9/28/2022 Yesterday Tomorrow
The Command to Rebuild the TempleHaggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” 3 Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
The People Obey the LORD12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, “I am with you, declares the LORD.” 14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
The Coming Glory of the TempleHaggai 2:1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.’ ”
Blessings for a Defiled People10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, 11 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: 12 ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’ ” The priests answered and said, “No.” 13 Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” 14 Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. 15 Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the LORD, 16 how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. 17 I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the LORD. 18 Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid, consider: 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”
Zerubbabel Chosen as a Signet20 The word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 On that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts.”
What I'm Reading
The Self-Evident Nature of Objective Moral Truths
By J. Warner Wallace 5/31/2017
I occasionally encounter someone who rejects the existence of objective, transcendent moral truths. For many people, all moral truth is merely perspectival; a matter of flexible, cultural convention. Yet there appear to be a number of moral absolutes that transcend culture and history. These objective truths beckon us to seek justification when we attempt to circumvent their prescriptions. “Did you steal the hammer from that man?” “Yes, dad, but he was going to hit me with it!” We intuitively know that it’s never acceptable to steal “for the fun of it”. This action requires proper justification before any of us would find it tolerable or morally appropriate. Still, some folks are unconvinced that such a transcendent Law exists at all.
I’ve talked to people who refuse to accept some of the transcendent moral principles I’ve proposed. In one recent conversation, a female graduate student said she could imagine a culture that might accept (as virtuous) the moral principles I typically offer as transcendent moral taboos:
It’s never OK to steal “for the fun of it”
It’s never OK to lie “for the fun of it”
It’s never OK to kill “for the fun of it”
When people seek to reject the transcendent nature of these claims, I take the following approach. First, I ask them for an historical example. While there are many cultures that have justified their actions with rationalizations we might reject as insufficient, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a culture that used “for the fun of it” as a justification. Secondly, it’s sometimes important to “super-size” an issue to illustrate the point. That’s why I occasionally ask the question, “Is it ever OK to torture babies for fun?” If it isn’t, we’ve just identified a transcendent moral principle we can agree on. You’d be surprised, however, to discover how many people will still reject this “extreme” moral truth claim. The aforementioned graduate student told me, “Well, I would never so such a thing and I would never say it was OK, but I don’t think there’s necessarily an objective truth about it.” Really? I asked her, “So, are you saying there’s a scenario in which it might be appropriate to torture a baby for fun?” She still hesitated. “So, you’re saying that there could be a scenario in which it is morally acceptable to torture babies merely for the fun of it? Do you see how that sounds?”
When people still refuse to affirm something as self-evident as, “It’s never OK to torture babies for fun,” it’s time to offer them an additional piece of advice: “Get some help!” When your intuitive ability to recognize self-evident truth is inoperative, it’s time to get some counseling. Or, at least, start asking what it is that is causing you to hesitate in the first place. As this graduate student became more and more uncomfortable with her position, she began to recognize the weight of the moral truth she was trying to deny. She intuitively understood the need for proper justification because she felt the gravity of the transcendent claim. If there are such transcendent truths, I think we owe it to ourselves to attribute them to a proper and foundationally reasonable source.
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.
Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb
By Albert Mohler 4/14/2017
The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines — a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine, but is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as the apostolic preaching makes clear, the gospel is the priority.
The Apostle Paul affirms this priority when he writes to the Christians in Corinth. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul sets out his case:
(1 Co 15:1–11) 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ESV
Paul points directly to the events of the cross and resurrection of Christ. He is not concerned with just any gospel, but with the only gospel that saves. This is “the gospel I preached to you,” Paul reminds the Corinthians. The same Paul who so forcefully warned the Galatians against accepting any false gospel reminds the church at Corinth that the very “gospel I preached to you” is the gospel “by which you are being saved.” Their stewardship of the gospel is underlined in Paul’s words, “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”
Paul’s statement of priority is a vital corrective for our confused times. Without hesitation, Paul writes with urgency about the truths that are “as of first importance.” All revealed truth is vital, invaluable, life-changing truth to which every disciple of Christ is fully accountable. But certain truths are of highest importance, and that is the language Paul uses without qualification.
And what is of first importance? “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” and “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of the Christian faith. Without these, there is no good news — no salvation.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.Albert Mohler Books | Go to Books Page
Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?
By Frank Turek 9/18/2017
How does a man facing his own premature death exude an uplifting combination of grace, love and truth? My friend Nabeel Qureshi, who has done that for more than a year, died at age 34 on Saturday. In case you don’t know, Nabeel was a former devout Muslim who became a powerful defender of Christianity after a seven-year process of evaluating the evidence for Christianity with his friend David Wood. His first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity is an international best seller. He also wrote No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity and Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus : A Former Muslim Shares the Evidence that Led Him from Islam to Christianity (Study Guide) and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity.
Since being diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer last year, Nabeel has shared his thoughts, concerns and prayers through 43 video blogs on his YouTube channel. His last video, recorded from his hospital bed just seven days before his death, is a request for us to use his work and example to love others to the truth.
As you will see in his videos, Nabeel exhibited the love of Christ to the end. He never wavered in his confidence that God could heal him, but recognized that He might not. Nabeel understood that we live in a fallen world, and that God doesn’t promise any of us a long, trouble free life. In fact, Jesus promised more of the opposite. He said that we “will have trouble in this world, but take heart, I’ve overcome the world.”
Nevertheless, while it seems insensitive to ask this while we grieve, people are wondering why didn’t God heal Nabeel. After all, he was a brilliant and charismatic young man taken away from his wife Michelle and daughter Ayah, and the rest of us, far too early. Nabeel had so much more to give to his family and the Kingdom of God that his death seems senseless.
So why didn’t God heal Nabeel?
Is it because an evil, such as a premature death, proves that there is no God? No, because evil wouldn’t exist unless Good existed, and Good wouldn’t exist unless God existed. Evil doesn’t exist on its own. It only exists as a lack in a good thing. Like cancer. So when we complain about evil we’re actually presupposing Good. An objective standard of Good is a standard that is beyond mere human opinion. That can only be God’s nature. So evil may prove there’s a devil out there, but it can’t disprove God. Instead, evil boomerangs back to show that God actually does exist.
Is it because the Muslim God is the true God, and He punished Nabeel for leaving Him? No, there’s excellent evidence for the Christian view of God (see Nabeel’s book No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity). Moreover, Muslims who suggest this should be asked, “Why did your God wait until Nabeel had written three best-selling books, made hundreds of hours of videos, and helped bring hundreds of Muslims to Christ? Is his timing off?” Not only that, Nabeel’s work will continue to bring people to Christ, probably in an accelerated manner after his passing.
So why didn’t God heal Nabeel? What purpose could God have for allowing Nabeel to die?
Some might suggest that people like Nabeel who experience tragedy must be worse sinners than others. Jesus refuted that kind of shallow speculation directly in Luke 13, when he said, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Indeed, we are all sinners who will perish and we need to repent before it’s too late.
Is it because Nabeel didn’t have enough “faith”? People who claim such nonsense don’t know Nabeel or correct theology. Nabeel’s trust in Christ was deep and unwavering. But the larger point is that faith doesn’t guarantee good health and wealth as “Word of Faith” preachers assert. In fact, their self-serving theology can be refuted by one simple observation: Jesus and the apostles weren’t healthy and wealthy. In fact, they suffered and died for their beliefs. Don’t tell me they didn’t have enough faith!
The Ripple Effect
So why didn’t God heal Nabeel? What purpose could God have for allowing Nabeel to die? In answering that question, we need to admit that there can be no ultimate purpose to Nabeel’s death (or any event) if there is no purpose to life. But since God does exist, and the purpose of life is to be reconciled with Him though His son, Jesus, then even tragedies can help achieve that purpose. Perhaps more people will come to know Christ because of Nabeel’s death. It’s impossible for us to know the extent of that right now, but it’s not impossible for God.
We can’t see it fully because every event, good and bad, ripples forward into the future to touch countless other events and people. This ripple effect is also known as the butterfly effect. The idea is that a butterfly flapping its wings in South Africa, for example, could ultimately bring rain to a drought stricken portion of the United States. We can’t trace all of those ripples, but an all powerful God who is outside of time can. In fact, there have been billions of events in history, both good and bad, that helped make you who you are and helped put you where you are.
So we don’t know why God didn’t heal Nabeel, but we know why we don’t know. We’re finite and God is infinite. The good news is God’s character and power guarantees that He will bring good from evil “to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose” ( Rom. 8:28 ). That may happen later in this life. It certainly will spill over into eternal life.
The ripple effect led Jacques Marie Louis Monsabré, a former pastor at Notre Dame in Paris, to trust God even when he couldn’t see any good coming from evil. He said: “If God would concede me His omnipotence for 24 hours, you would see how many changes I would make in the world. But if He gave me His wisdom too, I would leave things as they are.”
Indeed, God will redeem Nabeel’s death for good like he redeemed Nabeel himself. But while Nabeel is now with the Lord, Michele and Ayah remain with us. As Nabeel asked in one of his final videos, please pray for them as well as Nabeel’s loving parents. And If you can help Michele and Ayah financially, would you please do so.
While we grieve let us be thankful for Nabeel’s eternally significant life. He did more for the Kingdom of God in 34 years than ten thousand people do in 80. And the ripples he created — waves really — will help carry people into Heaven for generations. Blessings to you Brother. See you on the other side.
Does the OT Predict Jesus’ Resurrection?
By Carey Bryant 9/27/2017
Part of Paul’s Gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15 is the phrase “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” Have you ever wondered what Scriptures Paul had in mind?
When it comes to Jesus’ death, many rightly think of OT passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. But when you look for OT references about Jesus’ resurrection, they are much more scarce and obscure. The first two passages that we will look at are debated among theologians as to whether or not they speak of Jesus’ resurrection, but the next three are much clearer. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Two Debatable Passages | On the Third Day | “After two days he will Revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before Him” (Hosea 6:2).
Here Hosea is praying that God would restore Israel as a nation. The phrases “after two days” and “on the third day” simply denote a short period of time. For many Christians, the phrase “on the third day he will raise us up” seems to be a near perfect parallel to Jesus’ resurrection.
But many commentators seemed to be divided on this. Some think this refers to Jesus’ resurrection while others take this as dealing solely with Israel. The original context of the passage doesn’t seem to be Messianic, but the biggest problem I have is that no one references this passage in the NT. If Hosea was speaking about the Resurrection, I would think that the NT writers would be quoting this passage all over the place!
I am a follower of Christ and I seek to live out God’s Word as revealed to us in the Bible. God has given me a passion to study His Word and this blog is an outcome of this passion.
By John Walvoord (1990)
Prophecy of Unbelief Regarding the Second Coming
2 Peter 3:3–7. In view of the prophetic outlook of this epistle, written so shortly before Peter’s martyrdom, there is anticipation that there will be worldwide scoffing at the second coming. Peter declared, “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’” (vv. 3–4 ).
