his holiness, but immutability is the centre wherein they all unite. There is not one perfection but may be said to be and truly is, immutable; none of them will appear so glorious without this beam, this sun of immutability, which renders them highly excellent without the least shadow of imperfection. How cloudy would his blessedness be if it were changeable! How dim his wisdom, if it might be obscured! How feeble his power, if it were capable to be sickly and languish! How would mercy lose much of its lustre, if it could change into wrath; and justice much of its dread, if it could be turned into mercy, while the object of justice remains unfit for mercy, and one that hath need of mercy continues only fit for the Divine fury! But unchangeableness is a thread that runs through the whole web; it is the enamel of all the rest; none of them without it could look with a triumphant aspect. His power is unchangeable: “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:4). His mercy and his holiness endure forever: he never could, nor ever can, look upon iniquity (Hab. 1:13).
He is a rock in the righteousness of his ways, the truth of his word, the holiness of his proceedings, and the rectitude of his nature. All are expressed Deut 32:4): “He is a rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he.” All that we consider in God is unchangeable; for his essence and his properties are the same, and, therefore, what is necessarily belonging to the essence of God, belongs also to every perfection of the nature of God; none of them can receive any addition or diminution. From the unchangeableness of his nature, the apostle (James 1:17) infers the uncbangeableness of his holiness, and himself (in Mal. 3:6) the unchangeableness of his counsel.
3. Unchangeableness doth necessarily pertain to the nature of God. It is of the same necessity with the rectitude of his nature; he can no more be changeable in his essence than he can be unrighteous in his actions. God is a necessary Being; he is necessarily what he is, and, therefore, is unchangeably what he is. Mutability belongs to contingency. If any perfection of his nature could be separated from him, he would cease to be God. What did not possess the whole nature of God, could not have the essence of God; it is reciprocated with the nature of God. Whatsoever is immutable by nature is God; whatsoever is God is immutable by nature. Some creatures are immutable by his grace and power. God is holy, happy, wise, good, by his essence; angels and men are made holy, wise, happy, strong, and good, by qualities and graces. The holiness, happiness, and wisdom of saints and angels, as they had a beginning, so they are capable of increase and diminution, and of an end also; for their standing is not from themselves, or from the nature of created strength, holiness, or wisdom, which in themselves are apt to fail, and finally to decay; but from the stability and confirmation they have by the gift and grace of God. The heaven and earth shall be changed; and after that renewal and reparation they shall not be changed. Our bodies after the resurrection shall not be changed, but forever be “made conformable to the glorious body of Christ” (Phil. 3:21); but this is by the powerful grace of God: so that, indeed, those things may be said afterwards rather to be unchanged than unchangeable, because they are not so by nature, but by sovereign dispensation. As creatures have not necessary beings, so they have not necessary immutability. Necessity of being, and, therefore, immutability of being, belongs by nature only to God; otherwise, if there were any change in God, he would be sometimes what he was not, and would cease to be what he was, which is against the nature, and, indeed, against the natural notion of a Deity. Let us see then,
I. In what regards God is immutable. II. Prove that God is immutable. III. That this is proper to God, and incommunicable to any creature. IV. Some propositions to clear the unchangeableness of God from anything that seems contrary to it. V. The use. I. In what respects God is unchangeable.
1. God is unchangeable in his essence. He is unalterably fixed in his being, so that not a particle of it can be lost from it, not a mite added to it. If a man continue in being as long as Methuselah, nine hundred and sixty-nine years; yet there is not a day, nay, an hour, wherein there is not some alteration in his substance. Though no substantial part is wanting, yet there is an addition to him by his food, a diminution of something by his labor; he is always making some acquisition, or suffering some loss: but in God there can be no alteration, by the accession of anything to make his substance greater or better, or by diminution to make it less or worse. He who hath not being from another, cannot but be always what he is: God is the first Being, an independent Being; he was not produced of himself, or of any other, but by nature always hath been, and, therefore, cannot by himself, or by any other, be changed from what he is in his own nature. That which is not may as well assume to itself a being, as he who hath and is all being, have the least change from what he is. Again, because he is a Spirit, he is not subject to those mutations which are found in corporeal and bodily natures; because he is an absolutely simple Spirit, not having the least particle of composition; he is not capable of those changes which may be in created spirits.
(1.) If his essence were mutable, God would not truly be; it could not be truly said by himself, “I Am that I Am” (Exod. 3:14), if he were such a thing or Being at this time, and a different Being at another time. Whatsoever is changed properly is not, because it doth not remain to be what it was; that which is changed was something, is something, and will be something. A being remains to that thing which is changed; yet though it may be said such a thing is, yet it may be also said such a thing is not, because it is not what it was in its first being; it is not now what it was, it is now what it was not; it is another thing than it was, it was another thing than it is; it will be another thing than what it is or was. It is, indeed, a being, but a different being from what it was before. But if God were changed, it could not be said of him that he is, but it might also be said of him that he is not; or if he were changeable, or could be changed, it might be said of him he is, but he will not be what he is; or he may not be what he is, but there will be or may be some difference in his being, and so God would not be “I Am that I Am;” for though he would not cease utterly to be, yet he would cease to be what he was before.