The argument of scoffers is that due to the uniformity of nature, that is, always acting according to natural law, there is no room for a miraculous event, like a person returning who had once died. They argued that though God created the world (a concession on the part of unbelievers), since then He has dealt with the world entirely on the basis of natural laws. As they put it, “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (v. 4 ).
These scoffers, however, have overlooked a great deal. If they are right, there is nothing to the accounts in the Bible of the many miracles that God performed, such as the miracle of the flood and many miracles in connection with the freedom of Israel from Egypt, and of course, most important, the supernatural event of Jesus Christ becoming incarnate.
Peter accused the scoffers of having a short memory and forgetting purposely: “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water” (v. 5 ). Though they passed by the question of the origin of all things by saying God created it, they failed to realize that this recognizes God has supernatural power over natural laws and can change some or all of them as He wills.
Peter also accused them of forgetting the historical fact of the flood. In verse 5 he mentioned that “the earth was formed out of water and by water,” referring to the account of Genesis 1. However, in history there was added the account of Noah’s flood when these same waters that were prominent in creation now covered the earth and destroyed it: “By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (v. 6 ). The same Word of God, which predicted the flood and fulfilled it, also predicted that there would be no further flood and that the next destruction of the world will be by fire: “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (v. 7 ).
Prophecy of God’s Judgment Though God Waits to Offer Salvation
2 Peter 3:8–9. The fact is, however, that the second coming of Christ did not occur immediately, as perhaps many of the early Christians anticipated. Here Peter introduced God’s viewpoint of time as compared to man’s: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (v. 8 ). This is a verse that is commonly misunderstood as meaning that a thousand years does not mean a thousand years. The contrast is not between literal and nonliteral meaning, but between the view of God and the view of man. For God, who existed from all eternity past, a twenty-four-hour day could be like a thousand years of human history. If one attempted to write all the events of a single day — all that men did, all that animals did, all that occurred in the vegetable world, and other aspects of creation — it would be impossible to give a chronology of the work of one day. The facts of events in one day would be greater than a thousand years of human history as viewed by man. God looks at the world microscopically. He knows all about the tangled events that form a single twenty-four-hour day.
On the other hand, a thousand years of human history is also a brief time for God, who existed from all eternity past, and can be compared to man’s experience of one twenty-four-hour day. When dealing with an infinite God who has always existed, one cannot argue therefore from time factors. The passage of two thousand years since the first coming of Christ should not be any ground for viewing the second coming with uncertainty. As Peter expressed it, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (v. 9 ).
Instead of being inattentive and slow in responding to the promise of the second coming, God has a loving purpose in wanting to extend the message of salvation and of gracious forgiveness to more individuals before the time of judgment comes. In other words, God is waiting for some to hear who have not heard. He is waiting for others to respond who have heard. He does not desire to punish anyone with eternal punishment; He wants all men to come to repentance.
Here we have the contrast between God’s sovereign will and His desires. In the nature of a moral universe where men are given choices in creating the situation, God knew that not all would choose the right path. In His heart of love, which has provided grace for all men through Jesus Christ, God wants all to be saved and wants to give them all the time that is possible to hear and respond to the message. The fact is that, regardless of when the Lord came, there would be many who did not believe. The situation will be similar to that of the days of Noah, using an illustration in Scripture ( Matt. 24:37–39 ). Though the ark took more than one hundred years to build and Noah was faithful in telling people why it was being built, there seemed to be no response to Noah’s message except that on the part of his own family; his three sons and their wives shared this faith. At the time of the second coming of Christ, some will not be ready, while others will be awaiting His coming.
The Coming Destruction of the Earth
2 Peter 3:10–14. In earlier references to the day of the Lord, as in 1 Thessalonians 5, the period was described as beginning with the rapture and continuing through the tribulation period and ending at the end of the millennium. Here the whole picture is again revealed with emphasis on the final end of it: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (v. 10 ). This will occur not at the beginning but at the end of the day of the Lord, which will be the end of the millennial kingdom ( Rev. 20:11; 21:1 ). The description of the earth’s being destroyed by fire is catastrophic and supports the conclusion that the new earth, created according to verse 1, will entirely replace our present earth. As scientists know, the earth is composed of atomic structure, which is held together by the power of God. Just as God created it out of nothing, so He can dismiss it into nothing in preparation for the eternal state.
The practical application of all this, of course, is that Christians need to look at our present world as a temporary home. Peter asked the question, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” ( 2 Peter 3:11–12 ). In verse 12 a new expression is found that is not common in Scripture: “The day of God.” The question is naturally raised whether this is the day of the Lord or whether it has a special meaning.
Though the conclusion may be debated, one point of view is that the day of the Lord, which begins at the rapture and ends at the millennium, will be followed by the day of God, which is the day of eternity. Just as the day of the Lord will end, and then the day of God will begin, so the future will bring about the various events that lie between.
Further light is cast on the subject of whether the earth will be restored or destroyed at the time of the creation of the new heavens and earth. As Peter declared, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (v. 12 ). This description of the atomic destruction of the earth leads to the conclusion that the new earth will be entirely different, with none of the geographic landmarks that relate to our present earth. There will be no more ocean, no more Red Sea, no more Jordan River, no sun or moon. The new earth will be entirely different, as described in Revelation 21–22.
Though Christians are warned concerning the temporary nature of our present world, they also are assured that they can look forward to an eternal home. “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness!” ( 2 Peter 3:13 ). This, of course, is the revelation of the new heaven and new earth, described in detail in Revelation 21–22. This is the ultimate goal of the Christian faith and the ultimate home of the redeemed of all ages.
In contemplating the majestic program of God, both in judgment and in restoration, Peter found that there was a practical application, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” ( 2 Peter 3:14 ). This, of course, refers to the coming of the Lord forever through the events that follow.
In the conclusion of 2 Peter, he pointed out the need for patience, faith, and anticipation, and the need to be on guard lest they fall from the faith.
Prophecy In 1, 2, and 3 JOHN and The Epistle Of Jude
Prophecies in the epistles of John are significantly related to the Christian walking in fellowship with the Father.
The Temporary Desires of the World as Opposed to the Eternal Will of God
1 John 2:17. In the preceding context, John revealed that Christians should not love the world because all that is in the world is sinful, including the three major lines of temptation — the flesh or “the cravings of sinful man,” the lust or desires of his eyes, and pride or boasting — and does not come “from the Father but from the world” (vv. 15–16 ). From the Christian’s viewpoint of faith, the prediction is made, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (v. 17 ).
Though John was primarily concerned with the effect of sin in the life of a Christian now and the need for walking in fellowship with God, this prophecy pointed out the eternal character of the will of God and the importance of the Christian emphasizing the things that are eternal in contrast to the temporary character of the things of the world.
Being Confident before the Lord at His Appearing
1 John 2:28. As a climax to the preceding exhortation, in which John warned his readers of apostasy and the importance of listening to the indwelling Holy Spirit as He distinguishes what is true and what is false, the reader is encouraged to continue serving the Lord so that he will not be ashamed before Christ at His coming. “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears you may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (v. 28 ). Though no Christian is able to lead a perfect life, the general tenor of his life serving the Lord or not serving the Lord will be evident at the time of divine judgment.
The Promise to Be Like Christ
1 John 3:2–3. The previous exhortation to be serving Him when He comes is supported by the revelation of the love of the Father (v. 1 ). John pointed out the importance of being called “children of God” (v. 2 ) now, even if we do not know what we will be. John stated, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (v. 2 ).
The fact that a believer will be able to see Christ at His appearing indicates that a transformation of believers in the world will take place. Several times in Scripture it is made clear that man in his natural state cannot endure being in the presence of the Holy God. Paul, for instance, was stricken blind when he saw the glorified Christ ( Acts 9:8 ), and the apostle John fell at the feet of Christ as though he were dead ( Rev. 1:17 ). Accordingly, this Scripture makes clear that when we see Him, we are going to be like Him. That is, that we will be without sin and will be able to stand comfortably in the presence of the Holy God because Christ, when He appears, will appear to us and we will see His glory ( Titus 2:13 ).
A further incentive is given to Christians to live for Christ now so that their lives will be without criticism when they stand in His presence. The application of this is found in the next verse: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” ( 1 John 3:3 ). This passage refers to the present work of sanctification, as purifies is in the present tense. The whole doctrine of sanctification reveals that Christians should progressively become more and more like Christ in their lives on the earth, and they have the prospect of being perfectly like Him when they see Him.
The elements of sanctification are revealed in Scripture. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the Christian’s guide and teacher. As Christians yield to Christ, they will experience the sanctifying power of the Word of God. The experience of prayer and fellowship with God is also a sanctifying experience. Mingling with other Christians who are serving God also constitutes a work of sanctification. Accordingly, the hope of Christ’s appearing is an imminent event, which could occur at any time, and should spur a Christian to serve the Lord and continue in the process of sanctification in anticipation of the ultimate sanctification in Christ’s presence.
The prophecies included in 1 John connect our present life with the hope of Christ’s return in keeping with the major theme of the epistle. No prophecy is mentioned in the epistles of 2 John and 3 John.
The Prophecy by Enoch of the Second Coming
Jude 14–15. Jude quoted from Enoch who, like Elijah, went to heaven without experiencing death ( Heb. 11:5 ). This prophecy concerning the second coming of Christ emphasized the fact that He will be accompanied by thousands of angels, and on that occasion will judge the wickedness of ungodly people in keeping with Jude’s previous statements concerning the extent of apostasy and God’s judgment on them. “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him’” (vv. 14–15 ).
This quotation from Enoch is not found elsewhere in the Bible. Because of the similarity of this to a statement in what is known as the “book of Enoch,” one of the apocryphal books that was not included in the Bible, the question has been raised whether the quotation is from Enoch himself or from this writing, which in itself was not inspired. Regardless of its source, this quotation in this book was here recorded as true under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, whether this was a special revelation given to Enoch, which is similar to what was recorded in the book of Enoch, or whether he quoted from the apocryphal book of Enoch does not affect the truth or the accuracy of this prophecy.
A similar truth is emphasized in Revelation 19:11–21, when Christ returns. As included here in Jude’s epistle, there is a reminder that God will deal with those who teach false doctrine and who are apostate concerning the faith. Their hypocrisy, wickedness, and unbelief are described graphically in the preceding verses. Accordingly, the reader is warned against apostates and against following their teaching and at the same time is alerted to the fact that the apostates are subject to God’s searching judgments.
The Keeping Power of God
Jude 24–25. At the conclusion of this book, dealing primarily with the subject of apostasy, Jude gave reassurance to the Christian that he can experience the keeping power of God so that he will not fall into doctrinal error and will not follow the lead of the apostate teachers. Jude wrote, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (vv. 24–25 ).
At the present time, when apostates are teaching false doctrine, a Christian can be kept by the power of God from following their wrong teachings and their bad example. At the same time, a Christian is assured that the day will come when he will be presented to God as a trophy of His grace and that he will be without fault and with great joy. Jude enlarged on the nature of God, which believers will see at that time, including His glory, majesty, power, and authority. This is an important reminder that while evil may seem to flourish, God in His time will judge it and manifest His holy and righteous perfections.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 106Give Thanks to the LORD, for He Is Good
24 Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
25 They murmured in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the LORD.
26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them
that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations,
scattering them among the lands.
28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
29 they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was stayed.
31 And that was counted to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.
Asking, Seeking, Knocking
By Eric Alexander 5/01/2014
There must be few pastors who have not repeated the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:7, with a wistfulness equal to his: “You were running well. Who hindered you?” The Apostolic finger had touched upon the timeless tragedy of a life that showed early spiritual promise yet was blighted by a lack of perseverance. It is, of course, the same sad story as Jesus told in the parable of the sower, when He describes the one who “hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while” (Matt. 13:20).
Perseverance is a word applied in the Bible in two ways. First is the ultimate perseverance that depends on God’s preserving us, His people, which is the ground of our assurance of eternal glory. The Westminster Confession of Faith devotes a whole chapter to this subject, assuring us that true believers “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end” (17.1). This depends on God’s election of a people for Himself.
But there is also a use of perseverance to describe a quality in the believer, an example of which is in Ephesians 6:18: “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” That is a quality of Christian character, and a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. This latter use of the word is most frequently applied to perseverance in the face of opposition or trials, or to perseverance in prayer. It is the second application that will be our theme here.
There is no doubt that Jesus is focusing on the subject of perseverance in prayer toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:7–11. Literally translated, it would read, “Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and it will be opened to you” (v. 7). All three verbs are present imperatives, and it is likely that they are much more than just a repetition of the same idea. Rather, I think the three commands “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” are a progressive intensification. Repeatedly asking requires perseverance, and still more so does continuous seeking. Persistent knocking suggests an intense desire for entry.
It is interesting that Luke in his gospel places at this point in Jesus’ teaching the parable of the persistent friend who comes to the door at midnight and refuses to be put off in his request for bread. “Because of his persistence” is Jesus’ explanation of why the man obtains a response. But look more closely at each of Jesus’ key words in this paragraph: they are “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” (Luke 11:5–13).
Asking is the most common idea in supplicating before God’s throne. It is the language of one who is bereft of what he most needs, but knows who can supply his need. In this case, it is the language of the child who has a need that his Father can satisfy.
In the explanatory verse at Matthew 7:9, Jesus draws a parallel with the experience of an earthly father-son relationship: “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” The father delights to give good gifts to his son — not just any gifts, but good gifts. The son is exercising filial faith in asking, and the father is exhibiting grace in giving.
Grace and faith are key elements in prayer. In the case of our heavenly Father’s gifts, there is a perfection about the giving that takes us into a new realm. The Father’s gifts are perfect; that is why we should be so eager to come to Him.
If you wonder why God needs us to ask before He gives, there are two things to remember: one is that He daily gives us good things we have not even thought about, much less asked for; the other is that in Psalm 2, we have a remarkable excerpt of a conversation between God the Father and God the Son regarding how the Son will have the nations for His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession, and the Father says, “Ask of me, and I will give you” (Ps. 2:8). If the only begotten Son is told to ask, the children of God adopted by grace into His family should not be surprised that they must ask also.
Seeking reveals something more of God’s character to us. I am not entirely sure why it should be so, but there is no doubt that God responds to those who seek Him (remembering, of course, that no one can truly seek God unless God draws him).
We need to listen to the emphasis on this in the Bible. In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (see also 2 Chron. 7:14 and Isa. 55:6).
Knocking is another intensification of the idea of asking and seeking. I think the thought behind this word is seriousness. The man in Jesus’ story who came to his friend at midnight displayed his seriousness in persistent knocking. God responds to seriousness. Superficial devotees and spiritual jesters will not engage His heart and mind.
So, when you pray, be a suppliant, be a seeker, and be serious. True prayer demands all three.
The Goodness of Gender
By Susan Hunt 6/01/2014
The jarring “It is not good for the man to be alone” was not an “oops” moment in the creation story. Adam’s aloneness was underscored as he named the animals. There was no creature that corresponded to him, who glorified and enjoyed God with him, who communicated with him. Then, God gave him a helper who was equal but different, and their perfect complementarity reflected the glory of the ontological (pertaining to being or essence) equality and functional diversity of the three-in-one God. It was very good.
God gave man and woman the cultural mandate to be fruitful, multiply, and take dominion by extending the beauty and wonder of Eden into all the world. They were created for something bigger than themselves, but they believed Satan’s lies and lost it all. Then God gave the gospel promise that the woman’s offspring would crush the enemy, and Adam responded by naming his wife Eve, which means life-giver, pointing to the One who would give His life for and to His people.
He named her — naming is an act of headship. After the gospel promise, the headship that was entrusted to Adam at creation remained. Once again, Adam and Eve illustrated the relational nature of the Trinity — authority and submission between equals. We are redeemed for something bigger than ourselves.
Aloneness was not good in Eden, and the same is true in the church. A genderless church is as unthinkable as a genderless Eden as we seek to obey the gospel mandate to multiply by making disciples. Titus 2 makes this commission gender - specific when older women are told to disciple younger women to be life-givers in every relationship and situation.
Jesus’ inclusion of women in His ministry is instructive. As He went to villages proclaiming the kingdom of God, the disciples were with Him “and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities…who provided for them out of their means” (Luke 8:2).There is no indication that the women competed with or complained about the men. When women are healed by His wounds (1 Peter 2:24) and the life of Christ fills them, they become life-givers rather than life-takers in their place of ministry. Wow!
At the cross, “there were also many women there…who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him” (Matt. 27:55). These women did not turn away from the cosmic horror happening before their eyes as the full force of the Father’s wrath fell upon the Son. The Savior they followed did not allow one drop of that wrath to fall on them.
Their gratitude was expressed by an act of loving service. They ministered to the body of Jesus. They brought spices to anoint His body. As they walked to the tomb they asked, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3). There was an obstacle too big for them to move, but they still went because their hearts were aflame with love for the One who first loved them. Through no effort of their own, “they saw that the stone had been rolled back” (v. 4). They were the first to hear the good news, “He has risen!” Then Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!…Do not be afraid; go and tell” (Matt. 28:9-10).
As a pastor’s wife for fifty years, I have faced many obstacles in loving and serving Christ’s church, usually stones in my own heart — doubt, fear, pride, resentment, anger — and sometimes hard people or rocky situations. But I have learned that when I keep praying and serving, God’s Spirit softens my heart, sometimes stones are removed, and I see the glorious grace of the risen Christ in unexpected people and places.
Women’s ministry in the church is about anointing the body of Christ, because we love Him, because He first loved us.
The enemy has not changed his strategy: “Did God really say you cannot hold an ordained office in the church?” Satan puts a negative spin on God’s abundant provision of every tree in the Garden except one. Eating what He forbids does not make us equal with God; it makes us less than a reflection of His glory. The governance of the church is to reflect the created order, which reflects the Creator. Trusting and obeying God’s plan is not just radical, it is impossible apart from His transforming grace. His children are the only ones who can display His very good creation design and obey His gospel commission to multiply and extend His kingdom. We daily smash up against the world’s hostility to gender distinctiveness, but may we, by the power that is at work within us, celebrate, guard and protect this treasure and give it to the next generation.
I asked our eight-year-old and eleven-year-old granddaughters, “Who is better—boys or girls?” There was immediate consensus: “Girls!” We had a Titus 2 sit-down. Ask them now and they will tell you, “Boys are better at being boys, girls are better at being girls, we are equal but different, and it is very good because God said so.”
The Pauline Doctrine of the Church
By Charles C. Ryrie
The doctrine of the church is one of the prominent themes of Pauline theology. A glance at a concordance will show that Paul uses the term church sometimes to denote a local organization of professed Christian believers ( 1 Cor 1:2 ) and other times to denote the whole body of believers ( Col 1:18 ). This twofold usage not only embodies the principal divisions of Pauline ecclesiology, but it also indicates the reason why this doctrine receives the attention it does by Paul. The local organization is emphasized in his writings because of the apostle’s desire to organize his many converts into self-governing and self-propagating groups. The teaching concerning the universal church, the body of Christ, is vitally connected with Paul’s relation to the revelation of the mystery ( Eph 3:1–12 ).
The church as an organism is the complex structure of the body of Christ which carries on living activities by means of the individual believers who are distinct in function but mutually dependent on and governed by their relation to Christ the Head. This definition is built on the Pauline revelation of the church as an organism under the figure of the body. The body of Christ is the chief way the organism is pictured in Paul, although he also used two other figures — the church as a bride ( Eph 5:22–32 ) and the church as a building ( 1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20–22 ).
The unity of the body. In Paul’s view the church is one. It never occurred to him that differences that do exist could be construed as a basis for division. This essential unity of the organism is illustrated by all the figures of the church which Paul uses. The body is one functioning entity needing all the parts in proper working order ( 1 Cor 12:12–26 ). The parts cannot separate themselves from the body, so that as long as there is a body of Christ it must be one (cf. Eph 4:11–13 ). The bride relationship pictures one bride united forever with the bridegroom, Christ ( Eph 5:22–32 ). The inseparable unity of the figure allows for no idea of polygamy or divorce. The figure of the building likewise emphasizes this idea of oneness. Each believer has his own special place in the building of which Christ is the chief cornerstone ( Eph 2:20–22 ), and the believer who is a part of this temple must have no association with the idol temples, for “what agreement hath a temple of God with idols?” ( 2 Cor 6:16 ). Thus the idea of unity is a basic feature of the doctrine.
The entrance into the body. Paul affirms that there is a definite act and time of entering the body of Christ. The act which is the means of entrance is the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Cor 12:13 ). It is the Spirit who effects this entrance by introducing all who believe into the new sphere of resurrection life in the body of Christ. Paul makes it clear in the context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 that the Spirit’s work is in no way restricted to a certain group of believers, for there were all kinds of Christians in Corinth who, according to the apostle, were all baptized into the body. Even those who did not speak in tongues were baptized by the Spirit ( 1 Cor 12:13; cf. v. 30 ). Faith in Christ is, of course, the human requirement for entrance into the body, but the divine act which accomplishes it is the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit that automatically and simultaneously accompanies faith.
The direction of the body. As with other organisms the body of Christ also receives direction from the Head. The basis of Christ’s headship over the church, though related to and presupposed by His universal headship over all men, is particularly His work of redemption ( Eph 5:22–32 ). In other words, the rights of redemption result in the prerogatives of headship.
The concept of headship incorporates certain corollaries. First, headship involves subordination ( 1 Cor 11:2–16 ). In this passage Paul clearly teaches order and rank. The head of Christ is God, the head of man is Christ, and the head of woman is man. Thus the order is God, Christ, man, and woman. Subordination does not imply inferiority, for just as there is no inferiority of Christ to God (though the Son may be subordinate to the Father) so there is no inferiority of woman to man (though there is subordination). The doctrine of Christ’s headship over the church is meant to convey the idea of the subordination of the church to the directions of Christ ( Eph 5:24 ).