(2.) Again: if his essence were mutable, he could not be perfectly blessed, and fully rejoice in himself.
If he changed for the better, he could not have an infinite pleasure in what he was before the change, because he was not infinitely blessed; and the pleasure of that state could not be of a higher kind than the state itself, or, at least, the apprehension of a happiness in it. If he changed for the worse, he could not have a pleasure in it after the change; for according to the diminution of his state would be the decrease of his pleasure. His pleasure could not be infinite before the change, if he changed for the better; it could not be infinite after the change, if he changed for the worse. If he changed for the better, he would not have had an infinite goodness of being before; and not having an infinite goodness of being, he would have a finite goodness of being; for there is no medium between finite and infinite. Then, though the change were for the better, yet, being finite before, something would be still wanting to make him infinitely blessed; because being finite, he could not change to that which is infinite; for finite and infinite are extremes so distant, that they can never pass into one another; that is, that that which is finite should become infinite, or that which is infinite should become finite; so that supposing him mutable, his essence in no state of change could furnish him with an infinite peace and blessedness.
(3.) Again: if God’s essence be changed, he either increaseth or diminisheth. Whatsoever is changed, doth either gain by receiving something larger and greater than it had in itself before, or gains nothing by being changed. If the former, then it receives more than itself, more than it had in itself before. The Divine nature cannot be increased; for whatsoever receives anything than what it had in itself before, must necessarily receive it from another, because nothing can give to itself that which it hath not. But God cannot receive from another what he hath not already, because whatsoever other things possess is derived from him, and, therefore, contained in him, as the fountain contains the virtue in itself which it conveys to the streams; so that God cannot gain anything. If a thing that is changed gain nothing by that change, it loseth something of what it had before in itself; and this loss must be by itself or some other. God cannot receive any loss from anything in himself; he cannot will his own diminution, that is repugnant to every nature. He may as well will his own destruction as his own decrease: every decrease is a partial destruction. But it is impossible for God to die any kind of death, to have any resemblance of death, for he is immortal, and “only hath immortality” (1 Tim. 6:16), therefore impossible to be diminished in any particle of his essence; nor can he be diminished by anything in his own nature, because his infinite simplicity admits of nothing distinct from himself, or contrary to himself. All decreases come from something contrary to the nature of that thing which doth decrease. Whatsoever is made less than itself, was not truly unum, one and simple, because that which divides itself in separation was not the same in conjunction. Nor can he be diminished by any other without himself; because nothing is superior to God, nothing stronger than God which can oppress him. But whatsoever is changed is weaker than that which changeth it, and sinks under a power it cannot successfully resist; weakness belongs not to the Deity. Nor, lastly, can God change from a state wherein he is, to another state equal to the former, as men in some cases may do; for in passing from one state to another equal to it, something must be parted with which he had before, that some other thing may accrue to him as a recompense for that loss, to make him equal to what he was. This recompense then he had not before, though he had something equal to it. And in this case it could not be said by God “I Am that I Am,” but I am equal to what I was; for in this case there would be a diminution and increase which, as was showed, cannot be in God.
(4.) Again: God is of himself, from no other. Natures, which are made by God, may increase, because they began to be; they may decrease, because they were made of nothing, and so tend to nothing; the condition of their original leads them to defect, and the power of their Creator brings them to increase. But God hath no original; he hath no defect, because he was not made of nothing he hath no increase, because he had no beginning. He was before all things, and, therefore, depends upon no other thing which, by its own change, can bring any change upon him. That which is from itself cannot be changed, because it hath nothing before it, nothing more excellent than itself; but that which is from another as its first cause and chief good, may be changed by that which was its efficient cause and last end.
2. God is immutable in regard of knowledge. God hath known from all eternity all that which he can know, so that nothing is hid from him. He knows not at present any more than he hath known from eternity: and that which he knows now he always knows “All things are open and naked before him” (Heb. 4:13). A man is said to be changed in regard of knowledge, when he knows that now which he did not know before, or knows that to be false now which he thought true before, or has something for the object of his understanding now, which he had not before: But,
(1.) This would be repugnant to the wisdom and omniscience which belongs to the notions of a Deity. That cannot be God that is not infinitely wise; that cannot be infinitely wise that is either ignorant of, or mistaken in, his apprehension of any one thing. If God be changed in knowledge, it must be for want of wisdom; all change of this nature in creatures implies this defect preceding or accompanying it. Such a thought of God would have been unworthy of him that is “only wise,” that hath no mate for wisdom (1 Tim. 1:17); none wise beside himself. If he knew that thing this day which he knew not before, he would not be an “only wise” Being; for a being that did know everything at once might be conceived, and so a wiser being be apprehended by the mind of man. If God understood a thing at one time which he did not at another, he would be changed from ignorance to knowledge; as if he could not do that this day which he could do to-morrow, he would be changed from impotence to power. He could not be always omniscient, because there might be yet something still to come which he yet knows not, though he may know all things that are past. What way soever you suppose a change, you must suppose a present or a past ignorance; if he be changed in his knowledge for the perfection of his understanding, he was ignorant before; if his understanding be impaired by the change, he is ignorant after it.
Brett Meador | Athey Creek