Second, headship involves interdependence ( Col 2:19; Eph 5:30 ). The Head is dependent on the members to carry out His directions, and in turn the members are dependent on the Head for leadership and upon each other for co-operation in carrying out the functions of the body. The very nature of the organism as living implies this interdependence.
Third, headship means loving direction. As Head Christ is no autocratic or blind ruler. Like a bridegroom, Christ’s direction is saturated with love for His bride.
The gifts to the body. Except for one reference ( 1 Pet 4:10 ) Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the word Charisma. His usage is wide, ranging from the use of it to refer to the gift of salvation ( Rom 6:23 ) to that of God’s providential care ( 2 Cor 1:11 ). However, the most frequent occurrences refer to the special gifts or abilities given to men by God. In this sense a grace gift is a God-given ability for service.
The gifts are described by Paul in three passages: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. They include apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues, evangelism, shepherding, ministering, teaching, faith, exhortation, discerning spirits, showing mercy, giving, and administration. Nowhere does Paul suggest that gifts are to be attached to a designated place. For instance, Paul does not equate the gift of pastor with the pastorate (as is commonly done today). The gift is that of shepherding, with all that that idea includes and it may be exercised in connection with what is called the office of pastor today or apart from it. Kennedy thinks that “probably none of these gifts represent permanent officials” (H. A. A. Kennedy, The Theology of the Epistles, p. 148). Although this may be too sweeping a statement, certainly it is true that Paul differentiated the gift from the office. Furthermore, Paul nowhere suggests that there are different gifts for specific age groups. There is no gift of young peoples’ work, for instance, because all ages need teachers, pastors, helpers, etc. (cf. Titus 2:1–8 ). In Paul’s mind the gift is the God - given ability, not the place or age group where that ability might be used.
Gifts are given with a purpose. First, they promote the unity of the body ( 1 Cor 12:12–26 ), for unity within the organism can only be accomplished when every part is functioning properly. Second, they promote the growth of the body ( Eph 4:12–16 ). According to this passage, gifts are given to equip the saints so that they in turn may give themselves to the work of ministering in order that this body will be built up. This building up involves both quantity, quality. Third, they are given to promote the glory of the Head ( Col 1:18 ). This is the ultimate purpose of the organism in its entirety.
Paul’s doctrine of the church as an organism is true ecumenicity. His view of the oneness of all believers was deeply rooted, and it brought with it a firm sense of the necessity of the interdependence of all Christians. Most of the functioning of the organism is done, it is true, through the visible organization. For instance, gifts to the body are exercised in the local assemblies, but their ultimate purpose is the upbuilding of that one universal body to which they are given. The church as an organism is basic to all that Paul says about the church as an organization.
Paul’s Epistles were written in the heat of battle. The great theologian was also the great missionary. Therefore, it is not surprising to discover that for every time that Paul used the word church of the organism he used it six times of the organization. This is not to say that he thought that the organization was six times more important than the organism, but it is to recognize that the organization occupied a large place in his writing.
However, in the theological substructure of his thinking, Paul undoubtedly gave the larger place to the organism, for he placed too much importance on the revelation of the mystery of the body to conclude otherwise. In his writing the organization occupied the larger place, for his written ministry was concerned with the practical problems of the churches in which he had an interest. Organism and organization are not opposing ideas; rather they are complementary, the former being the basis for the latter.
The officials of the church. Elders were evidently taken over into the early church organization from the synagogue (cf. Acts 11:30 ). They were considered essential to the proper functioning of a local assembly so much so that Paul saw to it that they were appointed in the churches he had established before returning from the first missionary journey ( Acts 14:23 — an extended note showing that this verse indicates that the elders were appointed and not chosen by vote of the people can profitably be studied in W. Kelly, Six Lectures on Fundamental Truths Connected with the Church of God). He also recommended to Titus that they be appointed in the churches in Crete in order that things might be set in order in those assemblies ( Titus 1:5 ). The principal duties of elders include ruling ( 1 Tim 5:17 ), guarding the truth ( Titus 1:9 ), teaching ( 1 Tim 5:17 ), and the general oversight of the church ( 1 Tim 3:1 ). In his Epistles Paul generally mentions elders in the plural ( Phil 1:1; Titus 1:5 ), but in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 the elder is spoken of in the singular while a plurality of deacons is mentioned in the same passage (cf. v. 8 ). This might possibly indicate that as time went on a single elder led each assembly with the help of several deacons. The high qualifications for the elder are set down by Paul in two passages ( 1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9 ). Nothing is said about removing an elder from office once he had been chosen, though it might be inferred that if he ceased to qualify he should cease to function.
The origin of deacons is not so clear as that of elders. Probably they were a distinctly Christian development, being at first helpers of the elders by performing duties which did not involve superintendence. The general sense of the word deacon as servant is found in the latest of Paul’s Epistles ( Col 1:17; 1 Tim 4:6 ), while in the same groups of epistles the specific official sense of the word is also found ( Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8–10 ). The qualifications for deacons ( 1 Tim 3:8–10 ) indicate that they performed a spiritual ministry, so that one would conclude that the distinction between elders and deacons was not that the former performed the spiritual ministry while the latter concerned themselves with material things (cf. Acts 11:30 ). Rather the distinction was that the deacons constituted the subordinate office performing their duties under the general direction and oversight of the elders. They were the helpers of the elders.
Did Paul recognize the office of deaconess? Phoebe is called a servant of the church ( Rom 16:1 ) and certain women helpers are mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:11. Whether these were official deaconesses or merely women helpers or servants (using the word deacon in the unofficial sense) is a question which probably can never be answered conclusively. It seems doubtful to this writer that Paul used the word deacon in the official sense when speaking of these women. Phoebe was a helper of the church but not a member of an order of deaconesses. The women mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:11 are probably the wives of the deacons who helped the men with their work.
The ordinances of the church. References to baptism are scarce in the Pauline Epistles. We know that Paul was himself baptized ( Acts 9:18 ) and that he baptized others ( 1 Cor 1:14–16 ). He evidently considered that all believers should be baptized ( Acts 16:33 ), and yet he clearly distinguished it from the gospel itself ( 1 Cor 1:17 ). On one occasion at least Paul practiced rebaptism of those who had not received Christian baptism ( Acts 19:1–7 ).
Undoubtedly there was a very close connection in Paul’s mind between the baptism of the Spirit and baptism with water. This is most clearly seen in Romans 6:1–10 where the accomplishments described can only be the result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but where the ordinance and that which it pictures cannot be ruled out of the background of the passage. For Paul the ordinance apparently pictured the believer’s association with Christ in resurrection life — the very thing which baptism with the Spirit accomplishes.
The Lord’s Supper was a continual memorial of the sacrificial death of the Lord ( 1 Cor 11:23–24 ). It was to be preceded by a self-examination, and failure in this point had already resulted in the sickness and death of some of the Corinthian believers. The Supper also was a fellowship ( 1 Cor 10:16 ) and a reminder of the oneness of all believers in Christ ( 1 Cor 10:17 ). We are bound together because we are bound to Christ.
The order of the church. Detailed instructions regarding the order and conduct of the meetings of the organized churches are surprisingly few in the Pauline Epistles. In general Paul urges the importance of reverence and proper decorum in the public meetings and especially in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Specific regulations for the use of the gift of tongues are given ( 1 Cor 14 ), and church discipline of wayward members is enjoined ( 1 Cor 5 ).
Without question Paul placed the leadership of the affairs of the churches in the hands of men. His view concerning the place of women in the church was that they should be subordinate and silent. Their subordination, based on the natural facts of creation, was to be exhibited in the meetings of the church by the wearing of a veil. This was the general practice of all the churches ( 1 Cor 11:16 ) and was for the purpose of teaching men and angels an order which God effected in creation ( 1 Cor 11:7–9 ). It was not connected with some local Corinthian peculiarity. In exhibiting subordination by wearing the veil, the women would be teaching sound doctrine.
If a summary statement is to be made from this survey of Pauline ecclesiology it would be that Paul’s primary emphasis was on the unity of the Spirit binding every believer to the Head and to each other in the organism and ideally displaying itself in the properly functioning order of the local assembly. Although the primitive church experienced its problems and divisions, Paul never campaigned for organizational unity. He firmly believed that true unity in the church was not outward (though ideally it should be displayed outwardly), but was inward, and it is this spirit which permeates his ecclesiology.
Charles C. Ryrie Books
The Coming of the Kingdom part 38
By Dr. Andrew Woods 10/23/2015
We began scrutinizing New Testament texts that "kingdom now" theologians employ in an attempt to argue that the kingdom is a present reality in order to show that none of these passages teach a present form of the kingdom. We have examined the typical texts from the Gospels, Acts, Paul's letters, the general epistles, and Revelation that are typically used by "kingdom now" theologians. At this point, we largely find ourselves in agreement with the following statement by Craven. Concerning a present, spiritual establishment of the kingdom, Craven notes, "There is no critically undisputed passage in the Scriptures which declares, or necessarily implies, even a partial establishment in New Testament times."  We then began to take a look at some other miscellaneous arguments used by "kingdom now" theologians. In prior installments, we scrutinized how "kingdom now" theologians often appeal to alleged New Testament silence regarding a future earthly reign of Christ.
We then moved on to examining yet another miscellaneous argument commonly emanating from the "kingdom now" camp: namely, that if Christ is not now reigning from David's Throne in heaven, then He is doing nothing at the present time. As we saw in the prior installment, nothing could be further from the truth. Christ presently pursues an active session through His ongoing roles as the Sustainer of the universe as well the church's head, husband, bestower of spiritual gifts, and builder. His present activity is also evidenced in that He continually intercedes for and advocates on behalf of the believer. However, these activities comprise His "present session"  rather than His Davidic reign.
Christ's Present Session Is Not the Kingdom
Despite the many activities associated with Christ's current ministry in His present session, these should not be confused with His Davidic rule and future kingdom. As noted in prior installments, the activity of God in and through the Church bears little resemblance to the conditions that the Scripture anticipates regarding His future terrestrial rule.  Even the key event that began the Church Age, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the Church on the Day of Pentecost ( Acts 2 ), fails to precisely harmonize with predictions regarding the Davidic Covenant. Charles Ryrie asks, "If Christ inaugurated His Davidic reign at His ascension, does it not seem incongruous that His first act as reigning Davidic king was the sending of the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:33 ), something not included in the promises of the Davidic Covenant?" 
Furthermore, as noted by Chafer, Christ's present session is not the kingdom:
Over and above all the stupendous present ministry of the resurrected, exalted Savior already noted is the attitude which He is said to maintain toward the day when, coming back to the earth, He will defeat all enemies and take the throne to reign. Important, indeed, is the revelation which discloses the fact that Christ is now in the attitude of expectation toward the oncoming day when, returning on the clouds of heaven, He will vanquish every foe... Hebrews 10:13 records His expectation, which reads: "From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." ...As High Priest over the true tabernacle on high, the Lord Jesus Christ has entered into heaven itself there to minister as priest in behalf of those who are His own in the world ( Heb. 8:1-2 )...The fact that He sat down on His Father's throne and not on His own thrown reveals the truth, so constantly and consistently taught in the Scriptures, that He did not set up a kingdom on the earth at His first advent into the world, but that He is now "expecting" until the time when His kingdom shall come in the earth and the divine will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven. "The kingdoms of this world" are yet to become "the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever" ( Rev. 11:15 ), and the kingly Son will yet ask of His Father and He will give Him the nations for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession ( Ps. 2:8 ). However, Scripture clearly indicates too that He is not now establishing that kingdom rule in the earth ( Matt. 25:31, 46 ), but that rather He is calling out from both the Jews and Gentiles a heavenly people who are related to Him as His Body and Bride. After the present purpose is accomplished He will return and "build again the tabernacle of David, which is falling down" ( Acts 15:13-18 ). Though He is a King - Priest according to the Melchizedek type ( Hebrews 5:10; 7:1, 3 ), He is now serving as Priest and not as King. 
Thus, the preceding discussion demonstrates that while the present age is not the kingdom, this does not automatically lead to the conclusion that Christ today is doing nothing. Rather, Christ, in His present ministry at the Father's right hand, is quite active. However, such present activities should not be confused with the anticipated kingdom.
Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going
This series has accomplished the following goals that were established at the onset.  First, the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God has been surveyed from Genesis to Revelation. Such an analysis was necessary in order to allow us to capture God's mind on this important subject. Second, this series has set forth some general problems with a New Testament based "kingdom now" interpretation. Third, this series has examined the isolated New Testament texts and miscellaneous arguments that "kingdom now" theologians typically use, and it has demonstrated how each is insufficient to convey "kingdom now" theology.
We now move on to the final leg in our journey. Here, we will note why this trend of equating God's present work in the church with the Messianic kingdom is a matter believers should be concerned about, since this theology not only radically alters God's design for the church but is also the seedbed of many major false doctrines that have sadly entered Christ's church.
Our goal in this section is to demonstrate to the reader that one's view concerning a present or future kingdom has real - world implications in terms of how one works out one's theology in the life of the local church and in the real world. In other words, ideas have consequences. Theological studies can be likened to dominoes in a row. Knocking over just one domino inevitably impacts the other dominoes. Similarly, when one area of theology is altered it has an inevitable impact upon other areas of systematic theology and biblical interpretation. In this final section, a brief examination will be given regarding how "kingdom now" theology has an inevitable impact upon other areas of biblical truth.
Changing the Church's Purpose
Why does it matter whether Christ's present work through the church is equated with Christ's Messianic kingdom? The answer to this question lies in the fact that "kingdom now" theology alters the divine design for the church. Another way of saying this is one's eschatology (his view of the future kingdom) affects his ecclesiology (doctrine of the church).
Earlier in this series, we noted that the church, which began in Acts 2, exists for three specific, divinely-ordained reasons.  First, the church exists to glorify God ( Eph. 3:21 ). Second, the church exists to edify or build up its members. God has placed spiritual gifts in the body of Christ for the purpose of being faithfully employed so that the church members can be built up, become spiritually mature, and reach unity ( Eph. 4:11-16 ). Third, the church exists for the purpose of accomplishing world evangelism ( Mark 16:15 ) and to fulfill the Great Commission ( Matt. 28:18-20 ).
However, McClain explains how these basic and divinely - given ecclesiastical purposes rapidly become confused the moment that the church begins to view itself as the kingdom:
Theological confusion, especially in matters which have to do with the church, will inevitably produce consequences which are of grave practical concern. The identification of the Kingdom with the church has led historically to ecclesiastical policies and programs which, even when not positively evil, have been far removed from the original simplicity of the New Testament ekklēssia. It is easy to claim that in the "present kingdom of grace" that the rule of the saints is wholly "spiritual," exerted only through moral principles and influence. But practically, once the church becomes the Kingdom in any realistic theological sense, it is impossible to draw any clear line between principles and their implementation through political and social devices. For the logical implications of a present ecclesiastical kingdom are unmistakable, and historically have always led in one direction, i.e., political control of the state by the Church. The distances traveled down this road by various religious movements, and the forms of control which were developed, have been widely different. The difference is very great between the Roman Catholic system and modern Protestant efforts to control the state; also between the ecclesiastical rule of Calvin in Geneva and the fanaticism of Münster and the English "fifth-monarchy." But the basic assumption is always the same: The church in some sense is the kingdom, and therefore has a divine right to rule; or it is the business of the church to "establish" fully the Kingdom of God among men. Thus the church loses its pilgrim character and the sharp edge of its divinely commissioned "witness" is blunted. It becomes an ekklēssia which is not only in the world, but also of the world. It forgets that just as in the regeneration of the soul only God can effect the miracle, even so the "regeneration" of the world can only be wrought by the intrusion of regal power from on high ( Matt. 19:28 ). 
McClain's quote notes several problems when the church begins to see itself as the kingdom.Continue Reading (Part 39 on Sept 29 web page)
ENDNOTES E.R. Craven, "Excursus on the Basileia," in The Revelation of John (A commentary on the Holy Scriptures ... by J.P. Lange ... Tr. from the German, rev., enl., and ed. by P. Schaff) (New York: Scribner, 1874), 95.
 L.S. Chafer, Systematic Theology (4 Volume Set).
 See parts 9 and 10.
 Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism.
 Chafer, 5:278-79.
 See part 1.
 See part 9.
 Alva J. McClain, By Alva J. McClain - The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God, 438-39.
Dr. Andrew Woods Books
Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.
Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.
The Continual Burnt Offering (1 Corinthians 9:24)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
September 281 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, See Chariots of Fire but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. ESV
Scripture distinguishes between salvation and reward. Salvation is by grace alone, (Ephesians 2:8) completely apart from human merit or works of any kind. Reward is for service rendered in loving devotion to our Lord as we seek to glorify Him in this world. This is the race we are called to run and in order to do so it is imperative that the servant of Christ exercise godly self-control over all physical appetites. The imperishable crown is the reward which we hope to receive at the hand of our Lord when we stand at His judgment seat. To miss this token of His approval will be loss indeed!
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, ESV
Not at death I shrink or falter,
For my Saviour saves me now,
But to meet Him empty-handed,
Thought of that now clouds my brow.
- Ron Pierce
- Ron Pierce
- Ron Pierce
Mutual Submission in Marriage | Biola University
Gender and Christian Community | Biola University
Mutuality in Singleness and Marriage | Biola University
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Be passionate, proactive, and persistent
(Sept 28) Bob Gass
'Do not merely listen to the word… Do what it says.’
(Jas 1:22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. ESV
When Nehemiah first saw the ruins of Jerusalem, he wept. Then he rolled up his sleeves and went to work. In the face of overwhelming odds and relentless opposition, he rebuilt the walls in just fifty-two days. How? Because it was his vision and his passion! Question: Are you afraid to say, ‘Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to do,’ in case He sends you somewhere you don’t want to go, or asks you to do something you don’t feel ready or qualified to do? You’ve got it wrong! The Bible says God’s will is ‘good, and acceptable, and perfect’ (Romans 12:2 KJV). Now, while God’s will is ‘good’, it’s not necessarily easy. But He will give you a passion for it. When Jeremiah tried to stop speaking about the Lord, he said God’s Word became ‘like a burning fire shut up in my bones’ (Jeremiah 20:9 NASB). A God-given vision sets your heart on fire. You begin to see things you never saw before and get excited about them. You may have failed in the past, but God can take your chapters of failure and write a story of success. But it won’t happen if you’re just sitting on the side-lines. The Bible says, ‘Do not merely listen to the word… Do what it says.’ You’ll get a passion for God’s will once you start doing it! And when it happens, you will say, ‘This is what I was made for.’ When you have a compelling reason for doing something, and you know God is watching and smiling on you, it makes all the difference in the world. So, the word for you today is: be passionate, proactive, and persistent!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
He developed the vaccines for rabies and anthrax.. He revolutionized the medical field by establishing the germ theory of disease, laying the foundation for the control of tuberculosis, cholera, diphtheria, and tetanus. He was appointed dean of the faculty of sciences at Lille University in France. He developed the process of “Pasteurization ” of milk. His name: Louis Pasteur, and he died this day, September 28, 1895. Louis Pasteur stated: “Science brings man nearer to God… There is something in the depths of our souls which tells us that the world may be more than a mere combination of events.”American Minute
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
The Soul of Prayer
Those who feel prayer stifled by the organization of law do not consider that law itself, if we take a long enough sweep, keeps passing us on to prayer. Law rises from Nature, through history, to heaven. It is integrated historically, i.e. by Christ’s cross and the Church’s history, with the organization of love. But that is the organization of Eternity in God, and it involves the interaction of all souls in a communion of ascending prayer. Prayer is the native movement of the spiritual life that receives its meaning and its soul only in Eternity, that works in the style and scale of Eternity, owns its principles, and speaks its speech. It is the will’s congenial surrender to that Redemption and Reconciliation between loving wills which is God’s Eternity acting in time. We beseech God because He first besought us.
So not to pray on principle means that thought has got the better of the will. The question is whether thought includes will or will thought; and thought wins if prayer is suppressed. Thought and not personality is then in command of the universe. If will is but a function of the idea, then prayer is but a symptom, it is not a power. It belongs to the phenomenology of the Infinite, it is not among its controls.
Prayer is doing God’s will. It is letting Him pray in us. We look for answer because His fullness is completely equal to His own prayers. Father and Son are perfectly adequate to each other. That is the Holy Spirit and self-sufficiency of the Godhead.
If God’s will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven, prayer begins with adoration. Of course, it is thanks and petition; but before we give even our prayer we must first receive. The Answerer provides the very prayer. What we do here rests on what God has done. What we offer is drawn from us by what He offers. Our self-oblation stands on His; and the spirit of prayer flows from the gift of the Holy Ghost, the great Intercessor. Hence praise and adoration of His work in itself comes before even our thanksgiving for blessings to us. At the height of prayer, if not at its beginning, we are preoccupied with the great and glorious thing God has done for His own holy name in Redemption, apart from its immediate and particular blessing to us. We are blind for the time to ourselves. We cover our faces with our wings and cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; the fullness of the earth is His glory.” Our full hearts glorify. We magnify His name. His perfections take precedence of our occasions. We pray for victory in the present was, for instance, and for deliverance from all war, for the sake of God’s kingdom—in a spirit of adoration for the deliverance there that is not destroyed, or foiled, even by a devilry like this. If the kingdom of God not only got over the murder of Christ, but made it its great lever, there is nothing that it cannot get over, and nothing it cannot turn to eternal blessing and to the glory of the holy name. But to the perspective of this faith, and to its vision of values so alien to human standards, we can rise only in prayer.
But it would be unreal prayer which was adoration only, with no reference to special boons or human needs. That would be as if God recognized no life but His own—which is very undivine egoism, and its collective form is the religion of mere nationalism. In true prayer we do two things. We go out of ourselves, being lost in wonder, love and praise; but also, and in the same act, we go in upon ourselves. We stir up all that is within us to bless and hallow God’s name. We examine ourselves keenly in that patient light, and we find ourselves even when our sin finds us out. Our nothingness is not burned and branded into us as if we had above only the starry irony of heaven. Our heart comes again. Our will is braced and purified. We not only recall our needs, but we discover new ones, of a more and more intimate and spiritual kind. The more spiritual we grow, the more we rise out of the subconscious or the unconscious. We never realize ourselves as we do when we forget ourselves after this godly sort in prayer. Prayer is not falling back upon the abyss below the soul; even as the secret of the Incarnation is sought in vain in that non-moral zone. Prayer is not what might be called the increased drone or boom of an unspeakable Om. But we rise in it to more conscious and positive relation with God the Holy—the God not abysmal but revealed, in whose revelation the thoughts of many hearts are revealed also, and whose fullness makes need almost as fast as it satisfies it.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
... from here, there and everywhere
Some stand on tiptoe
trying to reach God to talk to him –
you try too hard, friend –
drop to your knees and listen to him,
he’ll hear you better that way.
--- Ever Garrison
He who kneels before God
can stand before anyone.
--- Author Unknown
Forgiveness is based on the atoning work of the Cross, and not on anything we do. God’s forgiveness does not depend on our confession, nor does His fellowship. Confession is a means for releasing us from the tension and bondage of a guilty conscience.
--- Charles Stanley
The Gift of Forgiveness
Evangelical agencies with ready funding may have too little depth and vision to cope with the current conflict. God's kingdom is built not on perpetual motion, one-liners, and flashbulbs but on Christ.
--- Carl F.H. Henry
Thanks to Meir Yona
Concerning The Tyrants Simon And John. How Also As Titus Was Going Round The Wall Of This City Nicanor Was Wounded By A Dart; Which Accident Provoked Titus To Press On The Siege.
1. Now the warlike men that were in the city, and the multitude of the seditious that were with Simon, were ten thousand, besides the Idumeans. Those ten thousand had fifty commanders, over whom this Simon was supreme. The Idumeans that paid him homage were five thousand, and had eight commanders, among whom those of greatest fame were Jacob the son of Sosas, and Simon the son of Cathlas. Jotre, who had seized upon the temple, had six thousand armed men under twenty commanders; the zealots also that had come over to him, and left off their opposition, were two thousand four hundred, and had the same commander that they had formerly, Eleazar, together with Simon the son of Arinus. Now, while these factions fought one against another, the people were their prey on both sides, as we have said already; and that part of the people who would not join with them in their wicked practices were plundered by both factions. Simon held the upper city, and the great wall as far as Cedron, and as much of the old wall as bent from Siloam to the east, and which went down to the palace of Monobazus, who was king of the Adiabeni, beyond Euphrates; he also held that fountain, and the Acra, which was no other than the lower city; he also held all that reached to the palace of queen Helena, the mother of Monobazus. But John held the temple, and the parts thereto adjoining, for a great way, as also Ophla, and the valley called "the Valley of Cedron;" and when the parts that were interposed between their possessions were burnt by them, they left a space wherein they might fight with each other; for this internal sedition did not cease even when the Romans were encamped near their very wall. But although they had grown wiser at the first onset the Romans made upon them, this lasted but a while; for they returned to their former madness, and separated one from another, and fought it out, and did everything that the besiegers could desire them to do; for they never suffered any thing that was worse from the Romans than they made each other suffer; nor was there any misery endured by the city after these men's actions that could be esteemed new. But it was most of all unhappy before it was overthrown, while those that took it did it a greater kindness for I venture to affirm that the sedition destroyed the city, and the Romans destroyed the sedition, which it was a much harder thing to do than to destroy the walls; so that we may justly ascribe our misfortunes to our own people, and the just vengeance taken on them to the Romans; as to which matter let every one determine by the actions on both sides.
2. Now when affairs within the city were in this posture, Titus went round the city on the outside with some chosen horsemen, and looked about for a proper place where he might make an impression upon the walls; but as he was in doubt where he could possibly make an attack on any side, [for the place was no way accessible where the valleys were, and on the other side the first wall appeared too strong to be shaken by the engines,] he thereupon thought it best to make his assault upon the monument of John the high priest; for there it was that the first fortification was lower, and the second was not joined to it, the builders neglecting to build strong where the new city was not much inhabited; here also was an easy passage to the third wall, through which he thought to take the upper city, and, through the tower of Antonia, the temple itself But at this time, as he was going round about the city, one of his friends, whose name was Nicanor, was wounded with a dart on his left shoulder, as he approached, together with Josephus, too near the wall, and attempted to discourse to those that were upon the wall, about terms of peace; for he was a person known by them. On this account it was that Caesar, as soon as he knew their vehemence, that they would not hear even such as approached them to persuade them to what tended to their own preservation, was provoked to press on the siege. He also at the same time gave his soldiers leave to set the suburbs on fire, and ordered that they should bring timber together, and raise banks against the city; and when he had parted his army into three parts, in order to set about those works, he placed those that shot darts and the archers in the midst of the banks that were then raising; before whom he placed those engines that threw javelins, and darts, and stones, that he might prevent the enemy from sallying out upon their works, and might hinder those that were upon the wall from being able to obstruct them. So the trees were now cut down immediately, and the suburbs left naked. But now while the timber was carrying to raise the banks, and the whole army was earnestly engaged in their works, the Jews were not, however, quiet; and it happened that the people of Jerusalem, who had been hitherto plundered and murdered, were now of good courage, and supposed they should have a breathing time, while the others were very busy in opposing their enemies without the city, and that they should now be avenged on those that had been the authors of their miseries, in case the Romans did but get the victory.
by D.H. Stern
is a righteous person who gives way before the wicked.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
The “go” of unconditional identification
One thing thou lackest.… come, take up the cross, and follow Me. --- Mark 10:21.)
The rich young ruler had the master passion to be perfect. When he saw Jesus Christ, he wanted to be like Him. Our Lord never puts personal holiness to the fore when He calls a disciple; He puts absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with Himself—a relationship with Himself in which there is no other relationship. Luke 14:26 has nothing to do with salvation or sanctification, but with unconditional identification with Jesus Christ. Very few of us know the absolute “go” of abandonment to Jesus.
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him.” The look of Jesus will mean a heart broken for ever from allegiance to any other person or thing. Has Jesus ever looked at you? The look of Jesus transforms and transfixes. Where you are ‘soft’ with God is where the Lord has looked at you. If you are hard and vindictive, insistent on your own way, certain that the other person is more likely to be in the wrong than you are, it is an indication that there are whole tracts of your nature that have never been transformed by His gaze.
“One thing thou lackest …” The only ‘good thing’ from Jesus Christ’s point of view is union with Himself and nothing in between.
“Sell whatsoever thou hast …” I must reduce myself until I am a mere conscious man, I must fundamentally renounce possessions of all kinds, not to save my soul, (only one thing saves a man—absolute reliance upon Jesus Christ) but in order to follow Jesus. “Come, and follow Me.” And the road is the way He went.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The priest picks his way
Through the parish. Eyes watch him
From windows, from the farms;
Hearts wanting him to come near.
The flesh rejects him.
Women, pouring from the black kettle,
Stir up the whirling tea-grounds
Of their thoughts; offer him a dark
Filling in their smiling sandwich.
Priests have a long way to go.
The people wait for them to come
To them over the broken glass
Of their vows, making them pay
With their sweat's coinage for their correction.
He goes up a green lane
Through growing birches; lambs cushion
His vision. He comes slowly down
In the dark, feeling the cross warp
In his hands; hanging on it his thoughts icicles.
'Crippled soul', do you say? looking at him
From the mind's height; 'limping through life
On his prayers. There are other people
In the world, sitting at a table
Contented, though the broken body
And the shed blood are not on the menu'.
'Let it be so', I say. 'Amen and amen'..
The Teacher's Commentary
The Teacher's Commentary
We have now come to a series of divine declarations, or oracles, concerning surrounding nations. The great world powers of Isaiah’s day (and coming powers like that of Babylon) who have set themselves against God will be themselves set aside as God’s judgment brings them low. Only the righteous kingdom of the Messiah will remain.
God raised up these nations to be instruments of judgment against His people (5:26–30; 7:18–20). Now Isaiah identified these powers and exposed their sin. They had arrogantly gone beyond God’s boundaries in punishing Israel. Even Babylon, which would fulfill the course begun by Assyria, would be unable to stand. All worldly powers directed against God and His purposes will be cut off.
Those who deny the possibility of prophetic foreknowledge argue that the name Babylon was substituted for Assyria by some later scribe. Those who believe the prophet was inspired by God realize that Babylon would consummate the scattering of God’s people initiated by Assyria.
Two elements of this prophecy (13:1–14:23) have drawn much attention. Many have seen in the destruction of the boastful king (14:12–21) a portrait of Satan’s fall from heaven (Luke 10:18). Of one thing we can be sure. Every arrogant power, whether in Satan, in kings, or in you and me, that exalts itself against God … falls under sure judgment.
Another element deserving comment is the picture of a deserted Babylon:
She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses.… Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Isaiah 13:20–22.
Today there is only an empty wilderness where Babylon once stood. The Lord is a great Judge, and His judgment is sure.
About Egypt (Isa. 19). God’s judgment is not only sure, it is purposive. After judgment, God brings restoration and healing.
In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt.… The Lord will make Himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord.… They will turn to the Lord, and He will respond to their pleas and heal them. Isaiah 19:19, 21–22.
However stern the judgment of God seems, however terrible the vision of God as Judge, beyond the darkened clouds the sun of blessing still shines.
Happy is one who dies this kind of death!
BIBLE TEXT / Deuteronomy 32:48–52 / That very day the Lord spoke to Moses: Ascend these heights of Abarim to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites as their holding. You shall die on the mountain that you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; for you both broke faith with Me among the Israelite people, at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to uphold My sanctity among the Israelite people. You shall view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people.
MIDRASH TEXT / Sifrei Ha’azinu 339 / As your brother Aaron died. The death that he longed for. How did Moses long to die as Aaron [died]? When the Holy One, praised is He, told him, “Take Aaron and his son Eleazar … strip Aaron of his vestments” (Numbers 20:25, 26). These are the priestly vestments that he dressed Eleazar in, and so [he did with] the second one [vestment] and the third one. He [God] told him [Aaron], “Enter the cave,” and he entered. “Get up on the bier,” and he got up. “Stretch out your hands,” and he stretched them out. “Stretch out your legs,” and he stretched them out. “Close your mouth,” and he closed it. “Shut your eyes,” and he shut them. At that very moment, Moses said, “Happy is one who dies this kind of death!” Thus it says, “As your brother Aaron died,” the death that he longed for.
CONTEXT / In the Deuteronomy text, God tells Moses to die “as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor.” The Rabbis seem puzzled by the Hebrew word כַּאֲשֶׁר/ka’asher, “as.” They interpret it to mean not “You too will die, just as Aaron died, as all people eventually die” but rather “You will die as Aaron died, in just the same way, in the manner that Aaron died.” The Rabbis also may have made a wordplay: כַּאֲשֶׁר/ka’asher may have triggered an association with the Hebrew word, אַשְׁרֵי/ashrei, “happy.” The Rabbis saw Aaron’s death as happy—peaceful and serene, one that anyone would long for:
Moses did as the Lord had commanded. They ascended Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. Moses stripped Aaron of his vestments and put them on his [Aaron’s] son Eleazar, and Aaron died there on the summit of the mountain. (Numbers 20:27–28).
Thus, the Rabbis say that “as your brother Aaron died” means the death that he, Moses, longed for. The Rabbis wonder: How did Moses long to die as Aaron [died]? That is, where would Moses have an experience with death that would be a model to him? It was when the Holy One, praised is He, told him, Moses, “Take Aaron and his son Eleazar.… Strip Aaron of his vestments.” These are the clothes that Aaron wore when officiating as Kohen, or priest. Moses himself, as leader of the people and God’s appointed representative, was to take his own brother to the top of the mountain, where Aaron would die. Moses stripped Aaron of the second one [vestment] and put it on Eleazar and the third one. He, God, told him, Aaron, “Enter the cave,” and he entered. The Rabbis assume that Aaron was buried in a cave upon the mountain. This explanation helps solve a problem in the biblical text. At the beginning of the section, we are told that “they ascended Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community” (20:27). But then, even though the events take place in plain sight, the Israelite community has no idea that Aaron has died, for the next verse tells us that “when Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, the whole community knew that Aaron had breathed his last” (20:28–29). How is it that they know only when Moses and Eleazar came down? The Rabbis solve this inconsistency by interpretation: A burial cave on top of the mountain obscured their view.
“Get up on the bier,” and he, Aaron, got up and prepared himself for the way in which he would lie there in death. “Stretch out your hands,” and he stretched them out. “Stretch out your legs,” and he stretched them out. “Close your mouth,” and he closed it. “Shut your eyes,” and he shut them. Moses saw a very peaceful and calm death, as Aaron went through the various steps to prepare for his own demise. At that very moment, Moses said, “Happy is one who dies this kind of death!” Thus it says, “As your brother Aaron died,” the death that he longed for. God, in an act of kindness, allowed Moses to die the same kind of death that his older brother had.
So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.
--- Genesis 22:14.
“The LORD Will Provide.” (Gen. 22:7), and Abraham, steadying his voice, said, “God himself will provide the lamb” (Expositions of Holy Scripture Volume 1) Provide what? The lamb for the burnt offering that he has commanded. We see in the fact that God provided the ram that became the appointed sacrifice, through which Isaac’s life was preserved, a dim revelation of the great truth that the only sacrifice that God accepts for the world’s sin is the sacrifice that he himself has provided.
This is the meaning of all the sacrificial worship—God himself will provide a Lamb. The world had built altars, and Israel, by divine appointment, had its altar too. All these express the lack that none of them can satisfy. They show that humanity needed a sacrifice, and that sacrifice God has provided. He asked from Abraham less than he gives to us. Abraham’s devotion was sealed and certified because he did not withhold his son from God. And God’s love is sealed because he has not withheld his only-begotten Son from us.
So this name that came from Abraham’s grateful and wondering lips holds true in all regions of our wants. On the lowest level, the outward supply of outward needs; on a higher, the means of discharging hard duties and a path through sharp trials; and, on the highest of all, the spotless sacrifice that alone avails for the world’s sins—these are the things that God provides.
If we wish to have our outward needs supplied, our outward weaknesses strengthened, power and energy sufficient for duty, wisdom for perplexity, a share in the sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world, we receive them all on the condition that we are found in the place where all God’s provision is treasured. If someone chooses to sit outside the baker’s shop, that person may starve on its threshold. And if we will not ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place by simple faith, God’s amplest provision is nothing to us, and we are empty in the midst of affluence.
Get near to God if you would partake of what he has prepared. If you would drink from his fullness, live in fellowship with him by simple love and often meditate on him,. And be sure of this, that however within his house the stores are heaped and the treasury full, you will have neither part nor lot in the matter unless you are children of the house.
--- Alexander Maclaren
We know of good King Wenceslas primarily because he happened to look out his window “on the feast of Stephen, while the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.”
Actually, we aren’t even certain of that.
Wenceslas was born in Bohemia, in modern Czechoslovakia, in the early 900s. His father, the Czech ruler, Duke Ratislav, gave him a good education supervised by his grandmother, Ludmilla. Ludmilla, a devout woman, did a good job.
He became a king. When his father died, Wenceslas, seeing his mother mishandle affairs of state, stepped in and seized the reins of government. But he took control on his terms. From the beginning, King Wenceslas was a different sort of king. He sought good relations with surrounding nations, particularly with Germany. He took steps to reform the judicial system, reducing the number of death sentences and the arbitrary power of judges. He reportedly encouraged the building of churches. Most of all, he showed heartfelt concern for the poor of the realm. He cut firewood for orphans and widows, it is said, often carrying the provisions on his own shoulders through the snow—thus inspiring J. M. Neale’s Christmas carol.
Wenceslas’s brief reign ended suddenly. His brother Boleslav, pagan and rebellious, invited him to a banquet, then murdered him the next Morning, September 28, 929, as he left for church. There is no direct evidence, apart from his virtuous reputation, that Wenceslas was a genuine Christian, for he left behind no written testimony. Much of our information about him comes from legend. But his people venerated him as a martyr, and today he is the patron saint of Czechoslovakia.
Therefore, Christian men be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.
Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.
--- James 1:27.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - September 28
“The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.” --- Psalm 33:13.
Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light than when he is spoken of as stooping from his throne, and coming down from heaven to attend to the wants and to behold the woes of mankind. We love him, who, when Sodom and Gomorrah were full of iniquity, would not destroy those cities until he had made a personal visitation of them. We cannot help pouring out our heart in affection for our Lord who inclines his ear from the highest glory, and puts it to the lip of the dying sinner, whose failing heart longs after reconciliation. How can we but love him when we know that he numbers the very hairs of our heads, marks our path, and orders our ways? Specially is this great truth brought near to our heart, when we recollect how attentive he is, not merely to the temporal interests of his creatures, but to their spiritual concerns. Though leagues of distance lie between the finite creature and the infinite Creator, yet there are links uniting both. When a tear is wept by thee, think not that God doth not behold; for, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline his ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay his hand; thy faith can move his arm. Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee. Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.
Oh! then repeat the truth that never tires;
No God is like the God my soul desires;
He at whose voice heaven trembles, even he,
Great as he is, knows how to stoop to me.
Evening - September 28
“Go again seven times.” --- 1 Kings 18:43.
Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when his people are earnest in a matter which concerns his glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah’s courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.
O WORD OF GOD INCARNATE
William W. How, 1823–1897
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
Everyone has a basic premise for his life’s convictions. The Christian begins with Jesus Christ, who came to earth to reveal God to man. The Christian also believes in the absolute historicity of Jesus as recorded in the Scriptures, the only authentic record of our Lord’s life and works. For God’s people, then, the Bible is the most important book in life. Though written by forty different writers from Moses to John over a period of 1600 years, there is a perfect harmony throughout all 66 books. This is proof that the book is truly “God-breathed” and that the real author was the Holy Spirit.
The writer of this hymn text, William W. How, was a bishop of the Anglican church in London, England. He was known as an outstanding hymnist, the composer of sixty excellent hymns of which 25 are still in use.
In the first stanza of this hymn, Bishop How affirms that the Bible is God’s Truth revealed and is a light from one age to another. In the second stanza, he states that Christ has entrusted His Holy Word to the Church so that it might be revealed as a light to all the world. Then he describes the Bible in picturesque language in stanza three and closes the hymn with a prayer that the Church may always continue to bear God’s revealed truth to all people everywhere.
O Word of God Incarnate, O Wisdom from on high, O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky: We praise Thee for the radiance that from the hallowed page, a lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.
The Church from her dear Master, received the gift divine, and still that light she lifteth o’er all the earth to shine. It is the sacred casket, where gems of truth are stored; it is the heav’n-drawn picture of Thee, the living Word.
It floateth like a banner before God’s host unfurled; it shineth like a beacon above the dark’ning world. It is the chart and compass that o’er life’s surging sea, ’mid mists and rocks and quick sands, still guides, O Christ, to Thee.
O make Thy Church, dear Savior, a lamp of purest gold, to bear before the nations Thy true light as of old. O teach Thy wandering pilgrims by this their path to trace, till, clouds and darkness ended, they see Thee face to face.
For Today: Psalm 60:4; 119:l05, 130, 160 Mark 13:31; John 1:1, 2
Breathe a prayer of thanks to God for the Bible—our guide for this life and our road map for heaven. Reflect on this musical truth as you go ---
DISCOURSE VII - ON GOD’S OMNIPRESENCE 18 For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD
JEREMIAH 23:24. — Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him! saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.
THE occasion of this discourse begins ver. 16, where God admonisheth the people, not to hearken to the words of the false prophets which spake a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They made the people vain by their insinuations of peace, when God had proclaimed war and calamity; and uttered the dreams of their fancies, and not the visions of the Lord; and so turned the people from the expectation of the evil day which God had threatened (ver. 17): “They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace: and they say unto every one that walks after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” And they invalidate the prophecies of those whom God had sent, ver. 18: “Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?” Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord? Are they acquainted with the secrets of God more than we? Who have the word of the Lord, if we have not? Or, it may be a continuation of God’s admonition: believe not those prophets; for who of them have been acquainted with the secrets of God? or by what means should they learn his counsel? No; assure yourselves “a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked” (ver. 19). A whirlwind shall come from Babylon; it is just at the door, and shall not be blown over; it shall fall with a witness upon the wicked people and the deceiving prophets, and sweep them together into captivity. For (ver. 20), “The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart.” My fury shall not be a childish fury, that quickly languisheth, but shall accomplish whatsoever I threaten; and burn so hot, as not to be cool, till I have satisfied my vengeance; “in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (ver. 20), when the storm shall beat upon you, you shall then know that the calamities shall answer the words you have heard. When the conqueror shall waste your grounds, demolish your houses, and manacle your hands, then shall you consider it, and have the wishes of fools, that you had had your eyes in your heads before; you shall then know the falseness of your guides, and the truth of my prophets, and discern who stood in the counsel of the Lord, and subscribe to the messages I have sent you.
(Je 23:16–25) 16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ”
to see and to hear his word,
or who has paid attention to his word and listened?
19 Behold, the storm of the LORD!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
21 “I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their deeds.
18 For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD
Some refer it to time. Do you imagine me a God new framed like your idols, beginning a little time ago, and not existing before the foundation of the world; yea, from eternity? a God afar off, further than your acutest understandings can reach? I am of a longer standing, and you ought to know my majesty. But it rather refers to place than tine. Do you think I do not behold everything in the earth, as well as in heaven? Am I locked up within the walls of my palace, and cannot peep out to behold the things done in the world? or that am I so linked to pleasure in the place of my glory, as earthly kings are in their courts, that I have no mind or leisure to take notice of the carriages of men upon earth?
God doth not say, He was afar off, but only gives an account of the inward thoughts of their minds, or at least of the language expressed by their actions. The interrogation carries in it a strong affirmation, and assures us more of God’s care, and the folly of men in not considering it. “Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places?” (Heb.) In hiddenesses, in the deepest cells. What I are you besotted by your base lusts, that you think me a God careless, ignorant, blind, that I can see nothing, but as a purblind man, what is very near my eye? Are you so out of your wits, that you imagine you can deceive me? Hello world that denies God's existence. Do not all your behaviors speak such a sentiment to lie secret in your heart, though not formed into a full conception, yet testified by your actions? No, you are much mistaken; it is impossible but that I should see and know all things, since I am present with all things, and am not at a greater distance from the things on earth than from the things in heaven; for I fill all that vast fabric which is divided into those two parts of heaven and earth; and he that hath such an infinite essence, cannot lie distant, cannot be ignorant; nothing can be far from his eyes, since everything is so near to his essence. So that it is an elegant expression of the omniscience of God, and a strong argument for it. He asserts, first, the universality of his knowledge; but lest they should mistake, and confine his presence only to heaven, he adds, That he “fills heaven and earth.” I do not see things so, as if I were in one place, and the things seen in another, as it is with man; but whatsoever I see, I see not without myself, because every corner of heaven and earth is filled by me. He that fills all, must needs see and know all. And indeed, men that question the knowledge of God, would be more convinced by the doctrine of his immediate presence with them. And this seems to be the design and manner of arguing in this place. Nothing is remote from my knowledge, because nothing is distant from my presence.
I fill heaven and earth: he doth not say, “I am in heaven and earth,” but I fill heaven and earth; i. e. say some, with my knowledge, others, with my authority or my power. But,
1. The word filling cannot properly be referred to the act of understanding and will. A presence by knowledge is to be granted, but to say such a presence fills a place is an improper speech: knowledge is not enough to constitute a presence. A man at London knows there is such a city as Paris, and knows many things in it; can he be concluded, therefore, to be present in Paris, or fill any place there, or be present with the things he knows there? If I know anything to be distant from me, how can it be present with me? For by knowing it to be distant, I know it not to be present. Besides, filling heaven and earth is distinguished here from knowing or seeing: his presence is rendered as an argument to prove his knowledge. Now a proposition, and the proof of that roposition, are distinct, and not the same. It cannot be imagine that God should prove idem per idem, as we say; for what would be the import of the speech then? I know all things, I see all things, because I know and see all things. The Holy Ghost here accommodates himself to the capacity of men; because we know that a man sees and knows that which is done, where he is corporally present; so he proves that God knows all things that are done in the most secret caverns of the heart, because he is everywhere in heaven and earth, as light is everywhere in the air, and air everywhere in the world. Hence the schools use the term repletive for the presence of God.
2. Nor by filling of heaven and earth is meant his authority and power. It would be improperly said of a king, that in regard of the government of his kingdom, is everywhere by his authority, that he fills all the cities and countries of his dominions. “I, do not I fill?” That “I” notes the essence of God, as distinguished according to our capacity, from the perfections pertaining to his essence, and is in reason better referred to the substance of God, than to those things we conceive as attributes in him. Besides, were it meant only of his authority or power, the argument would not run well. I see all things, because my authority and power fills heaven and earth. Power doth not always rightly infer knowledge, no, not in a rational agent. Many things in a kingdom are done by the authority of the king, that never arrive to the knowledge of the king. Many things in us are done. by the power of our souls, which yet we have not a distinct knowledge of in our understandings. There are many motions in sleep, by the virtue of the soul informing the body, that we have not so much as a simple knowledge of in our minds. Knowledge is not rightly inferred from power, or power from knowledge. By filling heaven and earth is meant, therefore, a filling it with his essence. No place can be imagined that is deprived of the presence of God; and therefore when the Scripture anywhere speaks of the presence of God, it joins heaven and earth together. He so fills them, that there is no place without him. We do not say a vessel is full so long as there is any space to contain more. Not a part of heaven, nor a part of earth, but the whole heaven, the whole earth, at one and the same time. If he were only in one part of heaven, or one part of earth; nay, if there were any part of heaven, or any part of earth void of him, he could not be said to fill them. “I fill heaven and earth,” not a part of me fills one place, and another part of me fills another, but I, God, fill heaven and earth; I am whole God filling the heaven, and whole God, filling the earth. I fill heaven, and yet fill earth; I fill earth, and yet fill heaven, and fill heaven and earth at one and the same time. “God fills his own works,” a heathen philosopher saith.
I. Here is then a description of God’s presence. 1. By power, “Am I not a God afar off?” a God in the extension of his arm. 2. By knowledge, “Shall I not see them?” 3. By essence; as an undeniable ground for inferring the two former: “I fill heaven and earth.” Doctrine. God is essentially everywhere present in heaven and earth. If God be, he must be somewhere; that which is nowhere, is nothing. Since God is, he is in the world; not in one part of it; for then he were circumscribed by it: if in the world, and only there, though it be a great space, he were also limited. Some therefore said, “God was everywhere, and nowhere.” Nowhere, i. e. not bounded by any place, nor receiving from any place anything for his preservation or sustainment. He is everywhere, because no creature, either body or spirit, can exclude the presence of his essence; for he is not only near, but in everything (Acts 17:28) “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” Not absent from anything, but so present with them, that they live and move in him, and move more in God, than in the air or earth wherein they are; nearer to us than our flesh to our bones, than the air to our breath; he cannot be far from them that live, and have every motion in him. The apostle doth not say, By him, but in him, to show the inwardness of his presence. As eternity is the perfection whereby he hath neither beginning nor end, immutability is the perfection whereby he hath neither increase nor diminution, so immensity or omnipresence is that whereby he hath neither bounds nor limitation. As he is in all time, yet so as to be above time; so is he in all places, yet so as to be above limitation by any place. It was a good expression of a heathen to illustrate this, “That God is a sphere or circle, whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere.” His meaning was, that the essence of God was indivisible; i. e. could not be divided. It cannot be said, here and there the lines of it terminate; it is like a line drawn out in infinite spaces, that no point can be conceived where its length and breadth ends. The sea is a vast mass of waters; yet to that it is said, “Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further.” But it cannot be said of God’s essence, hitherto it reaches, and no further; here it is, and there it is not. It is plain, that God is thus immense, because he is infinite; we have reason and Scripture to assent to it, though we cannot conceive it. We know that God is eternal, though eternity is too great to be measured by the short line of a created understanding. We cannot conceive the vastness and glory of the heavens, much less that which is so great, as to fill heaven and earth, yea (1 Kings 8:27), “not to be contained in the heaven of Heavens.” Things are said to be present, or in a place,
1. Circumscriptive, as circumscribed. This belongs to things that have quantity, as bodies that are encompassed by that place wherein they are; and a body fills but one particular space wherein it is, and the space is commensurate to every part of it, and every member hath a distinct place. The hand is not in the same particular space that the foot or head is.
2. Definitive, which belongs to angels and spirits, which are said to be in a point, yet so as that they cannot be said to be in another at the same time.
3. Repletive, filling all places. This belongs only to God: as he is not measured by time, so he is not limited by place. A body or spirit, because finite, fills but one space; God, because infinite, fills all, yet so as not to be contained in them, as wine and water is in a vessel. He is from the height of the heavens to the bottom of the deeps, in every point of the world, and in the whole circle of it, yet not limited by it, but beyond it. Now this hath been acknowledged by the wisest in the world. Some indeed had other notions of God. The more ignorant sort of the Jews confined him to the temple. And God intimates, that they had such a thought when he asserts his presence in heaven and earth, in opposition to the temple they built as his house, and the place of his rest. And the idolaters among them, thought their gods might be at a distance from them, which Elias intimates in the scoff he puts upon them (1 Kings 18:17), “Cry aloud, for he is a god,” meaning Baal; “either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey;” and they followed his advice, and cried louder (ver. 28), whereby it is evident, they looked not on it as a mock, but as a truth. And the Syrians called the God of Israel the God of the hills, as though his presence were fixed there, and not in the valleys (1 Kings 10:23); and their own gods in the valleys, and not in the mountains; they fancied every god to have a particular dominion and presence in one place and not in another, and bounded the territories of their gods as they did those of their princes. And some thought him tied to and shut up in their temples and groves wherein they worshipped him. Some of them thought God to be confined to heaven, and therefore sacrificed upon the highest mountains, that the steam might ascend nearer heaven, and their praises be heard better in those places which were nearest to the habitation of God. But the wiser Jews acknowledged it, and therefore called God place, whereby they denoted his immensity; he was not contained in any place; every part of the world subsists by Him: he was a place to himself, greater than anything made by Him. And the wiser heathens acknowledged it also. One calls God a mind passing through the universal nature of things; another, that He was an infinite and immense air; another, that it is as natural to think God is everywhere, as to think that God is: hence they called God the soul of the world; that as the soul is in every part of the body to quicken it, so is God in every part of the world to support it. And there are some resemblances of this in the world, though no creature can fully resemble God in any one perfection; for then it would not be a creature, but God. But air and light are some resemblances of it: air is in all the spaces of the world, in the pores of all bodies, in the bowels of the earth, and extends itself from the lowest earth to the highest regions; and the heavens themselves are probably nothing else but a refined kind of air; and light diffuseth itself through the whole air, and every part of it is truly light, as every part of the air is truly air; and though they seem to be mingled together, yet they are distinct things, and not of the same essence; so is the essence of God in the whole world, not by diffusion as air or light, not mixed with any creature, but remaining distinct from the essence of any created being. Now, when this hath been owned by men instructed only in the school of nature, it is a greater shame to any acquainted with the Scripture to deny. For the understanding of this, there shall be some propositions premised in general.
Prop. I. This is negatively to be understood. Our knowledge of God is most by withdrawing from him, or denying to him in our conceptions any weaknesses or imperfections in the creature. As the infiniteness of God is a denial of limitation of being, so immensity or omnipresence is a denial of limitation of place: and when we say, God is totus in every place, we must understand it thus; that he is not everywhere by parts, as bodies are, as air and light are; He is everywhere, i. e. his nature hath no bounds; he is not tied to any place, as the creature is, who, when he is present in one place, is absent from another. As no place can be without God, so no place can compass and contain him.
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